Windows command findstr command

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Searches for patterns of text in files.

findstr review: Handy Windows tool for command searches for text strings -  gHacks Tech News


findstr [/b] [/e] [/l | /r] [/s] [/i] [/x] [/v] [/n] [/m] [/o] [/p] [/f:<file>] [/c:<string>] [/g:<file>] [/d:<dirlist>] [/a:<colorattribute>] [/off[line]] <strings> [<drive>:][<path>]<filename>[ ...]


Parameter Description
/b Matches the text pattern if it is at the beginning of a line.
/e Matches the text pattern if it is at the end of a line.
/l Processes search strings literally.
/r Processes search strings as regular expressions. This is the default setting.
/s Searches the current directory and all subdirectories.
/i Ignores the case of the characters when searching for the string.
/x Prints lines that match exactly.
/v Prints only lines that don’t contain a match.
/n Prints the line number of each line that matches.
/m Prints only the file name if a file contains a match.
/o Prints character offset before each matching line.
/p Skips files with non-printable characters.
/off[line] Does not skip files that have the offline attribute set.
/f:<file> Gets a file list from the specified file.
/c:<string> Uses the specified text as a literal search string.
/g:<file> Gets search strings from the specified file.
/d:<dirlist> Searches the specified list of directories. Each directory must be separated with a semicolon (;), for example dir1;dir2;dir3.
/a:<colorattribute> Specifies color attributes with two hexadecimal digits. Type color /? for additional information.
<strings> Specifies the text to search for in filename. Required.
[\<drive>:][<path>]<filename>[...] Specifies the location and file or files to search. At least one file name is required.
/? Displays Help at the command prompt.


  • All findstr command-line options must precede strings and filename in the command string.
  • Regular expressions use both literal characters and meta-characters to find patterns of text, rather than exact strings of characters.
    • A literal character is a character that doesn’t have a special meaning in the regular-expression syntax; instead, it matches an occurrence of that character. For example, letters and numbers are literal characters.
    • A meta-character is a symbol with special meaning (an operator or delimiter) in the regular-expression syntax.The accepted meta-characters are:
      TABLE 2
      Meta-character Value
      . Wildcard – Any character
      * Repeat – Zero or more occurrences of the previous character or class.
      ^ Beginning line position – Beginning of the line.
      $ Ending line position – End of the line.
      [class] Character class – Any one character in a set.
      [^class] Inverse class – Any one character not in a set.
      [x-y] Range – Any characters within the specified range.
      \x Escape – Literal use of a meta-character.
      \<string Beginning word position – Beginning of the word.
      string\> Ending word position – End of the word.

      The special characters in regular expression syntax have the most power when you use them together. For example, use the combination of the wildcard character (.) and repeat (*) character to match any string of characters: .*

      Use the following expression as part of a larger expression to match any string beginning with b and ending with ingb.*ing

  • To search for multiple strings in a set of files, you must create a text file that contains each search criterion on a separate line.
  • Use spaces to separate multiple search strings unless the argument is prefixed with /c.


To search for hello or there in file x.y, type:

findstr hello there x.y

To search for hello there in file x.y, type:

findstr /c:"hello there" x.y

To find all occurrences of the word Windows (with an initial capital letter W) in the file proposal.txt, type:

findstr Windows proposal.txt

To search every file in the current directory and all subdirectories that contained the word Windows, regardless of the letter case, type:

findstr /s /i Windows *.*

To find all occurrences of lines that begin with FOR and are preceded by zero or more spaces (as in a computer program loop), and to display the line number where each occurrence is found, type:

findstr /b /n /r /c:^ *FOR *.bas

To list the exact files that you want to search in a text file, use the search criteria in the file stringlist.txt, to search the files listed in filelist.txt, and then to store the results in the file results.out, type:

findstr /g:stringlist.txt /f:filelist.txt > results.out

To list every file containing the word computer within the current directory and all subdirectories, regardless of case, type:

findstr /s /i /m \<computer\> *.*

To list every file containing the word computer and any other words that begin with comp, (such as compliment and compete), type:

findstr /s /i /m \<comp.* *.*