RetroCode UK

Published Date May 30, 2019 Reading Time ~2 minutes RSS Feed Linux Command Line

Finding Files at the Command Prompt

Here’s a quick look at a few handy command-line tools for finding files based on their contents:


fd is an improvement on the standard Linux find tool. It’s both faster, and the options are more intuitive.

Here’s a working example to show Subject and Date for all emails updated within 10 days. The following may be run from the root of a MailDir folder:

# Find all files updated in the last 20 days and extract a Subject and Date
fd --changed-within 20d --type f --exec grep -P "^(Subject|Date)" \; .

Important Note: \; is used to identify the end of the --exec command, and allows you to specify a path afterwards.

By default .gitignore files are honoured, which is especially helpful when searching through a repository.


ag - The Silver Searcher

The Silver Searcher or ag is a really fast tool for scanning the contents of files. It’s apparently written as a faster replacement for ack, and works in a similar way to grep.

By default, it will search for a pattern in all subfolders while ignoring files listed in .gitignore, and can be configured to globally ignore specific files of your choice.


rg - RipGrep

This appears to be a more recent, similar app to ag and is purportedly faster. It’s an easy drop-in replacement and I’ve already started using it.