Equivalent of UNIX Grep command in Dos/Windows

You can use the ‘type’ and ‘find’ command in Dos/Windows to get the equivalent output of the UNIX ‘cat’ and ‘grep’ commands. The ‘find’ command can be very useful when you are trying to search for a specific text or phrase over multiple files. The ‘find’ command also comes in handy when searching for all the occurrences of a specific text or phrase in all the files under all the sub-directories of a given directory.

The Type Command

The ‘type’ command in Dos simply displays the contents of a text file or files. To see the content of a file simply enter the following in the command prompt:
C:>type “filename”

The Find Command

The ‘find’ command in Dos can be used to search for a text string in a file or files. below is the usage and optional parameters of the ‘find’ command.

FIND [/V] [/C] [/N] [/I] [/OFF[LINE]] "string" [[drive:][path]filename[ ...]]

/V         Displays all lines NOT containing the specified string.
/C         Displays only the count of lines containing the string.
/N         Displays line numbers with the displayed lines.
/I         Ignores the case of characters when searching for the string.
/OFF[LINE] Do not skip files with offline attribute set.
"string"   Specifies the text string to find.
[drive:][path]filename
Specifies a file or files to search.

If a path is not specified, FIND searches the text typed at the prompt or piped from another command.

Find Command Usage Examples

To find any text occurrence in all the files within a directory simply enter the following at the command prompt.

C:>find “text to find” *


D:\Project Material\find command example>find "text-align" *

---------- ADSENSE INSERTION TAG.TXT
<p style="text-align: center;"><!-- wp_ad_camp_1 --></p>
---------- CFORMS.PHP
echo '<p style="text-align: left;"><label for="cforms-title'.$no.'">';
---------- ROBOTS.TXT
---------- ROBOTS_LANGUAGE_FILTER.TXT
---------- TRANSLATION_PAGE.TXT

Use the ‘/n’ parameter to print out the line numbers.


D:\Project Material\find command example>find /n "text-align" *

---------- ADSENSE INSERTION TAG.TXT
[1]<p style="text-align: center;"><!-- wp_ad_camp_1 --></p>
[2]text-align
[3]Test line with the text text-align
[6]Another line with the desired text text-align

---------- CFORMS.PHP
[2269]          echo '<p style="text-align: left;"><label for="cforms-title'.$no.'">';

---------- ROBOTS.TXT

You can use ‘type’ and then pipe the output to the ‘find’ command:

D:\Project Material\find command example>type robots.txt | find /n "Disallow: /iw/"
[37]Disallow: /iw/

You can get really creative with these commands.

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Comments (10 responses)

  1. dutado says:

    You may also use just grep. It was not bundled with DOS, but you can get it. For example from Borland Pascal distribution (but not for free).

  2. Vikas says:

    You can also try the “dir” command to find files in general.

  3. kiran says:

    Well done ..I was searching for this ..It helped me

  4. It’s nice to know about FIND, and @G.R. FINDSTR. I wonder how old are these DOS commands. I also wonder why MSFT couldn’t simply use the gnu grep. In absence of better information, I’ll suppose MSFT has a chronic profound affliction of “not-invented-here” syndrome.

  5. Ganesh says:

    very nice post and valuable one for the developers who is working in xml file mostly. great post.. well done.. keep posting.

    thanks for your valuable post.

  6. G.R. says:

    Why you didn’t use FINDSTR command instead of FIND?

  7. Carlo says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing this handy piece of information!

  8. Icechen1 says:

    Hehe, thanks for the share! As a old unix user, this can come in handy! Bookmarked.

  9. Danish says:

    Thank you for sharing the info.
    Indeed Find is grep like but alas not grep

    with grep, tr, cut it seems. If only Mic had given a little bit of attention to another side of the user interface- one as powerful as the command line. It would have the support of majority of the programmers.

  10. Cindy z says:

    THANKS for sharing! I used to use grep and cat on unix which came in very handy. now the find and type commands will be very handy as well. THANKS!!!!

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