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Old 12-21-2011, 09:40 AM   #1
Registered: Jul 2009
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run grep only on certain files using wildcard

I am trying to grep a string in recursive directories, but I want to search only xml files.

I tried this command, which does not return any results

grep -R mystring *.xml

However, if I run this command

grep -R mystring *

I get a bunch of xml, log and properties files containing the string mystring.

How do I search recursively only in xml files?

I apologise if this has already been answered elsewhere, but I did click on the link to view similar threads. Maybe my subject wording is not good enough.

Thanks in advance
Old 12-21-2011, 10:08 AM   #2
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Registered: Dec 2011
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Here is a one-liner,
I set up a testing directory in /home/temp/another/level/to/find with several xml , jpg, gif, and xls files and this was the output I got:

find /home/ -name "*.xml" -type f -exec grep -H "find me" {} \;

/home/temp/another/level/to/find/gato.xml:find me
/home/temp/another/level/to/find/jirafa.xml:find me
/home/temp/another/level/to/find/leon.xml:find me
/home/temp/another/level/to/find/perro.xml:find me

Last edited by alanchavez; 12-21-2011 at 10:20 AM.
Old 12-21-2011, 10:12 AM   #3
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Registered: Sep 2011
Location: UK
Distribution: Gentoo
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grep supports an --include option - for what you want to do, you would use:

grep -R --include="*.xml" mystring *
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 12-21-2011, 10:33 AM   #4
Registered: Feb 2009
Posts: 282

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ls -aR |grep .xml
Old 12-21-2011, 12:54 PM   #5
David the H.
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grep only recurses on directory names passed to it. Globs expand into lists of matching names in the present working directory, so * means you're passing it all files and directories in the pwd, and it recurses on the directory names. But *.xml only expands into a list of the xml files in the pwd, and so there's nothing for it to recurse on.

So you have to make sure the top-level directories you want it to search are passed to it as arguments, and use --include/--exclude to control the matching of the filenames, as shown above. Or else use a tool like find to generate the filelist first.

And read the grep info page, which has more details about its operation than the man page.

@impert: In general, ls should not be be used for generating lists of filenames. Most of the time you'll do better to use shell globbing for simple matches, and find for more complex ones (and use the null separator option).

Last edited by David the H.; 12-21-2011 at 12:56 PM.


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