Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Searching file contents using PowerShell

25th October 2018

Having made plenty of use of grep on the Linux/UNIX command and findstr on the legacy Windows command line, I wondered if PowerShell could be used to search the contents of files for a text string. Usefully, this turns out to be the case but I found that the native functionality does not use what I have used before. The form of the command is given below:

Select-String -Path <filename search expression> -Pattern "<search expression>" > <output file>

While you can have the output appear on screen, it always seems easier to send it to a file for subsequent and that is what I am doing above. The input to the -Path switch can be a filename or a wildcard expression while that to the -Pattern can be a text string enclosed in quotes or a regular expression. It works well once you know what to do so here is an example:

Select-String -Path *.sas -Pattern "proc report" > c:\temp\search.txt

The search.txt file then includes both the file information and the text that has been found for sake of checking that you have what you want. What you do next is up to you.

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