Search for Text in Text Files
By Stephen Bucaro
Getting Windows Folder Search function to reliably find text within a file is a real
trick. There are several places within windows where you can configure search, but
it never seems to do a reliable job. The solution is to use the simple batch file
findstr /s /i /m "string" *.*
Today, most people use Windows Operating System through it's graphical user interface
(GUI) and perform tasks using check boxes and drop-down lists. However, the first PCs didn't
have a GUI, they used the Disk Operating System (DOS). DOS has a text interface where
the user performs tasks by typing text commands. The interface is referred to as the
command line. The DOS command line is still available in Windows today.
The best way to use DOS is to type commands into a file called a batch file. To create
a batch file just create a text file with Windows Notepad, type in your DOS commands,
then save the file with a convenient name and the file extension .bat . To execute
a batch file just double click on the file's name in Windows Explorer.
The batch file shown above uses two lines. The first line uses the findstr
command with the switches /s /i and /m followed by the text string you are searching for
(in quotes) followed by the wildcards *.* which means search in all files.
/s means searches in the current directory and all subdirectories.
/i specifies that the search is not to be case-sensitive.
/m prints only the file name if a file contains a match.
The second line in the batch file is the pause command. This causes the DOS window
to display its results until the user presses any key. Without the pause command
the DOS window would immediately close.
Find more information about DOS commands at the
TechNet Library Command-line reference A-Z
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• Search for Text in Text Files