tools, Uncategorized

VIM: Find in files

It’s not a surprise that there is a built-in way to find in files in VIM. You can use four commands: :grep, :lgrep, :vimgrep, :lvimgrep.


:grep will use the default “find” tool for your operating system (“grep” for linux family, “findstr” for Windows). :vimgrep will use built-in vim search (same as for “/” searching) which is slower than system search (but works if you have problems with grep/findstr/other). On the other hand vimgrep has the same syntax everywhere (:grep depends on external tool used). Search result is presented using Quickfix window (opened with :copen). :lgrep/:lvimgrep will do the same, but using location list (opened with :lopen). In practise the difference is that if you use Quickfix window (:copen) it will stick to the current editor. Location window will show in the same way, but if you select anything then the window will disappear and you will have to run :lopen again.

I guess you have to choose yourself which command you like most.  The syntax is as follows:

:grep searchpattern locationpattern


:grep MyMethod *.*

Will look for phrase “MyMethod” in all files in current workind directory (you can check currect directory using :pwd). By default it does not perform recursive search (it will not search in subdirectories). And here the fun part starts.

In order to search in subdirectories you would have to use **/*.* pattern. However this works for :vimgrep and :grep in linux, but does not work for Windows. In order to make it work on Windows you would need to use /S parameter (linux grep also accepts -R parameter which does the same thing). You can pass it like that:

:grep /S MyMethod *.*

This will work on Windows and will find all “MyMethod” phrases in all files in all subdirectories of current working directory. However you can still make it the default behaviour in VIM. But first you neeed to know one thing:

:set grepprg

This is a variable that controls the usage of external grep tool in VIM. Depending on your operating system you will have different results:

grepprg=findstr /n    # <--- on Windows
grepprg=grep -n $* /dev/null # <---- on Linux

So in order to use recursive search you have to modify grepprg and add a proper parameter:

grepprg=findstr /S /n                  # <--- on Windows
grepprg=grep -nR $* /dev/null          # <---- on Linux

The same way you can add more parameters or make more complex commands.


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