I am looking for a software that will search text in files from a folder similar to XYplorer.

Is there something similar?

10 Answers 10


There is a very nice one that ships with Ubuntu out of the box.

  1. Open the Dash (Super key or the Ubuntu button) and begin typing until you find Search for Files

    enter image description here

  2. The above is for Unity, the default Desktop Environment in Ubuntu. In menu-driven environments, go to Applications -> Accessories -> Search for Files

    enter image description here

  3. Expand the Select more options section and enter the text to search for in the Contains the text: input field.

    enter image description here


  • 100% GUI
  • You can search for file names or content
  • It does look in sub-folders.

Given your scenario (no terminal commands, simple to use interface) I think theres no better option.

PS: on the Contains the text: input field the '.' character is a wildcard. To escape it you have to use '[]'. E.g.: type Contains the text: [.]myFunction to search for .myFunction

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  • yup, I didn't see i could add details – Santosh Linkha Mar 8 '11 at 13:43
  • 1
    yes, you can... just click on "select more options" and you can have not only "Contains the Text" but also tons of other search options (date, user, file sizer, even regex expressions). I also missed this little beast for a long time... i wish it was integrated into Nautilus (kinda like F3 in Windows Explorer) – MestreLion Mar 8 '11 at 13:53
  • this is the same as i advised earlier gnome-search-tool – Mikl Mar 8 '11 at 14:19
  • @Octavian: Thanks for providing the screenshots! – MestreLion Mar 9 '11 at 16:02
  • @Mikl: its the same result, the difference lies in approach on how to invoke it: your initial solution was focused on command-line invocation (or ALT+F2) and only briefly mentioned it could also be found on menu. Didnt say where, or what the program name was in the menu. Only after i post my answer you edited yours to provide the menu path and name. For newcomers, a Menu-oriented approach is always better than CLI invocation. ALT+F2 should only be used when the software is not avaliable in menu. – MestreLion Mar 9 '11 at 16:10


 grep -nr <your text> .

put the text that you want to find inside the <your text>

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  • does it look in sub folders – Santosh Linkha Mar 8 '11 at 9:02
  • experimentx@workmateX:/var/www/testingzedn$ grep -nr application.ini is taking forever ... am i incorrect – Santosh Linkha Mar 8 '11 at 9:07
  • need the dot . , it will look into the folder with the -r – wizztjh Mar 8 '11 at 9:18
  • grep -nr application.ini . – wizztjh Mar 8 '11 at 9:20

I am a fan of searchmonkey (GPL, free, cross-platform, pretty light on resources and very fast).

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  • Looks good. Will give it a try on other platforms since the top voted answer fits my bill on Ubuntu. – Amol Gawai Aug 24 '12 at 10:18
  • Seems it does not work on 64 bit operating systems (I faced the problem on win 7 64 bit). This is deal breaker for me as I use 64 bit OSes everywhere. Looked promising though. – Amol Gawai Aug 24 '12 at 10:25
  • @AmolGawai working perfectly at ubuntu 64bit here... – Aquarius Power May 20 '17 at 5:46

you can use

find . -name '*.*' -exec grep -Hn 'text to find' '{}' \;

-name '*.*' or '*.txt' (use file mask here)
'text to find' (place text you want to find here)

find . -type f -exec grep -Hn 'text to find' '{}' \;

if you want to search all files

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  • For all files, do not use -name '*.*' as files do not always have an extension. Use -type f instead (for searching in all files). Replace {} by "{}", otherwise file names with whitespace in it do not get searched correctly. – Lekensteyn Mar 8 '11 at 12:31
  • @Lekensteyn i have edited my post. but i made some test with files with whitespaces in names and no error while using {} witout quotes. – Mikl Mar 8 '11 at 13:43
  • just tested it too and you are right, whitespace is not a problem. In some shells, the quotes might still be necessary to prevent shell expansion. From man find: "Both of these con‐ structions might need to be escaped (with a `\') or quoted to protect them from expansion by the shell." – Lekensteyn Mar 8 '11 at 14:13

GUI (Graphical) tool:


you can find it in Ubuntu main menu

Menu -> Accessories -> Search for Files

or run it using hot key ALT+F2

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  • 1
    Just an update for newer Ubuntu versions: on Unity interface (Ubuntu 12 or superior), click on Dash Home (the first icon on toolbar), type "search" and select "Search Files" application. – josircg Dec 9 '13 at 13:09

Regexxer will let you search text in files. Not sure what you mean by "in folders".

enter link description here

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Graphical search:

in Kubuntu open Dolphin, then Edit->Find (Ctrl+F)

change from filename to Content and adjust from where to look for.

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Recoll does indexing and you can do full text searches of documents and email.

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  • Looking into 50.000 folders is a pain :D if you don't index the data, so if you cannot buy a SSD disk, install any indexing tool before you waste time looking for files. Do the job once. Even if is not an answer to current question is a good point of view. – m3nda Aug 30 '15 at 15:54

I compared three of the suggestions in here with 64 bit 16.04 Kubuntu:

  1. Searchmonkey works with 64-bit Ubuntu nowadays. It is similar to regexxer. It appeared fast, but naturally it is much slower than index based search.
  2. Search for Files and Alt-F2 don't work with the KDE Ubuntu version.
  3. My recommendation is Recoll and I have added some installation instructions for it. For me, the default installation supported PDF (test this!), DOCX, TAR, ZIP etc.

    sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ $(lsb_release -sc) partner"
    sudo apt-get install recoll antiword
  4. First line is probably not required: it adds partner installation repository.

  5. Antiword is optional. It is needed to support older .doc files.
  6. Enable following symbolic links and the root directory from Recoll Preferencies if necessary.
  7. Create cron job for Recoll indexing using the GUI or make it to start on every login.
  8. Change the Recoll setting in preferences from English to All languages if appropriate for you.
  9. Start the indexing, at least for me it was surprisingly fast and didn't use all resources so I was able to continue using the laptop.
  10. I have found one bug from Recoll so far: if you search for file name with "PST", it doesn't find it even though it is in uppercase. "pst" works and it finds both uppercase and lowercase names.
  11. See more about recoll from https://www.lesbonscomptes.com/recoll/features.html

If you wish to add support for Outlook PST files, then you need to execute the following as well.

    sudo apt-get install readpst
    mkdir ~/PST
    find -L ~ -name "*.pst" -print | awk "{ printf \"%s%s %s%s%s %s\\n\", \"mkdir ~/PST/\", \$1, \"; readpst -o ~/PST/\", \$1, \" -D -j 4 -r -tea -u -w\", \$1 }" > /tmp/myPstFiles
    cat /tmp/myPstFiles
    chmod 755 /tmp/myPstFiles
  1. Change root directory from ~ to / if necessary in the find command.
  2. My find script has a bug in it: it creates too long directory structure now. But it was easier for me to modify the temp file manually than to find a fix to this. Main target was that this will work for several PST files and it does that.
  3. See more about Readpst from http://www.five-ten-sg.com/libpst/rn01re01.html and https://blog.robseder.com/2015/08/29/working-with-a-pst-file-in-linux/
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I'm really want to introduce one tool which is based on ncurses library to provide the text-based user interface. The tool called NCGREP(grep based on ncurses) is mainly for search text in the specific folder. Hope this is what you want. This source of the tool has been hosted on github.com, see more at https://github.com/ncgrep/ncgrep

enter image description here
Click image to see demo animation

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