I have a bunch of .html files in a directory. I want to look through each file and match a pattern (MD5). All of that is easy enough. The problem is I need to know what file the match was found in.

cat *.html | grep 75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31

Only returns the HTML page content where the match is found, but it doesn't tell me the file which it was found in. How can I get grep to show me the filename where my match is found?

  • The provided suggestion really doesn't work.... All I get is 'standard input' cat *.html | grep -i -H 1ee024007823cc0bfbefba98ba1e1f4c (standard input):<html><head><title> Feb 19, 2015 at 7:02
  • 8
    you're missing the point. You don't need to use cat. The cat prevents grep from distinguishing individual files.
    – muru
    Feb 19, 2015 at 7:17
  • You might found useful this Stack Overflow post. Aug 3, 2017 at 0:26

6 Answers 6

grep -H 75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31 *.html

-H, --with-filename
              Print the file name for each match. This is
              the default when there is more than one file
              to search.

I use this one all the time to look for files containing a string, RECURSIVELY in a directory (that means, traversing any sub sub sub folder) grep -Ril "yoursearchtermhere"

  • R is to search recursively (following symlinks)
  • i is to make it case insensitive
  • l is just to list the name of the files.

so answering your question grep -l '75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31' *.html will do but you can just do grep -Ril '75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31' to look for that string, case insensitive, in any file in any subfolder

  • macOS requires a file def always, may it be a wildcard. Otherwise, it assumes input from stdin (grep: warning: recursive search of stdin, whatever recursive stdin input would mean :-). In other words: grep -Ril 'texttofind' *
    – Ville
    Jun 9, 2018 at 23:47
  • grep -RiH 'pattern' shows files name and matched line
    – Ikrom
    Oct 12, 2018 at 8:35

You can try this

grep -rl '75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31' * > found.txt
grep -r -H 75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31 *.html | awk -F : ' { print $1 } '

Alternative to

grep -r -l 75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31 *.html

Doing above will search recursively in the folder and subfolders and print the path of the file...


The answer posted by Cyrus is absolutely proper and is The Right WayTM to do it with grep if we only need to find files. When filenames need to additional parsing or operations on the matched filenames, we can resort to using while loop with if statement. Here's an example where list of filenames comes from very commonly used find+while structure for safe parsing of filenames.

find -type f -name "*.html" -print0 | while IFS= read -r -d '' filename
    if grep -q 'PATTERN' "$filename"
        printf "%s found in %s\n" 'PATTERN' "$filename"
        # Here we can insert another command or function
        # to perform other operations on the filename

I would do it like this:

find . -type f -name=*.html -exec grep -H 75447A831E943724DD2DE9959E72EE31 {} \;

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