Written by 4:10 pm Microsoft, PowerShell, Windows, Windows Server • 13 Comments

Powershell: Search for String or grep for Powershell

This shows you how you can search in files for specific content with Windows PowerShell. This also “replaces” the Windows command-line utility “findstr”. In the Unix/Linux world, you mostly use the command grep for doing the same. So you can think of Select-String as PowerShell version of Grep. The Select-String cmdlet searches for text and text patterns in input strings and files. You can use Select-String similar to grep in UNIX or findstr in Windows.

grep syntax

grep (options) files.txt

grep example

grep "text I search" *.log

In Windows PowerShell we can use the Select-String to search strings in files

Select-String -Path C:\temp\*.log -Pattern "Contoso"

If you need some more options, for example, you need also check subfolders (-Recurse) or you need additional filter for files you wanna check, you can use the Get-Childitem first.

Get-ChildItem C:\temp -Filter *.log -Recurse | Select-String "Contoso"

If you have to copy all the files with a specific content, you can simply add a Copy-Item cmdlet.

Get-ChildItem C:\temp -Filter *.log -Recurse | Select-String "Contoso" | Copy-Item -Destination C:\temp2

More Information about Select-String on Microsoft Docs. Select-String can also be very useful to count your lines of code in different files using PowerShell.

PS C:\> Get-Help Select-String




Finds text in strings and files.


Select-String [-Path] <string[]> [-Pattern] <string[]> [-AllMatches] [-CaseSensitive] [-Context <Int32[]>] [-Encoding <string>] [-Exclude <string[]>] [-Include <string[]>] [-List] [-NotMatch] [-Quiet] [-SimpleMatch] [<CommonParameters>]

Select-String -InputObject <psobject> [-Pattern] <string[]> [-AllMatches] [-CaseSensitive] [-Context <Int32[]>] [-Encoding <string>] [-Exclude <string[]>] [-Include <string[]>] [-List] [-NotMatch] [-Quiet] [-SimpleMatch] [<CommonParameters>]


The Select-String cmdlet searches for text and text patterns in input strings and files. You can use it like Grep in UNIX and Findstr in Windows with Select-String in PowerShell.

Select-String is based on lines of text. By default, Select-String finds the first match in each line and, for each match, it displays the file name, line number, and all text in the line containing the match.

However, you can direct it to detect multiple matches per line, display text before and after the match, or display only a Boolean value (true or false) that indicates whether a match is found.

Select-String uses regular expression matching, but it can also perform a simple match that searches the input for the text that you specify.

Select-String can display all of the text matches or stop after the first match in each input file. It can also display all text that does not match the specified pattern.

You can also specify that Select-String should expect a particular character encoding, such as when you are searching files of Unicode text.


Online version: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=113388


To see the examples, type: “get-help Select-String -examples”.
For more information, type: “get-help Select-String -detailed”.
For technical information, type: “get-help Select-String -full”.

PS C:\>

I hope this gives you an idea of how you can use a grep and findstr replacement in PowerShell using Select-String. Also, have a look at my blog post about how to install PowerShell 6 and PowerShell 7. If you have questions, let me know in the comments.

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