findstr is a command-line tool in Windows CMD that searches for patterns of text in files. It is similar to the UNIX/Linux grep command and can be used to search single or multiple files for lines that contain a specified string or expressions. findstr is particularly useful in scripting, log analysis, and automated tasks where filtering text is required.


The basic syntax of findstr is:

FINDSTR [options] "string" [files]
  • "string": The text or pattern to search for. This can be plain text or a regular expression.
  • [files]: One or more files to search within. If no files are specified, findstr searches the text piped from another command.


findstr offers a variety of options to refine the search:

  • /B: Matches patterns at the beginning of lines.
  • /E: Matches patterns at the end of lines.
  • /L: Uses literal text for searching. Disables regular expressions for simpler searching.
  • /R: Uses regular expressions for searching. This is the default behavior.
  • /S: Searches directories and subdirectories.
  • /I: Ignores the case of characters when searching.
  • /X: Prints lines that match exactly.
  • /V: Prints only lines that do not contain the match.
  • /N: Displays line numbers with the output.
  • /M: Prints only the filename if a file contains a match.
  • /O: Prints the byte offset within the file before each line of text.
  • /P: Skips files with non-printable characters.
  • /OFF[LINE]: Do not skip files with offline attribute set.
  • /A: Specifies the color attribute with two hexadecimal digits. (e.g., /A:4F).


  1. Find a simple text string in a file:
    FINDSTR "hello" myfile.txt
  2. Using regular expressions:
    FINDSTR /R "^Example.*end$" config.txt
  3. Case-insensitive search across multiple files:
    FINDSTR /I /S "todo" *.txt
  4. Using the pipeline to filter output:
    DIR /B | FINDSTR "2023"
  5. Search for text that exactly matches the whole line:
    FINDSTR /X "exact line of text" data.txt

Common Issues

  • Encoding Issues: findstr might not always handle Unicode or UTF-8 encoded files correctly. Converting files to a compatible encoding often works.
  • Complex Regular Expressions: findstr has limited regex support. For complex expressions, consider using PowerShell or other tools like sed or awk available via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).


Combine findstr with other commands to perform advanced text processing:

DIR /B /S | FINDSTR /I "log$" | FINDSTR /V "archive" > result.txt

This chain lists all files (DIR /B /S), filters those ending with “log” (FINDSTR /I "log$"), excludes any that include “archive” (FINDSTR /V "archive"), and saves the output to result.txt.

  • grep – Similar functionality available in Unix/Linux systems or via WSL.
  • type – Displays the contents of a text file (type file.txt | FINDSTR "search").
  • more and find – Other commands for viewing and filtering text in files.

For further reading, consult the official Microsoft documentation.