Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2


Searches for a specific string of text in a file or files. After searching the specified file or files, find displays any lines of text that contain the specified string.


find [/v] [/c] [/n] [/i] "String" [[Drive**:**][Path]FileName[...]]

  • /v
    Displays all lines that do not contain the specified String.
  • /c
    Counts the lines that contain the specified String and displays the total.
  • /n
    Precedes each line with the file's line number.
  • /i
    Specifies that the search is not case-sensitive.
  • " String "
    Required. Specifies the group of characters that you want to search for. You must enclose String in quotation marks (that is, "String").
  • [Drive:][Path]FileName
    Specifies the location and name of the file in which to search for the specified string.
  • /?
    Displays help at the command prompt.
  • Specifying a string

    If you do not use /i, find searches for exactly what you specify for String. For example, the find command treats the characters "a" and "A" differently. If you use /i, however, find is not case-sensitive and treats "a" and "A" as the same character.

    If the string you want to search for contains quotation marks, you must use two quotation marks for each quotation mark contained within the string (that is, "StringContaining""QuotationMarks").

  • Using find as a filter

    If you omit a file name, find acts as a filter, taking input from the standard input source (usually the keyboard, a pipe, or a redirected file) and then displaying any lines that contain String.

  • Ordering command syntax

    You can type parameters and command-line options for the find command in any order.

  • Using wildcards

    You cannot use wildcards (that is, * and ?) in file names or extensions that you specify with the find command. To search for a string in a set of files that you specify with wildcards, you can use the find command in a for command.

  • Using /v or /n with /c

    If you use /c and /v in the same command line, find displays a count of the lines that do not contain the specified string. If you specify /c and /n in the same command line, find ignores /n.

  • Using find with carriage returns

    The find command does not recognize carriage returns. When you use find to search for text in a file that includes carriage returns, you must limit the search string to text that can be found between carriage returns (that is, a string that is not likely to be interrupted by a carriage return). For example, find does not report a match for the string "tax file" wherever a carriage return occurs between the word "tax" and the word "file."


To display all lines from that contain the string "Pencil Sharpener", type:

find "Pencil Sharpener"

To find a string that contains text within quotation marks, you must first enclose the entire string in quotation marks. Second, you must use two quotation marks for each quotation mark contained within the string. To find "The scientists labeled their paper "for discussion only." It is not a final report." in Report.doc, type:

find "The scientists labeled their paper ""for discussion only."" It is not a final report." report.doc

If you want to search for a set of files, you can use the find command with the for command. To search the current directory for files that have the extension .bat and that contain the string "PROMPT," type:

for %f in (*.bat) do find "PROMPT" %f

To search your hard disk to find and display the file names on drive C that contain the string "CPU," use the pipe (|) to direct the results of a dir command to find as follows:

dir c:\ /s /b | find "CPU"

Because find searches are case-sensitive and dir produces uppercase output, you must either type the string "CPU" in uppercase letters or use the /i command-line option with find.

Formatting legend

Format Meaning


Information that the user must supply


Elements that the user must type exactly as shown

Ellipsis (...)

Parameter that can be repeated several times in a command line

Between brackets ([])

Optional items

Between braces ({}); choices separated by pipe (|). Example: {even|odd}

Set of choices from which the user must choose only one

Courier font

Code or program output

See Also


Using filters
Using command redirection operators
Command-line reference A-Z
Command shell overview