When using find, how do I return the file name and the line number when searching for a string? I manage to return the file name in one command and the line numbers with another one, but I can't seem to combine them.

File names: find . -type f -exec grep -l 'string to search' {} \;

Line numbers: find . -type f -exec grep -n 'string to search' {} \;


The command line switch -H forces grep to print the file name, even with just one file.

% grep -n 7 test.in
% grep -Hn 7 test.in

   -H, --with-filename
          Print the filename for each match.

Note that as Kojiro says in a comment, this is not part of the POSIX standard; it is in both GNU and BSD grep, but it's possible some systems don't have it (e.g. Solaris).

  • 4
    This answer could be improved by pointing out that the -H flag to grep is a nonstandard GNU extension and posing an alternative approach for non-GNU systems. – kojiro Oct 28 '12 at 3:43
find . -type f -exec grep -n 'string to search' /dev/null {} +

(or with GNU grep, see the -H option)


If your grep supports the recursive -r flag, this solves your request:

grep -rn "String to search " * 
  • 1
    That's true, but I don't see what this adds to the existing answers. – Wildcard Jul 18 '17 at 0:48
  • And if there’s only one (non-dot) file in the current directory, this doesn’t display the file’s name. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Oct 19 '17 at 23:56

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