Algorithmic blackout:

  1. problem: find the files that match
  2. problem: stack/buffer the matches
  3. move the cursor to the next file of the stack and thereby to the location of the match
  4. repeat step 2

Things I have used earlier to tackle the issue.

Vi/m: (the below works in an ubuntu server, perhaps configured by sysadmin but cannot get it work locally)

:grep -r "[^|]*|[^|]*|[^|]*|.*" * 
<edit something>
<edit something>
<damn forgot it>
<forward and so on>

emacs: M-x grep Enter and then to have grep -r "[^|]*|[^|]*|[^|]*|.*" * but now in mystery. How can you do the fast hierarchical edits?

shellesque: then I once created a wild one-liner with some grep-xargs-something-things-vi but I am starting to smell reinventing-the-wheel.

Sorry about the vim/emacs juxtaposition but I don't care which tool you use, use the most convenient (xargs/emacs/vi/m just examples).

1 Answer 1


M-xgrep in Emacs, then I can use the usual keys for following the links representing the found matches, and also the usual general-purpose Emacs keys for switching between buffers back and forth (or for whatever I want).

One can also learn the specialized keys for jumping to the next match.

The "specialized" key to jump immediately to the next found match is quite easy to remember: it's M-g n (go to next) (or C-x `) for next-error. next-error is a command that is more general-purpose than just for grep; from the help (per C-h k M-g n):

[It] normally uses the most recently started compilation, grep, or occur buffer.

(Indeed, first I learned it for LaTeX "compilation".)

More of the general "go to" commands bound to keys in my Emacs (as per M-g C-h):

Global Bindings Starting With M-g:
key             binding
---             -------

M-g ESC      Prefix Command
M-g g        goto-line
M-g n        next-error
M-g p        previous-error

M-g M-g      goto-line
M-g M-n      next-error
M-g M-p      previous-error
  • @imz: just updated that so how can you traverse the files you find with the command? I want the cursor directly to the match point with each point to edit fast. How?
    – user2362
    Mar 16, 2011 at 2:16
  • @hhh: How to traverse: the primitive way is to move cursor to the interesting match in the buffer with the list of the matches, then press Enter--this will "follow the link" and bring you to the "source" of the match.(See the description of the grep-mode for more keys besides Enter that are useful in the buffer with matches: e.g., C-h f grep-mode.) Or the 2nd "smart" way without the hassle of jumping from buffer to buffer that is now described in my updated answer in detail: M-g n and so on. Mar 16, 2011 at 2:44
  • Re grep invocation in Emacs. If you are in eshell inside Emacs, you can issue a usual grep ... shell command, and this will invoke the Emacs buffer with grep matches, which in their turn you can use in your Emacs (traverse) the way described in the answer above. Mar 16, 2011 at 3:37
  • 1
    @imz: which emacs you are using? My emacs GNU Emacs 21.4.1 with M-g C-h returns commands related to things such as bold, italics and such things, nothing to do with browsing. How did you press? I am a bit lost with M-g n also, not sure what it really means (not sure whether different emacs or mispressing).
    – user2362
    Mar 19, 2011 at 12:40
  • @hhh I'm using GNU Emacs 22.2. Well, if I remember correctly, some of the M-g stuff was introduced recently. But C-x ` (a "synonym" for M-g n) must have been there for ages. I don't know what kind of "things such as bold, italics" you could see and why. What's unclear about pressing M-g n? (Perhaps, it hasn't been added yet in your version of Emacs; try C-x ` then.) Mar 19, 2011 at 16:07

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