"Windows grep utility."
Have you ever heard the term “grep”? In a few words, grep utilities are programs which allow you to search for strings inside files. The origin of the word comes from a Unix command, but for more information head over to Wikipedia, because here we're going to review AstroGrep - a lightweight and user friendly grep tool with support for printing and searching for strings with regular expressions. It also provides syntax highlighting for easier reading of a source code.
No installation required, here, just extract the downloaded ZIP archive and run the executable found inside it. In the archive you can also find a changelog for informational purposes.
AstroGrep works without problems under Windows XP, 7 and 8 operating systems. The only special requirement here is to have .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installed.
The program has a very simple and elegant interface. On the upper left you can see a box with 3 fields: Search Path, File Types and Search Text. They’re all pretty much self-explainable; just select the directory your files are located in, optionally select the file types you want to include in your search and then enter the string you want to search for in those files. If you click the “Search Options” button some more settings regarding your search will appear, such as the option to use regular expressions, search subfolders, show filenames only, include files modified before/after a specified date or skip hidden/system files and directories. Found files are displayed in the upper box on the right side of the window, with the selected file’s contents shown on the lower box.
AstroGrep has plenty of options that give you the ability to make your search as precise as you want. Apart from the fact that you can search using regular expressions, the search can be case-sensitive and match whole words (not parts of words). Furthermore, if you want to search large files you can enable the “Show File Names Only” option in order to display only the filenames and not the contents of the results. The “Negation” option is useful as well; it will return results that do not include the text you searched for.
When an item has been found, clicking on it will show the line with the matching string (which is highlighted) and, optionally, the number of that line. If you want to check the near lines you can use the “Context” feature which lets you view the x previous and next lines (x is a number defined by you). The results can be printed or saved as HTML, XML or Text files.
You can filter the results either by date modified, size or extension. Hidden and system files/folders can be skipped too.
There are no cons. We also noticed the fact that the author updates the program regularly to fix any existing bugs. Well done!
dnGREP is a free alternative to AstroGrep, sharing more or less the same features with it. Their main difference is that in addition to text and regular expression search, dnGREP also provides XPath and phonetic search. PowerGREP (paid) is a similar software, although it is a bit more advanced than dnGREP and AstroGrep.
AstroGrep’s job is to help you locate files containing particular strings, and it does that job smoothly and without issues. And you don’t even have to pay for it, so why not give it a try?
Requirements: .Net 4.0
What's new in this version: Bug fixes