How can I exclude directories from grep -R?

SOLUTION 1 (combine find and grep)

The purpose of this solution is not to deal with grep performance but to show a portable solution : should also work with busybox or GNU version older than 2.5.

Use find, for excluding directories foo and bar :

find /dir \( -name foo -prune \) -o \( -name bar -prune \) -o -name "*.sh" -print

Then combine find and the non-recursive use of grep, as a portable solution :

find /dir \( -name node_modules -prune \) -o -name "*.sh" -exec grep --color -Hn "your text to find" {} 2>/dev/null \;

SOLUTION 2 (using the --exclude-dir option of grep):

You know this solution already, but I add it since it’s the most recent and efficient solution. Note this is a less portable solution but more human-readable.

grep -R --exclude-dir=node_modules 'some pattern' /path/to/search

To exclude multiple directories, use --exclude-dir as:



If you frequently search through code, Ag (The Silver Searcher) is a much faster alternative to grep, that’s customized for searching code. For instance, it automatically ignores files and directories listed in .gitignore, so you don’t have to keep passing the same cumbersome exclude options to grep or find.

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