Searching Projects

SPC / and SPC s p (spacemacs/helm-project-smart-do-search) enables a a fuzzy logic search through the content of all the files in the current project. A helm pop-up displays, typing a pattern shows matching lines from all the files in the project.

Use C-j and C-k to move down and up through the search results.

RET selects the search result and shows the file and line in the current buffer.

SPC s l will repeat the last search

M-n and M-p will scroll through the search patterns whenever the search pop-up window is open

Spacemacs Helm-Ag ripgrep pattern search results

Replacing text across a project

Use search results to replace text across a project.

Open files from search results

With a search open, C-c C-f enables helm-follow. When moving through results with C-j and C-k the corresponding file is opened in the current buffer.

Set helm-follow-mode-persistent to true in .spacemacs to remember the use of C-c C-f follow mode for helm actions.

     (helm :variables
           helm-follow-mode-persistent t)

Search tool binary

Searching requires an external tool to be available on your system PATH. Ripgrep is the recommended search tool, although silver searcher (ag) is a viable alternative. Using grep is noticeably slower and has fewer options for searching.

Ripgrep search tool options

Option flags can be passed to the search tool binary to tailor the results returned in the helm-ag pop-up window. The option flags can be used before or after the search pattern.

SPC h m rg shows the man page for ripgrep which explains the options of that search tool. Replace rg with the command line name of the search tool binary installed.

Including options without their correct argument will show a warning, e.g. the -g option without a glob pattern or -A without a number. Once the option has a valid value the error should be replaced by search results.

Spacemacs Helm-Ag globbing option error without pattern

Searching specific files

Include or exclude specific files by their names or filename extensions.

Use the -g option for a filename to search (globbing), or -g! for a filename to ignore.

-g*.clj map shows only results of searching for map from files ending in .clj

Spacemacs Helm-Ag ripgrep globbing .clj files

-g!*.md map will search for map for all files except those ending in .md

Spacemacs Helm-Ag ripgrep globbing not .md files

Showing more lines for each match

-A option for ripgrep is used to show a number of lines after each match of the pattern. -A4 will show the 4 additional lines after the line containing a matching pattern.

If there are multiple pattern matches in the same file within the scope of extra lines, then contiguous lines are shown with 4 lines after the final pattern line.

SPC / with a pattern of -A4 layout will show each line containing the pattern layout and 4 lines after it.

Spacemacs Helm-Ag globbing option error without pattern

This option can also be combined with the -g option above.

Example search patterns

Additional search patterns that work with ripgrep or ag.

-G*time - search for the word "time" in all files

-G*time -g*.clj - search for the word "time" in .clj files only

-tclojure time - search for "time" in all .{clj,cljs,cljc} files

uno\ duo\ tre - search for the string "uno duo tre"

-C5 foo - search for "foo" but show 5 lines of context before and after the match

(?:^|[^\w-])time(?:[^\w-]|$) - search for "time" even in kebab-case words. i.e. search for the full word "time" including "-" to be a word character

Ripgrep documentation has many regular expression examples

Searching hidden files

Searching a project using SPC / and SPC s p will ignore hidden files, those that start with .

-- --hidden or -- -uu after the search pattern to include hidden files in the search

For example, to search for the pattern scissors

scissors -- --hidden

Searching hidden files may slow searching

Ripgrep configuration and arguments

Define an environment variable called RIPGREP_CONFIG_PATH set to the file name and path

export RIPGREP_CONFIG_PATH=~/.config/ripgrep.config
Argument Description
-u don't respect .gitignore or .ignore files
-uu same as -u and show hidden files
-uuu same as -uu and search binary files
--max-columns Maximum number of columns (Spacemacs default: 150)
--glob=!git/* glob patters, ! excluded
--smart-case Ignore case


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