I have a quite large directory that I frequently need to search through for specific lines. Currently I simply use the built in grep:

:vim "search" **/*.cpp | cw

The problem is that going through all files in the repo takes ~1-2 minutes normally due to having to the OS globbing all files, and it really slows down development. On the command line, I can store file paths in a file and use them without having to reindex everytime:

> find . -type f -name "*.cpp" > cppfiles
> grep "search" `cat cppfiles` # possible to reuse the index files for multiple searches. Goes _a lot_ faster.

Can I do the same thing with the built-in search?

1 Answer 1


On unix like systems, you can use backticks directly in the vimgrep command (in any command that takes file names)

:vimgrep "search" `cat cppfiles` | cw

There is vim-only way by loading the cpp files into the argument list:

:argadd **/*.cpp
:vimgrep "search" ##

## is a special notation for the argument list.

  • I thought I tried this, but alas. However, it turns out that this is still comparatively slow -- I think I'll just resort to grepping in the terminal. Thanks!
    – pingul
    Dec 11, 2017 at 21:15
  • You may also want to use vim's :grep instead, which uses grepprg (by default the program "grep"). It is generally faster than :vimgrep.
    – Mass
    Dec 11, 2017 at 21:43
  • Oh wow -- :grep is a lot faster! Do you know how I can use it in a good fashion? Currently I use the command command! -nargs Grep :vimgrep <q-args> 'cat hcppfiles' | cw, but changing it to grep does not display the search results as neatly (I can't jump to the different files, for example).
    – pingul
    Dec 11, 2017 at 21:57
  • Related Vimcasts episode: Search multiple files with :vimgrep. I also would recommend use :grep. Even better use a faster grep, like The Silver Searcher or ripgrep. However it looks like you are using C/C++ which means you can use ctags and/or cscope. Which will be a precomputed database so can jump to definitions instantly. See :h tags & :h cscope. Dec 12, 2017 at 15:36
  • @pingul It should work by default. After :grep you should see the entries in the quickfix window (doing :cw) just like with vimgrep. Make sure grepprg and grepformat are set sensibly (defaults ought to work).
    – Mass
    Dec 12, 2017 at 15:38

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