pdfgrep - Short alias for grep-from-pdf


This document describes version 0.015 of pdfgrep (from Perl distribution App-PDFUtils), released on 2023-02-10.


pdfgrep --help (or -h, -?)

pdfgrep --version (or -v)

pdfgrep [--all] [--color=str] [--count|-c] [--dash-prefix-inverts|--no-dash-prefix-inverts|--nodash-prefix-inverts] [--debug|--log-level=level|--quiet|--trace|--verbose] [(--file=filename)+|--files-json=json] [--format=name|--json] [--ignore-case|-i|--no-ignore-case|--noignore-case] [--invert-match|-v|--no-invert-match|--noinvert-match] [--line-number|-n] [--(no)naked-res] [--page-result[=program]|--view-result[=program]] [--quiet-arg|-q|--silent] [(--regexp=str)+|--regexps-json=json|(-e=str)+] -- [pattern] [file] ...


This is a wrapper for pdftotext + grep-like utility that is based on AppBase::Grep. The unique features include multiple patterns and --dash-prefix-inverts.


* marks required options.

Main options


If not specified, will search for all PDF files recursively from the current directory.

Can also be specified as the 2nd command-line argument and onwards.

Can be specified multiple times.


See --file.

Can also be specified as the 2nd command-line argument and onwards.


Specify *string* to search for.

Can also be specified as the 1st command-line argument.


Specify additional *regexp pattern* to search for.

Can be specified multiple times.


Specify additional *regexp pattern* to search for (JSON-encoded).

See --regexp.


Alias for --regexp.

See --regexp.

Can be specified multiple times.

General output control options


Specify when to show color (never, always, or auto/when interactive).

Default value:


Valid values:

--count, -c

Supress normal output, return a count of matching lines.

--quiet-arg, --silent, -q

Do not print matches, only return appropriate exit code.

Logging options


Shortcut for --log-level=debug.


Set log level.

By default, these log levels are available (in order of increasing level of importance, from least important to most): trace, debug, info, warn/warning, error, fatal. By default, the level is usually set to warn, which means that log statements with level info and less important levels will not be shown. To increase verbosity, choose info, debug, or trace.

For more details on log level and logging, as well as how new logging levels can be defined or existing ones modified, see Log::ger.


Shortcut for --log-level=error.


Shortcut for --log-level=trace.


Shortcut for --log-level=info.

Matching control options


Require all patterns to match, instead of just one.


When given pattern that starts with dash "-FOO", make it to mean "^(?!.*FOO)".

This is a convenient way to search for lines that do not match a pattern. Instead of using -v to invert the meaning of all patterns, this option allows you to invert individual pattern using the dash prefix, which is also used by Google search and a few other search engines.

--ignore-case, -i

If set to true, will search case-insensitively.

--invert-match, -v

Invert the sense of matching.

Output line prefix control options

--line-number, -n

Show line number along with matches.

Output options


Choose output format, e.g. json, text.

Default value:


Output can be displayed in multiple formats, and a suitable default format is chosen depending on the application and/or whether output destination is interactive terminal (i.e. whether output is piped). This option specifically chooses an output format.


Set output format to json.


When outputing as JSON, strip result envelope.

Default value:


By default, when outputing as JSON, the full enveloped result is returned, e.g.:


The reason is so you can get the status (1st element), status message (2nd element) as well as result metadata/extra result (4th element) instead of just the result (3rd element). However, sometimes you want just the result, e.g. when you want to pipe the result for more post-processing. In this case you can use --naked-res so you just get:


Filter output through a pager.

This option will pipe the output to a specified pager program. If pager program is not specified, a suitable default e.g. less is chosen.


View output using a viewer.

This option will first save the output to a temporary file, then open a viewer program to view the temporary file. If a viewer program is not chosen, a suitable default, e.g. the browser, is chosen.

Other options

--help, -h, -?

Display help message and exit.

--version, -V

Display program's version and exit.


This script has shell tab completion capability with support for several shells.


To activate bash completion for this script, put:

 complete -C pdfgrep pdfgrep

in your bash startup (e.g. ~/.bashrc). Your next shell session will then recognize tab completion for the command. Or, you can also directly execute the line above in your shell to activate immediately.

It is recommended, however, that you install modules using cpanm-shcompgen which can activate shell completion for scripts immediately.


To activate tcsh completion for this script, put:

 complete pdfgrep 'p/*/`pdfgrep`/'

in your tcsh startup (e.g. ~/.tcshrc). Your next shell session will then recognize tab completion for the command. Or, you can also directly execute the line above in your shell to activate immediately.

It is also recommended to install shcompgen (see above).

other shells

For fish and zsh, install shcompgen as described above.


Please visit the project's homepage at


Source repository is at


perlancar <>


To contribute, you can send patches by email/via RT, or send pull requests on GitHub.

Most of the time, you don't need to build the distribution yourself. You can simply modify the code, then test via:

 % prove -l

If you want to build the distribution (e.g. to try to install it locally on your system), you can install Dist::Zilla, Dist::Zilla::PluginBundle::Author::PERLANCAR, Pod::Weaver::PluginBundle::Author::PERLANCAR, and sometimes one or two other Dist::Zilla- and/or Pod::Weaver plugins. Any additional steps required beyond that are considered a bug and can be reported to me.


This software is copyright (c) 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2017 by perlancar <>.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.


Please report any bugs or feature requests on the bugtracker website

When submitting a bug or request, please include a test-file or a patch to an existing test-file that illustrates the bug or desired feature.