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by ggreer

A code-searching tool similar to ack, but faster.

20.5K Stars 1.2K Forks Last release: Not found Apache License 2.0 2.1K Commits 49 Releases

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The Silver Searcher

A code searching tool similar to


, with a focus on speed.

Build Status

Floobits Status

#ag on Freenode

Do you know C? Want to improve ag? I invite you to pair with me.

What's so great about Ag?

  • It is an order of magnitude faster than
  • It ignores file patterns from your
  • If there are files in your source repo you don't want to search, just add their patterns to a
    file. (*cough*
  • The command name is 33% shorter than
    , and all keys are on the home row!

Ag is quite stable now. Most changes are new features, minor bug fixes, or performance improvements. It's much faster than Ack in my benchmarks:

ack test\_blah ~/code/ 104.66s user 4.82s system 99% cpu 1:50.03 total ag test\_blah ~/code/ 4.67s user 4.58s system 286% cpu 3.227 total

Ack and Ag found the same results, but Ag was 34x faster (3.2 seconds vs 110 seconds). My


directory is about 8GB. Thanks to git/hg/ignore, Ag only searched 700MB of that.

There are also graphs of performance across releases.

How is it so fast?

  • Ag uses Pthreads to take advantage of multiple CPU cores and search files in parallel.
  • Files are
    ed instead of read into a buffer.
  • Literal string searching uses Boyer-Moore strstr.
  • Regex searching uses PCRE's JIT compiler (if Ag is built with PCRE >=8.21).
  • Ag calls
    before executing the same regex on every file.
  • Instead of calling
    on every pattern in your ignore files, non-regex patterns are loaded into arrays and binary searched.

I've written several blog posts showing how I've improved performance. These include how I added pthreads, [wrote my own


](, benchmarked every revision to find performance regressions, and profiled with gprof and Valgrind.



brew install the\_silver\_searcher


port install the\_silver\_searcher


  • Ubuntu >= 13.10 (Saucy) or Debian >= 8 (Jessie)

apt-get install silversearcher-ag
  • Fedora 21 and lower

yum install the\_silver\_searcher
  • Fedora 22+

dnf install the\_silver\_searcher
  • RHEL7+

yum install epel-release.noarch the\_silver\_searcher
  • Gentoo

emerge -a sys-apps/the\_silver\_searcher
  • Arch

pacman -S the\_silver\_searcher
  • Slackware

sbopkg -i the\_silver\_searcher
  • openSUSE

zypper install the\_silver\_searcher
  • CentOS

yum install the\_silver\_searcher
  • NixOS/Nix/Nixpkgs

nix-env -iA silver-searcher


  • FreeBSD

pkg install the\_silver\_searcher
  • OpenBSD/NetBSD

pkg\_add the\_silver\_searcher


  • Win32/64

Unofficial daily builds are available.

  • winget

winget install "The Silver Searcher"

Notes: - This installs a release of ag.exe optimized for Windows. - winget is intended to become the default package manager client for Windows.
As of June 2020, it's still in beta, and can be installed using instructions there. - The setup script in the Ag's winget package installs ag.exe in the first directory that matches one of these criteria: 1. Over a previous instance of ag.exe from the same origin found in the PATH 2. In the directory defined in environment variable bindir_%PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE% 3. In the directory defined in environment variable bindir 4. In the directory defined in environment variable windir

  • Chocolatey

choco install ag
  • MSYS2

pacman -S mingw-w64-{i686,x86\_64}-ag
  • Cygwin

Run the relevant [


](, and select "the_silver_searcher" in the "Utils" category.

Building from source

Building master

  1. Install dependencies (Automake, pkg-config, PCRE, LZMA):


brew install automake pkg-config pcre xz


port install automake pkgconfig pcre xz
  • Ubuntu/Debian:

apt-get install -y automake pkg-config libpcre3-dev zlib1g-dev liblzma-dev
  • Fedora:

yum -y install pkgconfig automake gcc zlib-devel pcre-devel xz-devel
  • CentOS:

yum -y groupinstall "Development Tools" yum -y install pcre-devel xz-devel zlib-devel
  • openSUSE:

zypper source-install --build-deps-only the\_silver\_searcher
\* Windows: It's complicated. See [this wiki page](\_silver\_searcher/wiki/Windows).
  1. Run the build script (which just runs aclocal, automake, etc):


On Windows (inside an msys/MinGW shell):

make -f Makefile.w32
  1. Make install:

sudo make install

Building a release tarball

GPG-signed releases are available here.

Building release tarballs requires the same dependencies, except for automake and pkg-config. Once you've installed the dependencies, just run:

./configure make make install

You may need to use


or run as root for the make install.

Editor Integration


You can use Ag with ack.vim by adding the following line to your



let g:ackprg = 'ag --nogroup --nocolor --column'


let g:ackprg = 'ag --vimgrep'

Which has the same effect but will report every match on the line.


You can use ag.el as an Emacs front-end to Ag. See also: helm-ag.


TextMate users can use Ag with my fork of the popular AckMate plugin, which lets you use both Ack and Ag for searching. If you already have AckMate you just want to replace Ack with Ag, move or delete

"~/Library/Application Support/TextMate/PlugIns/AckMate.tmplugin/Contents/Resources/ackmate\_ack"

and run

ln -s /usr/local/bin/ag "~/Library/Application Support/TextMate/PlugIns/AckMate.tmplugin/Contents/Resources/ackmate\_ack"

Other stuff you might like

  • Ack - Better than grep. Without Ack, Ag would not exist.
  • ack.vim
  • Exuberant Ctags - Faster than Ag, but it builds an index beforehand. Good for really big codebases.
  • Git-grep - As fast as Ag but only works on git repos.
  • fzf - A command-line fuzzy finder
  • ripgrep
  • Sack - A utility that wraps Ack and Ag. It removes a lot of repetition from searching and opening matching files.

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