Find and Replace Text in Files

Find Any Text in the Current File

You can search for text in your files using the Find & Replace tool.

  1. Within the current file, select the text you want to find.

  2. On the Editor or Live Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Find , and then select Find....

    A Find & Replace dialog box opens.

  3. Click Find Next to continue finding more occurrences of the text.

To find the previous occurrence of selected text (find backwards) in the current file, click Find Previous on the Find & Replace dialog box.

Find and Replace Functions or Variables in the Current File

To search for references to a particular function or variable, use the automatic highlighting feature for variables and functions. This feature is more efficient than using the text finding tools. Function and variable highlighting indicates only references to a particular function or variable, not other occurrences. For instance, it does not find instances of the function or variable name in comments. Furthermore, variable highlighting only includes references to the same variable. That is, if two variables use the same name, but are in different scopes, highlighting one does not cause the other to highlight.

Find references to a function or variable using automatic highlighting by following these steps:

  1. In a file open in the Editor, click an instance of the variable you want to find throughout the file. MATLAB® indicates all occurrences of that variable within the file by:

    • Highlighting them in teal blue (by default) throughout the file

    • Adding a marker for each in the indicator bar

      If a code analyzer indicator and a variable indicator appear on the same line in a file, the marker for the variable takes precedence.

  2. Hover over a marker in the indicator bar to see the line it represents.

  3. Click a marker in the indicator bar to navigate to that occurrence of the variable.

  4. Replace an instance of a function or variable by editing the occurrence at a line to which you have navigated.

This image shows an example of how the Editor looks with variable highlighting enabled. In the image, the variable i appears highlighted in sky blue, and the indicator bar contains three variable markers.

To disable automatic highlighting, go to the Home tab and in the Environment section, click Preferences. In MATLAB > Colors > Programming Tools, clear the Automatically highlight option.

Automatically Rename All Functions or Variables in a File

To help prevent typographical errors, MATLAB provides a feature that helps rename multiple references to a function or variable within a file when you manually change any of the following:

Function or Variable RenamedExample

Function name in a function declaration

Rename foo in:

function foo(m)

Input or output variable name in a function declaration

Rename y or m in:

function y = foo(m)

Variable name on the left side of assignment statement

Rename y in:

y = 1

As you rename such a function or variable, a tooltip opens if there is more than one reference to that variable or function in the file. The tooltip indicates that MATLAB will rename all instances of the function or variable in the file when you press Shift + Enter.

Typically, multiple references to a function appear when you use nested functions or local functions.

Note

MATLAB does not prompt you when you change:

  • The name of a global variable.

  • The function input and output arguments, varargin and varargout.

To undo automatic name changes, click once.

Automatic variable and function renaming is enabled by default. To disable it:

  1. On the Home tab, in the Environment section, click Preferences.

  2. Select MATLAB > Editor/Debugger > Language.

  3. In the Language field, select MATLAB.

  4. Clear Enable automatic variable and function renaming.

Find and Replace Any Text

You can search for, and optionally replace specified text within a file. On the Editor or Live Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Find to open and use the Find & Replace dialog box.

Find Text in Multiple File Names or Files

You can find folders and file names that include specified text, or whose contents contain specified text. On the Editor or Live Editor tab, in the File section, click Find Files to open the Find Files dialog box. For details, see Find Files and Folders.

Function Alternative for Finding Text

Use lookfor to search for the specified text in the first line of help for all files with the .m extension on the search path.

Perform an Incremental Search in the Editor

When you perform an incremental search, the cursor moves to the next or previous occurrence of the specified text in the current file. It is similar to the Emacs search feature. In the Editor, incremental search uses the same controls as incremental search in the Command Window. For details, see Search Using Keyboard Shortcuts.

Go To Location in File

You can go to a specific location in a file, such as a line number or function definition, set bookmarks, navigate backward and forward within the file, and open a file or variable from within a file.

Navigate to a Specific Location

This table summarizes the steps for navigating to a specific location within a file open in the Editor and Live Editor.

Go ToStepsNotes

Line Number

  1. On the Editor or Live Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Go To

  2. Select Go to Line...

  3. Specify the line to which you want to navigate.

None

Function definition

  1. On the Editor or Live Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Go To .

  2. Under the heading Function, select the local function or nested function to which you want to navigate.

Includes local functions and nested functions.

For both class and function files, the functions list in alphabetical order—except that in function files, the name of the main function always appears at the top of the list.

  1. In the Current Folder browser, click the name of the file open in the Editor.

  2. Click the up arrow at the bottom of Current Folder browser to open the detail panel.

  3. In the detail panel, double-click the function icon corresponding to the title of the function or local function to which you want to navigate.

Functions list in order of appearance within your file.

Code Section

  1. On the Editor or Live Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Go To .

  2. Under Sections, select the title of the code section to which you want to navigate.

For more information, see Divide Your File into Code Sections.

  1. In the Current Folder browser, click the name of the file that is open in the Editor.

  2. Click the up arrow at the bottom of Current Folder browser to open the detail panel.

  3. In the detail panel, double-click the section icon corresponding to the title of the section to which you want to navigate.

Property

  1. In the Current Folder browser, click the name of the file that is open in the Editor.

  2. Click the up arrow at the bottom of Current Folder browser to open the detail panel.

  3. On the detail panel, double-click the property icon corresponding to the name of the property to which you want to navigate.

For more information, see Ways to Use Properties.

Method

  1. In the Current Folder browser, click the name of the file that is open in the Editor.

  2. Click the up arrow at the bottom of Current Folder browser to open the detail panel.

  3. In the detail panel, double-click the icon corresponding to the name of the method to which you want to navigate.

For more information, see Methods in Class Design.

Bookmark

  1. On the Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Go To .

  2. Under Bookmarks, select the bookmark to which you want to navigate.

For information on setting and clearing bookmarks, see Set Bookmarks.

Note

The Details Panel and Bookmarks are not available in the Live Editor or in MATLAB Online™.

Set Bookmarks

You can set a bookmark at any line in a file in the Editor so you can quickly navigate to the bookmarked line. This is particularly useful in long files. For example, suppose while working on a line, you want to look at another part of the file, and then return. Set a bookmark at the current line, go to the other part of the file, and then use the bookmark to return.

Bookmarks are not available in the Live Editor or in MATLAB Online.

To set a bookmark:

  1. Position the cursor anywhere on the line.

  2. On the Editor tab, in the Navigate section, click Go To .

  3. Under Bookmarks, select Set/Clear

    A bookmark icon appears to the left of the line.

To clear a bookmark, position the cursor anywhere on the line. Click Go To and select Set/Clear under Bookmarks.

MATLAB does not maintain bookmarks after you close a file.

Navigate Backward and Forward in Files

To access lines in a file in the same sequence that you previously navigated or edited them, use and .

Backward and forward navigation is not supported in the Live Editor or in MATLAB Online.

The back and forward sequence is interrupted if you:

  1. Click .

  2. Click .

  3. Edit a line or navigate to another line using the list of features described in Navigate to a Specific Location.

You can still go to the lines preceding the interruption point in the sequence, but you cannot go to any lines after that point. Any lines you edit or navigate to after interrupting the sequence are added to the sequence after the interruption point.

For example:

  1. Open a file.

  2. Edit line 2, line 4, and line 6.

  3. Click to return to line 4, and then to return to line 2.

  4. Click to return to lines 4 and 6.

  5. Click to return to line 1.

  6. Edit at 3.

    This interrupts the sequence. You can no longer use to return to lines 4 and 6. You can, however, click to return to line 1.

Open a File or Variable from Within a File

You can open a function, file, variable, or Simulink® model from within a file in the Editor. Position the cursor on the name, and then right-click and select Open selection from the context menu. Based on what the selection is, the Editor performs a different action, as described in this table.

Item

Action

Local function

Navigates to the local function within the current file, if that file is a MATLAB code file. If no function by that name exists in the current file, the Editor runs the open function on the selection, which opens the selection in the appropriate tool.

Text file

Opens in the Editor.

Figure file (.fig)

Opens in a figure window.

MATLAB variable that is in the current workspace

Opens in the Variables Editor.

Model

Opens in Simulink.

Not available in MATLAB Online.

Other

If the selection is some other type, Open selection looks for a matching file in a private folder in the current folder and performs the appropriate action.