How to search for a string in text files?


I want to check if a string is in a text file. If it is, do X. If it's not, do Y. However, this code always returns True for some reason. Can anyone see what is wrong?

def check():
    datafile = file('example.txt')
    found = False
    for line in datafile:
        if blabla in line:
            found = True

if True:
    print "true"
    print "false"
9/27/2017 2:01:38 PM

Accepted Answer

The reason why you always got True has already been given, so I'll just offer another suggestion:

If your file is not too large, you can read it into a string, and just use that (easier and often faster than reading and checking line per line):

with open('example.txt') as f:
    if 'blabla' in

Another trick: you can alleviate the possible memory problems by using mmap.mmap() to create a "string-like" object that uses the underlying file (instead of reading the whole file in memory):

import mmap

with open('example.txt') as f:
    s = mmap.mmap(f.fileno(), 0, access=mmap.ACCESS_READ)
    if s.find('blabla') != -1:

NOTE: in python 3, mmaps behave like bytearray objects rather than strings, so the subsequence you look for with find() has to be a bytes object rather than a string as well, eg. s.find(b'blabla'):

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import mmap

with open('example.txt', 'rb', 0) as file, \
     mmap.mmap(file.fileno(), 0, access=mmap.ACCESS_READ) as s:
    if s.find(b'blabla') != -1:

You could also use regular expressions on mmap e.g., case-insensitive search: if'(?i)blabla', s):

8/22/2019 12:45:01 AM

As Jeffrey Said, you are not checking the value of check(). In addition, your check() function is not returning anything. Note the difference:

def check():
    with open('example.txt') as f:
        datafile = f.readlines()
    found = False  # This isn't really necessary
    for line in datafile:
        if blabla in line:
            # found = True # Not necessary
            return True
    return False  # Because you finished the search without finding

Then you can test the output of check():

if check():

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