GitHub: searching through older versions of files


I know that using GitHub I can search through all the current versions of my files in a repo. However, I would also like to search through the older versions of my repo files. For example, say, I used to have a function called get_info() in my code, but deleted it several versions ago, is it possible to search for get_info and find the code. If it is not possible using GitHub, is it possible from the git command line?


Thanks to @Mark Longair for showing how this can be done from the git command line. If it’s not possible in GitHub it would be a great feature to have.


Currently, I don’t believe it’s possible to search within the complete history of a repository’s code on the github website – the closest is just searching within the current code of a repository with the “code search” option on this page.

However, from the command line, you can find any commits that introduced or removed lines mentioning get_info with the -S option to git log. e.g.:

(n.b. there should be no space between -S and the search term)

(also note: to search for more than one word, surround in '):

So, at a minimum that should find the commit where the function was first introduced and the one that removed it. I added the -p so you can also see the patches – if lots of commits introduced changes that mentioned the function that may be helpful. If the function was only on another branch it might also be useful to use --all to search all branches.

Jefromi points out in a comment below that git 1.7.4 will introduce the -G option as an alternative – this change is summarized in a recent blog post from Junio Hamano (git maintainer):

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