finding words in binary files

In Unix the strings -a command will output all the text strings in a binary file.

Solaris man page for strings says: “The strings utility looks for ASCII strings in a binary file. A string is any sequence of 4 or more printing characters ending with a newline or a null character.”

This was extremely helpful just now while trying to debug a program where we didn’t have the source code. In this case it let us find all references to spss.

strings -a subsda3 | grep -i spss

Apple OS/X also seems to have the “string” command.