port [-dq] search
     [--case-sensitive] [--line] [--exact|--glob|--regex] [--field …]


port search helps you find ports by partial matches of the name or description (or other fields, depending on the given options). It is the tool of choice if you are looking for software in MacPorts.

search works by searching for your given keyword(s) in a set of fields of all available ports. By default, a port’s name and short description are searched, as if you had specified both --name and --description. See OPTIONS for possible values for field.

Note that you can specify multiple fields to be searched. A port will be printed when any of the fields matches your keyword(s). If you specify multiple keywords, search will run multiple separate searches, one for each given keyword.


Search behavior


Do not ignore case when searching for the given keyword.


Search for the given string exactly. Disables --glob (the default) and --regex.


Treat the keyword(s) as wildcard (i.e., expand *, ? and [sets]). This is the default. See the string match section of string(n) for a detailed syntax description.


Treat the given string as a Tcl regular expression. See re_syntax(n) for a description of Tcl regular expressions.

Output behavior


Print one match per line, where a line consists of name, version, categories and short description.

See also -q in the GLOBAL OPTIONS section below.

Field selection

--category, --categories

Search the category. You can use this to list all ports in a given category. For example, port search --category haskell will print all Haskell ports in MacPorts. If you don’t need the description it’s usually faster to use the pseudo-portname selector category:haskell with port-echo(1) (i.e., port echo category:haskell) instead. See port(1) for more information on pseudo-port selectors.

--depends, --depends_build, --depends_extract, --depends_fetch, --depends_lib, --depends_run

Search for ports that depend on the port given as keyword. --depends is an alias for all other --depends_ options combined. Note that only dependencies present in default variants will be found by this search. As with --category, there also are pseudo-portname selectors available for dependencies.

--description, --long_description

Test the search string against ports' descriptions.


Search for the keyword(s) in the homepage property.

--maintainer, --maintainers

Search for ports maintained by a specific maintainer. Note that there also is a pseudo-portname selector available for maintainer addresses. See port(1) for more information.


Search in ports' names. Since this is the default (together with --description), this flag is only useful when you to search only in the name, but not the description.


Test the search string against the path of the directory that contains the port.

--variant, --variants

Search for variant names.


Please see the section GLOBAL OPTIONS in the port(1) man page for a description of global port options.


Only print the name of the port that matched your query. Print one match per line.


The output of search can be overwhelming and confusing, especially with a large number of results. Here are a few tips to improve your search efficiency with MacPorts.

Suppose you are looking for PHP in MacPorts. You might start with

$> port search php

and notice your query produces a lot of output. In fact, at the time of writing this, this search produces 763 matches. By default, search searches both name and description of a port. While we’re looking for PHP, we can reduce the number of hits by using the --name flag. Furthermore, we only want ports whose name starts with “php”, so we add the --glob flag (actually, we could leave it out because it is the default) and modify the search term to php*. Note that the asterisk needs to be escaped or quoted to prevent the shell from interpreting it:

$> port search --name --glob 'php*'

Since that still produces 689 results, we can activate compressed output using the --line flag

$> port search --line --name --glob 'php*'

Scrolling over the output, we see a large number of PHP modules starting with php<version>-<modulename>. That tells us the main PHP ports might be named php<version>. Using regex we can further narrow down the results:

$> port search --line --name --regex '^php\d+$'

Note it is not always necessary to drill down to reduce the amount of output. For example, if you’re looking for rrdtool, a popular system to store and graph time-series data, the simple approach works well, with only 12 ports being returned:

$> port search rrd



(C) 2014 The MacPorts Project
Clemens Lang <>