How Can I Count the Number of Lines in a Text File?

Hey, Scripting Guy! Question

Hey, Scripting Guy! How can I count the number of lines in a text file?

-- MS

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Hey, MS. It’s easy to tell that Microsoft’s scripting technologies weren’t written by people who do system administration for a living. Our scripting technologies are jam-packed with features and capabilities, yet we always seem to missing the things that people really want to do. Counting the number of lines in a text file is a good example of that. This seems to be something system administrators do on a regular basis; after all, this is the fourth or fifth time we’ve been asked this question just this month. And yet, there’s no straightforward way to count the number of lines in a text. Is there a CountLines method somewhere? Nope. How about a NumberOfLines property? Nope. Go figure.

Fortunately, while our scripting technologies aren’t always straightforward, they usually are flexible enough to provide a workaround. And this is no exception. While there might not be an obvious way to count the number of lines in a text file, you can still use a script to get at this information. For example, this script returns the number of lines found in the file C:\Scripts\Test.txt:

Const ForReading = 1

Set objFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set objTextFile = objFSO.OpenTextFile _
("C:\Scripts\Test.txt", ForReading)

Wscript.Echo "Number of lines: " & objTextFile.Line

So what’s the secret here? Well, we begin by using the FileSystemObject to open the file for reading. Next we simply read the entire text file, using the ReadAll method. When we use ReadAll, we read in every line of the text file. Because the FileSystem object can only read from the beginning of a file to the end of the file, that means that when ReadAll is finished we must be on the very last line of the file; it’s impossible for us to be anywhere else. Consequently, all we have to do is echo the value of the Line property, which reports the line number of the current line. Because we are on the last line, the Line property in this case also tells us the number of lines in the file. Simple.

Of course, you might be thinking, “Oh, sure, open up and read an entire file just to get the line count? How long will that take?” Surprisingly enough, not very long at all. We tested this script on a text file with just over 20,000 lines. On a regular old laptop computer (2.39 GhZ, 512 MB of RAM) the script took 1 second to complete. Your results might vary, but they probably won’t vary by much

Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous says:

    For much bigger files, trying to read it all at once may cause memory errors for some, as it did for us. The quickest and least error-prone way I have found to get a count is to loop through the TextStream object, skipping each line instead of reading them:

    MyFileContents = fso.OpenTextFile(strFileName, 1, False)

           ‘Loop through counting the lines

           Dim lngLineCount : lngLineCount = 0

           Do While Not MyFileContents.AtEndOfStream

               lngLineCount = lngLineCount + 1



  2. Venkat Uppaluri says:

    Open text file. Click on Edit>Go To. Give a huge number than expected number of lines. say if you expect to have 2000 lines, give 5000 or just give 200000. It gives an eror "The Line number is beyond the total number of lines" and shows up the the immediately available line. If you have 2379 lines it gives 2380. So whatever it shows up minus 1 is the actual number of lines in the text file. Cheers!!

  3. kid says:

    nice mr. scripter!

    I have a question.

    How can I delete a specific line in a text file using a search string and can also the delete the next line?


  4. PcolaPaddler says:

    Nicely done.

    I use a batch file that I got off the web somewhere and modified to accomplish this task. Using the script above, I notice that if there is a blank line at the end of the file, the script will count this line. Not a problem, just something to keep in mind.

    The method in the comments that uses a loop to increment a counter looks promising as well.

  5. PcolaPaddler says:

    Me again…

    I’m somewhat of a scripting noob. I was thinking that it would be helpful for the script to accept the pathfilename of the file to be processed as a command line argument.

    Replacing the portion of line 5 that says "C:ScriptsTest.txt" with wscript.arguments(0) seems to accomplish this.

  6. Nate says:

    Venkat Uppaluri’s suggestion is genius! By far the easiest way to go.

  7. MikeVendt says:

    I am a noob a vb so please indulge my ignorance. I want to create an if then loop that will output an error if the file has mre than 100 lines.
    1. how can I set a varible with the number of lines in the file.
    2. How do I create an if statment that will perform a task based on a greater than limit.

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