Regex.Matches Method (String, String, RegexOptions, TimeSpan)

.NET Framework (current version)

Searches the specified input string for all occurrences of a specified regular expression, using the specified matching options and time-out interval.

Namespace:   System.Text.RegularExpressions
Assembly:  System (in System.dll)

Public Shared Function Matches (
	input As String,
	pattern As String,
	options As RegexOptions,
	matchTimeout As TimeSpan
) As MatchCollection


Type: System.String

The string to search for a match.

Type: System.String

The regular expression pattern to match.

Type: System.Text.RegularExpressions.RegexOptions

A bitwise combination of the enumeration values that specify options for matching.

Type: System.TimeSpan

A time-out interval, or Regex.InfiniteMatchTimeout to indicate that the method should not time out.

Return Value

Type: System.Text.RegularExpressions.MatchCollection

A collection of the Match objects found by the search. If no matches are found, the method returns an empty collection object.

Exception Condition

A regular expression parsing error occurred.


input or pattern is null.


options is not a valid bitwise combination of RegexOptions values.


matchTimeout is negative, zero, or greater than approximately 24 days.

The Matches(String, String, RegexOptions, TimeSpan) method is similar to the Match(String, String, RegexOptions, TimeSpan) method, except that it returns information about all the matches found in the input string, instead of a single match. It is equivalent to the following code:

   Dim match As Match = Regex.Match(input, pattern, options, 
   Do While match.Success
         ' Handle match here...

         match = match.NextMatch()
Catch e As RegexMatchTimeoutException
   ' Do nothing: assume that exception represents no match.
End Try   

The static Matches methods are equivalent to constructing a Regex object with the specified regular expression pattern and calling the instance method Matches.

The pattern parameter consists of regular expression language elements that symbolically describe the string to match. For more information about regular expressions, see .NET Framework Regular Expressions and Regular Expression Language - Quick Reference.

The Matches method uses lazy evaluation to populate the returned MatchCollection object. Accessing members of this collection such as MatchCollection.Count and MatchCollection.CopyTo causes the collection to be populated immediately. To take advantage of lazy evaluation, you should iterate the collection by using a construct such as foreach in C# and ForEachNext in Visual Basic.

Because of its lazy evaluation, calling the Matches method does not throw a RegexMatchTimeoutException exception. However, an exception is thrown when an operation is performed on the MatchCollection object returned by this method, if a matching operation exceeds this time-out interval specified by thematchTimeout parameter.

Notes to Callers:

We recommend that you set the matchTimeout parameter to an appropriate value, such as two seconds. If you disable time-outs by specifying Regex.InfiniteMatchTimeout, the regular expression engine offers slightly better performance. However, you should disable time-outs only under the following conditions:

  • When the input processed by a regular expression is derived from a known and trusted source or consists of static text. This excludes text that has been dynamically input by users.

  • When the regular expression pattern has been thoroughly tested to ensure that it efficiently handles matches, non-matches, and near matches.

  • When the regular expression pattern contains no language elements that are known to cause excessive backtracking when processing a near match.

The following example calls the Matches(String, String, RegexOptions, TimeSpan) method to perform a case-sensitive comparison that matches any word in a sentence that ends in "es". It then calls the Matches(String, String, RegexOptions, TimeSpan) method to perform a case-insensitive comparison of the pattern with the input string. In both cases, the time-out interval is set to one second. As the output shows, the two methods return different results.

Imports System.Text.RegularExpressions

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim pattern As String = "\b\w+es\b"
      Dim sentence As String = "NOTES: Any notes or comments are optional."

      ' Call Matches method without specifying any options.
      For Each match As Match In Regex.Matches(sentence, pattern, 
            Console.WriteLine("Found '{0}' at position {1}", match.Value, match.Index)
         Catch e As RegexMatchTimeoutException
            ' Do Nothing: Assume that timeout represents no match.
         End Try

      ' Call Matches method for case-insensitive matching.
         For Each match As Match In Regex.Matches(sentence, pattern, 
            Console.WriteLine("Found '{0}' at position {1}", match.Value, match.Index)
      Catch de As RegexMatchTimeoutException
         ' Do Nothing: Assume that timeout represents no match.
      End Try
   End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       Found 'notes' at position 11
'       Found 'NOTES' at position 0
'       Found 'notes' at position 11

The regular expression pattern \b\w+es\b is defined as shown in the following table.




Begin the match at a word boundary.


Match one or more word characters.


Match the literal string "es".


End the match at a word boundary.

Universal Windows Platform
Available since 8
.NET Framework
Available since 4.5
Portable Class Library
Supported in: portable .NET platforms
Windows Phone Silverlight
Available since 8.0
Windows Phone
Available since 8.1
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