Find and Replace Inside a Text File from a Bash Command


What's the simplest way to do a find and replace for a given input string, say abc, and replace with another string, say XYZ in file /tmp/file.txt?

I am writting an app and using IronPython to execute commands through SSH — but I don't know Unix that well and don't know what to look for.

I have heard that Bash, apart from being a command line interface, can be a very powerful scripting language. So, if this is true, I assume you can perform actions like these.

Can I do it with bash, and what's the simplest (one line) script to achieve my goal?

7/22/2017 2:04:37 AM

Accepted Answer

The easiest way is to use sed (or perl):

sed -i -e 's/abc/XYZ/g' /tmp/file.txt

Which will invoke sed to do an in-place edit due to the -i option. This can be called from bash.

If you really really want to use just bash, then the following can work:

while read a ; do echo ${a//abc/XYZ} ; done < /tmp/file.txt > /tmp/file.txt.t ; mv /tmp/file.txt{.t,}

This loops over each line, doing a substitution, and writing to a temporary file (don't want to clobber the input). The move at the end just moves temporary to the original name.

12/26/2012 4:27:54 PM

File manipulation isn't normally done by Bash, but by programs invoked by Bash, e.g.:

> perl -pi -e 's/abc/XYZ/g' /tmp/file.txt

The -i flag tells it to do an in-place replacement.

See man perlrun for more details, including how to take a backup of the original file.

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