sed: The Stream Editor



sed replaces bits of regular expressions in a file with another expression. Vim does search and replace with sed syntax.

  • s: search/substitute
  • g : global / replace everywhere

Format: sed "s/pattern-find/pattern-replace/g" filename

Erase comments and blank lines in file

erase all comment lines in file erase all blank lines in a document

  • . : regular expression for any number of previous character
  • * : wildcard matches anything

sed "s/#.*//g sed "s/\s*#.*//g; /^$/ d" .copyfiles"

Prepend text to a file

Use sed -i (inline) to replace the first line of a file w/o redirecting output to another location.

sed -i '1s/^/text to add\n/' file1

NOTICE: the -i option is a GNU option and won’t work on Macs or BSD computers

To use the -i flag on macOS, install gnu-sed:

brew install gnu-sed
echo -e 'PATH="/usr/local/opt/gnu-sed/libexec/gnubin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc

Then, you can easily execute ex commands on files:

gsed -i "3iI'm inserting text on line 3!" FILE

Alternative, use ibu option to create copy with bu appended:

sed -ibu 's/FILE/file/' file

(Thanks )

Making a bash function out of it:

prepend () {
        printf '%s\n' 0a "$text" . w | ed -s "$file";

Operating on multiple files

If you need to do something on a whole bunch of files, you should use a for loop to iterate through the files.

# put an author tag to some markdown files
for i in *.md; do
    sed -i "2iAuthor: Cameron" $i