In this tutorial, we will learn how to use the SED command, with the help of some SED command examples.

Sed command or Stream Editor is one of the most utilized utilities for Linux systems. It is mainly used for text substitution, find/replace operations & also other text manipulations like search, insertions deletion. We can also use regex or regular expressions with sed command, which further increases its usability. With the sed command, we can perform all the operations on a file without opening it.

In this article, we will learn to use the SED command by discussing some examples of the Sed command.

The syntax for using the sed command is,

sed options... [script] [InputFile]

 

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Sed commands examples


Print partial text of a file

To print only some part of a file onto the screen rather than seeing the whole file, use the following command,

$ sed -n 5,12p test.txt

Option ‘n’ used here will avoid printing of the whole file, while option ‘p’ will print only the line mentioned i.e. line 5 to 12.

 

Print all except some lines

To perform the reverse of the first example, i.e. to print complete contents of file except for some lines, use the following command,

$ sed 5,12d test.txt

Option ‘d’, here will remove the mentioned lines 5 to 12, from printing on to the screen.

 

Deleting a line

To remove a line from a file, use the following command,

$ sed 5d test.txt

where ‘5’ is the line number, which can be that you want & option ‘d’ will delete the mentioned line number.

 

Deleting a number of lines

To remove a number of lines from the file, we can use the following command,

$ sed ‘5-12d’ test.txt

This will delete lines 5 to 12 from the test.txt file.

 

Deleting lines other than the mentioned

To perform the reverse of above-mentioned command i.e. to delete lines other than the lines that are mentioned, we can use the following command,

$ sed ‘5-12!d’ test.txt

here `!`, will reverse the command mentioned i.e. will not delete the lines mentioned & all other lines will be deleted from the file.

 

Display every 5th line starting with a mentioned line

Now let’s say that we want to print every 5th line of a file starting with line number 3. To do that, we can use the following command

$ sed -n ‘3-5p’ test.txt

 

Replacing a word/string

To search a word or a string & then replace it with another string, we will use the following example,

$ sed ‘s/dan/susan/’ test.txt

Option ‘s’ here will search for the word ‘dan’ & then replace it with ‘susan’ for the first match it gets. Now if we need to replace the word completely from the file, we will use option ‘g’ along with ‘s’,

$ sed ‘s/dan/susan/g’ test.txt

 

Replace a particular occurrence of string/word

To replace a particular string of a string, for example, 8th occurrence from a file, use the following command,

$ sed ‘s/dan/susan/8’ test.txt

here, 8th occurrence of the word will be replaced from the file. Now to replace a string starting from a particular occurrence, use

$ sed ‘s/dan/susan/8g’ test.txt

So here, the 8th occurrence of the string will be replaced and all the matches after the 8th string.

 

Replace a string on a particular line

To change a word from a particular line only, use the following examples of sed command as a reference,

$ sed ‘9 s/dan/susan/’ test.txt

This will only substitute the string from the 9th line of the file. We can also mention a range of lines instead of a single line,

$ sed ‘9-13 s/dan/susan/’ test.txt

 

Change a whole line with matched pattern

We can also change a complete line after a search pattern has been matched. To do this use the following examples of sed command,

$ sed ‘/dan c “Changes for the new line here” ’ test.txt

So when the pattern matches ‘dan’, the whole line will be changed to the new line i.e. “Changes for the new line here”.

 

Add a line after/before the matched search

Now if we want to add a new line with some content & that too before a pattern match, then we can use the option ‘i’ with sed command & pattern to be searched,

$ sed ‘/dan i “Adding text before the match” ’ test.txt

To add a new line after every pattern match, the option that will be used with sed is an option ‘a’,

$ sed ‘/dan an “adding text after the match” ’ test.txt

 

Adding Blank lines/spaces

If we need to add a blank line after every non-blank line, we have to use option ‘G’,

$ sed G test.txt

 

Executing multiple sed commands

Now, if need to execute multiple sed expressions, we can do so using option ‘e’ to chain multiple sed commands. An example,

$ sed -e ‘s/dan/susan/g’ -e ‘s/hate/love/’ test.txt

Here we are searching for replacing ‘dan’ with ‘Susan’ & then also replacing ‘hate’ with ‘love’ from the first occurrence.

 

Making a backup copy before editing a file

Sed command has the power to alter complete files & which can be an issue if something goes wrong, so it’s better to create a backup copy before editing with sed. To create a backup copy of a file before we edit it, use option ‘-i.bak’,

$ sed -i.bak -e ‘s/dan/susan/g’ test.txt

So the backup file will be named test.txt.bak.

 

Delete a file line starting with & ending with a pattern with regex

As mentioned above, we can also use regex with the sed command to further enhance its capabilities. To delete a file line starting with a particular string & ending with another string, we can use the following examples of sed command,

$ sed -e ‘s/dan.*stops//g’ test.txt

This will delete the line with ‘dan’ on start & ‘stops’ in the end & it can have any number of words in between, ‘.*’ defines that part.

 

Appending lines with regex

Another example of using sed with regex would be to add some content before every line. So use the following example,

$ sed -e ‘s/.*/added text &/’ test.txt

Every line will now start with ‘added text’.

 

Deleting all commented lines & empty lines

To only remove commented lines, use the following example,

$ sed -e 's/#.*//' test.txt

To remove all commented lines i.e. lines with # & all the empty lines, use following example

$ sed -e 's/#.*//;/^$/d' test.txt

 

Use sed to search and replace spaces on the command line

In order to use sed to search and replace spaces on the command line, use the following command,

$ sed -e "s/ /,/g" < test.txt

Here we are looking for spaces & replacing them with comma.

 

Use sed to remove unwanted lines of text

You can use sed to remove unwanted lines of text from a file. For examples,

Delete lines which are in upper case or capital letters
$ sed '/^[A-Z]*$/d' test.txt

Delete lines that contain a pattern
$ sed '/pattern-here/d' test.txt

Delete lines starting from a pattern till the last line
$ sed '/pattern-here/,$d' test.txt

Delete the last line only if it contains the pattern
$ sed '${/pattern-here/d;}' test.txt

 

Get Help for the SED command

You can also get help for the sed command as you can for any other command. Just open the terminal & execute the following command,

$ sed --help

how to use sed command

This was a brief tutorial on how to use the SED command with some SED examples. Please feel free to send in any queries or questions or suggestions you have using the comment box below.

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