What Is Sed in BASH Scripting?


Angela Bailey

What Is Sed in BASH Scripting?

If you are familiar with BASH scripting, you may have come across the term “sed.” But what exactly is sed and how can it be used in BASH scripts? In this article, we will explore sed, its features, and its application in BASH scripting.

Introduction to Sed

Sed, short for stream editor, is a powerful command-line tool used for text manipulation. It reads input line by line from a file or standard input stream and performs various operations on the data. Sed can be used to search, replace, delete, insert, and transform text.

Basic Syntax

The basic syntax of sed is as follows:


Here, s stands for substitute, / is the delimiter that separates the pattern and replacement, and g indicates global substitution (replace all occurrences). The pattern can be a regular expression or a simple string.

Common Uses of Sed in BASH Scripting

Let’s explore some common use cases where sed can be handy in BASH scripting:

  • Search and Replace:
  • One of the most common uses of sed is to search for a specific pattern and replace it with another value. For example:

    $ echo "Hello World" | sed 's/World/Universe/g'

    This command will replace the word “World” with “Universe” in the given input string.

  • Delete Lines:
  • You can also use sed to delete specific lines from a file or input stream. For example:

    $ sed '2d' filename.txt

    This command will delete the second line from the file “filename.txt.”

  • Insert Text:
  • Sed can be used to insert text at a specific line or position. For example:

    $ sed '3i\This is a new line' filename.txt

    This command will insert the text “This is a new line” at the third line of the file “filename.”

  • Transform Text:
  • Sed provides various transformation commands to modify text. For example, you can convert lowercase letters to uppercase using:

    $ echo "hello world" | sed 'y/abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz/ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ/'

    This command will transform the string “hello world” to “HELLO WORLD.”


In summary, sed is a versatile tool for text manipulation in BASH scripting. It allows you to search, replace, delete, insert, and transform text efficiently. Understanding the basic syntax and common use cases of sed can greatly enhance your BASH scripting skills.

So go ahead and experiment with sed in your BASH scripts! It’s a powerful tool that can save you time and effort when working with text data.

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