SED Commands in Linux: Text Manipulation Made Easy

Photo of author

Sed is a stream editor that analyses and transforms input on operating systems that resemble Unix. In the following, you will learn the details of Sed commands in Linux.

SED Commands in Linux: Detailed Analysis

The stream editor of the Sed commands in Linux makes basic text alterations to supplied data (an input or a file from a pipeline). Although sharing some similarities with editors that support programmed changes (like ed), Sed is more effective since it simply makes one run over the input(s). But what sets Sed Commands apart from different types of editors is its capacity to analyze text in a pipeline.

Identifying and altering material in a file is quicker with SED compared to the VI Editor since it lets you change files regardless of whether you are viewing them.

The SED text stream editor is a potent tool. It can insert, remove, search for, and modify (substitution).

Regular expression support in the SED command of Unix enables it to do intricate pattern recognition.

Structure of SED Command

The primary syntax for the Sed commands in Linux is as follows:


The sed syntax consists of three components.

  1. Options govern the Linux command’s output.
  2. A collection of Linux commands that run is included in the script.
  3. The file on which you run the sed command is represented by the file name (with extension).

A sed command in Linux can be executed without inputs. The script can also be started without even a filename. In such a scenario, it uses the standard input data.

See also: Streamline Your Testing: Pytest Mocking Explained

Variety of Options

One may use the following command-line parameters to run Sed commands in Linux:

-b, –binary Allow lines to terminate at a line feed by opening input data in binary mode.
–follow-symlinks If the supplied document is a symbolic link, modify the destination file only if you employ the -I option to do that function.
–debug To display the input in its parametric form and describe program execution, switch to the debug mode.
-z, –null-data, –zero-terminated Consider input as a collection of lines, each of which terminates in a zero byte.
–sandbox Limit the use of external applications and limit command-line operations to input files alone.
-s, –separate Display the given files separately rather than as a single, endless stream.
-u, –unbuffered reduce the buffers for input and output.


Examples of Sed commands in Linux

Example 1: Here, we demonstrate two different global substitutions. With a worldwide substitute, we use s to substitute another pattern (XYZ) for every instance of a way (ABC).

To do a global replacement, we append the /g prefix. Moreover, one may choose to use /ng to carry out a global replacement beginning with the n-th instance of the pattern. The two cases are shown below, in which we have assumed n to be “3” for the second scenario:

sed commands Sed commands in Linux

Using /g changed every occurrence of “ABC” with “XYZ,” but using /3g just substituted instances up to the third instance.

Example 2: Under this instance, we use s to substitute another pattern (z) for the third sequence instance  (ABC). Similar substitutions may be made for the nth occurrence of an arrangement by substituting the number n for 3 in the illustration below:

Notably, z has only replaced ABC in the third case.

Example 3: In this case, the very first and last selection of lines, as well as a line with specific patterns, are all deleted.

  • You may use nd to remove the nth line.
  • $d is used to remove the final line.
  • You may use the syntax p, qd to remove a variety of lines from line no. p to q, as seen in the example below.
  • Use /pattern/d to remove the first line containing a particular pattern, like in the previous example when the pattern is ABC.


What does the complete sed command in Linux mean?

'Linux Sed' command has several options for carrying out various text-manipulation tasks. --follow-symlinks when processing in-place, adhere to symbolic links --sandbox turn off external commands by operating in a sandbox --debug adds debugging information to the script; --version prints version information; and exits --help show this help, then exit

How can I stop a sed command?

When a script finishes running or reads a new line of input, sed automatically ends a command. However, the q command allows you to explicitly end a sed command or stop applying additional operations to particular lines. Sed stands for 'stream editor.' When you execute the q command in sed, it ends the script and exits sed. To exit the script early based on specific conditions.

What is sed's substitute?

Awk is a powerful text processing program that can perform more intricate operations than sed. Processing structured data (such as columns and fields) and carrying out arithmetic operations use it well. General-purpose programming language Perl: Perl is a general-purpose programming language well-known for its powerful text-processing abilities Grep is primarily used to search for and filter text using regular expressions.

Where is sed employed?

Sed is frequently used for search and replace operations, text transformations, filtering, and formatting text in files or streams. Batch processing: In batch processing workflows and shell scripts, sed is utilized to automate text manipulation tasks. Editing configuration files: Sed is frequently used in editing configuration files, making programmatic changes to configurations and simplifying the management of system preferences or application settings.

How are groups used in sed?

When using regular expressions, groups in sed collect and save matched text fragments. You can make references to and use these captured groups in replacement expressions or other sed script components. It would help if you enclosed the portion of the regular expression you wish to capture in brackets (and) to use groups in sed.

Is sed capable of handling multiple files?

Yes, using sed to process multiple files at once is possible. You can pass the filenames as command arguments or use shell wildcards to match multiple files when using sed with various files. Remember that when using sed with multiple files, it will print the output to the standard output. The -I option can change the original files in place.


This article gave us insight into how to edit a file using the  Sed commands in Linux as a text stream editor SED. Choose whether to maintain the original file after making the necessary edits to the text and saving the more recent version. The sed command in Linux functions as an editor for text without an interactive user interface. It operates on piped text or input files under the instructions we provide it to follow while it reads the text. In Bash and other command-line shells, we may use the sed command to modify text in files and streams.

Leave a Comment