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perl Search and Replace

Sometimes you need to quickly search and replace strings in a file or group of files. There are many ways to do this, but this method uses perl

To search for and replace a particular string across multiple files in a directory, the command would be:

perl -pi -w -e 's/search_for/replace_with/g;' ~/Dir_to_search/*.html

For a single file that might have multiple instances of the string, you can specify the file:

perl -pi -w -e 's/search_for/replace_with/g;' /var/www/htdocs/bigfile.html

This command uses vi syntax for search and replace to find any occurrence of a string and replace it with another string across a single or multiple files of a particular type. Useful for replacing html/php link changes embedded in those types of files, and many other things.

Options Explained

Option Explanation
-p places a loop around your script
-i edit file in place
-w prints out warning messages in case something goes wrong
-e allows a single line of code entered on the command line
-s specifies search
-g specifies to replace globally, in other words all occurrences


A simple way to replace a string in either one or many files using perl.

Author: Steven Spencer