Stikine Stikine - 6 months ago 54
Bash Question

Sed command find and replace in file and overwrite file doesn't work, it empties the file

I would like to run a find and replace on an HTML file through the command line.

My command looks something like this:

sed -e s/STRING_TO_REPLACE/STRING_TO_REPLACE_IT/g index.html > index.html


When I run this and look at the file afterward, it is empty. It deleted the contents of my file.

When I run this after restoring the file again:

sed -e s/STRING_TO_REPLACE/STRING_TO_REPLACE_IT/g index.html


The
stdout
is the contents of the file, and the find and replace has been executed.

Why is this happening?

Answer

When the shell sees > index.html in the command line it opens the file index.html for writing, wiping off all its previous contents.

To fix this you need to pass the -i option to sed to make the changes inline and create a backup of the original file before it does the changes in-place:

sed -i.bak s/STRING_TO_REPLACE/STRING_TO_REPLACE_IT/g index.html

Without the .bak the command will fail on some platforms, such as Mac OSX.

Comments