Bash Shell: Extract Digits From a String

by on February 16, 2011 · 9 comments· LAST UPDATED February 16, 2011


How do I extract digits only from a given string under Bash shell?

You can use the sed, grep and other shell utilities as follows:

grep -o "[0-9]" <<<"input"
grep -o "[0-9]" <<<"$var"
grep -o "[0-9]" <<<"test123"
grep -o "[0-9]" <<<"1Th5is is a test. 5"
output=$(grep -o "[0-9]" <<<"$var")
echo "$output"
grep -oE "[[:digit:]]{1,}" input.file

See our grep command and grep regex tutorial for more information.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Francis February 25, 2011 at 1:15 am

Try using ‘tr’, e.g.,
$ echo ‘asd;lfj29834slkjajfds298124768ald;09290dsfasd098089adfs’ | tr -d [:alpha:] | tr -d [:punct:]


2 Antonio Mendes March 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Or simply doing this:
echo “ljhdfkldkfs23094823sdklnklsd23984nks8d8d8s” | tr -cd [:digit:]


3 Cenk March 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Can we use regex in grep? For example, I only want to extract the http links for every line of my file. Is it possible?


4 Philippe Petrinko April 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Yes Cenk. RegEx are included.

Read The Fantastic Manual, give it a try, and then share your results with us once you are done. Good reading.
Looking forward to reading from you.

GREP(1) User Commands GREP(1)

grep, egrep, fgrep, rgrep – print lines matching a pattern

grep [OPTIONS] [-e PATTERN | -f FILE] [FILE…]

grep searches the named input FILEs (or standard input if no files are named, or if a single hyphen-minus (-) is given
as file name) for lines containing a match to the given PATTERN. By default, grep prints the matching lines.

In addition, three variant programs egrep, fgrep and rgrep are available. egrep is the same as grep -E. fgrep is the
same as grep -F. rgrep is the same as grep -r. Direct invocation as either egrep or fgrep is deprecated, but is
provided to allow historical applications that rely on them to run unmodified.

Generic Program Information
–help Print a usage message briefly summarizing these command-line options and the bug-reporting address, then exit.

-V, –version
Print the version number of grep to the standard output stream. This version number should be included in all
bug reports (see below).

Matcher Selection
-E, –extended-regexp
Interpret PATTERN as an extended regular expression (ERE, see below). (-E is specified by POSIX.)

-F, –fixed-strings
Interpret PATTERN as a list of fixed strings, separated by newlines, any of which is to be matched. (-F is
specified by POSIX.)

-G, –basic-regexp
Interpret PATTERN as a basic regular expression (BRE, see below). This is the default.

-P, –perl-regexp
Interpret PATTERN as a Perl regular expression. This is highly experimental and grep -P may warn of
unimplemented features.

Matching Control
Use PATTERN as the pattern. This is useful to protect patterns beginning with hyphen-minus (-). (-e is
specified by POSIX.)


5 Chris F.A. Johnson April 30, 2011 at 11:42 am

In bash, you don’t need any external command:

printf "%s\n" "${var//[![:digit:]]/}"


6 Philippe Petrinko April 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Real cool Chris.
I knew Brace Expansion tricks with search/replace pattern, but I never read [bash] accepted RegEx as a pattern. (It does not seem to be written into [bash] [man] page.
Where did you read it first? That would be great to know. Bash-Hackers site ?


7 Philippe Petrinko April 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm

So I read here
that bash patterns are not exactly equivalent to RegEx, but accepts POSIX character class, as you good remembered us.
Thanks a lot, Chris, and thanks Vivek for his Fantastic Site!


8 Chris F.A. Johnson April 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Bash does not use regular expressions (execpt in [[ xxx =~ regex ]]); it uses filename expansion rules, which also accepts character classes.

I could just as well have used [!0-9] instead of the character class:

printf "%s\n" "${var//[!0-9]/}"


9 TheBonsai May 26, 2011 at 5:49 am

For digits usually okay, but for everything else it’s not recommended to use an explicit set like [A-Z] instead of [[:upper:]]


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