Linux command editing examples using cat, ed, and sed

by on January 16, 2007 · 7 comments· LAST UPDATED January 16, 2007

in , ,

Linux and UNIX - Fast command line editing examples using cat, ed, and sed. Here is why you need to use command line editing tools...

#1: Text editor takes time for small editing
#2: Use command line editing
#3: Save time and impress your friends [ read as look like an elite UNIX hacker ;) ]

Take a quick look at some essential editing one-liners that can save you time and effort. Text-editing operations are normally done interactively, inside a text editor application. Some tasks, however, can be accomplished quickly and easily, right from the UNIX(R) command line. What's more, these one-liners can be used in scripts to automate various editing procedures.

This article demonstrates basic text-editing techniques with three of the most primary command-line editing tools readily available on all systems: cat, ed, and sed. The editing examples that follow start with the simplest and most common constructs and work up to the more complex.

You may also find this small shell script handy - to replaces all occurrence of javascript from HTML file :)

Read more at developerworks : Save time with text editing one-liners

TwitterFacebookGoogle+PDF versionFound an error/typo on this page? Help us!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anil Alpati June 16, 2008 at 2:35 pm

I am facing problem while checking the text file in linux which is starting with minus sign

cat “-abc.txt”

Please send me the reply at your earliest.



2 Imed Chihi May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am

A more general “fix” for those situations is to use:

$ cat ./-abc.txt


3 jose martin July 3, 2008 at 9:02 am

Atleast one among the following should work
cat ?abc.txt
cat “-abc.txt”
cat \-abc.txt

Else you may rename that file to something normal by opening it in vi with command like:
vi *abc.txt and when the required file opens in the vi, save it with a normal name.


4 dodobrain December 22, 2008 at 2:56 pm


You use the option terminator for exactly this reason, i.e. non-option arguments have prefixed ‘-‘ char:

cat — -abc.txt

*None* of the above poster’s possible solutions will work, as the ‘-‘ char will persist even after quoting, escaping or globbing. If you aren’t convinced, you can try them out. The option terminator ‘–‘ (two hyphens) works on almost all GNU cmdline tools.


5 dodobrain December 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm

err.. can’t preview/edit posts. Anyway, for the copy/pasta people:

cat -- -abc.txt


6 Harshit March 17, 2012 at 8:04 am

for showning contain of -abc.txt

cat / -abc.txt (use space between ‘/’ and ‘-‘)

this is absolutely work.


7 manju December 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

i have *.cat,*.inf,*.sys file
this is limited time file how to brack time….


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: