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Working withText Files

Search and replace text in a file by KevinADC
Posted: 15 Feb 07 (Edited 16 Feb 07)

ignore this section:
regular expression


Problem :

I need to search for and replace word(s) or pattern(s) or sentence(s) in a text file (or many text files).

Solution :

Perls in-place editor to the rescue. You can search for and replace just about anything, you are only limited by your ability to write a regular expression (or using other methods) to first find what you are looking for and then replace it with something else, or just remove it.

Here is a bare-bones search and replace script using perls in-place editor.


  1. #!/usr/bin/perl
  2. use strict;
  3. use warnings;
  4. my $filename = 'some_file.txt';
  5. my $find = 'this';
  6. my $replace = 'that';
  7. {
  8.    local @ARGV = ($filename);
  9.    local $^I = '.bac';
  10.    while( <> ){
  11.       if( s/$find/$replace/ig ) {
  12.          print;
  13.       }
  14.       else {
  15.          print;
  16.       }
  17.    }
  18. }
  19. print "Finished";
Pragmas (perl 5.8.8) used :
  • strict - Perl pragma to restrict unsafe constructs
  • warnings - Perl pragma to control optional warnings

Discussion :

This is a very simple example. You could use more regular expressions to find more complex patterns to replace or remove. You could use a list of files to edit many files instead of just one file. It could be used as a CGI linked to some form data to tell the script what file(s) to open and search and replace text in.

Code without markup :



use strict;
use warnings;

my $filename = 'some_file.txt';
my $find = 'this';
my $replace = 'that';

   local @ARGV = ($filename);
   local $^I = '.bac';
   while( <> ){
      if( s/$find/$replace/ig ) {
      else {

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