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Say I have a piped command like this one:

$ ls -t|tail -n 10

Now if I want to remove all the files produced by the above command, if the files have spaces, it won't work:

$ rm `ls -t|tail -n 10`
# assuming the first response is 'The File Name', I get:
rm: cannot remove ‘The’: No such file or directory
rm: cannot remove ‘File’: No such file or directory
rm: cannot remove ‘Name’: No such file or directory

How can I quote the file names before sending it to rm?

share|improve this question
You want to set IFS to something else than whitespace. – Hennes Jan 22 '13 at 16:13
@Hennes, IFS='\n' rm `ls the*` ? – TheOne Jan 22 '13 at 16:17
That could work. IFS is the 'Internal File Separator'. It defaults to a space. You could set it to any character. Newline ('\n') and null (IFS=$'\0') ae the most often used options. (Often in combination with find -print0. -- However the best choice depends on what you are trying to do, and your example "ls|cut -d ' ' -f 3|sort|etc..." is to vague for me to comment on that. – Hennes Jan 22 '13 at 16:23
$ IFS='\n' 'rm ls the*' gives me: rm: cannot remove ‘the file\nthe file2\nthe file3’: No such file or directory – TheOne Jan 22 '13 at 16:26
For just deleting I would use something like this: find /path/to/dir -name *.avi -delete {} \;. That looks like a solution to your goal, but not one to the question asked in the OP. – Hennes Jan 22 '13 at 16:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Try this one:

command that outputs files with spaces | while IFS= read -r file
  rm "$file"

The input will be split on newlines, so files with newlines in their name won't work. Quoting names with spaces works without problems though.

share|improve this answer
Not so for backslashes. The quoting is OK as long as you use while (which you very correctly do), it will break with for. – terdon Jan 22 '13 at 16:16
@Peter, any way to the same without the loop? – TheOne Jan 22 '13 at 16:21
@Absolute0, you can avoid the loop by quoting the command as described in my answer. It is not a good idea though, the loop is safer if dealing with weird characters. – terdon Jan 22 '13 at 16:26
@Absolute0 Did this really work for you? If a file contains a space, it won't even pass through cut -d ' ' properly. – slhck Jan 22 '13 at 16:56
@slhck, I wasn't actually using cut--I was trying to formulate some complex command. Should have gone with my actual command. – TheOne Jan 23 '13 at 13:47

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