I've got a set of 5000+ files that I need to do a simple search and replace in. I have been doing it in a text editor (EditPlus) by opening 500 files at a time, doing a global search/replace, saving all, closing, etc. But, that's taking literally hours to do and it's boring and tedious and I already have done it once today and need to do it again because all the files got refreshed. Is there a way to do this via the Bash command line? Here's the details:

Find onchange="document.location ='/products/view.html/view/'+this.value"

Replace it with onchange="alert('Not implemented')" style="display: none"

All of the files have a .HTM extension, but they are nested in several sub directories.

EDIT - I'm on a Mac and would prefer a *nix based solution.

2 Answers 2


The base command for you case looks like this:

sed -i 's|oldvalue|newvalue|g' file1 file2 file3

If all your file are in the directory ~/foo/bar/, what you want to do is:

cd '~/foo/bar/'
find . -type f | xargs sed -i "" "s|onchange=\"document.location ='/products/view.html/view/'+this.value\"|onchange=\"alert\('Not implemented'\)\" style=\"display: none\"|g"

EDIT: the glob (* as file name) can be problematic with very very much files and don't go in the child directories. In this case, change the last line.

EDIT 2: with BSD sed (the one used on MacOS X) -i needs an argument. BTW using xargs. Thanks to @Dennis Williamson

  • The questioner mentioned a Windows-based text editor, so my guess is that a windows solution is needed. Yours will probably work if cygwin or a similar environment is installed. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 19:13
  • @Doug Harris He asked: "Is there a way to do this via the Bash command line?" seams to be a mixed environment.
    – shellholic
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 19:26
  • Yeah, sorry for the confusion. I'm on a Mac, but I had previously been remoted in to a Windows machine and was using EditPlus. (EditPlus has a superior Find/Replace interface over TextMate) Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 19:37
  • Question about the above solution: I'm getting an error saying "syntax error near unexpected token `('". I took a guess that it may have been the parentheses and tried escaping them, but that just resulted in what appeared to be a line waiting for input - just a " >" Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 19:45
  • aha. My mistake. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 20:06

Since EditPlus is a Windows editor i'm guessing you want a Windows shell solution.

You can get sed variants for Windows, but here's a PowerShell solution that recursively finds all *.HTM files, replaces "this" with "that", then saves the file.

gci -Include *.HTM -Recurse | % {
  (gc $_) -replace "this","that" | sc -path $_ }

Using your strings makes things a bit more tortured, since you have embedded double- and single-quotes, along with regular expression characters. The quotes are escaped with backticks (`) and the regex characters with backslashes (\).

gci -Include temp*.HTM -Recurse | % {
  (gc $_) -replace "onchange=`"document\.location `
  "onchange=`"alert(`'Not implemented`')`" style=`"display: `
  none`"" | sc -path $_ }

Powershell is included with Windows 7, and can be downloaded for XP and above.

There's a vbscript single-file solution at StackOverflow i posted in response to "Is there any sed like utility for cmd.exe?" That question contains many answers with suggestions for Windows command-line sed solutions.

  • Sorry for the confusion. See my comment below - I'm on a Mac and do want to use a Bash or other *nix command line utility. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 19:38
  • @Chrisbloom7 - oh gotcha, i saw the EditPlus but missed the Bash.
    – b w
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 20:19

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