Is it possible to regex replace from command line? Right now I'm using notepad++ to do this. In command line I can only use FINDSTR wich can only locate the mached files/lines

Maybe it will be possible to make a VB script and run it from cmd? I just created a file "hi.vbs" with the content

Msgbox "Hi Buddy"

Then cmd allows me to run it directly by typing "hi" from command line.
So if it is not possible with batch script, then i may use a VB script trough batch. Or..?

  • At the end you put an inconclusive sentence and the whole EDIT part isn't pointing to the problem is more like "I create a hello world in vb, can i create something like that in batch? Check the answer posted by @IanPugsley is the easy way to do regex-replace.
    – mjsr
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 11:10
  • @Aziz: has any of these answers worked for you? If so, would you accept that one? That's part of participating in this community; the way we thank one another for help. The reputation points given for an accepted answer help other users assess one another's experience. Thanks.
    – JRobert
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 21:25
  • I was thinking to call somthing like MYVBREPLACE(.vbs) FILENAME REGEXPATTERN REPLACEMENT from command line.
    – Aziz
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 13:00

9 Answers 9


go here
scroll down to SED. Download coreutils too while you're at it.

this command will replace a with b globally, and on each line. so not just the first occurrence on the line.

e.g. using sed "s/a/b/g" a.txt

C:\>type a.txt

C:\>sed "s/a/b/" a.txt

C:\>sed "s/a/b/g" a.txt


VBScript does support regular expressions, you can do find and replace with it.

dim re, s
set re = new RegExp

re.Global=True 'false is default
s="bin din in"
MsgBox re.Replace(s,"xxx")

Displays bxxx dxxx xxx

  • Amazing crazy tool!!! This tool was too adwanced. I could not manage to use it yet, but when I read gnu.org/software/sed/manual/sed.html#The-_0022s_0022-Command I can see that this can do much more than what I could expect. Thanks a lot
    – Aziz
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 12:40
  • New versions of bash can also do regular expressions, sometimes that's enough for simple tasks and there's no need to use even sed.
    – vtest
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 6:13
  • and re what vtest said, in case anybody doesn't know. cygwin has bash.
    – barlop
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 17:53
  • sed sucks with multi-line replaces though
    – kofifus
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 3:57
  • 1
    @KennyEvitt cmd shell requires a tweak to get it to display and use of chcp for unicode utf8 chcp 65001 (as you say, utf16 encoding.chcp 1200 and chcp 12001 is not supported) stackoverflow.com/questions/9321419/… Not sure re mintty. Not sure re powershell. But utf-8 is supported ok in cmd or powershell. So long as a supporting font is used like courier new, and so long as it's codepage 65001. There is a cmd /u for a utf16 encoding.
    – barlop
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 16:19

I've written a free command line tool for Windows to do this. It's called rxrepl, it supports Unicode and file search. Some may find it a useful tool.

rxrepl is a Microsoft Windows command line tool to search and replace text in text files using Perl compatible regular expressions (PCRE).

It has the following features:

  • Search using Perl Compatible Regular Expressions
  • Use group matching in replacement text
  • Supports Windows and Unix line endings
  • Unicode support
  • Accepts multiple search/replace arguments
  • Options may be provided in an options file
  • Scan for files
  • Preview mode
  • Line and full file matching modes

enter image description here

  • 4
    This is amazing! If you're like me and need examples, this replaces "foobar" with "foofighters" in a file: rxrepl.exe -f file.txt -a -s "(foo)bar" -r "\1fighters"
    – Dunc
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:53
  • 1
    Also, would you happen to have the source on something like github? Totally understandable if it's not meant to be open source, but I'm very curious. Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 19:34
  • 1
    @Steztric Really? I'm running 64-bit windows and seem to have no issues running this from C:\WINDOWS\System32\cmd.exe Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 19:46
  • 1
    Awesome tool! Running without problems under Windows Server Std 2012 R2 x64. Thx!
    – kwrl
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 16:24
  • 2
    Great tool, I hope you're still maintaining it
    – watery
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 10:00

The Scripting Guy covers how to do this in PowerShell (no additional downloads on most recent Windows OSs, you probably already have it installed).

Start it up, run the following (to replace a * with a @):

(Get-Content C:\Scripts\Test.txt) | 
Foreach-Object {$_ -replace "\*", "@"} | 
Set-Content C:\Scripts\Test.txt

This supports .NET regular expressions, including positive and negative look-ahead, and all manner of things notepad++ did not support with regex before version 6.x (as much as I love notepad++).

  • 2
    Notepad++ supports full PCRE as of version 6.
    – Bob
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 14:10

I've found fnr.exe for that. It has GUI and command-line.

An open source tool to find and replace text in multiple files.


  • Single file download - fnr.exe (127kb)
  • Replace text in multiple files using windows application or through command line
  • Find Only to see where matches are found
  • Case-sensitive searching
  • Searching for files in one directory or recursing sub-directories
  • Regular expressions
  • Find and replace multi-line text
  • Generate command line button to create command line text to put in batch file
  • Command line help
  • Unit tests of Find/Replace engine

Viewing command line options

enter image description here

  • 1
    Pretty nice - you can check your "find" statement in GUI, click "Gen Replace Command Line" and get ready to use command line call. No need to spend time to get familiar with command line syntax.
    – sarh
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 11:57
  • I couldn't manage to get this to exit after making the changes. I have to press enter to close making this not especially useful for scripting
    – G-.
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 15:31
  • @G-. There is no waiting for <enter> if it is run from a batch file.
    – Sergius
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 9:12
  • I couldn't find a way to output to a different filename/extension
    – Rick
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 13:35

Looks like you can use regex with FINDSTR

findstr [Windows CMD]:

findstr allows to search for text (as specified with pattern in the file file-name. If file-name contains wildcards (* or ?), it searches in all files that match. The option /S searches in the current directory as well as in its subdirectories. If pattern contains spaces, it must be specified like so /C:"some text to be searched". In order to turn pattern into a regular expressions, the /R option must be used. The /I option searches case insensitive.

From FindStr's Help (Findstr /?):

/R - Uses search strings as regular expressions.

Regular expression quick reference:
  .        Wildcard: any character
  *        Repeat: zero or more occurrences of previous character or class
  ^        Line position: beginning of line
  $        Line position: end of line
  [class]  Character class: any one character in set
  [^class] Inverse class: any one character not in set
  [x-y]    Range: any characters within the specified range
  \x       Escape: literal use of metacharacter x
  \<xyz    Word position: beginning of word
  xyz\>    Word position: end of word
  • Thank you for your answer, but this was not my question.
    – Aziz
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 18:20
  • 2
    findstr can't replace text in files! Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 14:02

I'm a little late to the party, but JREPL.BAT is a hybrid JScript/batch script based regex utility that runs natively on any Windows machine from XP onward.

Full documentation is built into the script, which can be accessed via JREPL /?, or use JREPL /?? for paged output.

JREPL uses standard ECMA regex that comes with JScript. ECMA regex is not quite as powerful as the .NET regex available to powershell, but it is still pretty darn good. And I think the average user will find this utility easier to use than powershell.

The built-in JREPL options already provide a lot of inherent power, but the ability to inject user supplied JScript really opens up amazing possibilities.

I developed the script because my workplace does not allow downloading of non-standard exe files, but has no restriction on writing batch or JScript scripts :-)

Simply follow the link and copy the script code into a file named JREPL.BAT. Read the subsequent posts from that thread for examples of usage and development history. There are also many StackOverflow answers that use JREPL.BAT.


Two good choices are either Cygwin which will give you a Unix-like, bash-like environment (alternative to cmd.exe); and Unxutils, Win32 ports of a collection of individual Unix utilities. In either package, see 'sed', 'awk', and 'grep'.

  • 2
    unxutils is old. now the thing is gnuwin32
    – barlop
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 14:10
  • Thank you JRobert for your suggestion. Sorry that I did not understod it, but now I can see that SED was the thing.
    – Aziz
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 12:55
  • @barlop as of 2018, gnuwin32 is now also old.. cygwin is more up to date!
    – barlop
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 9:11

You can also use GSAR to perform command line search and replace. Works with hex and binary as well. It will not do the complex heavy lifting that regex can perform, but for basic search and replace, it does the job quickly and easily.


You can invoke PowerShell from Batch as well.

Here is an example:

powershell -NoLogo -NoProfile -Command "(Get-Content ACTM.aip) -replace '(?<=<ROW\s+Property=\"ProductVersion\"\s+Value=\")[^^\"]+', '%VERSION%' | Set-Content ACTM.aip"

However, here are some things to be aware of / caveats:

  • You have to escape ^ with ^, so you get ^^
  • Despite PowerShell doesn't require escaping quotes within single-quotes or using the backtick ` for escaping quotes you simple escape quotes with \
  • One thing that is messed up: The batch interpreter also tries to be smart and expects a closing quote for each opening quote within the wrapped-quotes on your command argument. So if your total quotes are odd your command will not execute. (Thank you Microsoft)

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