Bob Nadler, Jr. Bob Nadler, Jr.

sed in-place editing gotcha in OS X

Published over 11 years ago less than 1 min read
Danger: Carnivorous Pigeons
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I just started learning about sed and came across one "gotcha" when using the -i option in OS X. The -i option allows you to edit a file in-place. It takes an optional parameter - a string to use as the extension for the backup file. If this parameter is not provided, then a backup file is not created.

I was using sed to remove some tag references from a ctags file. Since the file could easily be re-generated I didn't feel the need to provide a backup extension. I tried to execute the command below, but received an error:

→ sed -i "/lib\/timekeeper\/employee.rb/d" tags

sed: 1: "tags": undefined label 'ags'

After some head scratching and Googling I figured out that in OS X the parameter is not optional, so the correct command is this:

→ sed -i "" "/lib\/timekeeper\/employee.rb/d" tags

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