Replace text in files on the command line using wildcards and Simple Expressions with Swiss File Knife Extended Edition.
sfk xreplace dirName "/searchtext/totext/"
replace in text and binary files using wildcards * and ?
as well as SFK Simple Expressions in brackets .
Multiple search patterns are executed in the given sequence. Mind this
if they overlap, e.g. /foo/bar/ /foosys/thesys/ makes no sense (foo is
replaced by the first expression, so the 2nd one will fail to match).
by default, replace functions run in SIMULATION mode,
previewing hits without changing anything. add -yes to apply changes.
Changing binaries may lead to unpredictable results, therefore keep
backups of your files in any case.
subdirectories are included by default
the sfk default for most commands is to process the given directories,
as well as all subdirs within them. specify -nosub to disable this.
-nosub do not include files in subdirectories.
-nobin[ary] skip binary files.
-case case-sensitive text comparison. default is insensitive.
-pat starts a list of search or replace patterns of the form
xsrcxdstx where x is the separator char, src the source
to search for, and dst the destination to replace it with.
e.g. /foo/bar/ or _foo_bar_ both replace foo by bar.
-pat is not required if a single filename is given.
-text the same as -pat, starting a text pattern list.
-bylist x.txt read search patterns from a file x.txt, supporting
multiple lines per pattern. (add -full for more.)
-bylinelist x read /from/to/ or just /from/ patterns from a file x
with one pattern per line. (add -full for more.)
-by(line)list does not support sfk variables.
to use variables in patterns create an sfk script
with patterns as parameters. "sfk script" for more.
-usetmp allow creation of temporary files if output data is larger
than the memory limit (default: 300 MB). without -usetmp,
SFK uses the whole RAM, but stops with an error if it runs
out of memory.
-memlimit=n use up to n mbytes of RAM to store output data, and when
the limit is reached, use a temporary file. this option
implies -usetmp. to set this permanently by environment,
type in a batch file: set SFK_CONFIG=memlimit:n
-tmpdir x set directory x as temporary file directory. default is
to use the path specified by TEMP or TMP env variable.
-showtmp tell verbosely which temporary files are created.
SFK temporary filenames contain the process ID
to make sure multiple SFK running in parallel
do not use the same temporary file.
-notmp never create temporary files (default). if combined with
-memlimit, sfk stops with an error if memlimit is reached.
-recsize set input record size for processing (default=100k).
xreplace, xtext and xhexfind extend this automatically
based on the largest search patterns.
-firsthit process only first found pattern match per file.
-quiet do not show progress infos.
-stat show statistics like hits per pattern and no. of files.
-perf show performance statistics.
-full print full help text telling about -bylist pattern files,
special character case sensitivity and nested or repeated
-dump create hexdump of search hits or replaced text.
-wide with -dump: show 16 bytes per line.
-lean with -dump: show 8 bytes per line.
-dumpfrom always dump search hits but not replaced text.
-dumpall dump search text and replaced text.
-nodump do not create a hexdump, list only matching files.
-astext no hexdump, but print search hits as plain text.
use this only with plain text files, not binary.
-showle highlight CR/LF line endings in hex dump output
-context=n with hexdump: show additional n bytes of context.
-reldist with hexdump: tell relative distances to previous hits.
-to dir\$file write output files to given path. for details about
output file masks, type "sfk help opt" or "sfk run".
-tofile x write output data to a single output filename x
(which is not interpreted as a mask but taken as is).
return codes for batch files
0 = no matches, 1 = matches found, >1 = major error occurred.
see also "sfk help opt" on how to influence error processing.
with option -usetmp or -memlimit sfk may create temporary files
in a folder specified by TEMP or TMP environment variable,
or within /tmp under Linux, or in a folder given by -tmpdir
or from an SFK_CONFIG=tmpdir:... setting. type "sfk help opt"
for further infos.
about nested replacement patternssfk replace myfile.dat /foo/bar/ /bar/goo/
with SFK base, "foo" will be replaced by "bar" and then
immediately "bar" is replaced again by "goo".
with SFK XE, a replaced part of text is not replaced again
in the same command, so "foo" stays replaced by "bar".
unexpected repeat replace behaviour
depending on the input data and search/replace expressions,
it can happen that running the same replace multiple times
on the same file produces further hits that didn't exist
in the first run. add option -full to read more on this.
quoted multi line parameters are supported in scripts
using full trim. type "sfk script" for details.
wildcards and SFK expressions
SFK Expressions are simple patterns containing literal text,
wildcards * and ? and character classes in square brackets .
basically, the syntax provides extended wilcards but no
further logic and is not related to regular expressions.
search patterns are surrounded by a separator character which
can be anything not contained in the search text, like / or _
within a pattern /fromtext/totext/the fromtextmay contain:* - 0 to 4000 characters in the same
text line or paragraph, i.e. all
bytes not being CR, LF or NULL.
4000 is just a default maximum
that can be changed by:
[0.100000 chars] - 0 to 100000 characters in the same
text line or paragraph, i.e. the
same as * but with a larger range.
? - one character.
????? - same as [5.5 chars] or [5 chars][bytes] - 0 to 4000 bytes (with CR,LF,NULL)
i.e. it collects stream text
across lines, even in binary data
** - the same as [bytes].
[0.100 bytes] - 0 to 100 bytes
[.100000 bytes] - up to 100000 bytes
[1.* bytes] - 1 to default maximum bytes
[30 bytes] - exactly 30 bytes
[byte of aeiou] - one vocal (a OR A OR e OR ...),
case insensitive by default.
"aeiou" is a character list.
[byte of \\\x2f] - a backslash \ or forw. slash /
[bytes of \r\n \t] - whitespace incl. line ends
[bytes of (\r\n \t)] - the same, () are optional
[bytes not \r\n\0] - up to 4000 bytes as long as no
CR, LF or NULL byte appears
[chars] - the same as [bytes not \r\n\0],
i.e. collect text in a line
[char not ( \t)] - same as [byte not ( \r\n\0\t)],
everything not blanks and tabs
[char not )( \t] - not brackets, blanks and tabs,
same as not (\(\) \t)[chars of a-z0-9] - means a-zA-Z0-9 as search is
case insensitive by default
[chars of \x61-\x7A] - search a-z but not A-Z, or use
option -case for case search
[eol] - end of line by characters:
CRLF or LF or CR
[white] = chars of (\t ) - 0 or more whitespaces
[xwhite] = bytes of (\t \r\n) - same but across lines
[1 white] = byte of (\t ) - 1 whitespace
[digit] = byte of (0-9) - 1 digit
[digits] = bytes of (0-9) - 0 or more digits
[hexdigit] = byte of (0-9a-f) - 1 hexadecimal digit
[hexdigits] = bytes of (0-9a-f) - 0 or more hex digits
special keywords that do not count as tokens:
[keep] - search also the following text but keep it
in the input data, without consuming it
[ortext] - foo[ortext]bar searches word foo or bar.
[ortext] is allowed only between literals.
anchors that have no length of their own:
[start] - start of file
[end] - end of file
[lstart] - line start, i.e. start or CRLF or CR or LF
[lend] - logical line end, i.e. eol or end of file
how to search or replace special characters:
- to search or replace text containing the literal characters
* ? \ [ ] then these must be escaped like \* \? \\ \[ \]
- ( ) are escaped only within character lists, like \( \)
- to search or replace the forward slash '/' type \x2f or use
another char around from/to text, e.g. _fromtext_totext_
- parameters with blanks and non trivial characters need double
quotes "", see also "about Shell Command Characters" below.
expansion priorities: (highest first)
if two search parts are side by side, and the same input
character matches both, then these priorities apply:
5: start, end, lstart, lend
4: literal text, eol
3: whitelist classes: byte of, bytes of
2: blacklist classes: chars not, bytes not
1: plain wildcards: ?, *, **, byte, bytes, chars
this means in "/[bytes]foo/" the [bytes] will stop to collect
characters as soon as "foo" is found, as "foo" is a literal.
on same or higher priority the right side stops the left side.
the totextmay contain:[part 1] use first text part of the fromtext.
e.g. the fromtext /*foo[.100 chars]bar*/
contains parts : 1 2 3 4 5[part1] the same (blank is optional).
[parts 1,2,3] use parts 1, 2 and 3.
[parts 1-10] use parts 1 to 10.
[strip(part1,\0)] use part 1 but remove zero bytes.
only zero bytes "\0" can be removed.
[file.name] full input filename with path
[file.relname] input filename without path
[file.path] input file's path
[file.base] relname without last .extension
[file.ext] input filename extension
[all] use all parts from fromtext.
[setvar name]...[endvar] set variable "name" with data
between setvar and endvar.
[getvar name] fill in data from variable "name"
although anchors like lstart, lend count as a separate part
they need NOT be specified in the totext. this means that
/[lstart]foo[lend]/bar/ just changes the word "foo".
supported slash patterns\t = TAB
\r = CR
\n = LF
\x00 = one byte with code 00 hexadecimal
\0 = short form for \x00
\q = a double quote "
\\ = the backslash character \ itself
\[ = the bracket open character [
\] = the bracket close character ]
\* = the literal star character *
\? = the literal question mark ?
\- = to use literal "-" in a command
Within multi line -bylist files:
\ = slash+blank is changed to a single blank
Only within "char of" or "byte not" lists:
\( = to use literal character "("
\) = to use literal character ")"
SFK expression options
-showpart(s) print /from/ part numbers, range statistics
and expansion priority points per part.
done automatically if a required /to/ text
is not given with a command.
-showbest if a /from/ pattern finds nothing, use this to
see how many parts would match so far, and with
up to how many bytes per part. anchors like [lstart]
may show a non zero length when matching (CR)LF.
-showlist with -bylist, show the internal joined list if
commands are spread across multiple lines.
-showall show all of the above.
-xmaxlen=n set default maximum length for chars or bytes commands,
e.g. -xmaxlen=10000 means /foo*bar/ matches with up to
10000 characters between foo and bar. the default max
length without this option is 4000 characters.
- always use a string literal, or single byte or char, at the start
of your search expressions, like in /foo*bar/ starting with 'f'.Do not use a wildcard like * at the start like in /*foobar/
when searching huge input data, as your search will slow down byfactor 256. Use /[lstart]*foobar/ instead.
- the system may cache output file(s), writing to disk in background
after sfk has finished. subsequent batch commands may execute slower.
see also--- open source commands ---sfk xfind search wildcard text in text/binary files
sfk xtext search wildcard text in text files only
sfk xhexfind search in text/binary with hex dump output
sfk extract extract wildcard data from text/binary files
sfk filter filter and edit text with simple wildcards
sfk find search fixed text in text/binary files
sfk ftext search fixed text in text files
sfk hexfind search fixed text in binary files
sfk replace replace fixed text in text/binary files
--- freeware commands ---sfk view GUI tool to search text as you type
--- xe commercial commands ---sfk replace replace fixed text with high performance
sfk xreplace replace wildcard text in text/binary files
sfk help xe about SFK XE and xreplace with SFK Expressions.
beware of Shell Command Characters.
to find or replace text patterns containing spaces or special
characters like <>|!&?* you must add quotes "" around parameters
or the shell environment will destroy your command. for example,
pattern /foo bar/other/ must be written like "/foo bar/other/"
within a .bat or .cmd file the percent % must be escaped like %%
even within quotes: sfk echo -spat "percent %% is a percent \x25"web referencehttp://stahlworks.com/sfk-xrepabout example numbers with [brackets]
if you see  type "sfk cmd 1" for whole command in one line.
bad examples with correctionsif input text contains:
bool bClBar ;
sfk xfind in.txt "/bool[xwhite]bCl*[xwhite];/"
does NOT match "bool bClFoo;" because * eats the
whole input line including ";" so no input is left
for "[xwhite];" and the whole expression fails.
sfk xfind in.txt "/bool[xwhite]bCl[* not ;][xwhite];/"
does both match "bool bClFoo;" and "bool bClBar ;".
this means whenever your search fails to work write
in detail which characters (not) to collect where.
sfk xex in.txt "/[lstart]foo/[lstart]goo/"
there is no need to write an anchor like [lstart]
within totext as it contains no data. use instead:
sfk xex in.txt "/[lstart]foo/goo/"
sfk xex in.txt "/foo[lend]bar/goo[part2]bar/"
anchors like [lend] must be at start or end of fromtext
and cannot be referenced within totext. use instead:
sfk xex in.txt "/foo[eol]bar/goo[part2]bar/"
working examplessfk xrep mydir "/foo*bar/"
an incomplete command (missing "totext" part in pattern).
sfk shows an info text telling about part numbers
and runs a search for "foo*bar" in all files of mydir.
nothing is changed so far.
sfk xrep mydir "/foo*bar/[part1]goo[part3]/"
same as above, but now the /fromtext/totext/ is complete.
again sfk runs a search for "foo*bar", but now it displays
the changed output text (totext), with everything between
"foo" and "bar" being changed to "goo". add option
-dumpfrom to display the original found text instead.
sfk sel mydir .txt +xrep "/foo*bar/[part1]goo[part3]/"
similar to above, replace in all .txt files of mydir.
sfk xrep -text "/class* CFoo/[part1][part3]/" -dir mydir -file .hpp
search only .hpp files within mydir, and replace for example
"class IMPORT CFoo" by "class CFoo".
sfk xrep -pat "/[byte not \n][end]/[part1]\n/"-dir mydir -file .cpp .hpp -dumpall
find all .cpp or .hpp files in mydir whose last line is not
ending with a linefeed, and add the linefeed. to check exactly
what is changed dump both input and output text. 
sfk xrep -dir mydir -file .hpp -enddir-text "/[byte not \n][end]/[part1]\n/" -dumpall
same as above but with dir parameters first. 
sfk xrep io.txt "/[lstart][20 chars]*/[part3]/"
cut first 20 characters in every line of io.txt.
sfk xrep io.txt "/[lstart][9 bytes]1001*/[part2]9009[part4]/"
in fixed position text file data like:
rec. 001:5318 aef3 2751 1001
rec. 002:1001 aef5 275a 1001
rec. 003:ef49 aef7 2763 1001
replace "1001" where it appears in columns 10 to 13,
in this example only the first "1001" in record 2.
sfk xrep in.dat "/\xFF\xFE[1 byte]\x80\x81/\xFF\xFE\x00\x80\x81/"
replace byte sequences (not ASCII text strings) in binary data.
searches byte groups starting with values 0xFF 0xFE, then any
single byte, then 0x80 0x81, and replaces the variable byte
by always a binary 0x00 value.
sfk xreplace in.txt "/foo*bar/other/"
replace phrases starting with "foo" and ending with "bar"
by word "other" in single file in.txt
sfk xreplace -text "/foo*bar/===[part2]===/" -dir mydir -file .txt
replace foo*bar in all .txt files of folder mydir
with a new pattern containing the text between foo and bar
surrounded by "===".
sfk xrep -text "/\x66\x6f\x6f[0.100 bytes]\x62\x61\x72/---/"-dir mydir -file .dat
replace binary data starting with bytes 0x66, 0x6f, 0x6f,
ending with 0x62, 0x61, 0x72 and up to 100 bytes inbetween
by "---" within all .dat files of folder mydir.