Just want to escape spaces in windows filepath. I'm trying this:

echo "111  1111 "| sed -e "s/[[:space:]]/\\ /g"

that only match spaces but do not replace.

  • I agree, the title is misleading ;-) But "ecran[sic] spaces in ... filepath" is pretty clear. echo "111 1111 " has a fixed number of whitespace, so I don't really get your quesiton. – pLumo Dec 14 '18 at 14:53

If you use double quotes, bash interprets \\ and outputs \ which is then again interpreted from sed together with the following space to just the space.

So you need one more backslash:

echo "111  1111 " | sed -e "s/[[:space:]]/\\\ /g"

but better to use single quotes to prevent the bash interpreting:

echo "111  1111 " | sed -e 's/[[:space:]]/\\ /g'


111\ \ 1111\ 

Alternative method:

If you have the file path as a variable, you can use Shell methods:

path="111  1111 "
echo ${path// /\\ }
| improve this answer | |
  • What would the out put be like? – George Udosen Dec 14 '18 at 14:47
  • 1
    +1 for Alternative method. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Dec 14 '18 at 23:57
  • nice method with variable, thanks. It is useful for my .bashrc – Yurij Dec 15 '18 at 14:53

[[:space:]] doesn’t match just spaces but rather all whitespace characters including tabs and line breaks. If you really want that, GNU sed (like in Ubuntu) has the shorthand class \s for it:

sed 's_\s_\\&_g'

This substitutes every (g) whitespace character (\s, matches spaces, tabs and newlines embedded in the pattern/hold spaces) in every line with a backslash (\\) and itself – & is the whole matched pattern. I use a different delimiter because slashes and backslashes always look confusing together; s/\s/\\&/g is of course valid as well.

If you want to replace only space characters, rather use:

sed 's_ _\\&_g'

Example run

$ echo "111  1111 " | sed 's_ _\\&_g'
111\ \ 1111\ 

For further reading on character classes see here on regular-expressions.info.

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  • Thanks, it works too. an unusual form of regex. not so widely common? – Yurij Dec 15 '18 at 15:01
  • @Yurij I didn’t use any regex, do you mean & for the entire matched pattern? That’s actually quite common… – dessert Dec 15 '18 at 15:13

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