I'd like to use a command line program (specifically geotifcp) which takes file_a.tif and file_a.tfw and outputs file_b.tif. Basically it combines two files of the same name with different file extensions and oututs the new file. I'd like to figure out how to batch out a few thousand of these things. I've created lists of all these files using basic ls > output commands.
I'm not necessarily looking for an answer targeted at this program but more at scripting in general.
I'm also not looking for you to write this for me, just give me a shove in the general direction please.

Thanks for any help!

  • That's a bit broad. Better to start with specific questions that maybe target a variety of things you want to learn. May 5, 2011 at 23:38
  • Thanks everyone! I'll try to have a more specific question next time but at this point I hardly know where to start. I'll give all your suggestions a try.
    – Paul
    May 6, 2011 at 2:32

3 Answers 3


I tend to do stuff like this using sed or awk to build command lines, then pipe them to a shell. As a possible example, if you have a file of just the xxxxx_a.tif filenames,

sed -e 's/\(.*\)_.*/geotifcp \1_a.tif \1_a.tfw \1_b.tif/' < list-file.txt

to see if it's generating the commands you're after, then

sed -e 's/\(.*\)_.*/geotifcp \1_a.tif \1_a.tfw \1_b.tif/' < list-file.txt | sh

to run them all.

An input line of asdfasdfsadf_a.tif results in geotifcp asdfasdfsadf_a.tif asdfasdfsadf_a.tfw asdfasdfsadf_b.tif, assuming that the input filenames are [filename]_a.tif and [filename]_a.tiw and the output name [filename]_b.tif.

  • great minds ...
    – DrSAR
    May 6, 2011 at 0:34

Command line arguments

You probably what to use command line arguments.

Try this bash script:


echo "First argument is $1"
echo "Second argument is $2"

If the script file name is test1.sh, then you'll have this:

a@u1104:~$ chmod +x test1.sh 
a@u1104:~$ ./test1.sh 
First argument is 
Second argument is 
a@u1104:~$ ./test1.sh file1.tif file2.tiw
First argument is file1.tif
Second argument is file2.tiw

Reading lines from files

Another component would be to loop through your file. You can do it like this:

cat test |while read line; do 
  echo "${line}"

Instead of echo "${line}" you can, for example, do ./test1.sh ${line}.tif ${line}.tiw


I suggest you have a look at

sed # to manipulate text output from, for instance, ls


xargs # to use some std input to generate (many) new command lines

in combination with piping the output of one command into the input of the next (like from ls to sed to xargs)

To wit, say, you have a directory with *tif and *tfw file. You want to do something to the tif files using the corresponding tfw file. Let's also assume for every tif file there is a tfw file of the exact same name

# list all those tif files in one long column
ls -1 *.tif 

# chop of the end .*tif leaving you with the base name
ls *.tif | sed -s 's/\.tif$//'

# feed the previous into xargs to tag a tif with the info in a tfw and
# create new geo_*.tif file
ls *.tif | sed -s 's/\.tif$//' | xargs -i -t geotifcp -e {}.tfw {}.tif geo_{}.tif

The latter line might pretty much do what you need in one long (difficult to read) commandline without scripting.

To aid understanding you can also first create the file list as you did:

ls *tif> output.list

Then clean it up with sed to make sure it behaves well.

sed -s 's/\.tif$//' output.list > clean_output.list

end then use xargs with option -p instead of -t to get a prompt before the issuance of each command:

cat clean_output.list | xargs -i -p geotifcp -e {}.tfw {}.tif geo_{}.tif

EDIT: A variation on the former is to use more sed less xargs. This is also a bit more 'debuggable'. It does require you to learn a bit about regular expressions (which is well worth the effort).

Essentially, one can generate the text of your desired command entirely with sed

sed -s 's/\(.*\)\.tif$/geotifcp -e \1.tfw \1.tif geo_\1.tif/'  output.list > process.sh

I know, regex looks horrible but here is the rough explanation of the content in the single quotes: 's/A/B/' substitutes A with B A in our case is (something).tif (note that we have to escape the brackets) The something is stored in \1 and gets used to build the geotifcp command (which is B).


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