I want to know how I can find and replace a specific text in multiple files like in Notepad++ in the linked tutorial.

e.g.: http://cybernetnews.com/find-replace-multiple-files/

  • It will not have the graphical interface but I would urge you to examine sed (man sed). It is the stream editor that has been in existence from the start of UNIX.
    – apolinsky
    Nov 30, 2011 at 14:08

10 Answers 10


Here I use sed to replace every occurrence of the word "cybernetnews" with "cybernet" in every file with the extension, c, in the directory, /home/user/directory/.

find /home/user/directory -name \*.c -exec sed -i "s/cybernetnews/cybernet/g" {} \;

A more generic variation where you search recursively from the directory of execution and operate on only regular, readable, writeable files:

find ./ -type f -readable -writable -exec sed -i "s/cybernetnews/cybernet/g" {} \;
  • 2
    Voted for this because it is such an efficient method
    – Sabacon
    Nov 30, 2011 at 16:01
  • 4
    Voted up because sed is the best choice IMO, but answer would be more useful if you explained the components of the answer (personally, I'm not familiar with and curious about the {} \;) Nov 30, 2011 at 18:50
  • 5
    @sequoiamcdowell Woo! I missed this! Sorry. The braces mean basically "for each match" and the escaped semi-colon (\;) is to prevent double parsing. We don't want the bourne-compatible shell and sed trying to parse the command, just sed.
    – user8290
    Jul 3, 2012 at 22:34
  • @Christopher how does it work if the word contains spaces like cyber net news? How can i convert this to cyber net? Sep 21, 2012 at 18:56
  • 1
    @KhurshidAlam Use the character class with the -e switch: sed -i -e "s/cyber\snet\snews/cyber net/g"
    – user8290
    Sep 22, 2012 at 13:28

The stream editor,sed, is a powerful utility for this kind of work and is my first choice, however, if you want to do this from an ordinary text editor using an Ubuntu based native application, I would suggest you take a look at Jedit, It is available in the repositories and can be installed by typing in your console:

sudo apt-get install jedit

Start jedit, click the search menu item, in the menu list, click the Search in Directory item, you will be presented with the dialog below:

Jedit Search In Folder Dialog

This is similar to that of Notepad++ and does the same thing, I believe this is what you want.

  • 1
    This was perfect for when I was searching for an entire line of code, and was hesitant to escape every single regex-special character if I had done the same thing with sed.
    – IQAndreas
    Sep 7, 2013 at 19:47
  • you can replace code blocks (like html, javascript, etc) in seconds.
    – lepe
    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:09
  • 1
    This doesn't work on a large number of files, after a couple of hours it hadn't made one replacement, whereas geany took a few minutes to find all the occurrences. This may not be an efficient search and replace but it warmed the room up nicely.
    – Mark Aroni
    Mar 29, 2018 at 8:26
  • Netbeans also supports find and replace in files. Dec 18, 2020 at 17:06

Another GUI option is regexxer: regexxer screenshot

  • Works perfectly (if you are already familiar with Regex), thank you.
    – Ernest
    Feb 3, 2014 at 12:10
  • 1
    Even, If you don't know regex, you can use this tool as a simple string search and replace tool and it will do the job for you, no need for regex or anything. Nov 28, 2018 at 17:17
perl -pi -e 's/oldtext/newtext/g' *

replaces any occurence of oldtext by newtext in all files in the current folder. However you will have to escape all perl special characters within oldtext and newtext using the backslash.


Check with Geany, it is perfect NPP replacement for Linux. You can do exactly that plus you can use regex.

  • I love Geany! It's my favourite editor and is powerful enough.
    – Stefano
    Dec 7, 2011 at 10:35
  • 1
    As far as I can tell, Geany 1.23.1 (packaged with Ubuntu 13.10) allows searching multiple files using regex, but not replacing in them. Dec 11, 2013 at 23:35
  • You can search and replace in Geany multiple files if you open them all and then using the "in session" button in the Search/Replace dialog.
    – MV.
    May 3, 2016 at 22:58
  • 1
    How do you open 5000 files listed in the messages tab?
    – Mark Aroni
    Mar 28, 2018 at 14:41
  • 1
    Ok, The regexxer was pretty much what I had been asking for, I had just skipped it earlier due to its name having regex and I just tend to avoid anything to do with regex. But I was wrong, adn that tool has exactly what is required for search and replace. Nov 28, 2018 at 17:15

A very simple solution: replace in all *.txt files in folder string_1 with string_2:

sed -i 's/string_1/string_2/g' *.txt
  • Great answer! Just some addition. If you want to replace a string in any file of the current directory recursively then try this: sed -i 's/string_1/string_2/g' $(grep -rEl 'string_1' ./)
    – drugan
    May 12, 2018 at 10:08
  • work like charm!
    – Sadegh PM
    Apr 20, 2021 at 8:19

I wrote a little script for just this thing. If you only need the basics and are not familiar with sed etc, take a look here: http://www.csrdu.org/nauman/2010/12/30/bash-script-to-find-and-replace-in-a-set-of-files/

The script is the following:

for f in submit_*;
  do sed "s/old_db_name/new_db_name/" < $f > a_$f ;
  mv a_$f $f ;

You can use this script, copy code and make a file find_and_replace_in_files.sh.

I have modified it a little; please tell me your opinion.

# *****************************************************************************************
# find_and_replace_in_files.sh
# This script does a recursive, case sensitive directory search and replace of files
# To make a case insensitive search replace, use the -i switch in the grep call
# uses a startdirectory parameter so that you can run it outside of specified directory - else this script will modify itself!
# *****************************************************************************************

# **************** Change Variables Here ************
# **********************************************************

echo "***************************************************"
echo "* Search and Replace in Files Version 01-Aug-2012 *"
echo "***************************************************"


  for file in $(grep -l -R $searchterm $startdirectory)
      cp $file $file.bak
      sed -e "s/$searchterm/$replaceterm/ig" $file > tempfile.tmp
      mv tempfile.tmp $file

    let i++;

      echo "Modified: " $file

echo " *** All Done! *** Modified files:" $i
find . -name "*.txt" |xargs sed -i "s/searched_Text/replacement_Text/g"

works for me on fedora

  • You could add a line explaining how this improves over askubuntu.com/a/84013/158442
    – muru
    Sep 19, 2014 at 0:30
  • @muru It runs much fewer sed instances! So it is much faster in terms of CPU time. Because the file access time would be limiting, I think it's not much faster in clock time, but gives lower system load. Note xargs will put lots, like hundereds, of filenames on the commandline of a single sed command - filling the available buffer size based on the length of the paths. Sep 19, 2014 at 1:07
  • Hmm... if this gets closed, I could replace it with one clearly explaining why it's better than the upvoted one. Sep 19, 2014 at 1:08
  • @VolkerSiegel that can be achieved with + instead of \; in find, right?
    – muru
    Sep 19, 2014 at 1:21
  • 1
    @muru Possibly... My "rigth tool for the job"-instinct clearly prefers xargs, but you're right; from man find: -exec command {} +: ...The command line is built in much the same way that xargs.... Makes me think of command lines of git filter-branch... ;) Sep 19, 2014 at 1:26

Another program is Searchmonkey.

SearchMonkey is a light-weight Gtk application that aims to replace the cumbersome find/grep with a slick user interface that quickly provides a mark-up showing locations and quantity of text matches. The goal is to provide a simple to use and accessible search tool for end-users, and software developers alike.

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