Hello I have two files with some filenames that look like this:

File 1:


File 2:


Is there any bash command that I can use to overlapp them and to print only those lines or file names that didnt match. So I am expecting something like this:

  • ...odd expectation, because lines 2,3 and 4 from file 1 don't match those from File 2. Otherwise, you could have used diff --suppress-common-lines. – mikewhatever Jan 15 '18 at 9:04
  • How? After overlapping for example file2 to file1 456.txt that I want to keep wont match – milan Jan 15 '18 at 9:10
  • Does diff --suppress-common-lines searches for difference within each line? – milan Jan 15 '18 at 9:11
  • Yes, it should. Check out man diff for more info. – mikewhatever Jan 15 '18 at 9:30
  • 1
    If you want that specific output, see the answers below. If you want a general purpose tool that will tell you the differences between two files (this line has been added, that line has been deleted, those lines have been changed...), then diff is the standard tool for this. There are lots of options to control its behaviour and various different output formats. – jcaron Jan 15 '18 at 18:27

comm is your friend here:

If the files are sorted already:

comm -3 f1.txt f2.txt

If not sorted, sort and pass them as file descriptors using process substitution (so that we don't need any temporary files):

comm -3 <(sort f1.txt) <(sort f2.txt)


% cat f1.txt

% cat f2.txt

% comm -3 <(sort f1.txt) <(sort f2.txt)

A simple approach would be to use two 'grep' commands, which each take one of the files as a list of lines to search the other file. Assuming your files are named f1.txt and f2.txt:

grep -Fxvf f1.txt f2.txt ; grep -xvf f2.txt f1.txt

The grep options used are as follows:

  • -F - Use each line as a fixed string to match, rather than a regular expression
  • -x - Only match whole lines
  • -v - Invert the match to select non-matching lines
  • -f - Use the file given as an argument as a list of patterns to match
  • 1
    Good one, better than my loops. I forgot grep can read expressions from files too. However, you should probably add -F to treat the expressions as fixed strings and not as regex patterns. – Byte Commander Jan 15 '18 at 10:01
  • I thought I should do that, wasn't sure whether -x would still be necessary in that case though. – Arronical Jan 15 '18 at 10:34

I understand your question the way that you want all lines which appear in only one of the files, not both, and disregarding the line order.

I also assume we compare the files f1.txt and f2.txt. Insert your respective names instead.

Using Bash, you could do it with two loops, where each processes one file and checks for each line if it appears in the other. This approach is not very efficient, but it should work:

# This loops over f1.txt and searches each line in f2.txt
while read line ; do grep -Fxqe "$line" f2.txt || echo "$line" ; done < f1.txt 

# This loops over f2.txt and searches each line in f1.txt
while read line ; do grep -Fxqe "$line" f1.txt || echo "$line" ; done < f2.txt 

Both loops together produce the desired result. Each for itself only checks for lines in one file that don't appear in the other.

A neater solution could be written e.g. with a short Python one-liner:

python3 -c 's1=set(open("f1.txt")); s2=set(open("f2.txt")); print(*s1.symmetric_difference(s2), sep="")'

This uses a Set data structure, which only contains unique values and allows set operations like "symmetric difference".

Note that using both solutions, if any of the files contain duplicate lines, these are ignored and handled only like a single occurrence.


Assuming you don't need the results to remain in the original order, just use:

cat file1 file2 | sort | uniq -u


cat file1 file2

Outputs both files to standard output, one after the other.


Sorts the combined contents of the two files. The useful side effect that we're interested in is that this puts identical lines from both files right next to each other.

uniq -u

Outputs only the lines that are "unique" i.e. that only occur once. Annoyingly enough this only looks at pairs of adjacent lines, which is why the previous sort command is necessary.

You can also use uniq -d to output only the lines that occur twice. This will give you the lines that are common to both files.

NOTE: I'm not sure how well this solution works if the same lines occurs more than once in the same file.

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