Jake Trent

Find and Replace Over Multiple Files in the Shell in MacOS

This is a shell command to find and replace over multiple files recursively in MacOS.

This is surprisingly difficult to figure out how to do. There are many options an nuances. This may work for your particular OS version, Terminal, Shell, and installed tools. Lol, what a disclaimer!

Anywho, the command that works for me at this moment is:

fd -0 package.json ** | xargs -0 sed -i "" "s/npm run/yarn/g"

Let's break it down:

  • fd is an alternative to the unix find command. It looks for files that match the name given.
  • package.json is the name of the file we're looking for.
  • -0 is an option to fd that preps it for xargs later. It puts results on one line, separating them with NULL characters.
  • ** tells fd to checkout all the directories listed at this level. It's recursive by default.
  • | is a pipe that connects and forwards commands.
  • xargs is a command that takes the output of the previous command and appends it to the next command
  • -0 has the same purpose as the last -0 and makes the connected commands compatible.
  • sed is a string replace command. The options and args that follow feed into it
  • -i edits files in place. The "" empty string that follows indicates that no backup to the edited files should be made.
  • s/npm run/yarn/g This is the string to find (indicated bys/) and replace (ie, change "npm run" for "yarn") globally (indicated by the /g).

So there it is. Save that one to your cranium.

While searching for how to perform this command, I came across a great tool that will expose the man pages for much of this in a combined web gui, called explainshell.com. Pretty cool!

What other solutions for search and replace have you used on MacOS?