SED is a stream editor. A stream editor is used to perform basic
text transformations on an input stream (a file or input from a pipeline).
While in some ways similar to an editor which permits scripted edits, SED works by making only one pass over the input(s), and is consequently more efficient. But it is SED's ability to filter text in a pipeline which particularly distinguishes it from other types of editors.
syntax sed [OPTION]... OPTIONS `-V' `--version' Print out version info and exit. `-h' `--help' Print a usage message and then exit. `-n' `--quiet' `--silent' By default, SED will print out the pattern space at then end of each cycle through the script. These options disable this automatic printing, and SED will only produce output when explicitly told to via the `p' command. `-e SCRIPT' `--expression=SCRIPT' Add the commands in SCRIPT to the set of commands to be run while processing the input. `-f SCRIPT-FILE' `--file=SCRIPT-FILE' Add the commands contained in the file SCRIPT-FILE to the set of commands to be run while processing the input.
If no `-e', `-f', `--expression', or `--file' options are given
on the command-line, then the first non-option argument on the command line
is taken to be the SCRIPT to be executed. If any command-line parameters remain
after processing the above, these parameters are interpreted as the names of
input files to be processed. A file name of `-' refers to the standard input
stream. The standard input will processed if no file names are specified.
sed supports regular expressions (like awk), and can select whole lines or patterns of text.
`/REGEXP/' This will select any line which matches the regular expression REGEXP. If REGEXP itself includes any `/' characters, each must be escaped by a backslash (`\'). `/REGEXP/I' `\%REGEXP%I' The `I' modifier to regular-expression matching is a GNU extension which causes the REGEXP to be matched in a case-insensitive manner.
Having selected a pattern you can either delete or replace it...
`d' Delete the pattern space; immediately start next cycle. `s/REGEXP/REPLACEMENT/FLAGS' (The `/' characters may be uniformly replaced by any other single character within any given `s' command.)
The `/' character (or whatever other character is used in its stead) can appear in the REGEXP or REPLACEMENT only if it is preceded by a `\' character. Also newlines may appear in the REGEXP using the two character sequence `\n'.
The `s' command attempts to match the pattern space against the supplied REGEXP. If the match is successful, then that portion of the pattern space which was matched is replaced with REPLACEMENT.
The REPLACEMENT can contain `\N' (N being a number from 1 to 9, inclusive) references, which refer to the portion of the match which is contained between the Nth `\(' and its matching `\)'.
Also, the REPLACEMENT can contain unescaped `&' characters which will reference the whole matched portion of the pattern space. To include a literal `\', `&', or newline in the final replacement, be sure to precede the desired `\', `&', or newline in the REPLACEMENT with a `\'.
The `s' command can be followed with zero or more of the following FLAGS: `g' Apply the replacement to *all* matches to the REGEXP, not just the first. `p' If the substitution was made, then print the new pattern space. `NUMBER' Only replace the NUMBERth match of the REGEXP. `w FILE-NAME' If the substitution was made, then write out the result to the named file. `I' Match REGEXP in a case-insensitive manner. (This is a GNU extension.)
more (much more) detail is available from `info sed'
awk - Find and Replace text within file(s)
grep - Search file(s) for lines that match a given pattern
Equivalent Windows NT commands:
FIND - Search for a text string in a file
FINDSTR - Search for strings in files
MUNGE - Find and Replace text within file(s)