How can you find and replace text in a file using the Windows command-line environment?

0 votes
asked Sep 12, 2008 by ray-vega

I am writing a batch file script using Windows command-line environment and want to change each occurrence of some text in a file (ex. "FOO") with another (ex. "BAR"). What is the simplest way to do that? Any built in functions?

24 Answers

0 votes
answered Jan 12, 2008 by ferruccio

I don't think there's a way to do it with any built-in commands. I would suggest you download something like Gnuwin32 or UnxUtils and use the sed command (or download only sed):

sed -c s/FOO/BAR/g filename
0 votes
answered Jan 12, 2008 by jm

Download Cygwin (free) and use unix-like commands at the Windows command line.

Your best bet: sed

0 votes
answered Jan 14, 2008 by jay

Take a look at Is there any sed like utility for cmd.exe which asked for a sed equivalent under Windows, should apply to this question as well. Executive summary:

  • It can be done in batch file, but it's not pretty
  • Lots of available third party executables that will do it for you, if you have the luxury of installing or just copying over an exe
  • Can be done with VBScript or similar if you need something able to run on a Windows box without modification etc.
0 votes
answered Jan 15, 2008 by morechilli

BatchSubstitute.bat on is an example of search and replace using a pure batch file.

It uses a combination of FOR, FIND and CALL SET.

Lines containing characters among "&<>]|^ may be treated incorrectly.

0 votes
answered Sep 12, 2008 by mike-schall

If you are on Windows version that supports .Net 2.0, I would replace your shell. PowerShell gives you the full power of .Net from the command line. There are many commandlets built in as well. The example below will solve your question. I'm using the full names of the commands, there are shorter aliases, but this gives you something to Google for.

(Get-Content test.txt) | ForEach-Object { $_ -replace "foo", "bar" } | Set-Content test2.txt
0 votes
answered Jan 23, 2009 by peter-schuetze

May be a little bit late, but I am frequently looking for similar stuff, since I don't want to get through the pain of getting software approved.

However, you usually use the FOR statement in various forms. Someone created a useful batch file that does a search and replace. Have a look here. It is important to understand the limitations of the batch file provided. For this reason I don't copy the source code in this answer.

0 votes
answered Jan 2, 2010 by vonc

Just used FART ("F ind A nd R eplace T ext" command line utility):
excellent little freeware for text replacement within a large set of files.

The setup files are on SourceForge.

Usage example:

fart.exe -p -r -c -- C:\tools\perl-5.8.9\* @@APP_DIR@@ C:\tools

will preview the replacements to do recursively in the files of this Perl distribution.

Only problem: the FART website icon isn't exactly tasteful, refined or elegant ;)

Update 2017 (7 years later) jagb points out in the comments to the 2011 article "FARTing the Easy Way – Find And Replace Text" from Mikail Tunç

0 votes
answered Jan 9, 2010 by faisal

I have used perl, and that works marvelously.

perl -pi.orig -e "s/<textToReplace>/<textToReplaceWith>/g;" <fileName>

.orig is the extension it would append to the original file

For a number of files matching such as *.html

for %x in (<filePattern>) do perl -pi.orig -e "s/<textToReplace>/<textToReplaceWith>/g;" %x
0 votes
answered Jan 10, 2010 by chad

Here's a solution that I found worked on Win XP. In my running batch file, I included the following:

set value=new_value

:: Setup initial configuration
:: I use && as the delimiter in the file because it should not exist, thereby giving me the whole line
echo --> Setting configuration and properties.
for /f "tokens=* delims=&&" %%a in (config\config.txt) do ( 
  call replace.bat "%%a" _KEY_ %value% config\temp.txt 
del config\config.txt
rename config\temp.txt config.txt

The replace.bat file is as below. I did not find a way to include that function within the same batch file, because the %%a variable always seems to give the last value in the for loop.


@echo off

:: This ensures the parameters are resolved prior to the internal variable
SetLocal EnableDelayedExpansion

:: Replaces Key Variables
:: Parameters:
:: %1  = Line to search for replacement
:: %2  = Key to replace
:: %3  = Value to replace key with
:: %4  = File in which to write the replacement

:: Read in line without the surrounding double quotes (use ~)
set line=%~1

:: Write line to specified file, replacing key (%2) with value (%3)
echo !line:%2=%3! >> %4

:: Restore delayed expansion
0 votes
answered Jan 22, 2010 by kool-guy-here

Power shell command works like a charm

test.txt | ForEach-Object { $_ -replace "foo", "bar" } | Set-Content test2.txt
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