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Inserting Text in Files Using ANSI-C Quoting in OSX with sed

Automate Text Insertion in OSX Files with Stream Editor

Learn how to use sed with ANSI-C quoting on OSX to insert text into specific lines of files, simplifying automated text editing tasks.
June 24, 2024
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Inserting Text in Files Using ANSI-C Quoting in OSX with sed

When working with text files on OSX, the sed (stream editor) command proves to be a powerful tool for making automated edits. One common task involves inserting lines into specific positions within files. This article explores how to use sed with ANSI-C quoting to achieve this.

Introduction to sed

sed is a Unix utility that parses and transforms text, using a simple and compact programming language. It is commonly used for text substitution, deletion, and insertion tasks.

ANSI-C Quoting

ANSI-C quoting allows the use of escape sequences in string literals, facilitating the insertion of complex strings and multi-line texts. This is particularly useful when working with sed for inserting text into files.

Inserting Text Using sed and ANSI-C Quoting

Let’s break down the process of inserting text at a specific line in a file using sed on OSX. The general syntax for inserting text at a specific line is:

sed -i '' 'N i\text to insert' file

Where:

Example 1: Inserting a Line at a Specific Position

To insert a line at the 3rd position in a file, the following command is used:

sed -i '' '3i\'$'\n''text to insert' file

Example 2: Inserting a Timestamp in Markdown Files

Suppose you want to insert a modification timestamp at the 5th line of all Markdown files (*.md). The command would be:

sed -i '' '5i\'$'\n''lastmod: 2024-06-24\'$'\n' *.md

Practical Use Cases

  1. Adding Headers or Footers: Automatically insert headers or footers into documents.
  2. Metadata Insertion: Add metadata like modification dates or author information to Markdown files.
  3. Code Injection: Insert code snippets into scripts at specific locations.

Conclusion

Using sed with ANSI-C quoting on OSX provides a robust method for inserting text into files at specified positions. The flexibility and power of sed make it an indispensable tool for text manipulation tasks in scripting and automation workflows. By understanding and leveraging these commands, you can streamline and automate various editing tasks efficiently.

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