I thought it might be a nice idea to start posting useful little commands and bits of code every now and then–ones I’ve found to be particularly useful. So here’s the first one, recursive find and replace. A masterfully crafted regular expression paired with this command can save you hours of tedious work.


This will search all files recursively for SEARCH_STRING and replace all occurrences of SEARCH_STRING with REPLACE_STRING throughout each unique file found. It also creates a backup of each modified file so that FILE is backed-up as FILE~ (with a tilde).

grep -R --files-with-matches 'SEARCH_STRING' . | sort | uniq | xargs perl -pi~ -e 's/SEARCH_STRING/REPLACE_STRING/'