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Is there a simple way I can echo a file, skipping the first and last lines? I was looking at piping from head into tail, but for those it seems like I would have to know the total lines from the outset. I was also looking at split, but I don't see a way to do it with that either.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 65 down vote accepted

Just with sed, without any pipes :

sed '1d;$d' file.txt


  • 1 mean first line
  • d mean delete
  • ; is the separator for 2 commands
  • $ mean last line
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In python i would do like this.

import re
import sys
file = sys.argv[1]
with open(file, 'r') as f:
    L = []
    for line in f:
        line = re.sub(r'\n', r'', line)

Paste the above code into a file and name it as Run the script against the file you want to check with.

python3 /path/to/the/file


$ cat file
$ python3 file
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Here is how to do it with awk:

awk 'NR>2 {print t} {t=$0}'

Also another way for sed:

sed '1d;x' file.txt

x is advanced sed command, it switches current line with the previous one: current goes into the buffer and previous goes to the screen and so on while sed processing stream line by line (this is why the first line will be blank).

awk solution on each step (line) puts current line into the variable and starts printing it out only after the second line is passed by. Thus, we got shitfed sequence of lines on the screen from the second to the last but one. Last line is omitted becasue the line is in the variable and should be printed only on the next step, but all steps already run out and we never see the line on the screen.

Same idea in the perl:

perl -ne 'print $t if $.>2 ; $t=$_' file.txt

$. stands for line number and $_ for current line.
perl -n is shortcut for while(<..>) {..} structure and -e is for inline script.

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tail -n +2 file.txt | head -n -2 

no start no end just clear road

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Try this:

tail -n +2 file.txt | head -n -1

doing it the other way round, works the same, of course:

head -n -1 file.txt | tail -n +2
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requires GNU head and tail – Noah Yetter Aug 31 at 21:30

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