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Say I have this file:

hello world

This program


for i in $(cat $1); do
    echo "tester: $i"


tester: hello
tester: world
tester: hello
tester: world

I'd like to have the for iterate over each line individually ignoring whitespaces though, i.e. the last two lines should be replaced by

tester: hello world

Using quotes for i in "$(cat $1)"; results in i being asigned the whole file at once. What should I change?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 31 down vote accepted

With for and IFS:


IFS=$'\n'       # make newlines the only separator
set -f          # disable globbing
for i in $(cat "$1"); do
  echo "tester: $i"

Or with read (no more cat):


while IFS= read -r line; do
  echo "tester: $line"
done < "$1"
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thanks, I didn't know one could < into a whole loop. Although it makes perfectly sense now I saw it –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 7 '11 at 11:06
I see IFS \ read -r line' in second example. Is really IFS=` needed ? IMHO it enough to say : while read -r line; do echo "tester: $line"; done < "$1" –  Grzegorz Wierzowiecki Mar 19 '12 at 16:45
@GrzegorzWierzowiecki IFS= turns off the stripping of leading and trailing whitespace. See In while IFS= read.., why does IFS have no effect? –  Gilles Jan 12 '14 at 0:29

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