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Knowing that "How to convert from text to .pdf" is already well answered here link and here link, I am looking for something more specific:

Using Claws-Mail [website] and a Plug-In [RSSyl] to read RSS feeds I collected a lot of text files. These I want to convert into .pdf files.

Problem: The files inside the folders are numbered [1, 2, …, 456]. Every feed has it's own folder, but inside I have 'just' numbered files. Every file contains a header [followed by the message's content]:

Date: Tue,  5 Feb 2013 19:59:53 GMT
From: N/A
Subject: Civilized Discourse Construction Kit
X-RSSyl-URL: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/02/civilized-discourse-construction-kit.html
Message-ID: <http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/02/civilized-discourse-construction-kit.html>
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

<html><head><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
<base href="http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/02/civilized-discourse-construction-kit.html">
<p>URL: <a href="http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/02/civilized-discourse-construction-kit.html">http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/02/civilized-discourse-construction-kit.html</a></p>
<!-- RSSyl text start -->

Question: A way to convert each file into a .pdf file and rename it, based upon the name given under Subject. Super-awsome would be converting and re-naming this way:

"folder.name"_"date"_"file name" with each information taken from the header data. As this are a few hundred files, I am looking for a batch processing way.

EDIT: The files are html formated, but without a .htm[l] suffix.

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Is the actual message marked up in HTML? –  evilsoup Jun 23 '13 at 11:25
Yes, it is - I've made an edit; thanks for the hint! –  erch Jun 23 '13 at 11:37
And I guess you would like the PDF to show the rendered HTML and not the HTML code? –  terdon Jun 23 '13 at 13:10
@terdon: exactly. Converting HTML into .pdf with displaying the actual HTML code is an interesting idea… a very interesting idea :) –  erch Jun 23 '13 at 13:59
You never know, you may need to show your code to someone. :) –  terdon Jun 23 '13 at 21:44
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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you have a relatively simple file tree where you have only one level of directories, and where each directory contains a list of files but there are no sub directories, you should be able to do something like this (you can paste this directly into your terminal and hit Enter):

for dir in *; do    ## For each directory
 if [ "$(ls -A "$dir")" ]; then  ## If the dir is not empty
   for file in "$dir"/*; do      ## For each file in $dir
    i=0;                         ## initialize a counter
    ## Get the subject
    sub=$(grep ^Subject: "$file" | cut -d ':' -f 2-);
    ## get the date, and format it to MMDDYY_Hour:Min:Sec
    date=$(date -d "$(grep ^Date: $file | cut -d ':' -f 2-)" +%m%d%y_%H:%M:%S);
    ## the pdf's name will be <directory's name> _ <date> _ <subject>
    ## if a file of this name exists
    while [ -e "$dir/$name".pdf ]; do
      let i++;                       ## increment the counter
      name="$dir"_"$date"_"$sub"$i;  ## append it to the pdf's name
    wkhtmltopdf "$file" "$dir"/"$name".pdf; ## convert html to pdf


  • This solution requires wkhtmltopdf:

    Simple shell utility to convert html to pdf using the webkit rendering engine, and qt.

    On Debian based systems you can install it with

    sudo apt-get install wkhtmltopdf
  • It assumes there are no files in the top level directory and only desired html files in all sub directories.

  • It can deal with file and directory names that contain spaces, new lines and other unorthodox characters.

  • Given a file dir1/foo with the contents of the example you have posted, it will create a file called dir1/dir1_020513_20:59:53_Civilized Discourse Construction Kit10.pdf

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