Right now I'm using

echo "Hello World" >> file.txt

to append some text to a file but I also need to add text below a certain string let's say [option], is it possible with sed?


Input file

Some text
Some stuff

Output file

Some text
*inserted text*
Some stuff
  • 2
    You have to be more specific and give some sample text for people to help you with exact commands.
    – clement
    Mar 24, 2014 at 14:51
  • please edit you Q and show the input and the output lines. Because you Q is unclear. You could also do echo "Hello World [option]" >> file.txt, but it doesn't make sense.
    – user55518
    Mar 24, 2014 at 14:56
  • I edited the question to provide more information for reference but the accepted answer was what I was trying to accomplish Mar 24, 2014 at 21:25
  • If you just want to edit a config file this is the best solution I found: unix.stackexchange.com/a/78076/20661
    – rubo77
    Jul 21, 2016 at 8:20

4 Answers 4


Append line after match

  • sed '/\[option\]/a Hello World' input

Insert line before match

  • sed '/\[option\]/i Hello World' input

Additionally you can take backup and edit input file in-place using -i.bkp option to sed

  • 8
    on osx i get sed: 1: "/pattern/a some text here": command a expects \ followed by text
    – the_prole
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:11
  • 4
    for Mac OSX, I needed to add \ <<NEWLINE>> after the a option
    – Tom Howard
    Aug 2, 2019 at 13:34
  • 2
    The above code will append/insert the line for every single match. If you want to append/insert the line for the first match only, you can prepend 0, to the commands: sed '0,/\[option\]/a Hello World' input or sed '0,/\[option\]/i Hello World' input
    – kimbaudi
    Aug 7, 2019 at 2:50
  • 1
    Works for me and if you want insert space it may like sed '/\[option\]/a \ \ Hello World' input
    – hukeping
    Oct 9, 2020 at 8:40
  • 1
    If the appended string is a multiline text u can save it to a file (e.g.: snippet.txt) and inject this file after the pattern using: sed -i '/pattern/ r snippet.txt' filename
    – Savrige
    Oct 24, 2021 at 14:40

Yes, it is possible with sed:

sed '/pattern/a some text here' filename

An example:

$ cat test
$ sed '/option/a insert text here' test
insert text here
  • Doesn't work on mac... Error: command a expects \ followed by text
    – TheJeff
    Jun 12, 2023 at 13:57

With awk:

awk '1;/PATTERN/{ print "add one line"; print "\\and one more"}' infile

Keep in mind that some characters can not be included literally so one has to use escape sequences (they begin with a backslash) e.g. to print a literal backslash one has to write \\.

It's actually the same with sed but in addition each embedded newline in the text has to be preceded by a backslash:

sed '/PATTERN/a\
add one line\
\\and one more' infile

For more details on escape sequences consult the manual.

Also, to address some of the comments: the above commands DO NOT edit the file in place, they just print the result to the standard output. To actually modify the input file you would either use the -i switch if your awk/sed support it (consult the manual) or redirect to a temporary file then overwrite the original e.g.

cmd infile > outfile
mv outfile infile

Or use ed/ex which can edit the files in-place on all platforms:

ex -s infile <<\IN
add one line
and one more

Remember: with ed/sed/ex, a appends and i inserts; with awk, to insert, move the 1 to the end.

  • An awk line does not actually change the text, only output. Jun 17, 2018 at 14:51
  • To change text in a file (replace inline), use awk -i inline ...
    – Tim Visee
    Jan 20, 2021 at 16:37
  • Notes: to modify a file in-place (and avoid emptying the input file), this awk output should be piped to a file, which should be copied after its done back to the same file; PATTERN should not be surrounded by quotes.
    – mirekphd
    Jan 24, 2023 at 21:20

This can also be achieved using the ed utility. It's easier to use sed but nice to be familiar with an additional utility (I came to this page, specifically looking how to achieve this using ed; I already knew how to do it in sed).

For your example file (printed with line numbers for reference):

 1  Some text
 2  Random
 3  [option]
 4  Some stuff

The ed commands to achieve the suggested output would be:

*inserted text*


  1. go to line 4, start insert mode (i)
  2. add *inserted text* (including the newline)
  3. exit insert mode (.)
  4. write the file (w) and quit ed (q)

You can put this all together in one command using a here string:

ed filename.txt <<< '4i
*inserted text*

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