I have 3 files: a.txt, b.txt and c.txt. I want to create 3 files: a.test, b.test and c.test containing the simple text "abracadabra". Basicaly, the point is to create the .test files for each .txt file, and containing some text. I am trying to use xargs to do this.

anlx2626> ls
a.txt  b.txt  c.txt

anlx2626> ls *.txt | awk -F'.txt' '{print $1}' | xargs -I {} echo "abracadabra" > {}.test

anlx2626> ls *.test
ls: No match.

Could someone point out why using the {} placeholder for line-by-line pipe doesn't work the way I expect it to?


awk can output text, not need for echo or xargs. Your approach has issues for file names with more than one dot, like foo-1.2.txt.

It would also have issues for filenames with newlines in them or if there are directories whose name ends in .txt.

For once, I'd use a loop here, for instance with zsh:

(set -o noclobber; for f (*.txt(N)) echo abracadabra > $f:r.test)


(set -o noclobber
 for f in *.txt; do
   echo abracadabra > "${f%.*}.test"

The noclobber is to avoid overriding an already existing file. Note that it omits hidden files. If there's no txt file, it will create a *.test file.


In this code:

xargs -I {} echo "abracadabra" > {}.test

xargs will not see the redirection operator > at all: it will be interpreted by your shell instead, creating a file named, literally, {}.test.

One way to do what you ask using xargs is this, which lets sh interpret the redirection operator:

xargs sh -c 'for i do echo abracadrabra > "$i"; done' sh

But you would probably be better off not using xargs at all, which other answers explain how to do.

  • What if there's a $(rm -rf "$HOME").txt file in the current directory? – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 2 '15 at 17:03
  • Then Bad Things would happen. I added a note to that effect. – dhag Dec 2 '15 at 18:32
  • 1
    Then make it xargs sh -c 'for i do echo abracadrabra > "$i"; done' sh – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 2 '15 at 19:46
  • I tried to answer the explicit question, that asks why the redirect doesn't seem to work. I fully agree that your answer is a much better approach to actually creating .test files. I'm not sure what your point is: do you mean it would be better if I omitted my attempt at fitting a solution within xargs' constraints? – dhag Dec 2 '15 at 20:33
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    I mean that you shoud not embed the {} in the shell code, pass it as an argument to sh. You could also make it xargs -I{} sh -c 'echo abracadabra > "$1"' sh {} which wouldn't have tha code injection vulnerability but would run one sh per file. – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 2 '15 at 20:40
for l in $(ls *.txt); do echo "abrakadabra" > $l; done
  • 5
    Hello nepsse. Why are you parsing ls instead of just using for l in *.txt? What's $1 intended to be? Generally here we prefer code to be explained rather than just dumped into an answer. – roaima Oct 22 '18 at 18:41
  • 3
    It also doesn't address the question in the Question. – Jeff Schaller Oct 22 '18 at 19:09
  • 2
    This overwrites the original txt files – Michael Mrozek Oct 22 '18 at 22:47

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