I'm having a String which is seperated by commas like a,b,c,d,e,f that I want to split into an array with the comma as seperator. Then I want to print each element on a new line. The problem I'm having is that all cli tools I know so far(sed, awk, grep) only work on lines, but how do I get a string into a format that can be used by these tools. What i'v tried so far is

echo "a,b,c,d,e,f" | awk -F', ' '{print $i"\n"}'

How can I get this output


from this input



  • 1
    I'm not clear what you're really asking. You can translate commas to newlines with "tr": echo a, b, c, d | tr , '\n' -- that leaves spaces at the start of the b/c/d lines. Feb 2, 2016 at 20:54
  • IFS=',' read -a array <<<"a,b,c,d,e,f" ; printf '%s\n' "${array[@]}
    – Costas
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:03
  • @glennjackman tr -s ', ' '\n'
    – Costas
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:15
  • line="a,b,c,d,e,f" ; echo -e ${line//,/\\n}
    – Costas
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:19
  • @Costas, hmm, what if there's a space within a field? tr -s ', ' '\n' will split the field into multiple lines. Feb 2, 2016 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


Sticking with your awk ... just make sure you understand the difference between a field and a record separator :}

echo "a,b,c,d,e,f" | awk 'BEGIN{RS=","}{$1=$1}1'

But the tr solution in the comments is preferable.

  • 1
    What's with the $i?
    – iruvar
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:46
  • good question; purious (from OPs incantation). will delete :)
    – tink
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:47
  • 2
    awk '{$1=$1}1' RS=, looks shorter with trailing \newline removed
    – Costas
    Feb 2, 2016 at 22:06

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