Mail logs are incredibly difficult to read. How could I output a blank line between each line printed on the command line? For example, say I'm grep-ing the log. That way, multiple wrapped lines aren't being confused.


6 Answers 6

sed G 
# option: g G    Copy/append hold space to pattern space.

G is not often used, but is nice for this purpose. sed maintains two buffer spaces: the “pattern space” and the “hold space”. The lines processed by sed usually flow through the pattern space as various commands operate on its contents (s///, p, etc.); the hold space starts out empty and is only used by some commands.

The G command appends a newline and the contents of the hold space to the pattern space. The above sed program never puts anything in the hold space, so G effectively appends just a newline to every line that is processed.

  • 3
    The -e isn't necessary. piping whatever | sed G ought to do the trick.
    – frabjous
    Oct 15, 2010 at 2:25
  • @frabjous: Right, might as well leave off the -e since there we only need a single command argument. Oct 15, 2010 at 18:49
  • Can I give you like, +2? Nails it! Sep 28, 2017 at 17:40
  • but, it is only show in stdout, but not save it
    – biolinh
    Oct 18, 2017 at 12:20

Use awk to add an extra newline. This also lets you filter out things you don't want.

awk '{print $0,"\n"}' | less

Use sed and replace the whole line by itself plus one extra newline character:

grep foo /var/log/maillog | sed -e "s/^.*$/&1\n/"
  • 4
    A slightly simpler sed substitution would be 's/$/\n/', although @Chris Johnsen's 'G' command is even simpler.
    – camh
    Oct 15, 2010 at 5:05

Is this what you are after?

grep SPAM mail.log | while read -r line; do echo; echo $line; done

  • You will probably want to use read -r to avoid treating backslash characters as special. Oct 15, 2010 at 1:57

Pipe | any output to:

sed G


ls | sed G

If you man sed you will see

G Append's a newline character followed by the contents of the hold space to the pattern space.


If it's for more than just have look, I prefer to send them to a text file and open with a text editor so you can set the lines to wrap or not and do searches easily... and delete the unwanted lines and so on without having to type a lot of commands.

cat file.log > log.txt and gedit log.txt or a terminal editor like nano

Edit: or cp file.log log.txt wich is of course easier and faster... thanks to KeithB comment

  • 1
    Why cat and not cp?
    – KeithB
    Oct 15, 2010 at 13:21
  • sure cp would be easier and faster!... lol - I was reading the other answers dealing with grep and awk so I wrote it the cat way but I'm correcting that, thanks
    – laurent
    Oct 15, 2010 at 13:49

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