Here is an example of using cut to break input into fields using a space delimiter, and obtaining the second field:

cut -f2 -d' '

How can the delimiter be defined as a tab, instead of a space?

up vote 231 down vote accepted

Two ways:

Press Ctrl-v + Tab

cut -f2 -d'   ' infile

or write it like this:

cut -f2 -d$'\t' infile

Tab is the default.

See the cut man page.

-d delim
         Use delim as the field delimiter character instead of the tab
         character.

So you should just write

cut -f 2
  • 2
    Oops didn't notice that line. – Muhammad Hasan Khan Mar 30 '12 at 15:54
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    But it is probably always safer to mention such flags explicitly, for both readability and portability. I can imagine some people designing a cut for Windows would not follow the complete standard. – Willem Van Onsem Apr 19 '15 at 12:32
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    This should be accepted answer: simplest code, simplest explanation. ya nailed it: youtube.com/watch?v=dpNTHl7y45Y – neuronet Jun 16 '16 at 21:28
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    This answer has changed my life – matheeeny Apr 28 '17 at 13:00

awk '{ print $2; }' inputfile

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    That will fail if $1 contains spaces. Specify the field separator. – manatwork Mar 30 '12 at 11:32
  • If you wish to preserve other whitespace than \t, then it will fail. Otherwise not. – ipip Mar 30 '12 at 12:07
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    @ipip The question specifically mentions tabs instead of spaces. – Burhan Ali Mar 30 '12 at 13:04

More generically, without requiring any invisible characters: Use tr to convert the delimiters to a format that can be specified more easily to cut.

$ echo -e "a\tb\tc" |tr '\t' ' ' |cut -d' ' -f2
b

tr is a simple, but powerful, character matching and replacement tool.

protected by Community Oct 23 '17 at 22:06

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