I use the following command to replace a specific string (replace string1 with string2) in lines containing another string (string3).

  sed -i '/string3/ s/string1/string2/' file.txt


The command above works fine - BUT - it only replaces string1 with string2 on the first occurrance of string1 in the line containing string3.

I have to run the command multiple times to make sure all occurrances of string1 are replaced.

  sed -i '/string3/ s/string1/string2/' file.txt
  sed -i '/string3/ s/string1/string2/' file.txt
  sed -i '/string3/ s/string1/string2/' file.txt

Is there a way to replace all occurances of string1 in a line containing string3 in a single step?

That could help me shrink my bash file.

Big thanks.

  • If any of the answers solved your problem, please accept it by clicking the checkmark next to it. Thank you!
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 14:35

3 Answers 3


All you need to do is to add sed's "global replacement" flag to the end:

sed -i '/string3/ s/string1/string2/g' file.txt
  • Thanks - That simple? - I was wondering why the g wasn't there in the posts I was reading. Go figure. Again, thanks. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 16:06
  • Depends entirely on what you want to have happen! Glad it helped; don't forget the checkmark if it did solve your problem.
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 16:08

For completeness, while the obvious solution in this case is to add the g flag, there are some cases where you may want to run the s/string1/string2/ (or s/string1/string2/g) command several times.

For instance if instead of string2, you have str, on an input like:


s/string1/str/g would result to:


If you wanted str instead, you'd need another s/string1/str/g. With sed, there's an idiomatic way to run a substitution as long as it succeeds using the t command:

sed '

t branches to the :1 label only if there has been a successful s command.


while question is tagged with sed and given perfect answer above, but here is awk version for those will looking it.

awk '/string3/{gsub("string1", "string2", $0)}1' infile.txt 

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