I have a big text file (263 lines) that contains lines something like these:

image_name.jpg: *lots of spaces* JPEG image data, JFIF standard 1.01, resolution (DPI), density 96x96, segment length 16, baseline, precision 8, 1024x768, frames 3 \n
image_name.jpg: *lots of spaces* JPEG image data, JFIF standard 1.01, aspect ratio, density 1x1, segment length 16, comment: "CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 70", progressive, precision 8, 960x540, frames 3 \n
image_name.png: *lots of spaces* PNG image data, 752 x 760, 8-bit/color RGBA, non-interlaced \n

How can I remove all the text between : and \n at once?

  • 1
    sed -e 's/:.*//' (or 's/:.*/:/' if you want to keep the :). – AlexP Dec 2 '17 at 21:14
  • is this substring *newline (\n)* occurs literally? – RomanPerekhrest Dec 2 '17 at 21:17
  • I spent a minute staring at the screen trying to decide which one of five or so text-processing tools would be "easiest" in this case... :) – ilkkachu Dec 2 '17 at 21:26
  • You have multiple : in some lines, for instance comment: "CREATOR: in second line. How that should be handled ? Is your goal to get only the stuff before the first : in line ? – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Dec 2 '17 at 22:18
  • 1
    @jpmc26, it probably means that those are examples, not all possible input lines, there are likely to be others. We can't really expect anyone to present the expected inputs in a formal grammar or some such. – ilkkachu Dec 4 '17 at 8:40

With cut:

cut -d: -f1 file

With sed:

sed -e 's/:.*//' file

With awk:

awk -F: '{print $1}' file

With GNU grep or many BSD greps (but not POSIX grep):

grep -o '^[^:]*' file

cut is the shortest one.

If you want to modify the file in-place, your sed may have an option -i that does so - but how exactly that works depends on your platform. Otherwise, > file2 && mv file2 file on the end of any of them will work.

Alternatively, with ed, in-place everywhere:

printf ',s/:.*/\nw\n' | ed file


perl -pe 's/:.*//' file

or in-place, leaving a backup file:

perl -i.bak -pe 's/:.*//' file

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