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I have a directory that contains some subdirectories. I know there are two types of files, such as *A*.txt and *B*.txt, contain an "oldString" under that directory. I want to replace them with a "newString". Can I do this in one command? That is can I add the "*B*.txt" somewhere in this command:

find . -type f -name "*A*.txt" -exec sed -i 's/oldString/newString/g' {} \;
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  • So... what you're really asking is how to match multiple -name patterns in a find command? – steeldriver Dec 10 '19 at 14:18
  • yes, you are right. – peterboston Dec 10 '19 at 14:20
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You can try:

find . -type f \( -name "*A*.txt" -o -name "*B*.txt" \) \
  -exec sed -i 's/oldString/newString/g' {} +

(here also using + instead of ; to avoid running one sed invocation per file; also has the benefit of returning a non-zero exit status if any of the sed invocations return with a non-zero exit status).

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  • if I add "-path", can I use the -o there: find . -type f ( -name "A.txt" -o -name "B.txt" ) ( -path "oneFolder" -o -path "anotherFolder" ) -exec sed -i 's/oldString/newString/g' {} + – peterboston Dec 10 '19 at 14:58
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If it really is just one letter, you can do this:

find . -type f -name "*[AB]*.txt" -exec sed -i 's/oldString/newString/g' {} \;

To be totally clear, this will only work if using a single letter as a match.

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  • It should be noted though that that approach only works with single-character patterns (there's no equivalent to match on *foo*.txt or *bar*.txt for instance). – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 10 '19 at 14:32
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If you have GNU find, you could use -regex instead of -name, and do something like

find . -type -f -regextype egrep -regex "(.*A.*|.*B.*)\.txt" -exec sed -i 's/oldString/newString/g' {} \;

Note that if the pattern can also appear in the directory path to the files, the regular expression needs to be modified (as per @StéphaneChazelas' comment) to be

-regex ".*(A|B)[^/]*\.txt"

to exclude anything where a / occurs after the patterns.

You can check if the regular expression type egrep is available using

find -regextype help
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  • -regex matches on the full path, so it would match on a ./AFTER/foo.txt for instance. You'd need -regex '.*/[^/]*(A|B)[^/]*\.txt' for the A/B to only be looked for in the file's name. – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 10 '19 at 14:28
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    -regex '.*(A|B)[^/]*\.txt' should be enough. – Stéphane Chazelas Dec 10 '19 at 14:34

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