I need to replace any matching pattern after the last space. I've an ssh certificate file like:

[email protected] 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 ssh_host_rsa_key.pub

Here, at the end of the file I've ssh_host_rsa_key.pub or it can be something different like /home/user/ssh_host_rsa_key.pub. I want to find it and replace by another string.

How can I find and replace everything starting from last space? With sed or awk or anything else...

Thanks in advance.

  • Is it guaranteed that the comment at the end of the line never contains any spaces?
    – Kusalananda
    Oct 8, 2020 at 9:37
  • I tried with different files containing one empty line and no empty lines. Following codes worked: sed 's/ [^ ]*$/ new text/' < file and sed -E 's/(^.*) [^ ]+$/\1 replacement_text/' file.txt
    – mufit
    Oct 8, 2020 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


You could try

sed -E 's/(^.*) [^ ]+$/\1 replacement_text/' file.txt

This will match

  • "anything from the start of the line" (the ^.* pattern, placed in a "capture group" ( ... )),
  • then a space,
  • and then "anything but a space ([^ ]) up to the end of the line" (the + behind the [...] means "one or more such characters", and the $ is an anchor that indicates "end-of-line"),

and replace the latter part with your replacement text. The former part is replaced "with itself" thanks to the capture group \1.

  • Thanks for the explanation. sed -E 's/(^.*) [^ ]+$/\1 replacement_text/' file.txt works.
    – mufit
    Oct 8, 2020 at 9:51
  • 1
    @mufit You're welcome. If you found any of the answers useful, please consider accepting one of them so that others facing a similar problem may find it more easily.
    – AdminBee
    Oct 8, 2020 at 9:55

This works when there are two space delimited fields at the start of the line. The third field is allowed to be absent.

awk '{print $1 " " $2 " new text"}' < file

This replaces after the last space no matter how many spaces there are in the line:

sed 's/ [^ ]*$/ new text/' < file
  • Thanks for the answer. Second command worked perfectly. sed 's/ [^ ]*$/ new text/' < file
    – mufit
    Oct 8, 2020 at 9:51

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