I have a bunch of files that contain strings similar to:


How can I recursively search for all files with the above pattern and remove everything before the first '(' and place a string afterwards?

Desired output:


abc and xyz can change to anything, and the number between '<' and '>' don't matter.


The files extensions are .cc and .h.

The string also always starts with Get.

  • Welcome, do these files have a specific extension? Jun 21 at 18:49
  • @schrodingerscatcuriosity The file extensions are .cc and .h
    – aWLW
    Jun 21 at 19:01
  • Is Get what we're keying on here? Jun 21 at 19:50
  • @glenn jackman Everything before the first character after the parenthesis, so Get<1>( can be checked. The number can change to anything.
    – aWLW
    Jun 21 at 20:09
  • Yeah, I understand that the number can change. But will we see Put<1>(something)? Is it always Get? Jun 22 at 3:23

1 Answer 1


You can use GNU grep to find files that contain at least one occurrence of the pattern and GNU sed to do the substitution in-place:

grep -rlEZe "$ere" . |
  xargs -r0 sed -i -E "s/$ere/\1.val()/g"

Here [[:alnum:]_]+ matches sequences of one or more alphanumeric characters or underscores. Change to [^()]* for 0 or more characters other than ( or ).

  • This seems close to what I'm looking for. The grep was able to find the files, but seems like there's an issue with sed. I'm getting sed: -e expression #1, char 19: invalid reference \1 on 's' command's RHS (maybe an issue with the grouping)
    – aWLW
    Jun 21 at 20:12

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