Remove ^M character from log files.

In my script I redirect output of my program to a log file. The output of my log file contains some ^M (newline) characters. I need to remove them while running itself.

My command:

$ java -jar test.jar >> test.log 

test.log has:

Starting script ... ^M Starting script ...Initializing

  • Backspace is ^H. Aug 30, 2013 at 5:37
  • And ^M is carriage return (CR) which, on most terminals, returns to the first column of the current line - so like a soft backspace over the length of the line.
    – ash
    Aug 30, 2013 at 5:43

4 Answers 4


Converting a standalone file

If you run the following command:

$ dos2unix <file>

The <file> will have all the ^M characters stripped. If you want to leave <file> intact, then simply run dos2unix like this:

$ dos2unix -n <file> <newfile>

Parsing output from a command

If you need to do them as part of a chain of commands via a pipe, you can use any number of tools such as tr, sed, awk, or perl to do this.


$ java -jar test.jar | tr -d '^M' >> test.log


$ java -jar test.jar | sed 's/^M//g' >> test.log


$ java -jar test.jar | awk 'sub(/^M/,"")' >> test.log


$ java -jar test.jar | perl -p -e 's/^M//g' >> test.log

Typing ^M

When entering the ^M be sure to enter it in one of the following ways:

  1. As Control + v + M and not Shift + 6 + M.
  2. As a backslash r, i.e. (\r).
  3. As an octal number (\015).
  4. As a hexidecimal number (\x0D).

Why is this necessary?

The ^M is part of how end of lines are terminated on the Windows platform. Each end of line is terminated with a carriage return character followed by a linefeed character.

On Unix systems the end of line is terminated by just a linefeed character.

  • linefeed character = 0x0A in hex, also written as \n.
  • carriage return character = 0x0D in hex, also written as \r.


You can see these if you pipe the output to a tool such as od or hexdump. Here's a sample file with the line terminating carriage returns + linefeed characters.

$ cat sample.txt
hi there
bye there

You can see them with hexdump as \r + \n:

$ hexdump -c sample.txt 
0000000   h   i       t   h   e   r   e  \r  \n   b   y   e       t   h
0000010   e   r   e  \r  \n                                            

Or as their hexidecimal 0d + 0a:

$ hexdump -C sample.txt 
00000000  68 69 20 74 68 65 72 65  0d 0a 62 79 65 20 74 68  |hi there..bye th|
00000010  65 72 65 0d 0a                                    |ere..|

Running this through sed 's/\r//g':

$ sed 's/\r//g' sample.txt |hexdump -C
00000000  68 69 20 74 68 65 72 65  0a 62 79 65 20 74 68 65  |hi there.bye the|
00000010  72 65 0a                                          |re.|

You can see that sed has removed the 0d character.

Viewing files with ^M without converting?

Yes you can use vim to do this. You can either set the fileformat setting in vim, which will have the effect of converting the file like we were doing above, or you can change the fileformat in the vim view.

changing a file's format

:set fileformat=dos
:set fileformat=unix

You can use the shorthand notation too:

:set ff=dos
:set ff=unix

Alternatively you can just change the fileformat of the view. This approach is nondestructive:

:e ++ff=dos
:e ++ff=unix

Here you can see me opening our ^M file, sample.txt in vim:

           ss of vim dos #1

Now I'm converting the fileformat in the view:

           ss of vim dos #2

Here's what it looks like when converted to the unix fileformat:

           ss of vim dos #3


  • Thanks... I need to do an extra step after my command (java -jar test.jar >> test.log ) is it possible to ignore (^M) character while redirecting output itself ... ??
    – Ram
    Aug 30, 2013 at 6:05
  • I used java -jar test.jar | sed 's/\r//g' >> test.log --- working great
    – Ram
    Aug 30, 2013 at 6:30
  • @Ram - glad it solved your problem.
    – slm
    Aug 30, 2013 at 6:41
  • @sim The user tries to see the log file using vi test.log and cat -v test.log .. They are treating it as error so i am trying to hide that char .
    – Ram
    Aug 30, 2013 at 6:50
  • @sim User is using only vi editor . They are not ready to set any settings in editor. They want code itself to handle it .
    – Ram
    Aug 30, 2013 at 6:58

Shove the file through dos2unix to fix the line endings.

Or, use one of these:

sed 's,\r$,,'
tr -d '\r'
  • Thanks ... I used java -jar test.jar | sed 's/\r//g' >> test.log --- working great
    – Ram
    Aug 30, 2013 at 6:32

You need to fix your program to call isatty() and if stdout is not a tty, then do not output the ^M.

  • This is your answer? Please re-read the question. The title even says "remove ... from log files".
    – slm
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:38
  • @slm, yes... they shouldn't be in the log file in the first place. Well written programs check that they are actually using a terminal before spitting out terminal control codes.
    – psusi
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:42
  • Let's not debate "well written" programs. Sometimes people don't have access to the software that they support and have to do things like this to get the job done. Perhaps instead of this answer, you could explain how one would do this from Java instead. Seems like a gap on this Q&A that you could direct your energies to rather than coming in, downvoting the accepted answer, and saying that it DOESN'T work when clearly it DOES.
    – slm
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:55
  • Also in larger environments I've worked I've seen exactly this type of issue come up. It would be too costly to go back and "fix" a program that is doing this, rather it's more cost effect to do something like this. I'd bet money that this software was developed on a PC and is now deployed on a Unix box, and the original developers would be the ones that don't understand testing the type of stdout, and then adjusting accordingly.
    – slm
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:59
  • @psusi Thank you. In java code how to detect whether terminal or not ???
    – Ram
    Sep 3, 2013 at 10:11

Removal of ^M without special signs:

$ tr -d '\015' <file1 >file2 

$ mv file2 file1

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