rpl man page

rpl — replace strings in files


rpl [-LhiwbqvsRepfdt] [-xSUFFIX] ⟨old_string⟩ ⟨new_string⟩ ⟨target_file ...


Basic usage is to specify two strings and one or more filenames or directories on the command line. The first string is the string to replace, and the second string is the replacement string.

-h, --help

A short help text.

-L, --license

Show the license and exit.


Search only files ending with SUFFIX, e.g. “.txt”. May be specified multiple times.

-i, --ignore-case

Ignore the case of old_string.

-w, --whole-words

Make old_string match only on word boundaries.

-b, --backup

Move the original files to filename~ before replacing them.

-q, --quiet

Quiet mode.

-v, --verbose

Verbose mode.

-s, --dry-run

Simulation mode, no files are changed.

-R, --recursive

Recurse into subdirectories.

-e, --escape

Expand escape sequences in old_string and new_string. Examples of escape sequences are ‘\n’ (new-line), ‘\t’ (tab), ‘\x42’ (hexadecimal number 42), ‘\033’ (octal number 033).

-p, --prompt

Prompt for confirmation before replacing each file.

-f, --force

Ignore errors when trying to restore permissions and file ownership.

-d, --keep-times

Keep modification times when replacing files.

-t, --use-tmpdir

Use a temporary directory for storing temporary files, usually the value of the environment variable TMPDIR. The default is to put temporary files in the same directory as the file being modified.

-a, --all

Do not ignore files and directories starting with .

Implementation Notes

An effort has been made to make the program behave as much as the original rpl as necessary. Where it has been possible to make improvements, improvements have been made. This implementation lacks many of the bugs in the original.


Replace all occurences of “F” (on word boundaries) with “A” in all text files under the grades/ directory:

$ rpl -Rwd -x'.txt' 'F' 'A' grades/

See Also

find(1), sed(1).


This program was written for Debian as a free replacement for the non-free rpl program by Joe Laffey.


Göran Weinholt ⟨weinholt@debian.org⟩.


July 31, 2005