Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· hlissner

Search & replace one-liner w/ ag, xargs & perl/sed

I wrote a search-replace script to print back my changes and ask for confirmation. This isn't that.

This is the short, aggressive and simple version: me, trying to fit project-wide search & replace into a one-liner for the command line, using ag, xargs and perl (or sed).

Paste this into a shell script (e.g. or put it into a shell function:

ag -l "$1" | xargs perl -pi.bak -e "s/$1/$2/g"

or, if you prefer sed:

ag -l "$1" | xargs sed -ri.bak -e "s/$1/$2/g"

Works with perl-style backreferences too: '(foo)' '$1-bar' # foo => foo-bar

or if you use sed: '(foo)' '\\1-bar' # foo => foo-bar


  • Saves backup of changed files to *.bak
  • Will choke if the first or second argument has a forward slash in it (any suggestions?)