Vim Tips Wiki

Edit multiple files from a list of file names

1,624pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share
Tip 452 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2003 · complexity intermediate · author ooglek · version 5.7

I needed to edit about 300 files in a directory tree that all contained a specific line. I used :w scriptin on the first file to write my macro, and then used this command line to execute the rest:

vim -s scriptin `cat file-containing-files`

This cats the file containing the multiple files, one per line, to the command line, allowing you to edit tens, hundreds or even thousands of files using the same script. Of course, I had to use a recursive macro to get it done. Here's what I used in file scriptin:


Basically recording the macro, searching for my string, deleting that line, writing the file and going to the next, then executing itself (@q), ending the macro and then executing itself. This way one script could be used to edit all 300 of my files.


Once the files have been loaded, why not just execute a bufdo? It'll execute the same command (:g/pattern/d in this case) in all buffers.

So many choices. Note that most shells won't take thousands of files on the command line (and we're not even talking about DOS). You need an "ls -1| while read fn; do <script..." for that (bash, ksh). And, if you use perl instead of sed, you can get nice backups (e.g. perl -i'.bak' -pe 's/<pattr>/<changes>/g' ...).

vim -s scriptin `cat file-containing-files`

The above line doesn't work in current Vim. Instead, what seems to work just fine is:

vim `cat file-containing-files`
I moved the above from the tip to here to point out that the tip author failed to explain that scriptin is the name of a file that contains a macro (I tweaked the wording to make that a little clearer). As mentioned in the above comments, this tip is pretty dubious. JohnBeckett 03:43, February 6, 2012 (UTC)

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.