How do I convert a file from DOS format to UNIX format (remove CRs from CR-LF line terminators)?

Carriage return (CR) characters are used in line ending markers on some systems. There are three different kinds of line endings in common use:

If you're running a script on a Unix system, the line endings need to be Unix ones (LFs only), or you will have problems.

Testing for line terminator type

A simple check is to look at the output of sed -n l:

sed -n l yourscript

This should output the script in one of these formats:

LF (Unix)

CR-LF (DOS/Windows)

CR (Old Mac OS)



command\r\ranother command\r$



another command$

another command\r$

Another method is to guess at the file type using the file utility, if available:

file yourscript

On GNU/Linux, the output of file tells you whether the ASCII text has some CR. On other operating systems, the output is unpredictable, except that it should contain the word "text" somewhere if the input "kind of looks like a text file of some sort, maybe".

imadev:~$ printf 'DOS\r\nline endings\r\n' > foo
imadev:~$ file foo
foo:            commands text
arc3:~$ file foo
foo: ASCII text, with CRLF line terminators

In a script, it's more difficult to say what the most reliable method should be. Anything you do is going to be a heuristic. In theory, a non-corrupt file created by a non-broken UNIX utility should only contain LFs, and one created by a DOS utility should not contain any LFs that are not preceded by a CR.

   1 # Bash / Ksh / Zsh
   3 if grep -qv $'\r$' File; then
   4     echo 'File contains at least one newline not preceded by a CR'
   5 else
   6     echo 'File contains only CRLFs (or is empty)'
   7 fi

Converting files

ex is a good standard way to convert CRLF to LF, and probably one of the few reasonable methods for doing it in-place from a script:

# works with vim's ex but not vi's ex
ex -sc $'%s/\r$//e|x' file

# works with vi's ex but not vim's ex
ex -sc $'%s/\r$//|x' file

# Using ed.
ed -s file <<< $'%s/\r$//g\nwq'

Of course, more powerful dynamic languages can do this with relative ease.

perl -pi -e 's/\r\n/\n/' filename

Some systems have special conversion tools available to do this automatically. dos2unix, recode, and fromdos are some examples.

It be done manually with an editor like nano:

nano -w yourscript

Type Ctrl-O and before confirming, type Alt-D (DOS) or Alt-M (Mac) to change the format.

Or in Vim, use :set fileformat=unix and save with :w. Ensure the value of fenc is correct (probably "utf-8").

To simply strip all CRs from some input stream, you can use tr -d '\r' <infile >outfile. Of course, you must ensure that infile and outfile are not the same file.

BashFAQ/052 (last edited 2022-01-30 01:59:53 by larryv)