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ED(1) User Commands ED(1)


ed - line-oriented text editor


ed [options] [file]


GNU ed is a line-oriented text editor. It is used to create, display, modify and otherwise manipulate text files, both interactively and via shell scripts. A restricted version of ed, red, can only edit files in the current directory and cannot execute shell commands. Ed is the 'standard' text editor in the sense that it is the original editor for Unix, and thus widely available. For most purposes, however, it is superseded by full-screen editors such as GNU Emacs or GNU Moe.


display this help and exit
output version information and exit
use extended regular expressions
run in compatibility mode
exit with 0 status even if a command fails
use STRING as an interactive prompt
run in restricted mode
suppress diagnostics, byte counts and '!' prompt
be verbose; equivalent to the 'H' command

Start edit by reading in 'file' if given. If 'file' begins with a '!', read output of shell command.

Exit status: 0 for a normal exit, 1 for environmental problems (file not found, invalid flags, I/O errors, etc), 2 to indicate a corrupt or invalid input file, 3 for an internal consistency error (eg, bug) which caused ed to panic.


Report bugs to
Ed home page:
General help using GNU software:


Copyright © 1994 Andrew L. Moore.
Copyright © 2021 Antonio Diaz Diaz. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


The full documentation for ed is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and ed programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info ed

should give you access to the complete manual.

January 2021 GNU ed 1.17