Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time



inplace -- edits files in-place through given filter commands


inplace [-DLfinstvz] [-b suffix] -e commandline [[-e commandline] ...]
        [file ...]
inplace [-DLfinstvz] [-b suffix] commandline [file ...]


The inplace command is a utility to edit files in-place through given filter commands preserving the original file attributes. Mode and ownership (user and group) are preserved by default, and time (access and modification) by choice.

Inode numbers will change by default, but there is a -i option with which given the inode number of each edited file will be preserved.

As for filter commands, a single command may be specified as the first argument to inplace. To pass many filter commands, specify each followed by the -e option.

There are some cases where inplace does not replace a file, such as when:

  1. The original file is not writable (use -f to force editing against read-only files)

  2. A filter command fails and exits with a non-zero return code

  3. The resulted output is identical to the original file

  4. The resulted output is empty (use -z to accept empty output)


The following command line arguments are supported:

  • -h

  • --help

    Show help and exit.

  • -D

  • --debug

    Turn on debug output.

  • -L

  • --dereference

    By default, inplace ignores non-regular files including symlinks, but this switch makes it resolve (dereference) each symlink using realpath(3) and edit the original file.

  • -b SUFFIX

  • --backup-suffix SUFFIX

    Create a backup file with the given suffix for each file. Note that backup files will be written over existing files, if any.


  • --execute COMMANDLINE

    Specify a filter command line to run for each file in which the following placeholders can be used:

    • %0

      replaced by the original file path, shell escaped with \'s as necessary

    • %1

      replaced by the source file path, shell escaped with \'s as necessary

    • %2

      replaced by the destination file path, shell escaped with \'s as necessary

    • %%

      replaced by %

    Omission of %2 indicates %1 should be modified destructively, and omission of both %1 and %2 implies (...) < %1 > %2 around the command line.

    When the filter command is run, the destination file is always an empty temporary file, and the source file is either the original file or a temporary copy file.

    Every temporary file has the same suffix as the original file, so that file name aware programs can play nicely with it.

    Instead of specifying a whole command line, you can use a command alias defined in a configuration file, ~/.inplace. See the FILES section for the file format.

    This option can be specified many times, and they will be executed in sequence. A file is only replaced if all of them succeeds.

    See the EXAMPLES section below for details.

  • -f

  • --force

    By default, inplace does not perform editing if a file is not writable. This switch makes it force editing even if a file to process is read-only.

  • -i

  • --preserve-inode

    Make sure to preserve the inode number of each file.

  • -n

  • --dry-run

    Do not perform any destructive operation and just show what would have been done. This switch implies -v.

  • -s

  • --same-directory

    Create a temporary file in the same directory as each replaced file. This may speed up the performance when the directory in question is on a partition that is fast enough and the system temporary directory is slow.

    This switch can be effectively used when the temporary directory does not have sufficient disk space for a resulted file.

    If this option is specified, edited files will have newly assigned inode numbers. To prevent this, use the -i option.

  • -t

  • --preserve-timestamp

    Preserve the access and modification times of each file.

  • -v

  • --verbose

    Turn on verbose mode.

  • -z

  • --accept-empty

    By default, inplace does not replace the original file when a resulted file is empty in size because it is likely that there is a mistake in the filter command. This switch makes it accept empty (zero-sized) output and replace the original file with it.


  • Sort files in-place using sort(1):

    inplace sort file1 file2 file3

    Below works the same as above, passing each input file via the command line argument:

    inplace 'sort %1 > %2' file1 file2 file3
  • Perform in-place charset conversion and newline code conversion:

    inplace -e 'iconv -f EUC-JP -t UTF-8' -e 'perl -pe "s/$/\\r/"'
    file1 file2 file3
  • Process image files taking backup files:

    inplace -b.orig 'convert -rotate 270 -resize 50%% %1 %2' *.jpg
  • Perform a mass MP3 tag modification without changing timestamps:

    find mp3/Some_Artist -name '*.mp3' -print0 | xargs -0 inplace
    -te 'mp3info -a "Some Artist" -g "Progressive Rock" %1'

    As you see above, inplace makes a nice combo with find(1) and xargs(1).


  • ~/.inplace

    The configuration file, which syntax is described as follows:

    • Each alias definition is a name/value pair separated with an =, one per line.

    • White spaces at the beginning or the end of a line, and around assignment separators (=) are stripped off.

    • Lines starting with a # are ignored.



  • TMP

  • TEMP

    Temporary directory candidates where inplace attempts to create intermediate output files, in that order. If none is available and writable, /tmp is used. If -s is specified, they will not be used.


Just copy lib/inplace.rb to /somewhere/in/your/path/inplace, or:

    gem install inplace


find(1), xargs(1), realpath(3)


The inplace utility was first released on 2 May, 2004.

This utility was written when the author did not feel very happy with the -i option added to sed(1) on FreeBSD.


Akinori MUSHA

Licensed under the 2-clause BSD license. See LICENSE for details.

Visit the GitHub repository for the latest information and feedback.


There may always be some bugs. Use at your own risk.


A command line utility that edits files in-place through given filter commands






Sponsor this project



No packages published