sed : using colons as separators instead of forward slashes

sed "s:/old/direcory/:/new/directory/:" <file>
Having to escape forwardslashes when using sed can be a pain. However, it's possible to instead of using / as the separator to use : . I found this by trying to substitute $PWD into my pattern, like so sed "s/~.*/$PWD/" file.txt Of course, $PWD will expand to a character string that begins with a / , which will make sed spit out an error such as "sed: -e expression #1, char 8: unknown option to `s'". So simply changing it to sed "s:~.*:$PWD:" file.txt did the trick.
Sample Output
$ cat dir_name.txt

$ sed "s:/home/johnson/:/net/backup/:" dir_name.txt

2009-08-06 00:37:45

What Others Think

From the command "info sed": `\%REGEXP%' (The `%' may be replaced by any other single character.) This also matches the regular expression REGEXP, but allows one to use a different delimiter than `/'. This is particularly useful if the REGEXP itself contains a lot of slashes, since it avoids the tedious escaping of every `/'. If REGEXP itself includes any delimiter characters, each must be escaped by a backslash (`\'). So, you can use not only ":", but any character you like. At times I get myself using "!" and "%" as delimiters too.
Patola · 633 weeks and 1 day ago

What do you think?

Any thoughts on this command? Does it work on your machine? Can you do the same thing with only 14 characters?

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