sed Delete / Remove ^M Carriage Return (Line Feed / CRLF) on Linux or Unix

How can I remove the ^M or ^M (carriage Return / line feed ) from text file using sed under UNIX or Linux operating systems?

A newline is nothing but end of line (EOL). It is a special character or sequence of characters signifying the end of a line of text and the start of a new line. The actual codes representing a newline vary across operating systems. For example CR+LF is used by Microsoft Windows, DOS (MS-DOS, PC DOS, etc.). LF is used by Unix and Unix-like systems including Linux, OS X, FreeBSD and more. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Type the following sed command to delete a carriage Return (CR)
  2. sed 's/r//' input > output
  3. Type the following sed command to replace a linefeed(LF)
  4. sed ':a;N;$!ba;s/n//g' input > output

Delete a carriage return (CR) with sed command

The substitute command syntax is as follows (to get ^M type CTRL+V followed by CTRL+M i.e. don’t just type the carat symbol and a capital M. It will not work):

sed -e 's/^M//g' input
sed -e 's/^M//g' input > output
# gnu sed syntax
sed -i 's/^M//g' input
# replace it with FOO
sed -i -e 's/^M/FOO/g' input

OR easy to use sed syntax to remove carriage return in Unix or Linux:

sed 's/r$//' input > output
sed 's/r$//g' input > output 
# GNU/sed syntax
sed -i 's/r$//g' input

To replace a carriage return (CR) with sed command

The syntax is:
sed 's/r/YOUR-replacement-TEXT-HERE/' input > output
sed 's/r/YOUR-replacement-TEXT-HERE/g' input > output
sed 's/r/foo/g' input > output

How to verify ^M in a text file

Use the cat command as follows:
cat -v input
Sample outputs:

Fig.01: cat and sed command in action to delete carriage returns and linefeeds (CRLF)

A note about deleting or replacing a linefeed (LF) with sed on Unix or Linux

Use the following syntax if you do not want to delete n (new line):
sed -i ':a;N;$!ba;s/n//g' input
OR
sed ':a;N;$!ba;s/n//g' input > output
See sed command man page for more info.

Remove a carriage return with dos2unix command

You can also use dos2unix command to converts text files from the DOS format to the Unix format:

dos2unix input
dos2unix -b input

The tr command syntax

To delete a CRLF:
tr -d 'r' < input > output

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.