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About bash : Trying-to-remove-non-printable-characters-junk-values-from-a-UNIX-file

Question Detail

I am trying to remove non-printable character (for e.g. ^@) from records in my file. Since the volume to records is too big in the file using cat is not an option as the loop is taking too much time.
I tried using

sed -i 's/[^@a-zA-Z 0-9`[email protected]#$%^&*()_+\[\]\\{}|;'\'':",.\/<>?]//g' FILENAME

but still the ^@ characters are not removed.
Also I tried using

awk '{ sub("[^a-zA-Z0-9\"[email protected]#$%^&*|_\[](){}", ""); print } FILENAME > NEW FILE 

but it also did not help.

Can anybody suggest some alternative way to remove non-printable characters?

Used tr -cd but it is removing accented characters. But they are required in the file.

Question Answer

Perhaps you could go with the complement of [:print:], which contains all printable characters:

tr -cd '[:print:]' < file > newfile

If your version of tr doesn’t support multi-byte characters (it seems that many don’t), this works for me with GNU sed (with UTF-8 locale settings):

sed 's/[^[:print:]]//g' file

Remove all control characters first:

tr -dc '\007-\011\012-\015\040-\376' < file > newfile

Then try your string:

sed -i 's/[^@a-zA-Z 0-9`[email protected]#$%^&*()_+\[\]\\{}|;'\'':",.\/<>?]//g' newfile

I believe that what you see ^@ is in fact a zero value \0.
The tr filter from above will remove those as well.

strings -1 file... > outputfile

seems to work. The strings program will take all printable characters, in this case of length 1 (the -1 argument) and print them. It effectively is removing all the non-printable characters.

“man strings” will provide the documentation.

Was searching for this for a while & found a rather simple solution:

The package ansifilter does exactly this. All you need to do is just pipe the output through it.

On Mac:

brew install ansifilter

Then:

cat file.txt | ansifilter

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