How to delete non-ASCII chars in file

Giorgos Keramidas keramida at
Fri Sep 5 14:58:37 UTC 2008

On Fri, 5 Sep 2008 10:14:08 -0400, "Mark B." <mkbucc at> wrote:
> I have a text file that includes some non-ASCII characters
> For example, opening the file in vi shows lines like this:
>  'easth_0.541716776378'      0   \xe2\x80\x98dire'       2
> Is there a command-line tool I can use to delete these
> characters?  I tried:
>     cat f | tr -cd [:print:]
> but this removes the newlines.

Hi Mark,

It may be more useful to run the file through sed(1).  The newlines
aren't deleted by sed:

$ echo '^Fhello^F' | sed -e 's/[^[:print:]]*//' | hd
00000000  68 65 6c 6c 6f 06 0a                              |hello..|

> I also tried
>    cat f | sed "s/[^:print:]//g"
> but it didn't remove the characters.

The matching pattern is wrong.  You need `[^[:print:]]'.  The character
class of printable characters is `[:print:]', and you can negate the
pattern with `[^xxxx]' where `xxxx' is the character class; hence the
extra pair of brackets in `[^[:print:]]'.

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