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How to use paste command for many files whose names are not numbers? (paste columns from each file [Resolved]

To paste many files, whose names are incremental numbers:

paste {1..8}| column -s $'\t' -t
  • What if your files wasn't named by number, but only words?
  • It can be up to ten files, what should I do?

In addition, you have a list of files that contains all the files you want.

So far, my approach is:

mkdir paste
j=0; while read i; do let j+=1; cp $i/ paste/$j; done

I have no problem with this approach, I just want to ask if there is any shorter one.

Actually my files have the same name, just on different locations, for instance 1MUI/PQR/A/sum, 2QHK/PQR/A/sum, 2RKF/PQR/A/sum. The paste command should be paste {list}/PQR/A/sum. The list file is:


Asked March 20, 2017
Posted Under: Unix Linux
2 Answers

With bash 4

mapfile -t <list
paste "${MAPFILE[@]}" | column -s $'\t' -t

for the paste {list}/PQR/A/sum version of the question

mapfile -t <list
paste "${MAPFILE[@]/%//PQR/A/sum}" | column -s $'\t' -t    

Answered March 20, 2017
@Ooker, that is used to add a suffix to every element of the MAPFILE array, for details refer this – iruvar Jul 9 '14 at 19:52
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
also, can you explain to me what the /%/ means? – Ooker Jul 9 '14 at 19:51
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
that's what I mean. Thank you. – Ooker Jul 9 '14 at 19:50
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
@Ooker, see the edit – iruvar Jul 9 '14 at 19:48
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
I have edited my question, sorry for the inconvenience. Please come back and see. When I use this way, the output is paste: 1MUI: Is a directory (repeat till the end of the list) and only cat one file. – Ooker Jul 9 '14 at 19:34
 CanDoerz  3 days ago

If all your files is in single directory, just use:

paste * | column -s $'\t' -t

If you have a list file contains all files, and each file name in one line, does not have special characters like space, you can try:

paste $(printf "%s " $(cat list)) | column -s $'\t' -t


With your updated information, you can try:

paste */PQR/A/sum | column -s $'\t' -t

If your parent directory contains many files and directory that you don't need, you must list all your directory explicitly:

paste {1MUI,2QHK,2RKF,...}/PQR/A/sum | column -s $'\t' -t

Answered March 20, 2017
How is $(printf "%s " $(cat list)) any better than $(cat list)? (They both fail if filenames containing whitespace are present.) – Scott Jul 11 '14 at 18:43
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
so basically there is no way to shorten my code? – Ooker Jul 9 '14 at 19:43
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
wow, you update your answer before I comment. Thanks a lot. Nevertheless, my folder contains more files and folders which don't relevant to my need, therefore I can't use *. – Ooker Jul 9 '14 at 19:31
 CanDoerz  3 days ago
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