Bash’s Built-in printf Function

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Even if you’re already familiar with the printf command, if you got your information via “man printf” you may be missing a couple of useful features that are provided by bash’s built-in version of the standard printf(1) command.

If you didn’t know bash had its own version of printf, then you didn’t heed the note in the man page for the printf(1) command:

NOTE: your shell may have its own version of printf, which usually supersedes the version described here. Please refer to your shell’s documentation for details about the options it supports.

You did read the man page, didn’t you? I must confess, I’d used printf for quite a while before I realized bash had its own.

To find the documentation for the built-in version of printf, just search for “printf” in the bash man page.

In case you’re completely unfamiliar with the printf command, and similar functions in other languages, a couple quick examples should get you up to speed:

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