In some cases, when working with a bash script, there arises a need to separate strings based on a delimiter and extract multiple strings for further processing or storage in variables.

This tutorial guides you through string splitting with examples in bash shell programming.

This article covers three methods.

  • Split a string using awk command
  • Use IFS variable
  • Parameter Expansion with for loop

Split a string using the awk command in a bash shell script

The awk command, a Linux utility compatible with all bash and shell distributions, is used to split a string based on a specified delimiter.

The input is provided using the pipe (|) symbol, and the example below demonstrates splitting a string containing colons (:)

echo "$str" | awk -F':' '{print $1,$2,$3}'


abc def ghi

split using IFS variable

Here, the input string consists of elements separated by hyphens. The shell variable IFS (Internal Field Separator) is set to a hyphen, and the string is iterated using a for loop.

Each element is printed after removing the hyphen.

IFS='-' array=($input)
for element in "${array[@]}";
 echo $element;




Use Parameter expansion and loop

Parameter expansion is employed to change the variable value based on specified options. In this case, a string variable is converted to an array. The array is then iterated using a for loop syntax, printing each element to the console:

msg="Welcome to my site."


for item in "${array[@]}"; do
    echo "$item"

Different ways to handle string manipulations, allowing you to choose the method that suits your needs.