Help me on Backspace please

John Machin sjmachin at
Fri Jun 27 02:06:02 CEST 2008

On Jun 27, 6:32 am, cak... at wrote:
> Hi
> I am a beginner on Python and have a problem..
> I have text file and reading it line by line and there are backspace
> characters in it like '\b' or anything you want like "#".  I want to
> replace these chars. with Backspace action. I mean deleting the
> previous char. and the \b char also. and writing all cleaned text to a
> file again.
> How can I do that.

I haven't seen anything like that for ... ummm, a very long time. Used
for bolding and making up your own characters on a daisy-wheel
printer. Where did you get the file from?

If there are no cases of multiple adjacent backspaces (e.g. "blahfoo\b
\b\bblah") you can do:
   new_line = re.sub(r'.\x08', old_line, '')

Note: using \x08 for backspace instead of \b to avoid having to worry
about how many \ to use in the regex :-)

Otherwise you would need to do something like
   while True:
      new_line = re.sub(r'[^\x08]\x08', '', old_line)
      if new_line == old_line: break
      old_line = new_line

And if you were paranoid, you might test for any remaining stray
backspaces, just in case the line contains "illegal" things like
"\bfoo" or "foo\b\b\b\b" etc.


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