RStudio Addin: Replace in Files

03 Oct 2019

When developing a new R project, I usually want to quickly get some examples running. This means in early stages, I don’t spend much time to consistently name my functions or variables. Correspondingly, there is usually a later phase, before making the project public, in which I change a lot of function names in order to get a bit more consistency.

Since in larger projects function calls are distributed over a lot of R files the Find in Files command in RStudio is really useful. Yet, unfortunately so far there is no Find and Replace in Files command. There is a corresponding Github issue that shows that more users would love to have such a functionality. Probably it will be implemented in some future RStudio version, but it is not clear when.

As an intermediate solution you can install my very small package ReplaceInFiles. It just provides an RStudio Addin that allows to find and replace in multiple files.

You can install the package directly from Github by running

if (!require(devtools)) install.packages("devtools")

You can then use the Replace in Files addin in RStudio under the Addins.


By default my addin searches in all files in your project directory (or if no project is open, in your working directory). Instead of changing the files in the background, it opens all files that contain the search pattern in RStudio and replaces the found patterns in RStudio without saving the files. This allows you the possibility to easily undo changes. You can quickly save all changes in RStudio via File -> Save All

If you look at the source code on Github, you see that there is really very little code and I wrote it quite quickly (hopefully avoiding bugs). It is amazing how easily RStudio Addins and the rstudioapi package allow you to customize RStudio and extend its features.

Published on 03 Oct 2019