Working with JSON

How to:

Bash itself lacks built-in JSON parsing capabilities, but jq is a powerful command-line JSON processor that fills this gap. Here’s how to use it:

Reading a JSON file:

Sample data.json:

  "name": "Jane Doe",
  "email": "[email protected]",
  "location": {
    "city": "New York",
    "country": "USA"

To read and extract the name from the JSON file:

jq '.name' data.json


"Jane Doe"

Modifying JSON data:

To update the city to “Los Angeles” and write back to the file:

jq ' = "Los Angeles"' data.json > temp.json && mv temp.json data.json

Parsing JSON from a variable:

If you have JSON in a Bash variable, jq can still process it:

json_string='{"name": "John Doe", "email": "[email protected]"}'
echo $json_string | jq '.name'


"John Doe"

Working with arrays:

Given an array of items in JSON:

  "items": ["apple", "banana", "cherry"]

To extract the second item (indexing starts at 0):

jq '.items[1]' data.json



For more complex operations and filtering, jq has a comprehensive manual and tutorials available online, making it a versatile tool for all your Bash/JSON needs.