Execute shell commands with an asterisk in SAS


Vinh Nguyen


April 6, 2013

I wanted to use %sysexec to execute a shell command with an asterisk (shell wildcard for globbing) in a SAS program:

{sas eval=FALSE} %sysexec cp /tmp/foo/*.txt /tmp/bar ;

However, it wasn't giving me the desired results, probably due to the /* characters as they begin a commented section in a SAS program. Also tried escaping the asterisk with \* and surrounding the shell command with quotes but I didn't get any luck. Emailed the SAS-L community for help and discovered the x and call system statements in SAS. The following works:

{sas eval=FALSE} x "cp /tmp/foo/*.txt /tmp/bar" ; /* or */ data _null_ ; call system("cp /tmp/foo/*.txt /tmp/bar") ; run ;

More information on executing shell commands in a SAS program can be found here.