iconv Man page

ICONV(1) Linux User Manual ICONV(1)


iconv – convert text from one character encoding to another


iconv [options] [-f from-encoding] [-t to-encoding] [inputfile]…


The iconv program reads in text in one encoding and outputs the text in
another encoding. If no input files are given, or if it is given as a
dash (-), iconv reads from standard input. If no output file is given,
iconv writes to standard output.

If no from-encoding is given, the default is derived from the current
locale’s character encoding. If no to-encoding is given, the default
is derived from the current locale’s character encoding.


-f from-encoding, –from-code=from-encoding
Use from-encoding for input characters.

-t to-encoding, –to-code=to-encoding
Use to-encoding for output characters.

If the string //IGNORE is appended to to-encoding, characters
that cannot be converted are discarded and an error is printed
after conversion.

If the string //TRANSLIT is appended to to-encoding, characters
being converted are transliterated when needed and possible.
This means that when a character cannot be represented in the
target character set, it can be approximated through one or sev‐
eral similar looking characters. Characters that are outside of
the target character set and cannot be transliterated are
replaced with a question mark (?) in the output.

-l, –list
List all known character set encodings.

-c Silently discard characters that cannot be converted instead of
terminating when encountering such characters.

-o outputfile, –output=outputfile
Use outputfile for output.

-s, –silent
This option is ignored; it is provided only for compatibility.

Print progress information on standard error when processing
multiple files.

-?, –help
Print a usage summary and exit.

Print a short usage summary and exit.

-V, –version
Print the version number, license, and disclaimer of warranty
for iconv.

Zero on success, non-zero on errors.

Internally, the iconv program uses the iconv function which in turn
uses gconv modules (dynamically loaded shared libraries) to convert to
and from a character set. Before calling iconv, the iconv program
must first allocate a conversion descriptor using iconv_open. The
operation of the latter function is influenced by the setting of the
GCONV_PATH environment variable:

* If GCONV_PATH is not set, iconv_open loads the system gconv mod‐
ule configuration cache file created by iconvconfig(8) and then,
based on the configuration, loads the gconv modules needed to per‐
form the conversion. If the system gconv module configuration cache
file is not available then the system gconv module configuration
file is used.

* If GCONV_PATH is defined (as a colon-separated list of pathnames),
the system gconv module configuration cache is not used. Instead,
iconv_open first tries to load the configuration files by search‐
ing the directories in GCONV_PATH in order, followed by the system
default gconv module configuration file. If a directory does not
contain a gconv module configuration file, any gconv modules that it
may contain are ignored. If a directory contains a gconv module
configuration file and it is determined that a module needed for
this conversion is available in the directory, then the needed mod‐
ule is loaded from that directory, the order being such that the
first suitable module found in GCONV_PATH is used. This allows
users to use custom modules and even replace system-provided modules
by providing such modules in GCONV_PATH directories.

Usual default gconv module path.

Usual system default gconv module configuration file.

Usual system gconv module configuration cache.


Convert text from the ISO 8859-15 character encoding to UTF-8:

$ iconv -f ISO-8859-15 -t UTF-8 < input.txt > output.txt

The next example converts from UTF-8 to ASCII, transliterating when

$ echo abc ß α € àḃç | iconv -f UTF-8 -t ASCII//TRANSLIT
abc ss ? EUR abc


locale, iconv, nl_langinfo, charsets(7), iconvconfig(8)

This page is part of release 4.04 of the Linux man-pages project. A
description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
latest version of this page, can be found at

GNU 2014-07-08 ICONV(1)

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