Determine File Type & Encoding in Command Line on Mac OS

See the tutorial on how to determine the file type and encoding from the command line in Mac OS X.

After many inquiries from our users, here is a guide on how to determine the file type and encoding from the command line in Mac OS X.

Typically, to determine an item’s file type and encoding, you can view the file in the Mac Finder, check the file name extension, get information about the file, or even open it to quickly find out what it is. This is limited to the easy-to-use Mac OS X file system, of course, and there are instances when it may be necessary to use the command line to tell how a file is encoded or what type of file it is, often with less obvious instructions (or none at all Prompts) as a visible file extension.

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you need to figure out what a particular file is and how it is encoded, you can use the file command with the uppercase i to quickly see what the file is and what character set it is she has.

How to determine the file type / encoding from command line on Mac

To try this yourself, start the Terminal application and enter the correct syntax.

The syntax for determining the file encoding type and type on Mac OS (and also from the Linux command line) is as follows:

File -I filename

Note that the flag is an uppercase “i” and not a lowercase l. The output of the correctly executed command looks like this:

/ Path / To / filename: file format / file type; Character set = coding

Let’s look at some examples. First, let’s review a file that turns out to be an image:

File -I ~ / Desktop / iPhone-Plus / User / Paul / Desktop / iPhone-Plus: Picture / JPEG; Character set = binary

The file type and the character set are clearly displayed.

Again with another file listed as an XML file encoded as us-ascii:

File -I compsmag.com.weblocosxdaily.com.webloc: application / xml; Character set = us-ascii

Another example that turns out to be a simple old text file:

File -I ~ / Documents / diywatch ~ / Documents / diywatch: text / plain; Character set = us-ascii

And another example that turns out to be a binary executable:

File -I / usr / sbin / streamy / usr / sbin / streamy: application / octet-stream; Character set = binary

This command line approach to determining the file type and encoding can be useful for many reasons, whether it be for use in a script, for remote troubleshooting, or for servicing with ssh to find specific file types and formats using the search tools built into Mac OS X. or even for your own purposes to determine what a mystery file is, what app to open it with, and what type of extension it should have if one is missing.

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How to determine the file type and encoding from the command line in Mac OS X: FAQ

Tutorial summary: How to determine the file type and encoding from the command line in Mac OS X.

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The time it takes to complete the file type and encoding tutorial from the command line in Mac OS X is more than 10 minutes.

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