Windows 10, Emacs 25.1

When I open file that not encoding in UTF-8 I get the next incorrect result:

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I try by command set-buffe-file-coding-system but it not help.

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And here result:

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As you can see this command not help.

To fix this I need to encoding content to UTF-8.

Note: If I open this file by Notepad++ than it show correct:

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Here test case when I apply function "find-file-with-coding-system" with KOI8-R of @Tobias, but it not help.

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Also I try by emacs-Q, but result same.

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Here base64-encode-region part of my file:


How I can do this?

  • Your problem is actually related to the decoding of the file at find-file and not to encoding.
    – Tobias
    Dec 12, 2017 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


Emacs decodes a text file with an appropriate coding system when you open it with find-file. If you have to tell emacs for some reason what coding system it should use for decoding the file you should do so before you open the file.

You can set the coding system for the next command with Options -> Multilingual Environment -> Set Coding Systems -> For Next Command. That next command can be find-file for your file subtitle.srt.

The file is then read with the coding system of your choice.

If you often need to open files with specified coding system you can also use the following command. Paste the code into your init file and restart emacs. Afterwards you can use the new menu item Find File With Coding System in the File menu.

(defun find-file-with-coding-system (file coding-system)
  (interactive (list
                (read-file-name "File Name:")
                (read-coding-system "Coding System:")))
  (let (buf (coding-system-for-read coding-system))
    (if (setq buf
              (catch :exit
                (while (setq buf (find-buffer-visiting file))
                  (if (y-or-n-p (format "Kill buffer \"%s\" visiting file \"%s\"?" buf file))
                      (kill-buffer buf)
                    (throw :exit buf)))))
        (error "Buffer \"%s\" is still visiting \"%s\". In that case `find-file-with-coding-system' does not work as expected." buf file)
      (find-file file))))

(require 'easymenu)
(easy-menu-add-item menu-bar-file-menu nil ["Find File With Coding System" find-file-with-coding-system t] "Filesets")

Note that normally the coding system of the file is automatically detected. For newly created buffers and for buffers where the coding system cannot be uniquely identified the option default-buffer-file-coding-system determines which coding system is preferred.

As far as I know there is no predefined function changing the buffer file coding-system for decoding without re-reading the file.

That is what you actually asked me in one of your comments:

And the last question: Is it possible to correct decode file AFTER open?

Maybe, that function is not provided since the decoding is not necessarily injective and the translation of the coding system can fail.

Nevertheless, the next lisp function tries to change the coding system for decoding without re-reading the file.

(defun translate-buffer-encoding (target-encoding &optional source-encoding)
  "Translate buffer encoding from SOURCE-ENCODING to TARGET-ENCODING."
  (interactive (list (read-non-nil-coding-system "Target encoding:")))
  (unless source-encoding
    (setq source-encoding buffer-file-coding-system))
  (encode-coding-region (point-min)
  (decode-coding-region (point-min)
  (set-buffer-file-coding-system target-encoding))
  • I update my post. It not help.
    – Alex
    Dec 12, 2017 at 10:35
  • @Alex The text about default-buffer-file-coding-system was only a remark about the normal way when nothing goes wrong. But the coding system selection goes wrong for you. You have to kill the buffer, set the coding system for the next command as I described it at the beginning of my answer and then call find-file for the file subtitle.srt. By the way it is strange that the automatic coding system selection goes wrong for you. That indicates that something is wrong with your file.
    – Tobias
    Dec 12, 2017 at 10:40
  • I do as you describe. But it' not help.
    – Alex
    Dec 12, 2017 at 13:54
  • @Alex I've added a function which you can paste into your init file. It provides you with a new File menu item Find File With Coding System that should be fail-safe. If that also does not work your problem is probably not really encoding-related. At least not on the side of emacs.
    – Tobias
    Dec 12, 2017 at 14:45
  • @Alex I've added a test for buffers already visiting the file. The user is given a chance to kill those buffers. If he does not find-file just returns such a buffer without decoding the file. That potential source of error is now signaled.
    – Tobias
    Dec 12, 2017 at 15:29

Your problem has nothing to do with utf-8. Your screenshot of Notepad++ indicates Windows-1251 encoding for that file as you can see at the right end of the status line of Notepad++. Therefore you have to select windows-1251 and not utf-8 as coding system. You can use my other answer for a first try with windows-1251 encoding.

Note, that 8-bit encodings can seldom be differentiated. So emacs has (almost) no chance to detect windows-1251 without further information. (I used the word almost here since there would always be a text analysis as a last resort.)

It seems that Notepad++ is setup for a Russian language environment. If you want to permanently setup your emacs for Windows-1252 you can consult the page on emacs Russification at emacswiki.

I cite here the most important settings for your init file.

(set-language-environment 'Cyrillic-KOI8)
(setq default-buffer-file-coding-system 'koi8-r)
(prefer-coding-system 'koi8-r)

(setq-default coding-system-for-read 'koi8-r)
;; (setq-default coding-system-for-write 'koi8-r) ;; Maybe not!
(codepage-setup 1251)
(define-coding-system-alias 'windows-1251 'cp1251)
  • I try all koi8 encoding, but nothing help. I try koi8-r, cyrillic-koi8 and so on. Also I can't set default coding as koi8-r because in my init.el I use (set-language-environment "UTF-8")
    – Alex
    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:13
  • @Alex Did you really use find-file-with-coding-system with the code I provided in my other answer? Changing the coding system after opening the file does not work. If you did everything exactly as I wrote we need the attention of someone more experienced with character encodings than me. Maybe Stefan or Drew can help. After you double-checked that my proposed answers do not work I would try to draw the attention of some moderator by flagging the question. Pityingly, I cannot put a bounty on this question as Stefan did with some other question. Don't know why I cannot do that.
    – Tobias
    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:33
  • I my Emacs (25.1) no function find-file-with-coding-system. I do all as you describe. Set your code in my init file. But it not help.
    – Alex
    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:45
  • @Alex If find-file-with-coding-system is not defined the init file has not been evaluated. For a test you can paste the code into the *scratch* buffer and run M-x eval-buffer for that buffer. Afterwards the menu item Find File With Coding System should exist in the File menu. Use that menu item to open your file. The command will ask you for the coding system.
    – Tobias
    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:48
  • I do all of you instruction. It's not help.
    – Alex
    Dec 13, 2017 at 9:21

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