My problem: With my Emacs 26.1 on my 10.13.6 Mac, I have a opened a third-party text file, and it turns out I have the wrong encoding set : the text is in French , and the accentuated characters are displayed incorrectly (thus "é" is displayed as a brown \216, "î" as a brown \224, etc).

What I tried : I tried

M-x revert-buffer-with-coding-system latin-1 and M-x revert-buffer-with-coding-system utf-8 emacs and nothing changed in the display.

I also tried (and failed) to guess the encoding : it must be an encoding in which "é" is the 216th character. Now é is U+00E9 in Unicode, which gives 233 in decimal. Also é is number 130 in extended ASCII.

  • That \216 is in octal => 142 decimal (but I have no clue which encoding it's using). It's not cp863 either.
    – rpluim
    Oct 3, 2018 at 10:33

1 Answer 1


This is the MacRoman encoding, a legacy encoding from the pre-OSX days of Mac OS. It is available in Emacs as mac-roman.

C-x RET r mac-roman RET yes RET

You may need to select mac-roman-mac, mac-roman-dos or mac-roman-unix explicitly if Emacs doesn't automatically detect the representation of line endings. The mac-roman part is for the encoding of non-ASCII characters.

If you want to specify the encoding of files with a certain extension, files in a certain directory, or more generally based on a file's path, you can call modify-coding-system-alist in your init file, e.g. for all *.txt files that are in or under a directory called old-mac-files:

(modify-coding-system-alist 'file "/old-mac-files/.*\\.txt\\'" 'mac-roman-mac)
  • I just noticed that I have to re-execute this command every-time I re-open the file. Is there a command to put in init.el so that this particular file will always be opened with the correct encoding (leaving the others file alone) ? Oct 5, 2018 at 13:34
  • @EwanDelanoy Yes, see my edit. Oct 5, 2018 at 18:57
  • Thanks for your edit. I failed to implement it correctly on my machine, and I've asked a new question about it. Oct 8, 2018 at 11:22
  • @EwanDelanoy My bad, I forgot an argument to modify-coding-system-alist. Oct 8, 2018 at 11:46
  • I understand that the dot needs to be escaped by a backslash before it, but what is the single quote at the end of the filename for ? Oct 8, 2018 at 12:07

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