I have a file in my C: drive on Windows named MSDELog.log and from opening the file with a hex editor I can see that there is a null character after each character. But there is no indicator at the start of the file saying unicode or whatever the encoding is.

If I open this file with the Windows notepad it seems to recognise it and opens correctly.

If I open the file in emacs I see the text but every other character is ^@ - I realise this indicates a null character.

If I hit m-x revert-buffer-with-coding-system and try utf-8 there is no change in the view. If I select utf-16 then I see a load of what looks like Chinese characters.

How do I view this file in emacs?

1 Answer 1


It's a file encoded in utf-16 little endian format without the byte order mark. You have to specify the endianness selecting utf-16-le when you use revert-buffer-with-coding-system

  • I wondered what le meant
    – arcomber
    Nov 21, 2020 at 17:45
  • LE means Little Endian. If the coding is not LE then BE, which means Big Endian. Jul 7, 2022 at 3:07

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