Command Line Interface#

charset-normalizer ship with a CLI that should be available as normalizer. This is a great tool to fully exploit the detector capabilities without having to write Python code.

Possible use cases: #. Quickly discover probable originating charset from a file. #. I want to quickly convert a non Unicode file to Unicode. #. Debug the charset-detector.

Down bellow, we will guide you through some basic examples.


You may simply invoke normalizer -h (with the h(elp) flag) to understand the basics.

usage: normalizer [-h] [-v] [-a] [-n] [-m] [-r] [-f] [-t THRESHOLD]
                  file [file ...]

The Real First Universal Charset Detector. Discover originating encoding used
on text file. Normalize text to unicode.

positional arguments:
  files                 File(s) to be analysed

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --verbose         Display complementary information about file if any.
                        Stdout will contain logs about the detection process.
  -a, --with-alternative
                        Output complementary possibilities if any. Top-level
                        JSON WILL be a list.
  -n, --normalize       Permit to normalize input file. If not set, program
                        does not write anything.
  -m, --minimal         Only output the charset detected to STDOUT. Disabling
                        JSON output.
  -r, --replace         Replace file when trying to normalize it instead of
                        creating a new one.
  -f, --force           Replace file without asking if you are sure, use this
                        flag with caution.
  -t THRESHOLD, --threshold THRESHOLD
                        Define a custom maximum amount of chaos allowed in
                        decoded content. 0. <= chaos <= 1.
  --version             Show version information and exit.
normalizer ./data/

Main JSON Output#

🎉 Since version 1.4.0 the CLI produce easily usable stdout result in JSON format.

    "path": "/home/default/projects/charset_normalizer/data/",
    "encoding": "cp1252",
    "encoding_aliases": [
    "alternative_encodings": [
    "language": "French",
    "alphabets": [
        "Basic Latin",
        "Latin-1 Supplement"
    "has_sig_or_bom": false,
    "chaos": 0.149,
    "coherence": 97.152,
    "unicode_path": null,
    "is_preferred": true

I recommend the jq command line tool to easily parse and exploit specific data from the produced JSON.

Multiple File Input#

It is possible to give multiple files to the CLI. It will produce a list instead of an object at the top level. When using the -m (minimal output) it will rather print one result (encoding) per line.

Unicode Conversion#

If you desire to convert any file to Unicode you will need to append the flag -n. It will produce another file, it won’t replace it by default.

The newly created file path will be declared in unicode_path (JSON output).