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iconv is a computer program and a standardized application programming interface (API) used to convert between different character encodings.


The iconv API is the standard programming interface for converting character strings from one character encoding to another in Unix-like operating systems.

Initially appearing on the HP-UX operating system, it was standardized within XPG4 and is part of the Single UNIX Specification (SUS).

All recent Linux distributions contain a free implementation of iconv() as part of the GNU C Library which is the C library for current Linux systems. To use it, the GNU glibc locales need to be installed, which are provided as a separate package (usually named glibc-locale) normally installed by default.


stdin can be converted from ISO-8859-1 to current locale and output to stdout using:

iconv -f iso-8859-1

An input file infile can be converted from ISO-8859-1 to UTF-8 and output to output file outfile using:

iconv -f iso-8859-1 -t utf-8 <infile >outfile


Under Microsoft Windows, the iconv binary (and thus, likely also the API) is provided by the Cygwin and GnuWin32 environments or native Win32 port win_iconv.exe.

iconv is also available for many programming languages. For example, one of the libraries supported by PHP[1] (also under Windows using a DLL file), so it is possible to use iconv() from a PHP program easily.

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