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Posted 15 Dec 2004

Using Unicode in INI files

, 3 Apr 2014
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How to use Unicode in INI files.


This article shows how to use Unicode in an INI file. Even though we call WritePrivateProfileStringW API function for using Unicode in an INI file, an INI file is not saved as Unicode but saved as ANSI. However, the small code that I show here will let you use that.

What does WritePrivateProfileStringW do?

From my experience, I explain that WritePrivateProfileStringW function copies a string encoded to Unicode (UTF18-little Endian) into an INI file which can be written with UTF18-little Endian encoded character. If the INI file for an application does not exist, the API function will create a plain text file and write a section name and a key name and so on. The plain text file is not a Unicode format text file but an ANSI format text file. So a Unicode format file has to have the "BOM" in the beginning of a text file. When the Unicode format file already exists as INI file, this function works well. After all, the function does not prepare it, and somebody has to prepare it.

How is the file created?

  • Manually creating the INI file
  • Preparing the INI file by coding

Manually creating the INI file

This is the simplest way. We save the ANSI INI file already existing as UTF16-little Endian using a text editor such as Notepad. This method is suitable for trials.

Preparing the INI file by coding

The difference between a Unicode and an ANSI format file is whether a file has the BOM in the beginning of the file or not. Besides, the BOM has to be UTF16-little Endian's BOM. So, we have to create a plain file and then add the BOM of UTF16-little Endian into the beginning of the file before using initially WritePrivateProfileW.

In the following code, when the INI file is not found, the new INI file is created. Do notice the code uses Generic Text Mappings.

LPTSTR pszINIFilePath;
::GetModuleFileName(NULL, pszINIFilePath, MAX_PATH);
::StrCat(pszINIFilePath, _T("\\App.ini"));

LPTSTR pszSectionB = _T("[StringTable]"); // section name with bracket 
LPTSTR pszSection = _T("StringTable"); // section name without bracket
LPTSTR pszKey = _T("String");


    // UTF16-LE BOM(FFFE)
    WORD wBOM = 0xFEFF;
    DWORD NumberOfBytesWritten;

    HANDLE hFile = ::CreateFile(pszINIFilePath, GENERIC_WRITE, 0, 
    ::WriteFile(hFile, &wBOM, sizeof(WORD), &NumberOfBytesWritten, NULL);
    ::WriteFile(hFile, pszSectionB, (_tcslen(pszSectionB)+1)*(sizeof(TCHAR)), 
                &NumberOfBytesWritten, NULL);
WritePrivateProfileString(pszSection, pszKey, _T(""), pszINIFilePath);

Points of Interest

In the code, I added not only the BOM but also the first section name into the file by using WriteFile() function. This coding can avoid making an empty line in the first line of the file.

Why is it only UTF16-little Endian?

In Notepad included with Windows, we can choose 3 encoding formats in Unicode. These are "Unicode" (UTF16-little Endian), "Unicode big Endian" (UTF16-big Endian), and "UTF-8". We can use only UTF16-little endian of these formats as an INI file format. The other encodings do not work correctly (you examine it once). Probably, the reason is that Windows NT, XP or later uses the encoding internally. This is why Windows particularly names UTF16-little Endian "Unicode".



This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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Comments and Discussions

QuestionMy Vote of Four Pin
Member 109444318-Dec-15 10:34
memberMember 109444318-Dec-15 10:34 
Questiongratitude Pin
Member 114218752-Feb-15 14:46
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QuestionPK collection Pin
Member 1123940521-Dec-14 22:59
memberMember 1123940521-Dec-14 22:59 
Question[My vote of 2] Serious bug in your code Pin
Victor Nijegorodov7-Apr-14 0:57
memberVictor Nijegorodov7-Apr-14 0:57 
AnswerRe: [My vote of 2] Serious bug in your code Pin
Manabu Kumeta7-Apr-14 4:39
memberManabu Kumeta7-Apr-14 4:39 
QuestionMy Vote of 5 Pin
raybert2-Apr-14 12:03
memberraybert2-Apr-14 12:03 
AnswerRe: My Vote of 5 Pin
Manabu Kumeta3-Apr-14 6:47
memberManabu Kumeta3-Apr-14 6:47 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Member 356017731-Jan-11 7:53
memberMember 356017731-Jan-11 7:53 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Mana#18-Jun-11 5:55
memberMana#18-Jun-11 5:55 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Roger Gonsalves27-Sep-11 17:10
memberRoger Gonsalves27-Sep-11 17:10 
GeneralDownload source file Pin
Daniel Xu7-Jan-08 16:03
memberDaniel Xu7-Jan-08 16:03 
AnswerRe: Download source file Pin
Mana#12-Jan-08 3:01
memberMana#12-Jan-08 3:01 
Generalgood one Pin
paulgafa28-Jun-07 5:44
memberpaulgafa28-Jun-07 5:44 
Generaltypo UTF18 Pin
virtualnik8-May-07 5:53
membervirtualnik8-May-07 5:53 
GeneralRe: typo UTF18 Pin
peterchen22-Aug-08 5:09
memberpeterchen22-Aug-08 5:09 
AnswerRe: typo UTF18 Pin
Mana#24-Aug-08 2:42
memberMana#24-Aug-08 2:42 
GeneralRe: typo UTF18 Pin
chandanadhikari19-Jun-11 20:14
memberchandanadhikari19-Jun-11 20:14 
Generalnice article... Pin
nsh_enp10-Jul-06 15:21
membernsh_enp10-Jul-06 15:21 
GeneralThanks Pin
Mana#11-Jul-06 6:31
memberMana#11-Jul-06 6:31 
GeneralVery good! Pin
fredzhu24-Mar-05 15:27
memberfredzhu24-Mar-05 15:27 
GeneralThanks Pin
Mana#3-Apr-05 18:50
memberMana#3-Apr-05 18:50 
GeneralJust what I needed Pin
Robert Edward Caldecott20-Dec-04 2:00
memberRobert Edward Caldecott20-Dec-04 2:00 
I have an app that needed to write Unicode strings to an INI file and I ended up encoding the strings as HEX - and along comes this article! Excellent.

The Rob Blog
GeneralThank you Pin
Mana#25-Dec-04 6:03
memberMana#25-Dec-04 6:03 

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