when I perform the "tree" command in the console, here's what I've got :

├── Annexe\ 1\ -\ Sch\303\251ma\ global\ de\ la\ base\ de\ donn\303\251es.raw

The result is composed of utf-8 sequences, I need to get the string in a human-readable form for a report. How can I convert that nasty thing ?

  • 1
    You can try exporting LC_ALL=C.
    – phemmer
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:18
  • There is no change.
    – vdegenne
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:21
  • 2
    What does the locale command report?
    – cjm
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:22
  • What's the output of printf %s Annex*.raw | hd? Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    In which console? Linux? Commented May 13, 2014 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


You can specify any character set you want it to use with the --charset switch.

   --charset charset
          Set the character set to use when outputting HTML and for line 

There are also these 2 switches which may help:

   -q     Print non-printable characters in filenames as question marks 
          instead of the default.

   -N     Print non-printable characters as is instead of as escaped octal 

Also you can augment the output using these switches:

   -A     Turn on ANSI line graphics hack when printing the indentation 

   -S     Turn on ASCII line graphics (useful when using Linux console mode 
          fonts). This option is now equivalent to `--charset=IBM437' and 
          may eventually be depreciated.

I can get that output with:

LC_ALL=C tree -A

You'd see \303\251 if tree thought that 0303 and 0251 were not valid characters (or sequence of character in your locale).

However that is valid in UTF-8 locales where \303\251 is é and in iso-8859-1 or iso-8859-15 (the two common single byte per character charsets that are common in French speaking countries) where \303 is à and \251 is ©.

So, here that suggests you're in a locale where the charset is defined only for the first 128 byte values like ASCII is like in the C locale.

You could tell tree that your charset is UTF-8 or iso-8859-15, and then it would not translate those 0303 bytes to \303.

locale -a will tell you if there's a locale on your system with a UTF-8 charset. Then you can pick one like fr_FR.UTF-8:

LC_ALL=fr_FR.UTF-8 tree

But then, whether it's going to be displayed properly or not will depend on what your terminal emulator understands. If it's not configured to display UTF-8 characters, it won't work.

If your terminal emulator is able to display iso-8859-1, you could make tree display UTF-8 and convert that with iconv:

LC_ALL=fr_FR.UTF-8 tree | iconv -f UTF-8

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