given a text, is there a program that can detect what the new line character is, the Windows, Mac, or Linux one?

Eg, the following text is shown by less

memor:^M^Mis storage directly accessible by CPU^M^MThe term "memory" is often (but not always) associated with addressable semiconductor memory, i.e. integrated circuits consisting of silicon-based transistors.^MThe semiconductor memory i s organized into ^Mmemory cells

I thought ^M is the new line character under Mac. But in emacs, I searched by Ctrl-q Ctrl-m and found nothing.


  • 1
    file command sould give a clue, dos2unix might also help. – Archemar Oct 29 '14 at 5:47

file will report on line endings for text files. If you run file on an ASCII Unix/Linux/OSX text file, for example, it will report simply:

$ file test.txt
test.txt: ASCII text

If, however the file has DOS/Windows line-endings, it will instead report:

test.dos: ASCII text, with CRLF line terminators

Up to OS 9, Macs used CR as the line ending. When presented with such a file, file will report:

test.mac: ASCII text, with CR line terminators

With OSX, Macs converted to standard Unix line endings.

  • If a text file is a mixture of text from Linux, Macs, and Windows. Will file still report the right new line character? – Tim Oct 29 '14 at 12:25
  • @Tim I tested it on some mixed files and it correctly reported mixed endings. For example, with all three types, it reported ASCII text, with CRLF, CR, LF line terminators. – John1024 Oct 29 '14 at 16:56
  • I tried this and it gave me ASCII text, with very long lines. The terminators are LF – wordsforthewise Mar 1 '17 at 17:42
  • @wordsforthewise LF terminators are the unix and linux standard. If a file has LF terminators, then file doesn't mention what terminators are used. See the first example in the answer above. Terminators are only mentioned if the file has non-unix terminators. See the second and third examples in the answer above. Separately, it is likely that your file has one or more long lines. – John1024 Mar 1 '17 at 18:14
  • 1
    Yes, I understand. I just thought it was funny it said 'very long lines' – wordsforthewise Mar 1 '17 at 21:31

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