This is documentation for Mathematica 6, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)
Mathematica Import/Export Format


Arbitrary binary data represented as a Mathematica string.
Used for importing or exporting entire raw binary data.
  • Using "String" as the format specification, Import and Export can represent any file as a sequence of ordinary or special characters.
  • Import["file", "String"] imports a file as a raw string, representing each byte of the file as the character corresponding to FromCharacterCode[byte].
  • Export["file", str, "String"] exports a Mathematica string of characters to a binary file. Characters with an encoding greater than 255 are converted to their ASCII representation before exporting.
  • The format "String" must be explicitly specified.
  • Import["file", "String"] reads any binary file, representing its raw content as a Mathematica string object.
  • Export["file", str, "String"] exports a Mathematica string to a file.
  • No character encoding transformations are performed when importing or exporting as "String".
  • Export["file", expr, "String"] exports a textual representation of expr.
  • See the reference pages for full general information on Import and Export.
Read an arbitrary binary file and return it as a raw Mathematica string:
Click for copyable input
Show the first bytes of the result, which contains unprintable characters:
Click for copyable input
Convert the string which represents the file "ocelot.jpg" to graphics:
Click for copyable input