I have a text file (ANSI encoding) with two columns of real numbers separated, unfortunately, by a "Null Character" ("\.00").

How can I import this data easily?

The problem:

Take[Import["17Dec15450K00.txt", "Table"], 3]
{{"29.89128\.000.0119872"}, {"30.37339\.000.0120442"}, {"30.85551\.000.0123593"}}


ToExpression[Take[Import["17Dec15450K00.txt", "Table"], 3]]
{{29.8913}, {30.3734}, {30.8555}}

Other functions also fail with if the string contains the Null Character


StringReplace["999\.00999", "\.00" -> "X"]

Gives no output. Is that a bug?

File available via Dropbox here

UUE ZIP via Pastebin here

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this may be a bug but it's not that it gives no output - using \.00 in a string gives an error. See my related Q&A. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2015 at 17:54

4 Answers 4


I suspect to be robust you need to read in binary mode. Actually I would probably convert the nulls in one pass something like this:

in = OpenRead[file_with_nulls, BinaryFormat -> True] 
out = OpenWrite["tmp.out", BinaryFormat -> True] 
BinaryWrite[out, BinaryReadList[ in, "Byte"] /. 0 -> 32] (*32 -> space*)
Close /@ {in, out}

Then you should be able to use Import.

You could also use a command line tool like linux tr to repair the file.

This is totally untested as I don't have an example file to work with.


I would not consider this an EASY solution, but it does the job.

file = OpenRead["17Dec15450K00.txt"];
    Read[file, {Number, Byte, Number}]] =!= EndOfFile
[[2, 1, ;; -2, {1, 3}]]

Another workaround:

ReadList["17Dec15450K00.txt", {Number, Byte, Number}][[All, {1, 3}]]

Why wouldn't you use this?

Import["17Dec15450K00.txt", "Data"]; // AbsoluteTiming
{0.187201, Null}

Import the text file as "Data" and no need to convert anything. I'm still using MMA 9

Some how it works for me

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That actually does not work, you get a list of strings. and the NullCharacter makes it hard to parse. $\endgroup$
    – rhermans
    Dec 18, 2015 at 17:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.