This is somewhat related to question

On Windows 7, dir or tree can't show unicode characters, even starting cmd with cmd /U

Even on Windows 7, I found that the only way I can get unicode to go into a file is by

> cmd /U
> dir /B > files.txt

the file will be in "Unicode" when I open in Notepad and try "Save As", and if I dir /B > files.html and open the HTML file in firefox, it can show using Encoding of UTF-16 (or UTF-16 LE).

but, if I want to see it on the screen instead of having it go to a file, it is still impossible. Is there a way to make it happen? Possibly somehow telling cmd not to show nonprintable characters as "?"

Update: I tried cmd.exe, cygwin's bash on windows, and PowerShell. They are the same. Except if I change the "Properties -> Font" to Consolas or Lucida Console, there is some improvement -- now it is not question mark but is either square border or square with a question mark in it.

The more expensive Mac computers with Mac OS X can do it. The free Ubuntu can do it too.


This is a very old question, but all of the answers given here are wrong.

You will never see Unicode output on the Windows command line (CMD.exe). The reason is that CMD cannot display Unicode. It can, however, display DBCS (Double-Byte Character Set).

If you want to see Japanese output, for example, you have to change your System Locale to Japanese and reboot. Then, you'll be able to see Japanese DBCS (i.e. Shift-JIS) characters on the command line. Windows supports Japanese Shift-JIS, Simplified Chinese, Korean, and Traditional Chinese "Big5" DBCS code pages.

Incidentally, you can pipe UTF-16 (inaccurately used interchangeably with "Unicode" by Microsoft) to a file, then open that file in, say, Notepad, and view the Unicode characters. You can also mark and copy the gibberish text from CMD.exe and paste it into Notepad and see the Unicode characters. In other words, CMD supports Unicode, but it doesn't display Unicode.

You can find more information in this blog post.


Based on your username I suspect you mainly work with asian languages.

Windows tools operate normally in unicode mode (as you saw by piping the output of dir into a file and opening that file with an editor):

  1. the tool does its stuff
  2. it outputs unicode characters
  3. another program takes this output and has to display it.

to display any character on the screen the program from step 3 has to lookup the glyph appropriate for the given byte sequence. example:

  • 0x65 'a' maps to a different glyph in each font (so the 'a' looks different from font to font)

  • 0x937 'Ω' (greek 'omega') maps to a different glyph in each font as well

this mapping only works IF the font has a glyph for the given byte sequence. otherwise the visual result differs, sometimes you see '?', sometimes diamonds etc.

again: dirproduces bytesequences, which sometimes are purely in the ASCII-range, sometimes they are in the unicode range (depending on what filenames it finds). it sends these sequences to another program which is responsible for actually rendering the bytesequences. to be able to display these sequences, this program has to map the sequence to a glyph. to do that, it has to search in a font for the glyph. if the font does not have a glyph for the given sequence, then the program can not display the byte sequence produced by, for example, dir.

so, the solution to your problem (seeing any unicode-character in the 'console / terminal' of windows) is: use a font for the program which has (almost) every glyph for (almost) any given unicode bytesequence in it.

  • 1
    hm, but the cmd, cygwin bash, and PowerShell all are limited to 3 fonts: Raster fonts, Lucida Console, and Consolas... actually Windows usually fall back to a unicode font when it can't display anything with the current font... also, if I redirect the output, like dir > file.txt it is still question mark in the file, even though it is "square box" on the screen. Jun 27 '10 at 6:48
  • @Jian Lin: yes, but that is essentially YOUR problem to provide a font which contains these glyphs. and even if windows falls back to "some" font which holds "some" unicode glyphs in it ... that is not enough to display some of your asian glyphs (you have problems with the asian glyphs, right?).
    – akira
    Jun 27 '10 at 6:53
  • according to some websites, "Ascender Uni Duo" seems to be the best font (even for "fixed") ascendercorp.de/fonts/multilingual/ascender-uni but maybe you find something better / cheaper en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicode_typefaces
    – akira
    Jun 27 '10 at 6:58
  • @akira there are many fonts on Windows 7 that can display the whole Unicode glyph set. But (1) Cmd window won't let you choose any of them. (2) When windows or the app falls back to the font that can display unicode, such as Lucida Sans Unicode, it can display most any chinese characters. Jun 27 '10 at 7:34
  • 1
    @akira: Good answer, I'd just replace ”byte sequences” by “16-bit strings” or “UTF-16 strings” since that is what Windows internally uses.
    – Philipp
    Jun 28 '10 at 9:00


Use chcp 65001 to change the codepage to UTF8 and use Lucida Console.

  • hm... still won't work... cmd /U, chcp 65001, dir, and dir /B with the font already set to Lucida Console, still the same. Jun 27 '10 at 8:11
  • 1
    You may want to try adding more fonts to the console: support.microsoft.com/kb/247815 and blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2007/05/16/2659903.aspx (the latter for some discussion on the issue). Jun 27 '10 at 8:19
  • it all depends on the fonts you are giving the program to render the text. read the support article, good info in it.
    – akira
    Jun 27 '10 at 9:20
  • 1
    @taspeotis: The Windows console always uses Unicode internally, regardless of the codepage setting (which is obsolete anyway and only included for backwards compatibility). It is really just a font problem.
    – Philipp
    Jun 28 '10 at 8:59
  • Can any of the included font on Win 7 be used? such as MingLiU, DFKai-SB Jun 28 '10 at 9:39

It has nothing to do with encodings since the Windows console always uses Unicode internally. The characters are simply not available in the fonts you use, which are designed for programming and European languages. I don't have access to Windows at the moment, but I remeber that I could print Greek characters after switching to the Lucida Console font. Using a font like DejaVu Sans Mono might work.

  • i ve created a russian filename and cmd.exe displayed the glyphs correctly after switching to lucida. for asian fonts i think OP has to pick a "better" or more "unicode complete fixed font" (even if he does not like that answer :)).
    – akira
    Jun 28 '10 at 9:16

Ok, this is a solution using PowerShell:

1) Click the Start button on Windows 7
2) Now, in the blank line, type in PowerShell
3) Choose PowerShell ISE <-- note it is ISE

Now, if you do ls, you will be able to see unicode characters...

4) if you also use chcp 65001, then if your program prints out UTF-8 characters, they will be nicely displayed as well.

You can also ls > list.txt and then type list.txt and the content shows up in Unicode characters as well.

tree will still not show unicode characters.

also, inside the PowerShell ISE, cmd /U /C dir /B will not work either.

ls -R will.

  • ls in Powershell is actually just an alias for "Get-ChildItem"
    – KdgDev
    Jun 28 '10 at 12:07
  • and then? don't tell me you use Get-ChildItem on the command line every day instead of ls. For example, we usually drink water instead of hydrogen dioxide. Aug 29 '10 at 21:12

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