On occasion I get files that have names mangled (mis-encoded, often from an archive file) by the senders. How do I fix the encoding on an Intel Mac?

I am aware of Apple's File Name Encoding Repair utility, but that is for PowerPC Macs only (I've used it before and despite the awkward UI it really works). Has anyone made such a utility in a universal binary application?

  • I don't have a Mac around right now and don't even know for sure whether they are included in OS X but these two command line tools (that is, that must be run inside Terminal) could be tweaked for the job: recode and iconv (from <stackoverflow.com/questions/691040/…). The difficult part will be to guess the original encoding...
    – jaume
    Nov 19, 2012 at 9:13
  • @jaume Unless you are actually talking about modifying the original archives with those tools, I don't think it would work.
    – CyberSkull
    Dec 6, 2012 at 20:40
  • I know this is an old question but I'm running into the same problem. There aren't any Intel programs that will fix the encoding, it must be a pretty obscure problem. If you were able to find a solution please let me know.
    – user73086
    Mar 14, 2014 at 23:34

2 Answers 2


I know this is a very old question, but do verify that your download of File Name Encoding Repair Utility is version 1.1 from May 26, 2006. It is linked (and is listed as v1.0) at https://support.apple.com/kb/DL355?locale=en_US.

Apparently, this software was updated to be Intel compatible in 2006 with no fanfare.

I downloaded this utility in 2017, ran on MacOS Sierra 10.12.2 on a MacBook Pro, and ran it against a few folders with garbled Japanese text from Mac OS 9. It corrected the file names as expected.

I was then able to shift the text encoding of the files to Japanese using SUE in Mac OS 9. There's some differences with Shift-JIS in Mac OS X that I was unable to translate 100% of file encodings using just TextWrangler. Perhaps running SUE in SheepShaver or another Mac OS 9-era emulator may assist.

Using the File Name Encoding Repair, SUE, and Google Translate, I was able to get some old software working. This should help if anyone else finds this in the future.


I wrote a Qt based utility to convert filename encoding into unicode:


A mac app package is available in the releases section.

You can set the actual encoding based on language of the filename (you'll need to google for commonly used encoding for a language), then tab focus to the system encoding setting, and use up and down keys on the keyboard to trial and error for the correct encoding. Once the filenames appears to be right in the preview, just click apply and confirm that you had the correct folder to rename all the files.

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