"The text encoding of the contents couldn’t be determined."


I’m trying to open a text file created with AppleScript, in FT. I get the following error:

“The document ‘.txt’ could not be opened. The text encoding of the contents couldn’t be determined.”

  1. If I try to open with TextEdit, TextMate, or SublimeText 2, it works fine.
  2. file -I <filename> confirms the encoding is “text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1”
  3. If I manually change the encoding to UTF-8 using iconv -f, it can be opened in FT

Am I doing something wrong in my script, or should FT be able to open this file?


Can you show us the creation line which you are using in Applescript ?

You should ideally be creating it in UTF-8, for example, something like:

on WriteText2Path(strText, strPosixPath)
	set f to (POSIX file strPosixPath)
	open for access f with write permission
	write strText as «class utf8» to f
	close access f
end WriteText2Path


This is how I create the file:

tell application "System Events"
  set save_File to open for access (save_File & ".txt" as string) with write permission
    write url_list to save_File
  end try
  close access save_File
end tell

So i’m not explicitly setting the file encoding, but I assumed the default would work fine in most text editors. I’ll try your approach.

Just for my interest, does anyone know what the inherent issue with “iso-8859-1” encoding is? If Applescript uses this by default, shouldn’t text editors be able to read it?


I think there’s a geological rift there between Applescript’s pre-unicode past and OS X’s unicode present.

(iso-8859-1 is a Latin block – sounds like it may be defaulting to Mac Roman)

Always a useful reflex in Applescript now to write strText as «class utf8» to f


Possibly a quirk of System Events:


@dlehman I’m changing the code to be a bit more relaxed on what it reads for the next release, that should solve this issue.


I changed my script to explicitly set “utf8”, so i’m all good. But appreciate the excellent support, as usual!