Search for special characters


Old 05-25-20, 05:13 AM
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Search for special characters

How can I search for a heart shape or other special characters in file names so I can eliminate the characters? Also, is there a generic search term I can use to find all filenames with special characters?
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Old 05-25-20, 05:20 AM
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Use the alt code to type the symbol into your search.
Here is a list.
The code for the heart is alt-3
Hold down the alt key and type 3 you get ♥. Use the number pad. It seems to give different effect than main keyboard.
Old 05-25-20, 06:07 AM
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Maybe "special character" isn't the right term then. More like emojies: heart shape, smilies, etc.
Old 05-25-20, 07:02 AM
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If you're running Windows, you can open the Character Map utility. If you're running Windows 10, you'll find it in Windows Accessories/System Tools/Character Map. It will show you all of the special characters that are available for a given font. Select the character you want, click on the Select button, then the Copy button, Paste the character into the document.
Old 05-25-20, 07:47 AM
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How can I search for a heart shape or other special characters in file names so I can eliminate the characters?
Seems likely you looking at System Files OR are having disk errors, could be a failing hard drive.
I'd stop worrying about the files and start backing up critical data (pictures, documents, saved website passwords, email account information) to the cloud ASAP, and then start backup the entire computer.
Once you've gotten copies of all data on the computer, THEN check for Virus or Disk Errors.

Now, the reason I say that something doesn't sound right- is that most computer operating systems use file names that rely on keyboard characters, because you generally USE a keyboard when naming the file.
You almost NEVER get the odd ASCII /CharMap characters in displayed filenames, and the main reason for USING non-keyboard characters in a file name is to prevent uses from changing them.

Can you provide more details?
Old 05-25-20, 04:54 PM
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suobs -

I think it may be very difficult to find or isolate those unusual file names using Windows tools. The only way I think it can be done is with special search code.

I spent a little time modifying some of the code (Visual C++) I had written to backup my files. I still use Windows Backup but I like to do it also with my own code at the same time. So if one of us screws up the other backup may be good –lol.

Anyway, given a folder name I loop through that folder and all subfolders copying all file and folders to the entered target folder, etc. I made a coding change such that for every file/folder name – including the full path part - I now also check to see if the name has any unusual characters. I checked out my entire (well almost entire) C drive and was surprised to see how many file names had characters that I don’t think can be entered directly from the keyboard. Maybe they can be entered – but I can’t remember diddly about the keyboards.

You can find special characters with “Character Map” as Bob mentioned. You can copy the character and find the hex code (it’s given in the Character Map window), but I don’t think there is much you can do with it in terms of a search. You can paste those characters from Character Map into the Windows Explorer search box and search for NAME, but it looks like there is no way the search will actually find file names containing those characters. Special characters in the NAME filter seems to just cause W7 to do nothing – but maybe in W10 it would work.

I can’t think of any other way Windows allows you to search for file names that may allow the input of special characters in the name– maybe there is a way however.

I don’t know what kind of special characters you are seeing in the file names. I don’t think a heart is typically used. Below are many of the special characters I found using my code, and when I saw them they rang a bell. I do in fact remember seeing those special characters in file names. Below is the list I found embedded in some of my file-names, the 16-bit hex Unicode for the character is in parentheses. I think if you are seeing other types of characters then maybe you have some kind of software problem as was suggested and actually trying to delete those characters from the file names really won’t help.

Maybe if you showed us the file names that would help.

Below are legitimate characters which I found in my file names and seem to make sense in a file name, and there are others, but the software can write almost any 16-bit characters in the file name, so software somewhere with a bug could be writing garbage for a file name(s) :

(e.g., 0x00A7 is 4 x 4 bit digits where A= 1010 (ten) B=1011(eleven) etc. …F=1111)

§ section marker (0x00A7)

® registered sign ( 0x00AE)

« left pointing double angle quotation mark (0x00ab)

– en dash (0x2013)

— em dash (0x2013)

• bullet (0x2022)

» right pointing double angle quotation mark (0x00bb)

· middle dot (0x00b7)

… ellipsis (0x2026)

(here is one of the file names I was talking about "Intel® Dual-Core Processors.htm")
Old 05-25-20, 05:12 PM
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"Character sets and encodings are bizarre stuff, because everything on the computer does it slightly different (supports this, doesn't support that, uses percent-encoding or whatever)".

NTFS stores file names in Unicode.
In contrast, the older FAT12, FAT16, and FAT32 file systems use the OEM character set.

Character Sets Used in File Names (docs-Microsoft)
Old 05-25-20, 06:24 PM
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Your replies helped, although I wouldn't say they solved the problem. So thanks! These are old MP3 files that I downloaded maybe a decade ago. They have all kinds of weird stuff in the file names and I'm trying to make them consistent. I was trying to use an app called Bulk Rename Utility. Under normal circumstances it works fine. But copying a special character and pasting it in gives unpredictable results. It does find them but finds a lot of other files also that don't seem to have the character.

Thanks again, your advice made the process a lot simpler. I think I managed to find them all. Then moved them into a new folder and manually deleted the characters.
Old 05-26-20, 08:01 AM
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suobs –

Yes – unfortunately I don’t think there is any way you can isolate some of those unusual file names with Windows. Any Application can build and create a file name, as I did below, where special character(s) are embedded in the file name. I used the heart character (16 bit Unicode character 0x2665) in the sample code below that I wrote and then stuffed into an App that I had written for other purposes (but almost any other character could be used):

// build file name
String^ NonKeyBoardCharsFileName = gcnew String( String::Concat("C:/Users/Vic/All Food/Healthy Food/", "Heart", System::Convert::ToChar(0x2665)," Healthy.docx") );

// .now create the file
System::IO::StreamWriter^ NewStream = System::IO::File::CreateText(NonKeyBoardCharsFileName);
After I execute that code and then, using Windows Explorer, I look in folder “C:/Users/Vic/All Food/Healthy Food/” , I see that Explorer displays the newly created file in that folder as:

Heart♥ Healthy.docx

but … I can’t find any way that you can search for filenames with the special characters using Windows. That is, Windows Explorer can’t find my new file via Search for files with ♥ in the name .

For example, if you try to paste the heart in the Windows Explorer search box … it is ignored. So unfortunately if legitimate Apps when creating files put special characters in file names, you will be able to use the files, but it doesn’t look like there is any way you can search for file names with special characters, so as to allow you to give them a good look to see if the files look like legitimate files – if that’s what you wanted to do.

Maybe there is some utility buried in W10 that would do it – but I doubt it. Your best bet would be to look around for some third party software that handles all file names for searching.

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