# “Unicode Error “unicodeescape” codec can’t decode bytes… Cannot open text files in Python 3

## The Question :

308 people think this question is useful

I am using Python 3.1 on a Windows 7 machine. Russian is the default system language, and utf-8 is the default encoding.

Looking at the answer to a previous question, I have attempting using the “codecs” module to give me a little luck. Here’s a few examples:

>>> g = codecs.open("C:\Users\Eric\Desktop\beeline.txt", "r", encoding="utf-8")
SyntaxError: (unicode error) 'unicodeescape' codec can't decode bytes in position 2-4: truncated \UXXXXXXXX escape (<pyshell#39>, line 1)


>>> g = codecs.open("C:\Users\Eric\Desktop\Site.txt", "r", encoding="utf-8")
SyntaxError: (unicode error) 'unicodeescape' codec can't decode bytes in position 2-4: truncated \UXXXXXXXX escape (<pyshell#40>, line 1)


>>> g = codecs.open("C:\Python31\Notes.txt", "r", encoding="utf-8")
SyntaxError: (unicode error) 'unicodeescape' codec can't decode bytes in position 11-12: malformed \N character escape (<pyshell#41>, line 1)


>>> g = codecs.open("C:\Users\Eric\Desktop\Site.txt", "r", encoding="utf-8")
SyntaxError: (unicode error) 'unicodeescape' codec can't decode bytes in position 2-4: truncated \UXXXXXXXX escape (<pyshell#44>, line 1)



My last idea was, I thought it might have been the fact that Windows “translates” a few folders, such as the “users” folder, into Russian (though typing “users” is still the correct path), so I tried it in the Python31 folder. Still, no luck. Any ideas?

• @Wahnfrieden What? Python 2 is to be phased out in the future, so it makes sense to use Python 3, despite its “lack” of “maturity”.
• @Beau Martinez @orip (significant) lack of library support is a good enough reason for most cases. With the Py3k features back-ported to Python 2.6 and 2.7, porting to 3.x later on will be easy anyway, and you don’t sacrifice huge amounts of library support (which is especially hazardous if you’re a new user and can’t properly anticipate which libraries you’d want).

685 people think this answer is useful

The problem is with the string

"C:\Users\Eric\Desktop\beeline.txt"



Here, \U in "C:\Users… starts an eight-character Unicode escape, such as \U00014321. In your code, the escape is followed by the character ‘s’, which is invalid.

You either need to duplicate all backslashes:

"C:\\Users\\Eric\\Desktop\\beeline.txt"



Or prefix the string with r (to produce a raw string):

r"C:\Users\Eric\Desktop\beeline.txt"



28 people think this answer is useful

Typical error on Windows because the default user directory is C:\user\<your_user>, so when you want to use this path as an string parameter into a Python function, you get a Unicode error, just because the \u is a Unicode escape. Any character not numeric after this produces an error.

To solve it, just double the backslashes: C:\\user\\<\your_user>...

26 people think this answer is useful

Prefixing with 'r' works very well, but it needs to be in the correct syntax. For example:

passwordFile = open(r'''C:\Users\Bob\SecretPasswordFile.txt''')



No need for \\ here – maintains readability and works well.

9 people think this answer is useful

With Python 3 I had this problem:

 self.path = 'T:\PythonScripts\Projects\Utilities'



produced this error:

 self.path = 'T:\PythonScripts\Projects\Utilities'
^
SyntaxError: (unicode error) 'unicodeescape' codec can't decode bytes in
position 25-26: truncated \UXXXXXXXX escape



the fix that worked is:

 self.path = r'T:\PythonScripts\Projects\Utilities'



It seems the ‘\U’ was producing an error and the ‘r’ preceding the string turns off the eight-character Unicode escape (for a raw string) which was failing. (This is a bit of an over-simplification, but it works if you don’t care about unicode)

Hope this helps someone

5 people think this answer is useful

Or you could replace ‘\’ with ‘/’ in the path.

4 people think this answer is useful

I had this same error in python 3.2.

I have script for email sending and:

csv.reader(open('work_dir\uslugi1.csv', newline='', encoding='utf-8'))



when I remove first char in file uslugi1.csv works fine.

4 people think this answer is useful
path = pd.read_csv(**'C:\Users\mravi\Desktop\filename'**)


The error is because of the path that is mentioned

Add 'r' before the path

path = pd.read_csv(**r'C:\Users\mravi\Desktop\filename'**)


This would work fine.

3 people think this answer is useful

Refer to openpyxl document, you can do changes as followings.

from openpyxl import Workbook
from openpyxl.drawing.image import Image

wb = Workbook()
ws = wb.active
ws['A1'] = 'Insert a xxx.PNG'
img = Image(**r**'x:\xxx\xxx\xxx.png')
# Insert to worksheet and anchor next to cells
wb.save(**r**'x:\xxx\xxx.xlsx')



I had this error. I have a main python script which calls in functions from another, 2nd, python script. At the end of the first script I had a comment block designated with ''' '''. I was getting this error because of this commenting code block. I repeated the error multiple times once I found it to ensure this was the error, & it was. I am still unsure why.