How to convert UTF-8 byte[] to string?


I have a byte[] array that is loaded from a file that I happen to known contains UTF-8.

In some debugging code, I need to convert it to a string. Is there a one liner that will do this?

Under the covers it should be just an allocation and a memcopy, so even if it is not implemented, it should be possible.

4/19/2020 1:56:53 PM

Accepted Answer

string result = System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetString(byteArray);
2/12/2015 8:19:13 PM

There're at least four different ways doing this conversion.

  1. Encoding's GetString
    , but you won't be able to get the original bytes back if those bytes have non-ASCII characters.

  2. BitConverter.ToString
    The output is a "-" delimited string, but there's no .NET built-in method to convert the string back to byte array.

  3. Convert.ToBase64String
    You can easily convert the output string back to byte array by using Convert.FromBase64String.
    Note: The output string could contain '+', '/' and '='. If you want to use the string in a URL, you need to explicitly encode it.

  4. HttpServerUtility.UrlTokenEncode
    You can easily convert the output string back to byte array by using HttpServerUtility.UrlTokenDecode. The output string is already URL friendly! The downside is it needs System.Web assembly if your project is not a web project.

A full example:

byte[] bytes = { 130, 200, 234, 23 }; // A byte array contains non-ASCII (or non-readable) characters

string s1 = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(bytes); // ���
byte[] decBytes1 = Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(s1);  // decBytes1.Length == 10 !!
// decBytes1 not same as bytes
// Using UTF-8 or other Encoding object will get similar results

string s2 = BitConverter.ToString(bytes);   // 82-C8-EA-17
String[] tempAry = s2.Split('-');
byte[] decBytes2 = new byte[tempAry.Length];
for (int i = 0; i < tempAry.Length; i++)
    decBytes2[i] = Convert.ToByte(tempAry[i], 16);
// decBytes2 same as bytes

string s3 = Convert.ToBase64String(bytes);  // gsjqFw==
byte[] decByte3 = Convert.FromBase64String(s3);
// decByte3 same as bytes

string s4 = HttpServerUtility.UrlTokenEncode(bytes);    // gsjqFw2
byte[] decBytes4 = HttpServerUtility.UrlTokenDecode(s4);
// decBytes4 same as bytes

A general solution to convert from byte array to string when you don't know the encoding:

static string BytesToStringConverted(byte[] bytes)
    using (var stream = new MemoryStream(bytes))
        using (var streamReader = new StreamReader(stream))
            return streamReader.ReadToEnd();


public static string ConvertByteToString(this byte[] source)
    return source != null ? System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetString(source) : null;


string result = input.ConvertByteToString();

Converting a byte[] to a string seems simple but any kind of encoding is likely to mess up the output string. This little function just works without any unexpected results:

private string ToString(byte[] bytes)
    string response = string.Empty;

    foreach (byte b in bytes)
        response += (Char)b;

    return response;

Using (byte)b.ToString("x2"), Outputs b4b5dfe475e58b67

public static class Ext {

    public static string ToHexString(this byte[] hex)
        if (hex == null) return null;
        if (hex.Length == 0) return string.Empty;

        var s = new StringBuilder();
        foreach (byte b in hex) {
        return s.ToString();

    public static byte[] ToHexBytes(this string hex)
        if (hex == null) return null;
        if (hex.Length == 0) return new byte[0];

        int l = hex.Length / 2;
        var b = new byte[l];
        for (int i = 0; i < l; ++i) {
            b[i] = Convert.ToByte(hex.Substring(i * 2, 2), 16);
        return b;

    public static bool EqualsTo(this byte[] bytes, byte[] bytesToCompare)
        if (bytes == null && bytesToCompare == null) return true; // ?
        if (bytes == null || bytesToCompare == null) return false;
        if (object.ReferenceEquals(bytes, bytesToCompare)) return true;

        if (bytes.Length != bytesToCompare.Length) return false;

        for (int i = 0; i < bytes.Length; ++i) {
            if (bytes[i] != bytesToCompare[i]) return false;
        return true;


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