freopen, _wfreopen

Reassigns a file pointer. More secure versions of these functions are available; see freopen_s, _wfreopen_s.


FILE *freopen(
   const char *path,
   const char *mode,
   FILE *stream
FILE *_wfreopen(
   const wchar_t *path,
   const wchar_t *mode,
   FILE *stream


Path of new file.

Type of access permitted.

Pointer to FILE structure.

Return Value

Each of these functions returns a pointer to the newly opened file. If an error occurs, the original file is closed and the function returns a NULL pointer value. If path, mode, or stream is a null pointer, or if filename is an empty string, these functions invoke the invalid parameter handler, as described in Parameter Validation. If execution is allowed to continue, these functions set errno to EINVAL and return NULL.

For more information on these, and other, error codes, see _doserrno, errno, _sys_errlist, and _sys_nerr.


More secure versions of these functions exist, see freopen_s, _wfreopen_s.

The freopen function closes the file currently associated with stream and reassigns stream to the file specified by path. _wfreopen is a wide-character version of _freopen; the path and mode arguments to _wfreopen are wide-character strings. _wfreopen and _freopen behave identically otherwise.

By default, this function's global state is scoped to the application. To change this, see Global state in the CRT.

Generic-Text Routine Mappings

TCHAR.H routine _UNICODE & _MBCS not defined _MBCS defined _UNICODE defined
_tfreopen freopen freopen _wfreopen

freopen is typically used to redirect the pre-opened files stdin, stdout, and stderr to files specified by the user. The new file associated with stream is opened with mode, which is a character string specifying the type of access requested for the file, as follows:

mode Access
"r" Opens for reading. If the file doesn't exist or cannot be found, the freopen call fails.
"w" Opens an empty file for writing. If the given file exists, its contents are destroyed.
"a" Opens for writing at the end of the file (appending) without removing the end-of-file (EOF) marker before new data is written to the file. Creates the file if it doesn't exist.
"r+" Opens for both reading and writing. The file must exist.
"w+" Opens an empty file for both reading and writing. If the file exists, its contents are destroyed.
"a+" Opens for reading and appending. The appending operation includes the removal of the EOF marker before new data is written to the file. The EOF marker isn't restored after writing is completed. Creates the file if it doesn't exist.

Use the "w" and "w+" types with care, as they can destroy existing files. Starting in C11, you can append "x" to "w" or "w+" to cause the function fail if the file exists, instead of overwriting it.

When a file is opened with the "a" or "a+" access type, all write operations take place at the end of the file. Although the file pointer can be repositioned using fseek or rewind, the file pointer is always moved back to the end of the file before any write operation is carried out. Thus, existing data cannot be overwritten.

The "a" mode doesn't remove the EOF marker before appending to the file. After appending has occurred, the MS-DOS TYPE command only shows data up to the original EOF marker and not any data appended to the file. The "a+" mode does remove the EOF marker before appending to the file. After appending, the MS-DOS TYPE command shows all data in the file. The "a+" mode is required for appending to a stream file that is terminated with the CTRL+Z EOF marker.

When the "r+", "w+", or "a+" access type is specified, both reading and writing are allowed (the file is said to be open for "update"). However, when you switch between reading and writing, there must be an intervening fsetpos, fseek, or rewind operation. The current position can be specified for the fsetpos or fseek operation, if you want. In addition to the above values, one of the following characters may be included in the mode string to specify the translation mode for new lines.

mode modifier Translation mode
t Open in text (translated) mode.
b Open in binary (untranslated) mode; translations involving carriage-return and line feed characters are suppressed.

In text (translated) mode, carriage return-line feed (CR-LF) combinations are translated into single line feed (LF) characters on input; LF characters are translated to CR-LF combinations on output. Also, CTRL+Z is interpreted as an end-of-file character on input. In files opened for reading or for writing and reading with "a+", the run-time library checks for a CTRL+Z at the end of the file and removes it, if possible. This is done because using fseek and ftell to move within a file may cause fseek to behave improperly near the end of the file. Don't use the t option if you want ANSI portability because it's a Microsoft extension.

If t or b isn't given in mode, the default translation mode is defined by the global variable _fmode. If t or b is prefixed to the argument, the function fails and returns NULL.

For a discussion of text and binary modes, see Text and Binary Mode File I/O.


Function Required header
freopen <stdio.h>
_wfreopen <stdio.h> or <wchar.h>

The console isn't supported in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. The standard stream handles that are associated with the console, stdin, stdout, and stderr, must be redirected before C run-time functions can use them in UWP apps. For more compatibility information, see Compatibility.


// crt_freopen.c
// compile with: /W3
// This program reassigns stderr to the file
// named FREOPEN.OUT and writes a line to that file.
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

FILE *stream;

int main( void )
   // Reassign "stderr" to "freopen.out":
   stream = freopen( "freopen.out", "w", stderr ); // C4996
   // Note: freopen is deprecated; consider using freopen_s instead

   if( stream == NULL )
      fprintf( stdout, "error on freopen\n" );
      fprintf( stdout, "successfully reassigned\n" ); fflush( stdout );
      fprintf( stream, "This will go to the file 'freopen.out'\n" );
      fclose( stream );
   system( "type freopen.out" );
successfully reassigned
This will go to the file 'freopen.out'

See also

Stream I/O
fclose, _fcloseall
_fdopen, _wfdopen
fopen, _wfopen
_open, _wopen