Remove BOM mark from text files in Python

16 Mar

In working with Tensorflow and TFLearn on Windows I frequently run into a problem with my source data files being encoded as UTF-8 with a BOM header.  A BOM is a byte order mark, a single unicode character that prefaces the file.  Many data loading utilities load with the incorrect encoding and will throw a ValueError about this unexpected character.

The large files often used as training data can be challenging to open/re-encode properly so I created this method to rewrite the file in-place without the BOM mark.

import os, sys, codecs

def remove_bom_inplace(path):
    """Removes BOM mark, if it exists, from a file and rewrites it in-place"""
    buffer_size = 4096
    bom_length = len(codecs.BOM_UTF8)

    with open(path, "r+b") as fp:
        chunk =
        if chunk.startswith(codecs.BOM_UTF8):
            i = 0
            chunk = chunk[bom_length:]
            while chunk:
                i += len(chunk)
      , os.SEEK_CUR)
                chunk =
  , os.SEEK_CUR)

I actually use this in my TFLearn training scripts automatically, like this:

    data, labels = load_csv(...)
except ValueError:
    data, labels = load_csv(...)

Such that any BOM related error during loading attempts a repair of the file, and a retry automatically.

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