Renaming files with strange characters in dired-mode [was: Re: control character file names]

Giorgos Keramidas keramida at
Mon Dec 15 06:07:58 PST 2008

On Mon, 15 Dec 2008 05:59:02 -0800, Noah <admin2 at> wrote:
>> If you have customized `dired-listing-switches' try reverting it to a
>> simpler set of options, like:
>>     (setq-default dired-listing-switches "-lFa")
>> The -b and -B options tend to confuse dired about what the *real*
>> filename is, and may trigger this sort of error.
> thanks I placed that setq option in my .emacs and that works for
> renaming files and directories containing control character.  I am
> unable to rename a directory that has nine '?'.
> What setq modification will allow emacs to change those type filenames?

This seems like a dired problem.  Are the characters _really_ the
question mark character, or are they merely characters that are
un-displayable in the current coding system?

What do you see when you move the point on that filename and then type
`C-u C-x ='?  If the characters are really the question mark, then the
informational buffer that pops up should include something like this:

|         character: ? (63, #o77, #x3f)
| preferred charset: ascii (ASCII (ISO646 IRV))
|        code point: 0x3F
|            syntax: . 	which means: punctuation
|          category: a:ASCII
| ASCII graphic characters 32-126 (ISO646 IRV:1983[4/0]) l:Latin r:Roman
| Japanese roman
|       buffer code: #x3F
|         file code: #x3F (encoded by coding system utf-8-emacs-unix)
|           display: terminal code #x3F
| Character code properties: customize what to show
|   general-category: Po (Punctuation, Other)
| There are text properties here:
|   fontified            t

ASCII code 63 (octal #o77, hex #x3f) in this case is the question-mark

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