Peek into an unknown binary file
Updated 18 Oct 2016

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A helpful colleague sent you the data you requested. It's a forward of a forward of an email from the grad student (now a peace corp volunteer in Africa) that took the measurements in 1992. The attached file has a '.xyz' extension, which your colleague is pretty sure is the format used by the mass spectrometer control software -- not the one they use now but the one they had before the lab was flooded in 1993. She thinks it contains floating point numbers. Was there some mention of an ascii header? Oh yes, the desktop running the original software was definitely a vax machine. Or maybe it was running Windows 3.1? "Well anyway, hope that helps - good luck!"
A binareader is a little gui window that simplifies opening an unknown binary file and displaying the first few lines. With options to quickly change your best guess as to what those unknown bits represent (and what machine format was used to save the file) a small preview window updates with the parsed content. For convenience, there are buttons to save the data to the workspace or to a file once the right interpretation is found.
Usage is simple. Fire up binareader, notice how ugly and feature-poor it is (don't worry this gui will not stay open for long!) and load the unknown file. Use the buttons to increase the number of suspected ascii header lines until the header preview pane includes one line of garbled nonsense -- then decrease by one line. Look at the numbers in the data preview pane. Do they kind of make sense? Use the radio buttons to try a different number format (int, float, 32 or 64 bits) or endianness. Do the numbers kind of make sense now? Save the data and exit binareader. HTH; good luck!

Cite As

Naor Movshovitz (2024). binareader (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2014b
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux
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Version Published Release Notes

Following suggestion of FEX user now supporting load of all numeric types (like uint16 etc...)
Added a button to display the command sequence for loading so user can include in script to open similar files.
Fixed bug in calculation of header bytes

Fixed typo in description