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How to use quopri.decode() in Python

Ayesha Naeem

The quopri.decode() function in Python performs quoted-printable decoding on data with few non-printable characters.

To use the quopri.encode() function, the program needs to import the quopri module as shown below:

import quopri

Prototype and parameters

The function accepts input and output as non-optional parameters.

  • The input and output parameters accept binary file objects. The quopri.decode() function decodes the input file and writes the quoted-printable decoded data to the output file.
  • The header parameter accepts a True or False value. The function decodes spaces as underscores if the header is True; otherwise, it leaves them unencoded.

Note: quopri.decode() uses False as the default value of header.


The quopri.decode() function decodes all 8-bit value characters encoded into a = and two hexadecimal digits, except printable ASCII characters. For example, =3D has a decimal value of 61 and is decoded as =.

All ASCII characters with decimal values from 33 to 126 are printable and decoded as well as encoded as themselves. An exception is = with an ASCII value of 61.

A space with ASCII value 9 and a tab with ASCII value 32 can be encoded as themselves.


The following code demonstrates the use of the quopri.decode() function:

import quopri
from io import BytesIO


#example text
text = 'This text contains ünicöde'

#create binary input file
inputFile= BytesIO((text).encode('utf-8'))

#create binary output file
outputFile = BytesIO()

#generate encoding
quopri.encode(inputFile, outputFile, quotetabs = True)

#extract file content


#create binary output file
outputFile2 = BytesIO()

#create binary input file
inputFile2 = BytesIO(b'This=20text=20contains=20=C3=BCnic=C3=B6de')

#generate decoded data
quopri.decode(inputFile2, outputFile2)

#extract output
output = outputFile2.getvalue()

#extract text

The example text contains two non-printable characters and three spaces.

The program creates input and output files using the BytesIO module. BytesIO creates an in-memory binary file-like object. Once created, the program can read from and write to it like a regular file.

The program displays the output through the getValue() function, which extracts the file’s contents.

  • The first part of the program takes the example input and generates its quoted-printable encoding through the quopri.encode() function.
  • The spaces are encoded as =20 because the quotetabs parameter was True during encoding. The program encodes Unicode characters ü and ö as =C3=BC and =C3=B6 respectively.
  • The encoded form is given as an input to the quopri.decode() function.
  • The displayed decoded result is identical to the example text.

Note: utf-8 encoding of Unicode characters can take up to four bytes.




Ayesha Naeem
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