How to Convert a Simple EBCDIC File

See how easy it is with vEdit

vEdit can translate almost any EBCDIC file, from simple to complex. We've never found one it couldn't translate, and we've been at it since the late 1990s. vEdit is an easy-to-use file editor that includes a huge library of macros. If you don't already have vEdit, download the free 30-day trial here and install it.

You can translate EBCDIC files without packed-decimal fields with any version of vEdit. If your file has packed fields or other advanced features, add the Level 2, 3 or 4 EBCDIC converter. The vEdit trial includes a free 30-day trial of the Level 2 EBCDIC Converter that you can run in the interface or in batch mode.

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How Convert and Format Simple EBCDIC to ASCII with vEdit


  1. These instructions are for simple EBCDIC files that do not contain packed fields. The documentation that comes with the Level-2 conversion package tells you how to translate more complex files. But it's still quick and easy with vEdit.
  2. There is no equivalent of most IBM PC graphics characters. If you translate a file to EBCDIC and then back again to ASCII, you may not have the same file again. Some punctuation and most control and graphics characters will have changed. In this case, you may prefer to edit the file in EBCDIC without translating it.

Convert the EBCDIC to ASCII

Translate the file from EBCDIC to ASCII and optionally format it in a few simple steps.

  1. Open the EBCDIC file in vEdit
    • Click File > Open...
  2. Translate the file to ASCII
    • Click EDIT > Translate > Translate from EBCDIC
  3. Save the converted file so you don't overwrite the original
    • Click File > Save as... and give it a new name or file extension.

That's it! Your EBCDIC file is now in ASCII! You can also format the file so it's easier to read in Windows. See below.

Optionally Format the ASCII Data

If the original EBCDIC file had fixed-length records without end-of-record characters, you may want to add an ASCII Newline (Carriage Return and Line Feed) to the end of each record so Windows / DOS programs can more easily read it.

  1. Mark the entire file as a block
    • Click Block > Select all
  2. Set the record length:
    • Click CONFIG > File handling...
    • In the File type box, enter the length of the EBCDIC records and click Close
  3. Add newline characters: Click EDIT > Convert > CONVERT macro.
    • Enter the code for Fixed length records to Newlines and click OK.
    • In the next dialog, enter the type of newline that you want.

The file should now be much more readable. Don't forget to save it.

How to Convert from ASCII to EBCDIC

You can also use vEdit to translate an ASCII file to EBCDIC:

  • Click EDIT > Translate > Translate to EBCDIC

The EBCDIC translation table is built into vEdit. However, for custom needs you can modify the EBCDIC.TBL file and then load the revised EBCDIC translation table into vEdit. This supports various International code-pages for both ASCII and EBCDIC.

Since IBM PC ASCII and EBCDIC have somewhat different character sets, not all characters will translate without problems.