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Reading and writing files in Java (Input/Output) - Tutorial

Lars Vogel

Version 1.2


Java Input Output

This tutorial explains how to read and write files via Java.

Table of Contents

1. Java I/O (Input / Output) for files
1.1. Overview
1.2. Reading a file in Java
1.3. Reading and filtering line by line
1.4. Writing a file in Java
1.5. How to identify the current directory
2. Exercise: Reading and writing files
3. Reading resources out of your project / jar
4. About this website
5. Links and Literature

1. Java I/O (Input / Output) for files

1.1. Overview

Java provides a standard way of reading from and writing to files. Traditionally the package was used, but in modern Java applications you use the java.nio.file API.

Java will read all input as a stream of bytes. The InputStream class is the superclass of all classes representing an input stream of bytes.

1.2. Reading a file in Java

To read a text file you can use the Files.readAllBytes method. The usage of this method is demonstrated in the following listing.

import java.nio.file.Files;
import java.nio.file.Paths;

// somewhere in your code
String content = new String(Files.readAllBytes(Paths.get(fileName))); 

To read a text file line by line into a List of type String structure you can use the Files.readAllLines method.

List<String> lines = Files.readAllLines(Paths.get(fileName)); 

Files.readAllLines uses UTF-8 character encoding. It also ensures that file is closed after all bytes are read or in case an exception occurred.

1.3. Reading and filtering line by line

The Files.lines method allows read a file line by line, offering a stream. This stream can be filtered and mapped. Files.lines does not close the file once its content is read, therefore it should be wrapped inside a try-with-resource statement.

In the following example unnecessary whitespace at the end of each line is removed and empty lines are filterer.

//read all lines and remove whitespace (trim)
//filter empty lines
//and print result to System.out

Files.lines(new File("input.txt").toPath())
  .map(s -> s.trim())
 .filter(s -> !s.isEmpty())

The next example demonstrates how to filter out lines based on a certain regular expression.

Files.lines(new File("input.txt").toPath())
  .map(s -> s.trim())
 .filter(s -> !s.matches("yourregularexpression"))

1.4. Writing a file in Java

To write a file you can use the following method:

Files.write(Paths.get(fileName), content.getBytes(), StandardOpenOption.CREATE); 

1.5. How to identify the current directory

You can access files relative to the current execution directory of your Java program. To print the current directory in which your Java program is running, you can use the following statement.


2. Exercise: Reading and writing files

Create a new Java project called Create the following class.


import java.nio.file.Files;
import java.nio.file.Paths;
import java.nio.file.StandardOpenOption;
import java.util.List;

public class FilesUtil {
  public static String readTextFile(String fileName) throws IOException {
    String content = new String(Files.readAllBytes(Paths.get(fileName)));
    return content;
  public static List<String> readTextFileByLines(String fileName) throws IOException {
    List<String> lines = Files.readAllLines(Paths.get(fileName));
    return lines;
  public static void writeToTextFile(String fileName, String content) throws IOException {
    Files.write(Paths.get(fileName), content.getBytes(), StandardOpenOption.CREATE);

To test these methods, create a text file called file.txt with some content in your project folder. Create the following Main class and run it.


import java.nio.file.Path;
import java.nio.file.Paths;

public class Main {
  public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
    String input = FilesUtil.readTextFile("file.txt");
    FilesUtil.writeToTextFile("copy.txt", input);
    Path path = Paths.get("file.txt");

3. Reading resources out of your project / jar

You can read resources from your project or your jar file via the .getClass().getResourceAsStream() method chain from any object.

4. About this website

5. Links and Literature - Sun Coding Convention.