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Moves the file pointer to a specified location.

int fseek( 
   FILE *stream,
   long offset,
   int origin 


Pointer to FILE structure.
Number of bytes from origin.
Initial position.

Return Value

If successful, fseek returns 0. Otherwise, it returns a nonzero value. On devices incapable of seeking, the return value is undefined.


The fseek function moves the file pointer (if any) associated with stream to a new location that is offset bytes from origin. The next operation on the stream takes place at the new location. On a stream open for update, the next operation can be either a read or a write. The argument origin must be one of the following constants, defined in STDIO.H:

Current position of file pointer.
End of file.
Beginning of file.

You can use fseek to reposition the pointer anywhere in a file. The pointer can also be positioned beyond the end of the file. fseek clears the end-of-file indicator and negates the effect of any prior ungetc calls against stream.

When a file is opened for appending data, the current file position is determined by the last I/O operation, not by where the next write would occur. If no I/O operation has yet occurred on a file opened for appending, the file position is the start of the file.

For streams opened in text mode, fseek has limited use, because carriage return–linefeed translations can cause fseek to produce unexpected results. The only fseek operations guaranteed to work on streams opened in text mode are:

  • Seeking with an offset of 0 relative to any of the origin values.
  • Seeking from the beginning of the file with an offset value returned from a call to ftell.

Also in text mode, CTRL+Z is interpreted as an end-of-file character on input. In files opened for reading/writing, fopen and all related routines check for a CTRL+Z at the end of the file and remove it if possible. This is done because using fseek and ftell to move within a file that ends with a CTRL+Z may cause fseek to behave improperly near the end of the file.


Function Required header Compatibility
fseek <stdio.h> ANSI, Win 98, Win Me, Win NT, Win 2000, Win XP

For additional compatibility information, see Compatibility in the Introduction.


All versions of the C run-time libraries.


// crt_fseek.c
/* This program opens the file FSEEK.OUT and
 * moves the pointer to the file's beginning.

#include <stdio.h>

int main( void )
   FILE *stream;
   char line[81];
   int  result;

   stream = fopen( "fseek.out", "w+" );
   if( stream == NULL )
      printf( "The file fseek.out was not opened\n" );
      fprintf( stream, "The fseek begins here: "
                       "This is the file 'fseek.out'.\n" );
      result = fseek( stream, 23L, SEEK_SET);
      if( result )
         perror( "Fseek failed" );
         printf( "File pointer is set to middle of first line.\n" );
         fgets( line, 80, stream );
         printf( "%s", line );

      fclose( stream );


File pointer is set to middle of first line.
This is the file 'fseek.out'.

See Also

Stream I/O Routines | ftell | _lseek | rewind | Run-Time Routines and .NET Framework Equivalents