What is file pointer in C?

In C programming, a file pointer is a crucial concept that represents the current position within a file during reading or writing operations. It keeps track of the location where data is being read from or written to.

File Pointer Declaration

A file pointer is declared as a pointer to a FILE structure, typically using the FILE* data type.

FILE* filePointer;

Opening a File with a File Pointer

When you open a file using fopen, the file pointer is assigned the address of the FILE structure representing the opened file.

FILE* filePointer = fopen("example.txt", "r"); if (filePointer == NULL) { perror("File opening failed"); return 1; }

File Position Indicator (ftell)

The ftell function returns the current position of the file pointer within the file.

long position = ftell(filePointer); printf("Current position in the file: %ld\n", position);

Seeking to a Specific Position (fseek)

The fseek function is used to move the file pointer to a specific position within the file. It takes three arguments: the file pointer, the offset (in bytes), and the origin (e.g., SEEK_SET for the beginning of the file).

fseek(filePointer, 0L, SEEK_SET); // Move to the beginning of the file

Rewinding to the Beginning of the File (rewind)

The rewind function is a shorthand way to move the file pointer to the beginning of the file.

rewind(filePointer); // Move to the beginning of the file

Custom File Pointer Movement

You can move the file pointer manually by reading or writing data. The file pointer advances automatically with each read or write operation.

char buffer[100]; while (fgets(buffer, sizeof(buffer), filePointer) != NULL) { // Process the line }

The following example shows how to open a file for reading, read a line of text from the file, and then close the file.

#include <stdio.h> int main() { FILE *fp; char line[100]; fp = fopen("my_file.txt", "r"); if (fp == NULL) { printf("Error opening file.\n"); return 1; } fgets(line, sizeof(line), fp); printf("%s\n", line); fclose(fp); return 0; }

This program will read the first line of the file my_file.txt and print it to the console.

It's important to be cautious when manipulating the file pointer to ensure you don't read or write data beyond the file's boundaries, as this can lead to unexpected behavior or data corruption. Proper error handling should also be in place to manage issues related to file operations.


File pointers are an important part of C programming. They allow us to read and write data to files. To use a file pointer, we must first declare it using the FILE type. We can then open a file for reading or writing using the fopen() function. Once a file is open, we can use the file pointer to read and write data to the file. Finally, when we are finished reading and writing data to the file, we should close it using the fclose() function.