How to convert a string to utf-8 in Python


I have a browser which sends utf-8 characters to my Python server, but when I retrieve it from the query string, the encoding that Python returns is ASCII. How can I convert the plain string to utf-8?

NOTE: The string passed from the web is already UTF-8 encoded, I just want to make Python to treat it as UTF-8 not ASCII.

Answer rating: 288

In Python 2

>>> plain_string = "Hi!"
>>> unicode_string = u"Hi!"
>>> type(plain_string), type(unicode_string)
(<type "str">, <type "unicode">)

^ This is the difference between a byte string (plain_string) and a unicode string.

>>> s = "Hello!"
>>> u = unicode(s, "utf-8")

^ Converting to unicode and specifying the encoding.

In Python 3

All strings are unicode. The unicode function does not exist anymore. See answer from @Noumenon

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