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How to display UTF-8 characters in phpMyAdmin?

Posted by: admin November 1, 2017 Leave a comment


I have my database properly set to UTF-8 and am dealing with a database containing Japanese characters. If I do SELECT *… from the mysql command line, I properly see the Japanese characters. When pulling data out of the database and displaying it on a webpage, I see it properly.

However, when viewing the table data in phpMyAdmin, I just see garbage text. ie.


How can I get phpMyAdmin to display the characters in Japanese?

The character encoding on the HTML page is set to UTF-8.


I have tried an export of my database and opened up the .sql file in geany. The characters are still garbled even though the encoding is set to UTF-8. (However, doing a mysqldump of the database also shows garbled characters).

The character set is set correctly for the database and all tables (‘latin’ is not found anywhere in the file)


I have added the lines to my.cnf and restarted mysql but there is no change. I am using Zend Framework to insert data into the database.

I am going to open a bounty for this question as I really want to figure this out.


Unfortunately, phpMyAdmin is one of the first php application that talk to MySQL about charset correctly. Your problem is most likely due to the fact that the database does not store the correct UTF-8 strings at first place.

In order to correctly display the characters correctly in phpMyAdmin, the data must be correctly stored in the database. However, convert the database into correct charset often breaks web apps that does not aware charset-related feature provided by MySQL.

May I ask: is MySQL > version 4.1? What web app is the database for? phpBB? Was the database migrated from an older version of the web app, or an older version of MySQL?

My suggestion is not to brother if the web app you are using is too old and not supported. Only convert database to real UTF-8 if you are sure the web app can read them correctly.


Your MySQL is > 4.1, that means it’s charset-aware. What’s the charset collation settings for you database? I am pretty sure you are using latin1, which is MySQL name for ASCII, to store the UTF-8 text in ‘bytes’, into the database.

For charset-insensitive clients (i.e. mysql-cli and php-mod-mysql), characters get displayed correctly since they are being transfer to/from database as bytes. In phpMyAdmin, bytes get read and displayed as ASCII characters, that’s the garbage text you seem.

Countless hours had been spend years ago (2005?) when MySQL 4.0 went obsolete, in many parts of Asia. There is a standard way to deal with your problem and gobbled data:

  1. Back up your database as .sql
  2. Open it up in UTF-8 capable text editor, make sure they look correct.
  3. Look for charset collation latin1_general_ci, replace latin1 to utf8.
  4. Save as a new sql file, do not overwrite your backup
  5. Import the new file, they will now look correctly in phpMyAdmin, and Japanese on your web app will become question marks. That’s normal.
  6. For your php web app that rely on php-mod-mysql, insert mysql_query("SET NAMES UTF8"); after mysql_connect(), now the question marks will be gone.
  7. Add the following configuration my.ini for mysql-cli:


For more information about charset on MySQL, please refer to manual:

Note that I assume your web app is using php-mod-mysql to connect to the database (hence the mysql_connect() function), since php-mod-mysql is the only extension I can think of that still trigger the problem TO THIS DAY.

phpMyAdmin use php-mod-mysqli to connect to MySQL. I never learned how to use it because switch to frameworks* to develop my php projects. I strongly encourage you do that too.

  • Many frameworks, e.g. CodeIgniter, Zend, use mysqli or pdo to connect to databases. mod-mysql functions are considered obsolete cause performance and scalability issue. Also, you do not want to tie your project to a specific type of database.

If you’re using PDO don’t forget to initiate it with UTF8:

$con = new PDO(‘mysql:host=’ . $server . ‘;dbname=’ . $db . ‘;charset=UTF8’, $user, $pass, array(PDO::MYSQL_ATTR_INIT_COMMAND => “SET NAMES utf8”));

(just spent 5 hours to figure this out, hope it will save someone precious time…)


I did a little more googling and came across this page

The command doesn’t seem to make sense but I tried it anyway:

In the file /usr/share/phpmyadmin/libraries/dbi/mysqli.dbi.lib.php at the end of function PMA_DBI_connect() just before the return statement I added:

mysqli_query($link, "SET SESSION CHARACTER_SET_RESULTS =latin1;");
mysqli_query($link, "SET SESSION CHARACTER_SET_CLIENT =latin1;");

And it works! I now see Japanese characters in phpMyAdmin. WTF? Why does this work?


I had the same problem,

Set all text/varchar collations in phpMyAdmin to utf-8 and in php files add this:

mysql_set_charset(“utf8”, $your_connection_name);

This solved it for me.


the solution for this can be as easy as :

  1. find the phpmysqladmin connection function/method
  2. add this after database is conncted $db_conect->set_charset('utf8');

Here is my way how do I restore the data without looseness from latin1 to utf8:

     * Fixes the data in the database that was inserted into latin1 table using utf8 encoding.
     * DO NOT execute "SET NAMES UTF8" after mysql_connect.
     * Your encoding should be the same as when you firstly inserted the data.
     * In my case I inserted all my utf8 data into LATIN1 tables.
     * The data in tables was like ДЕТСКИÐ.
     * But my page presented the data correctly, without "SET NAMES UTF8" query.
     * But phpmyadmin did not present it correctly.
     * So this is hack how to convert your data to the correct UTF8 format.
     * Execute this code just ONCE!
     * Don't forget to make backup first!
    public function fixIncorrectUtf8DataInsertedByLatinEncoding() {
        // mysql_query("SET NAMES LATIN1") or die(mysql_error()); #uncomment this if you already set UTF8 names somewhere

        // get all tables in the database
        $tables = array();
        $query = mysql_query("SHOW TABLES");
        while ($t = mysql_fetch_row($query)) {
            $tables[] = $t[0];
        // you need to set explicit tables if not all tables in your database are latin1 charset
        // $tables = array('mytable1', 'mytable2', 'mytable3'); # uncomment this if you want to set explicit tables

        // duplicate tables, and copy all data from the original tables to the new tables with correct encoding
        // the hack is that data retrieved in correct format using latin1 names and inserted again utf8
        foreach ($tables as $table)  {
            $temptable = $table . '_temp';
            mysql_query("CREATE TABLE $temptable LIKE $table") or die(mysql_error());
            mysql_query("ALTER TABLE $temptable CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci") or die(mysql_error());
            $query = mysql_query("SELECT * FROM `$table`") or die(mysql_error());
            mysql_query("SET NAMES UTF8") or die(mysql_error());
            while ($row = mysql_fetch_row($query)) {
                $values = implode("', '", $row);
                mysql_query("INSERT INTO `$temptable` VALUES('$values')") or die(mysql_error());
            mysql_query("SET NAMES LATIN1") or die(mysql_error());

        // drop old tables and rename temporary tables
        // this actually should work, but it not, then
        // comment out this lines if this would not work for you and try to rename tables manually with phpmyadmin
        foreach ($tables as $table)  {
            $temptable = $table . '_temp';
            mysql_query("DROP TABLE `$table`") or die(mysql_error());
            mysql_query("ALTER TABLE `$temptable` RENAME `$table`") or die(mysql_error());
        // now you data should be correct

        // change the database character set
        mysql_query("ALTER DATABASE DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci") or die(mysql_error());

        // now you can use "SET NAMES UTF8" in your project and mysql will use corrected data


First, from the client do

mysql> SHOW VARIABLES LIKE 'character_set%';

This will give you something like

| Variable_name            | Value                      |
| character_set_client     | latin1                     | 
| character_set_connection | latin1                     | 
| character_set_database   | latin1                     | 
| character_set_filesystem | binary                     | 
| character_set_results    | latin1                     | 
| character_set_server     | latin1                     | 
| character_set_system     | utf8                       | 
| character_sets_dir       | /usr/share/mysql/charsets/ | 

where you can inspect the general settings for the client, connection, database

Then you should also inspect the columns from which you are retrieving data with


and inspecting the charset and collation of CHAR fields (though usually people do not set them explicitly, but it is possible to give CHAR[(length)] [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name] in CREATE TABLE foo ADD COLUMN foo CHAR ...)

I believe that I have listed all relevant settings on the side of mysql.
If still getting lost read fine docs and perhaps this question which might shed some light (especially how I though I got it right by looking only at mysql client in the first go).


phpmyadmin doesn’t follow the MySQL connection because it defines its proper collation in phpmyadmin config file.

So if we don’t want or if we can’t access server parameters, we should just force it to send results in a different format (encoding) compatible with client i.e. phpmyadmin

for example if both the MySQL connection collation and the MySQL charset are utf8 but phpmyadmin is ISO, we should just add this one before any select query sent to the MYSQL via phpmyadmin :



1- Open file:


2- Look for [mysqld] entry and append:

character-set-server = utf8

The whole view should look like:

  character-set-server = utf8

3- Restart MySQL service!


I had exactly the same problem. Database charset is utf-8 and collation is utf8_unicode_ci. I was able to see Unicode text in my webapp but the phpMyAdmin and sqldump results were garbled.

It turned out that the problem was in the way my web application was connecting to MySQL. I was missing the encoding flag.

After I fixed it, I was able to see Greek characters correctly in both phpMyAdmin and sqldump but lost all my previous entries.


just uncomment this lines in libraries/database_interface.lib.php

if (! empty($GLOBALS['collation_connection'])) {
       // PMA_DBI_query("SET CHARACTER SET 'utf8';", $link, PMA_DBI_QUERY_STORE);
       //PMA_DBI_query("SET collation_connection = '" .
       //PMA_sqlAddslashes($GLOBALS['collation_connection']) . "';", $link, PMA_DBI_QUERY_STORE);
} else {
       //PMA_DBI_query("SET NAMES 'utf8' COLLATE 'utf8_general_ci';", $link, PMA_DBI_QUERY_STORE);

if you store data in utf8 without storing charset you do not need phpmyadmin to re-convert again the connection. This will work.


The function and file names don’t match those in newer versions of phpMyAdmin. Here is how to fix in the newer PHPMyAdmins:

  1. Find file:

  2. In function: public function query

  3. Right after the opening { add this:

    if($link != null){
        mysqli_query($link, "SET SESSION CHARACTER_SET_RESULTS =latin1;");
        mysqli_query($link, "SET SESSION CHARACTER_SET_CLIENT =latin1;");

That’s it. Works like a charm.


Easier solution for wamp is:
go to phpMyAdmin,
click localhost,
select latin1_bin for Server connection collation,
then start to create database and table


Its realy simple to add multilanguage in myphpadmin if you got garbdata showing in myphpadmin, just go to myphpadmin click your database go to operations tab in operation tab page see collation section set it to utf8_general_ci, after that all your garbdata will show correctly. a simple and easy trick



mysql_query("SET NAMES UTF8");




It works for me,

mysqli_query($con, “SET character_set_results = ‘utf8’, character_set_client = ‘utf8’, character_set_connection = ‘utf8’, character_set_database = ‘utf8’, character_set_server = ‘utf8′”);