Reading and Writing to File

Your application might need to be able to read data in from a file or write data out to a file.

This might be a way of importing data or text into your application or saving preferences, settings or the current state of the application when it is closed.

With LiveCode reading from and writing to files is very simple.

The URL Keyword

As explained in the lesson Working With Text containers are sources of information. One of the LiveCode container types is URL. A URL is a container for a file (or other resource), which is on the same system the application is running on, or on another system that's accessible via the Internet.

URLs in LiveCode are written like the URLs you see in a browser. You use the URL keyword to designate a URL, enclosing the URL's name in double quotes:

put field "Info" into URL "file:myfile.txt"
get URL ""
put URL "" into field "Data"

Working with URL Contents

You use a URL like any other container. You can get the content of a URL or use its content in any expression. You can also put any data into a URL, putting data into a file that does not exist causes it to be created.

You can also use chunk expressions with URLs, as with any other type of container:

put field "Info" into line 1 of URL "file:myfile.txt
get word 10 to 15 of URL "file:myfile.txt"

The http Scheme

The http Scheme

An http URL designates a document from a web server. Put this in the script of the Try button:

on mouseUp
   put URL "" into field "text"
end mouseUp

You may have to wait a moment or two for the result to load in the field.

When you use an http URL in an expression, LiveCode downloads the URL from the server and substitutes the downloaded data for the URL.

When you put something into an http URL, LiveCode uploads the data to the web server.

An Example

An Example

Create a stack with a field called "text" and a button called "Choose file". The script of the button asks the user to choose a file and then puts the contents of that file into the field.

on mouseUp
	## Ask the user to choose a file
	answer file "Please choose a file"
	## If the dialog is not cancelled put the path to the selected file into a variable
	## Use the URL keyword to put the contents of the file into a field
	if the result is not "cancel" then
		put it into tFilename
		put url ("file:" & tFilename) into field "text"
	end if
end mouseUp

Finding the Path to Common Folders

A very common task is saving a file to, or reading a file from, a standard location. You can use the specialFolderPath function to build paths to system related folder and standard locations such as the Documents folder, desktop, preferences or home directory.

For example:

put specialFolderPath("documents") & "/Test Doc.txt" into tFilePath

This command puts the full path to a file in the documents folder called "Text Doc.txt" into the variable tFilePath. You can then use that path to read from or write to the file.


William Volkoff

Q: The following line:

put URL "http//" into field "GetText"

in the button script only produces the name of the website into the field text as in:


However, when inserted into the Messag Box, the whole website code is insterted, what is going on?

Thank you.

Hanson Schmidt-Cornelius

Hi William,

there is a little typing error in the URL. Try

Kind Regards,


Tyrone Armstead

Currently I am reading and writing to the desktop, I want to prepare the code to read within the app bundle for a standalone. How do I change the path to read within the applicaiton bundle? I am using the specialfoderpath.
Thank you

Hanson Schmidt-Cornelius

Hi Tyrone,

it really depends on what platform you intend to deploy to and the information you are reading and writing. For a mobile application you may want to consider if the data should remain available when the application is relaunched or be backed up as part of iTunes sync.
You can find out more information on what paths are available and what they do in the dictionary entry for the function "specialFolderPath".

Kind Regards,



I'm struggling with the SpecialFolderPath function to open a file.
I'm using an "open file" button and then set the special folder path that I want but I can't get it to update when the file folder opens. Can you give any example code or point me to some?

Elanor Buchanan

Hi Dave

The specialFolderPath function just returns the path to a given folder. If you want to open a file in a particular folder, for example on the desktop, you would specify the folder you want to open initially like this

answer file "Choose a file" with specialFolderPath("desktop")

When the file chooser dialog opens it will initially be set to show the files on the desktop.

I hope that helps, if this isn't quite what you need please let me know.

Kind regards.


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