How to Make the JavaScript "atob()" Method Work With Multibyte Strings?

The JavaScript atob() method decodes a Base64-encoded ASCII string. For encoded characters that are within the range of ASCII or Latin-1 character sets, atob() correctly returns the decoded string:

atob('Zm9vYmFy'); // 'foobar'

However, for encoded characters that are beyond the range of ASCII or Latin-1 character sets, atob() returns a binary string:

atob('8J+mig=='); // 'ð\x9F¦\x8A'
atob('44GT44KT44Gr44Gh44Gv'); // 'ã\x81\x93ã\x82\x93ã\x81«ã\x81¡ã\x81¯'

The binary string still needs to be converted back to the original, human-readable form. One way to properly decode multibyte Base64-encoded string is to create a custom function that:

  1. Creates a Uint8Array of byte sequence from the binary string, and;
  2. Returns a stream of code points that can be decoded to output the original string.

You can implement this, for example, like so:

function fromBinaryStr(binary) {
  // 1: create an array of bytes
  const bytes = Uint8Array.from({ length: binary.length }, (_, index) =>

  // 2: decode the byte data into a string
  const decoder = new TextDecoder('utf-8');
  return decoder.decode(bytes);

console.log(fromBinaryStr(atob('8J+mig=='))); // '🦊'
console.log(fromBinaryStr(atob('44GT44KT44Gr44Gh44Gv'))); // 'こんにちは'
console.log(fromBinaryStr(atob('Zm9vYmFy'))); // 'foobar'

In this code, the fromBinaryStr() function takes a decoded binary string (returned by atob()) as input and returns the original string.

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