Error Opening Project: Reference to invalid character number at line x

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This error message usually means that when reopening the AUP project file normally, Audacity finds an unexpected non-English, accented or control character at the line quoted in the error message. There are three main causes of this.
  • The project contains imported files whose metadata contains symbols that Audacity cannot display. This may create either the "(invalid token)" or "invalid character number" error
  • The project was saved containing non-English or accented characters using an old ANSI build of Audacity for Windows. ANSI builds are not properly Unicode aware, so do not support non-English or accented characters.


  1. Make a copy of the AUP project file and open it in a text editor. You can use the default Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on Mac, but in a few instances these could change the AUP file in such a way that Audacity could no longer open it. We recommend instead Notepad++ for Windows and Brackets or BBEdit for Mac.
  2. Turn word wrap off in the menus (or in TextEdit, drag the window horizontally so that lines do not wrap).
  3. In the line indicated in the error message, look for one of these:
    • projname=
    • name=
    • value=
    • title=

    then remove all characters inside the quotation marks that follow which are not a number or an A to Z letter. You could also change those characters to a number or A to Z letter. For example, a string of control characters you would want to remove or change might start with &# followed by four numbers and a semi-colon, such as &# 0 0 1 3 ;.

    For symbols there will usually be five characters between the &# and a colon.

  4. Save the changes to the .aup file.
  5. If you re-open the project and an error occurs at another line, repeat the steps above in the new line indicated in the error message.
Here is a real-world example of a corrupt line in the GENRE tag in a project where "Country" and "Western" were incorrectly separated using the control character for a horizontal tab, also missing the closing semi-colon:

<tag name="GENRE" value="Country &# 0 0 0 9 Western"/>

And the same line corrected so that the two words can be read into the project:

<tag name="GENRE" value="Country, Western"/>
Warning icon

If you had to rename "projname" in the AUP file, rename both the AUP project file and the corresponding _data folder so that they have the same name as "projname" in the AUP file.