strtok, _strtok_l, wcstok, _wcstok_l, _mbstok, _mbstok_l

Finds the next token in a string, by using the current locale or a specified locale that's passed in. More secure versions of these functions are available; see strtok_s, _strtok_s_l, wcstok_s, _wcstok_s_l, _mbstok_s, _mbstok_s_l.


_mbstok and _mbstok_l cannot be used in applications that execute in the Windows Runtime. For more information, see CRT functions not supported in Universal Windows Platform apps.


char *strtok(
   char *strToken,
   const char *strDelimit
char *_strtok_l(
   char *strToken,
   const char *strDelimit,
   _locale_t locale
wchar_t *wcstok( /* Non-standard, define _CRT_NON_CONFORMING_WCSTOK to use */
   wchar_t *strToken,
   const wchar_t *strDelimit
wchar_t *wcstok(
   wchar_t *strToken,
   const wchar_t *strDelimit,
   wchar_t **context
wchar_t *_wcstok_l(
   wchar_t *strToken,
   const wchar_t *strDelimit,
   _locale_t locale
unsigned char *_mbstok(
   unsigned char *strToken,
   const unsigned char *strDelimit
unsigned char *_mbstok_l(
   unsigned char *strToken,
   const unsigned char *strDelimit,
   _locale_t locale


String containing token or tokens.

Set of delimiter characters.

Locale to use.

Points to memory used to store the internal state of the parser so that the parser can continue from where it left off the next time you call wcstok.

Return value

Returns a pointer to the next token found in strToken. The functions return NULL when no more tokens are found. Each call modifies strToken by substituting a null character for the first delimiter that occurs after the returned token.


The strtok function finds the next token in strToken. The set of characters in strDelimit specifies possible delimiters of the token to be found in strToken on the current call. wcstok and _mbstok are wide-character and multibyte-character versions of strtok. The arguments and return value of wcstok are wide-character strings. The argumets and return value of _mbstok are multibyte-character strings. These three functions behave identically otherwise.

The two argument version of wcstok isn't standard. If you need to use that version, you'll need to define _CRT_NON_CONFORMING_WCSTOK before you #include <wchar.h> (or #include <string.h>).


These functions incur a potential threat brought about by a buffer overrun problem. Buffer overrun problems are a frequent method of system attack, resulting in an unwarranted elevation of privilege. For more information, see Avoiding buffer overruns.

On the first call to strtok, the function skips leading delimiters and returns a pointer to the first token in strToken, terminating the token with a null character. More tokens can be broken out of the remainder of strToken by a series of calls to strtok. Each call to strtok modifies strToken by inserting a null character after the token returned by that call. To read the next token from strToken, call strtok with a NULL value for the strToken argument. The NULL strToken argument causes strtok to search for the next token in the modified strToken. The strDelimit argument can take any value from one call to the next so that the set of delimiters may vary.

The output value is affected by the setting of the LC_CTYPE category setting of the locale. For more information, see setlocale.

The versions of these functions without the _l suffix use the current locale for this locale-dependent behavior. The versions with the _l suffix are identical except that they use the locale parameter passed in instead. For more information, see Locale.


Each function uses a thread-local static variable for parsing the string into tokens. Therefore, multiple threads can simultaneously call these functions without undesirable effects. However, within a single thread, interleaving calls to one of these functions is highly likely to produce data corruption and inaccurate results. When parsing different strings, finish parsing one string before starting to parse the next. Also, be aware of the potential for danger when calling one of these functions from within a loop where another function is called. If the other function ends up using one of these functions, an interleaved sequence of calls will result, triggering data corruption.

By default, this function's global state is scoped to the application. To change this behavior, see Global state in the CRT.

Generic-text routine mappings

TCHAR.H routine _UNICODE and _MBCS not defined _MBCS defined _UNICODE defined
_tcstok strtok _mbstok wcstok
_tcstok _strtok_l _mbstok_l _wcstok_l


Routine Required header
strtok <string.h>
wcstok <string.h> or <wchar.h>
_wcstok_l <tchar.h>
_mbstok, _mbstok_l <mbstring.h>

For more compatibility information, see Compatibility.


// crt_strtok.c
// compile with: /W3
// In this program, a loop uses strtok
// to print all the tokens (separated by commas
// or blanks) in the string named "string".
#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>

char string[] = "A string\tof ,,tokens\nand some  more tokens";
char seps[]   = " ,\t\n";
char *token;

int main( void )
   printf( "Tokens:\n" );

   // Establish string and get the first token:
   token = strtok( string, seps ); // C4996
   // Note: strtok is deprecated; consider using strtok_s instead
   while( token != NULL )
      // While there are tokens in "string"
      printf( " %s\n", token );

      // Get next token:
      token = strtok( NULL, seps ); // C4996

See also

String manipulation
Interpretation of multibyte-character sequences
strcspn, wcscspn, _mbscspn, _mbscspn_l
strspn, wcsspn, _mbsspn, _mbsspn_l