(PHP 5, PHP 7, PHP 8)

stream_get_contentsReads remainder of a stream into a string


stream_get_contents(resource $stream, ?int $length = null, int $offset = -1): string|false

Identical to file_get_contents(), except that stream_get_contents() operates on an already open stream resource and returns the remaining contents in a string, up to length bytes and starting at the specified offset.


stream (resource)

A stream resource (e.g. returned from fopen())

length (int)

The maximum bytes to read. Defaults to null (read all the remaining buffer).

offset (int)

Seek to the specified offset before reading. If this number is negative, no seeking will occur and reading will start from the current position.

Return Values

Returns a string or false on failure.


Version Description
8.0.0 length is now nullable.


Example #1 stream_get_contents() example


if ($stream = fopen('', 'r')) {
// print all the page starting at the offset 10
echo stream_get_contents($stream, -1, 10);


if (
$stream = fopen('', 'r')) {
// print the first 5 bytes
echo stream_get_contents($stream, 5);




Note: This function is binary-safe.


When specifying a length value other than null, this function will immediately allocate an internal buffer of that size even if the actual contents are significantly shorter.

See Also

  • fgets() - Gets line from file pointer
  • fread() - Binary-safe file read
  • fpassthru() - Output all remaining data on a file pointer

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User Contributed Notes 4 notes

vasiliy at hotger dot com
12 years ago
It is important to know that stream_get_contents behaves differently with different versions of PHP. Consider the following


= fopen('file', 'w+'); // truncate + attempt to create
fwrite($handle, '12345'); // file position > 0
rewind($handle); // position = 0
$content = stream_get_contents($handle); // file position = 0 in PHP 5.1.6, file position > 0 in PHP 5.2.17!
fwrite($handle, '6789');

* 'file' content
* PHP 5.1.6:
* 67895
* PHP 5.2.17:
* 123456789

As a result, stream_get_contents() affects file position in 5.1, and do not affect file position in 5.2 or better.
clarck dot smith at gmail dot com
12 years ago
In that case when stream_get_contents/fread/fgets or other stream reading functions block indefinitely your script because they don't reached the limit of bytes to read use the socket_get_meta_data function to figure out the number of the bytes to read. It returns an array that contains a key named 'unread_bytes' and then pass that number to your favourite stream reading functions second parameter to read from the stream.

Maybe a good workaround to use the stream_select function, and set the socket to non-blocking mode with the use of stream_set_blocking($stream, 0). In this case the socket reading functions work properly.

Cheers, Ervin
m rahman
13 years ago
When omitting the parameter $maxlength, any received bytes are stacked up until the underlying stream is not readable anymore, the the function returns that stack in one piece.
fearpro13 at gmail dot com
7 months ago
It states that $length parameter which value is null is intended to read all remaining contents from $stream
However, example listed under docs uses -1 as $length parameter to achieve such behavior

Recently i had to start few commands from php7.4 and read content from them, proc_open was used to create processes.
Both output[1] and error[2] pipes were set to non-blocking mode. For some unknown reason sometimes process error[2] channel was available, sometimes not(it was empty string).

After some investigation it was found that stream_get_contents works just great with -1 as a $length value instead of null if you are trying to get all remaining buffer.
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