I have a bytes32 that I plan to pack with 10 bytes3 at specific indexes without affecting the other bytes already set. So for instance if I had a bytes3 of 0xABCDEF into bytes32 at the index 3, it will go from this:

  ^0    ^1    ^2    ^3    ^4    ^5    ^6    ^7    ^8    ^9    ^ignore last 4 bits

to this:

  ^0    ^1    ^2    ^3    ^4    ^5    ^6    ^7    ^8    ^9    ^ignore last 4 bits

I believe this could be achieved with some bitwise magic but I'm not too familiar with it. I found an example that sets individual bits and tried to tweak it to set more than just individual bits:

bytes32 currentBytesGroup;
currentBytesGroup = currentBytesGroup | bytes3(number) << (positionWithinGroup * 24);//3 bytes = 24 bits

however this doesn't appear to be working. What am I doing wrong?

1 Answer 1


This should work.

contract ShiftDemo {
    bytes32 public s;

    function execute(bytes3 d, uint256 idx)public {
        s = s | (bytes32(d) >> (idx*8));

A few thing to note:

  • If you shift bytes3 for more than 24 bits you will get three zero bytes. The shift operators (<< and >>) don't change the base type. To properly shift you first have to cast to a larger type like bytes32.

  • bytesXX are left aligned, bytes32(0xAABBCC) results in 0xAABBCC000000..00. If you apply << for more than 24 bits you will get zero bytes. You have to use >> right shift instead.

  • Thank for you answer! It seems to work, but only if the bytes are all zeroes - if there's existing bytes where the data needs to go it doesn't overwrite correctly. I saw in another question in C here stackoverflow.com/questions/10132906/… they "mask" the bits before writing, i assume that needs to be done here somehow? Also, I have to multiply idx by 3 to take into account my chosen indexes are every 3 bytes. Feb 13, 2020 at 8:44
  • 1
    I've taken what you said and applied it with masking and now it works great for me: function replaceBytesAtIndex(bytes32 original, uint position, bytes3 toInsert) public pure returns (bytes32) { bytes3 maskBytes = 0xffffff; bytes32 mask = bytes32(maskBytes) >> ((position*3) * 8); return (~mask & original) | (bytes32(toInsert) >> ((position*3) * 8)); } Feb 13, 2020 at 8:54

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