java – Most efficient way to make the first character of a String lower case?

java – Most efficient way to make the first character of a String lower case?

I tested the promising approaches using JMH. Full benchmark code.

Assumption during the tests (to avoid checking the corner cases every time): the input String length is always greater than 1.


Benchmark           Mode  Cnt         Score        Error  Units
MyBenchmark.test1  thrpt   20  10463220.493 ± 288805.068  ops/s
MyBenchmark.test2  thrpt   20  14730158.709 ± 530444.444  ops/s
MyBenchmark.test3  thrpt   20  16079551.751 ±  56884.357  ops/s
MyBenchmark.test4  thrpt   20   9762578.446 ± 584316.582  ops/s
MyBenchmark.test5  thrpt   20   6093216.066 ± 180062.872  ops/s
MyBenchmark.test6  thrpt   20   2104102.578 ±  18705.805  ops/s

The score are operations per second, the more the better.


  1. test1 was first Andys and Hllinks approach:

    string = Character.toLowerCase(string.charAt(0)) + string.substring(1);
  2. test2 was second Andys approach. It is also Introspector.decapitalize() suggested by Daniel, but without two if statements. First if was removed because of the testing assumption. The second one was removed, because it was violating correctness (i.e. input HI would return HI). This was almost the fastest.

    char c[] = string.toCharArray();
    c[0] = Character.toLowerCase(c[0]);
    string = new String(c);
  3. test3 was a modification of test2, but instead of Character.toLowerCase(), I was adding 32, which works correctly if and only if the string is in ASCII. This was the fastest. c[0] |= from Mikes comment gave the same performance.

    char c[] = string.toCharArray();
    c[0] += 32;
    string = new String(c);
  4. test4 used StringBuilder.

    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder(string);
    sb.setCharAt(0, Character.toLowerCase(sb.charAt(0)));
    string = sb.toString();
  5. test5 used two substring() calls.

    string = string.substring(0, 1).toLowerCase() + string.substring(1);
  6. test6 uses reflection to change char value[] directly in String. This was the slowest.

    try {
        Field field = String.class.getDeclaredField(value);
        char[] value = (char[]) field.get(string);
        value[0] = Character.toLowerCase(value[0]);
    } catch (IllegalAccessException e) {
    } catch (NoSuchFieldException e) {


If the String length is always greater than 0, use test2.

If not, we have to check the corner cases:

public static String decapitalize(String string) {
    if (string == null || string.length() == 0) {
        return string;

    char c[] = string.toCharArray();
    c[0] = Character.toLowerCase(c[0]);

    return new String(c);

If you are sure that your text will be always in ASCII and you are looking for extreme performance because you found this code in the bottleneck, use test3.

I came across a nice alternative if you dont want to use a third-party library:

import java.beans.Introspector;

Assert.assertEquals(someInputString, Introspector.decapitalize(SomeInputString));

java – Most efficient way to make the first character of a String lower case?

When it comes to string manipulation take a look to Jakarta Commons Lang StringUtils.

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