This is a quick mockup I copy and pasted together. I imagine this being super cool and useful.

Does something like this exist already?


  • 8
    I always just use feh! I know it's not in the terminal, but it does it's job.
    – dylnmc
    Oct 10, 2015 at 6:55
  • 1
    Terminal is not for graphics, it can only display unicode characters, and do some coloring. The best you can get is ASCII art.
    – Ben
    Sep 22, 2016 at 13:01
  • 2
    I love to use the terminal for graphics with itermplot, which is unfortunately macOS only.
    – miku
    Mar 13, 2018 at 20:46
  • Is this question motivated by the little beer image in Homebrew? That's an emoji.
    – Liz
    Apr 19, 2018 at 1:51
  • If you are on an Ubuntu server trying to view them on a Mac, this works beautifully: unix.stackexchange.com/a/457076/7000 Sep 3, 2019 at 21:12

15 Answers 15


Update 2021-03-02


Viu is an image viewer that can display images using either the kitty, iterm, or libsixel approach. It also has a fallback mode to display blocky ascii images.

Update 2018-12-31

kitty icat

The all around terrific terminal emulator kitty has an icat command to display images (does not work within tmux). Kitty also enables image previews within ranger (a terminal file manager), which is the method I currently use the most often (works within tmux).

1. w3m

While the main purpose of w3m is to provide in-console web browsing, it can also be used to view images in terminal. The relevant packages to install are w3m and w3m-img (on Ubuntu at least). You then need to disable the external image viewer wither by passing -o ext_image_viewer=0 or by going into the options menu ('o') inside w3m and disable external image viewing.

Now, typing w3m <image_name> will display the image in terminal. w3m will use the entire terminal window, so you cannot see your previous commands until quitting w3m (think less, not cat). Note that if the image is to big to fit the terminal window, it will still be opened externally (in imagemagick for me). Also note that even though I read multiple places that w3m inline images would not work for gnome-terminal, it is working fine for me. It is a little annoying that you have to type q twice to close first the image and then w3m.

2. Terminology

tycat is part of terminology and displays images like cat displays text files and like imgcat works for iTerm2 on OS X.

3. libsixel + mlterm/xterm

Install libsixel-bin and any compatible terminal (examples mentioned under 'Requirements' of this readme, for example mlterm or xterm compiled with the right flags and you can view images with the img2sixel command. Both these packages are available in the Ubuntu repos.

4. FIM

Then there is FIM which is an improved version of fbi. The homepage states that it can display images not only with the framebuffer, but also with X. However, it won't install for me. Edit I got it running by downloading the 0.5 trunk version, running ./configure --disable-exif and then temporarily removing anaconda (python distribution) from my path since it caused a conflict with libpng before running make and sudo checkinstall (you need to write in a version number manually with checkinstall, but it makes it easier to remove than make install). However, images are still displayed in a separate window, although like with fbi you do not need to be running X which is kind of cool.

5. jupyter-qtconsole

You could also get creative and use the jupyter-qtconsole as your system console, configure it to show plots inline (%matplotlib inline) and then display the image using matplotlib =)

6. feh

feh is using X to display images, but feh -x pops them up in a borderless window that can be quickly closed with q or x. Although images are not displayed in the terminal per say, I thought it was worth mentioning since it is the least intrusive way I have found so far and what I am using until gnome-terminal gets an imgcat/tycat equivalent.

  • w3m is using caca-utils so it would be better to just use it directly (cacaview e.jpg) Aug 7, 2017 at 18:11
  • apt install libsixel-bin mlterm; mlterm; img2sixel test.jpg works on Ubuntu 19.10! I tried xterm too, but no output there
    – rubo77
    Nov 4, 2019 at 20:16
  • @user1133275 actually they both use imlib2 so it doesn't seem to matter much ;)
    – xeruf
    Oct 15, 2021 at 9:09

Maybe caca is what you want. For images:

sudo apt-get install caca-utils
cacaview /PATH/TO/image.jpg

Make sure your terminal window is big enough.

For example, here is how this image is displayed in cacaview:


I sometimes used it for fun to watch videos as ASCII in mplayer :) Like this:

mplayer -vo caca /PATH/TO/video.mpg
  • 8
    Very helpful - a command from caca-utils that should display images inline in the terminal is img2txt
    – Wilf
    Jul 18, 2014 at 21:02
  • 10
    There's a new player on the field now: github.com/ichinaski/pxl --- In a quick test the pictures look better than in cacaview. (I wanted to add a new answer, but the site didn't let me (?))
    – user569825
    Jun 25, 2016 at 10:18
  • "watch videos as ASCII" But... why? Jul 21, 2017 at 0:59
  • 2
    this opens another window. OP asked for terminal. You should suggest img2txt instead, I think.
    – phil294
    Oct 14, 2017 at 19:30
  • 4
    "watch videos as ASCII" But... why? because you want to? because you need to peek the video and the only thing you got is terminal? Because if you do not need something it does NOT mean others follow. Feb 22, 2018 at 17:47

I have written a small C++ tool to convert images to ANSI RGB control codes and Unicode block graphics characters for modern terminals supporting these features: https://github.com/stefanhaustein/TerminalImageViewer


git clone https://github.com/stefanhaustein/TerminalImageViewer.git
cd TerminalImageViewer/src/main/cpp
sudo make install


tiv <image(s)>

Edit: Changed links / instructions to the main repository; added usage.



  • 2
    This looks very nice! But is it Java or C++? Jul 9, 2017 at 22:45
  • 7
    It used to be Java but the need for a JVM for this simple task irked me, so I have ported it to C++ (the screen shots still show the java command though) Jul 9, 2017 at 22:52
  • 4
    Way better than cacaview! Aug 5, 2017 at 17:10
  • 1
    This is an amazing tool. Definitely slower, but much better than caca. Is there any quality loss when using the "256 bit mode"? (since I have to, normal mode is messed up)
    – phil294
    Oct 14, 2017 at 19:53
  • 3
    Very good results ! Thanks ! Very useful with ssh when no x server is awailable ! Jun 21, 2018 at 9:52

I made a very quick, simple one line shell function which solves the original question exactly as requested in the mockups. Note the screenshots below are actual images, not mockups.

function lsix() { montage -tile 7x1 -label %f -background black -fill white "$@" gif:- | convert - -colors 16 sixel:-; }

Screenshot of using the lsix command

Prerequisites are minimal: xterm and ImageMagick (apt-get install xterm imagemagick). Your xterm must be in vt340 mode, which you can either set in ~/.Xresources or from the command line (xterm -ti vt340).

Limitations: Only 16 colors are used over all images shown. That means, an image might look better when viewed on its own. (See below).

Screenshot showing 16 color limitation


While my above answer is still correct, I've created an even better shell script which is able to do an 'ls' of images directly into a terminal. There are all sorts of improvements I added to make the images look better (more colors, proper alpha, JPEG orientation, handling lots of images, compact tile layout,...). It's still a fairly small program, but I figured people might want to customize it, so I've put it up on github: https://github.com/hackerb9/lsix.


You can't do so in a terminal window, but you can do so in a Linux console using fbi. You need a framebuffer to allow this to work:

sudo apt-get install fbi

Go to a Linux console (using Ctrl+Alt+F1) and enter fbi <filename>

It should show your image.

  • 5
    What do you mean by "terminal" vs "tty"? Aren't they the same thing? askubuntu.com/questions/506510/…
    – Wernight
    Jul 10, 2015 at 13:11
  • 7
    Didn't work for me. But "caca" tool worked. using "DejaVu Sans Mono-16", pixelsize=16.67 file=/usr/share/fonts/truetype/dejavu/DejaVuSansMono.ttf ioctl VT_GETSTATE: Inappropriate ioctl for device (not a linux console?)
    – Felipe
    Nov 9, 2015 at 22:06
  • 3
    @Wernight Ctrl + Alt + F1/F2/F3 gives you a tty under ubuntu (Ctrl + Alt + F8 to get back). Nov 14, 2015 at 22:31
  • 1
    There is also FIM which is an improved version of fbi. The homepage states that it can display images not only with the framebuffer, but also with X. However, it won't install for me. Nov 14, 2015 at 22:32
  • 1
    Good news iTerm2 v3 can show images inline check iterm2.com/images.html
    – A B
    Jan 20, 2016 at 22:01

Another tool is catimg which can be installed using

sudo apt-get install catimg

It does not actually view the image but turn it into colored characters.

enter image description here


Another alternative is terminology:

enter image description here https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ibPziLRGvkg

You can install it on Ubuntu by adding the enlightenment-git repository:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:enlightenment-git/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install terminology

Or in recent Ubuntu releases >= Vivid (15.04) it can be fetched from the official repositories.

sudo apt-get install terminology

To view an image, type tycat IMAGENAME, and to view a list of images, type tyls -m.

  • 5
    tycat to display an image inline and tyls -m to display medium sized thumbnails in a directory. Nov 14, 2015 at 21:01
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hannes-janetzek/enlightenment-svn doesnt Work
    – Gucho Ca
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:48
  • I've updated the answer to point out to the more recent enlightenment ppa Jan 20, 2016 at 1:54
  • 1
    @chilicuil terminology is in the official Ubuntu repositories, no PPA needed.
    – cat
    Jan 20, 2016 at 5:48
  • @cat the original answer was written before vivid was released and at that time terminology wasn't available, the enlightenment ppa still have precise/trusty packages and more up to date terminology versions. However maybe editing the answer to point out than frozen terminology versions are available in recent ubuntu releases will be helpful. Jan 20, 2016 at 5:52

Just to add to the collection (perhaps also for future me), there is also an actively developing/maintained software named chafa that works similar to catimg. Both can show images in addition to GIFs.


# install chafa
sudo apt install chafa
# open a file
chafa file.gif

showcasing chafa


# install catimg
sudo apt install catimg
# open a file
catimg filename.gif

Showcasing catimg

  • Yes, chafa looks great!
    – Flimm
    Nov 20, 2021 at 19:03
  • Chafa works great for me in the default Ubuntu Gnome terminal on Ubuntu 22.04.
    – ahcox
    Jul 3, 2023 at 18:30

There's actually such a project named TermKit, if you'd like to test it - check out http://blog.easytech.com.ar/2011/05/21/playing-with-termkit-with-chrome/ but it's quite unfinished (since you seem to have a Mac, you should try the Mac-version since it's "the original")

So yes, it's an idea worth exploring, however - the switch between graphical and text-only mode must be quick since I don't always need the images viewed. Also - it needs to be fully compatible with e.g. Vim..

  • I read about this project once before on Slashdot. Sounds intriguing! Too bad you need Google Chrome to use it...well, okay, it's not too bad if you use Chrome to begin with, but it seems like an unnecessary dependency. Jan 22, 2012 at 10:58
  • @WarriorIng64 Yeah, I it could work if you hack a bit with Qt's WebKit - but fortunately we have the chromium-browser in the repos, so that it's quite easy to install something Chromelike - I haven't really tried TermKit on my computer (w/ Chromium installed, but using Fx as main) since I'm quite dependent on Vim, and can't really use a terminal that won't give me my beloved text editor ;)
    – sakjur
    Jan 22, 2012 at 11:01

In addition to Joel's answer, Ranger terminal file manager with w3mimgdisplay extension can show images in full color and also supports "oldschool ASCII art previews". Here is how you can enable it. This may not be the exact thing you were looking for but a way to preview images in terminal.

enter image description here


I wrote a tool to do this. I named mine Show Image In Terminal (siit). It assumes you have a 256 color terminal and UTF8 support, and it's written in Perl.

I dropped it in my ~/bin. It assumes you have Image::Magick, Term::Size, Getopt::Long and Time:HiRes, which should all be available in your distro's repositories, or CPAN.

My intent was to ssh into my house, and quickly view images without launching a display over X. Script scales to appropriate width/height for the terminal you are in. I used UTF8 characters to effectively double the vertical resolution of your terminal, which really helps clarity. YMMV.

Sample shots here

Source code here

  • 1
    It's "siit", not "shit" (seriously....)
    – Star OS
    Sep 24, 2015 at 7:40
  • It was originally called termpeg, but that's too hard to remember and didn't tab-complete well. Besides, "this code is a piece of siit" doesn't even make sense.
    – Tom
    Feb 21, 2016 at 18:20
  • 2
    The source code link doesn't work for me, but I found a version on the internet, here is a mirror: gist.github.com/certik/4336299de10f400ee49943bd9f8a8ba6 Jul 2, 2016 at 3:05
  • Any chance you can provide a bundled version? I always give up when I have to install libraries. Sep 3, 2019 at 21:03

This does not exist; gnome-terminal is only capable of diplaying text, at least as far as I know.

However, you can call an image viewer from the commandline to see your pictures in a particular folder. So, going off of your mockup above showing you listing all .jpg pictures in the current folder, you can use Eye of GNOME (Ubuntu's default image viewer) from the commandline for something similar:

eog *.jpg &

Note that the window which comes up will only show one image at a time, though you can use the provided arrow buttons to cycle between them.

  • 1
    if running from a terminal, eog *.jpg & disown is better as otherwise the EOG will likely exit when the terminal closes. N.B. I wish EOG was still Ubuntu's defualt image viewer - shotwell is good, but tries to index my 30GB+ of pictures.... and is slow and annoying anyway
    – Wilf
    Jul 18, 2014 at 21:13
  • 2
    All previous answers prove this post wrong. Apr 5, 2019 at 15:35

Here are some solutions in node.js (Installation instructions here).

  1. picture-tube

  2. imaging

To install either, type npm install -g <package_name> where package_name is either of picture-tube or imaging.


Another option is ueberzug, which you can install using pip. Here I'm using it with fzf-ueberzogen, so to display image previews, you simply run the fzf-ueberzogen.sh command in the current directory as shown below.

enter image description here


We can indeed display images in the terminal. What we need is a terminal program that supports the Sixel protocol or a similar protocol.
lsix, written by hackerb9, is one such program that uses Sixel to display images.
There are also other programs like timg that utilize Sixel. And timg can be easily installed via package management software on most Linux distributions and macOS(via Homebrew).
You can find more programs that use Sixel at this URL: https://www.arewesixelyet.com/.

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