150

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

Does something like this exist already?

http://imgur.com/Z3DbS

  • 5
    I always just use feh! I know it's not in the terminal, but it does it's job. – dylnmc Oct 10 '15 at 6:55
  • 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 '16 at 13:01
  • I love to use the terminal for graphics with itermplot, which is unfortunately macOS only. – miku Mar 13 '18 at 20:46
  • Is this question motivated by the little beer image in Homebrew? That's an emoji. – Ekevoo Apr 19 '18 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 – Sridhar Sarnobat Sep 3 at 21:12

12 Answers 12

50

Update 2018-12-31

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) – user1133275 Aug 7 '17 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 at 20:16
65

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:

Screenshot

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

mplayer -vo caca /PATH/TO/video.mpg
  • 6
    Very helpful - a command from caca-utils that should display images inline in the terminal is img2txt – Wilf Jul 18 '14 at 21:02
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    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 '16 at 10:18
  • "watch videos as ASCII" But... why? – Derek 朕會功夫 Jul 21 '17 at 0:59
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    "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. – Marcin Orlowski Feb 22 '18 at 17:47
  • 1
    mpv has a tct output that (when used with --quiet) displays media in the terminal with comparable quality to pxl. – dsstorefile1 Sep 21 '18 at 10:47
39

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

Installation:

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

Usage:

tiv <image(s)>

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

Examples:

TerminalImageViewer

  • 2
    This looks very nice! But is it Java or C++? – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 9 '17 at 22:45
  • 3
    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) – Stefan Haustein Jul 9 '17 at 22:52
  • 4
    Way better than cacaview! – Piotr Dabkowski Aug 5 '17 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 '17 at 19:53
  • 2
    Very good results ! Thanks ! Very useful with ssh when no x server is awailable ! – Arnaud De Broissia Jun 21 '18 at 9:52
34

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

UPDATE

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.

32

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 '15 at 13:11
  • 6
    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 '15 at 22:06
  • 3
    @Wernight Ctrl + Alt + F1/F2/F3 gives you a tty under ubuntu (Ctrl + Alt + F8 to get back). – joelostblom Nov 14 '15 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. – joelostblom Nov 14 '15 at 22:32
  • 1
    Good news iTerm2 v3 can show images inline check iterm2.com/images.html – A B Jan 20 '16 at 22:01
20

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. – joelostblom Nov 14 '15 at 21:01
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hannes-janetzek/enlightenment-svn doesnt Work – Gucho Ca Jan 20 '16 at 0:48
  • I've updated the answer to point out to the more recent enlightenment ppa – Javier López Jan 20 '16 at 1:54
  • 1
    @chilicuil terminology is in the official Ubuntu repositories, no PPA needed. – cat Jan 20 '16 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. – Javier López Jan 20 '16 at 5:52
12

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. – Christopher Kyle Horton Jan 22 '12 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 '12 at 11:01
8

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 '14 at 21:13
  • All previous answers prove this post wrong. – Arnaud De Broissia Apr 5 at 15:35
8

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 droped 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 '15 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 '16 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 – Ondřej Čertík Jul 2 '16 at 3:05
  • Any chance you can provide a bundled version? I always give up when I have to install libraries. – Sridhar Sarnobat Sep 3 at 21:03
6

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

4

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

3

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.

protected by Braiam Feb 26 '14 at 23:17

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