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uni queries the Unicode database from the commandline. It supports Unicode 14.0 (September 2021) and has good support for emojis.

There are four commands: identify codepoints in a string, search for codepoints, print codepoints by class, block, or range, and emoji to find emojis.

There are binaries on the releases page, and packages for a number of platforms. You can also run it in your browser.

Compile from source with:

$ git clone
$ cd uni
$ go build

which will give you a uni binary.

README index:


  • dmenu, rofi, and fzf script at dmenu-uni. See the top of the script for some options you may want to frob with.

  • For a Vim command see uni.vim; just copy/paste it in your vimrc.


Note: the alignment is slightly off for some entries due to the way GitHub renders wide characters; in terminals it should be aligned correctly.


Identify characters in a string, as a kind of a unicode-aware hexdump:

$ uni identify €
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'€'  U+20AC  8364   e2 82 ac    €     EURO SIGN (Currency_Symbol)

i is a shortcut for identify:

$ uni i h€ý
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'h'  U+0068  104    68          h     LATIN SMALL LETTER H (Lowercase_Letter)
'€'  U+20AC  8364   e2 82 ac    €     EURO SIGN (Currency_Symbol)
'ý'  U+00FD  253    c3 bd       ý   LATIN SMALL LETTER Y WITH ACUTE (Lowercase_Letter)

It reads from stdin:

$ head -c2 README.markdown | uni i
     cpoint  dec    utf-8       html       name (cat)
'['  U+005B  91     5b          [     LEFT SQUARE BRACKET (Open_Punctuation)
'!'  U+0021  33     21          !     EXCLAMATION MARK (Other_Punctuation)

You can use -quiet (or -q) to suppress the header, and -format (of -f) to control the output format, for example you may want to generate a codepoint to X11 keysym mapping:

$ uni i -q -f '0x%(hex): "%(keysym)", // %(name)' h€ý
0x68: "h", // LATIN SMALL LETTER H
0x20ac: "EuroSign", // EURO SIGN

See uni help for more details on the -format flag; this flag can also be added to other commands.


Search description:

$ uni search euro
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'₠'  U+20A0  8352   e2 82 a0    ₠   EURO-CURRENCY SIGN (Currency_Symbol)
'€'  U+20AC  8364   e2 82 ac    €     EURO SIGN (Currency_Symbol)
'𐡷'  U+10877 67703  f0 90 a1 b7 𐡷  PALMYRENE LEFT-POINTING FLEURON (Other_Symbol)
'𐡸'  U+10878 67704  f0 90 a1 b8 𐡸  PALMYRENE RIGHT-POINTING FLEURON (Other_Symbol)
'𐫱'  U+10AF1 68337  f0 90 ab b1 𐫱  MANICHAEAN PUNCTUATION FLEURON (Other_Punctuation)
'🌍' U+1F30D 127757 f0 9f 8c 8d 🌍  EARTH GLOBE EUROPE-AFRICA (Other_Symbol)
'🏤' U+1F3E4 127972 f0 9f 8f a4 🏤  EUROPEAN POST OFFICE (Other_Symbol)
'🏰' U+1F3F0 127984 f0 9f 8f b0 🏰  EUROPEAN CASTLE (Other_Symbol)
'💶' U+1F4B6 128182 f0 9f 92 b6 💶  BANKNOTE WITH EURO SIGN (Other_Symbol)

The s command is a shortcut for search. Multiple words are matched individually:

$ uni s globe earth
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'🌍' U+1F30D 127757 f0 9f 8c 8d 🌍  EARTH GLOBE EUROPE-AFRICA (Other_Symbol)
'🌎' U+1F30E 127758 f0 9f 8c 8e 🌎  EARTH GLOBE AMERICAS (Other_Symbol)
'🌏' U+1F30F 127759 f0 9f 8c 8f 🌏  EARTH GLOBE ASIA-AUSTRALIA (Other_Symbol)

Use shell quoting for more literal matches:

$ uni s rightwards black arrow
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'➡'  U+27A1  10145  e2 9e a1    ➡   BLACK RIGHTWARDS ARROW (Other_Symbol)
'➤'  U+27A4  10148  e2 9e a4    ➤   BLACK RIGHTWARDS ARROWHEAD (Other_Symbol)

$ uni s 'rightwards black arrow'
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'⮕'  U+2B95  11157  e2 ae 95    ⮕   RIGHTWARDS BLACK ARROW (Other_Symbol)

Add -or or -o to combine the search terms with "OR" instead of "AND":

$ uni s -o globe milk
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'🌌' U+1F30C 127756 f0 9f 8c 8c 🌌  MILKY WAY (Other_Symbol)
'🌍' U+1F30D 127757 f0 9f 8c 8d 🌍  EARTH GLOBE EUROPE-AFRICA (Other_Symbol)
'🌎' U+1F30E 127758 f0 9f 8c 8e 🌎  EARTH GLOBE AMERICAS (Other_Symbol)
'🌏' U+1F30F 127759 f0 9f 8c 8f 🌏  EARTH GLOBE ASIA-AUSTRALIA (Other_Symbol)
'🌐' U+1F310 127760 f0 9f 8c 90 🌐  GLOBE WITH MERIDIANS (Other_Symbol)
'🥛' U+1F95B 129371 f0 9f a5 9b 🥛  GLASS OF MILK (Other_Symbol)


Print specific codepoints or groups of codepoints:

$ uni print U+2042
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'⁂'  U+2042  8258   e2 81 82    ⁂   ASTERISM (Other_Punctuation)

Print a custom range; U+2042, U2042, and 2042 are all identical:

$ uni print 2042..2044
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'⁂'  U+2042  8258   e2 81 82    ⁂   ASTERISM (Other_Punctuation)
'⁃'  U+2043  8259   e2 81 83    ⁃   HYPHEN BULLET (Other_Punctuation)
'⁄'  U+2044  8260   e2 81 84    ⁄    FRACTION SLASH (Math_Symbol)

You can also use hex, octal, and binary numbers: 0x2024, 0o20102, or 0b10000001000010.

General category:

$ uni p Po
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'!'  U+0021  33     21          !     EXCLAMATION MARK (Other_Punctuation)
'"'  U+0022  34     22          "     QUOTATION MARK (Other_Punctuation)


$ uni p arrows 'box drawing'
     cpoint  dec    utf8        html       name (cat)
'←'  U+2190  8592   e2 86 90    ←     LEFTWARDS ARROW (Math_Symbol)
'↑'  U+2191  8593   e2 86 91    ↑     UPWARDS ARROW (Math_Symbol)
'→'  U+2192  8594   e2 86 92    →     RIGHTWARDS ARROW (Math_Symbol)
'↓'  U+2193  8595   e2 86 93    ↓     DOWNWARDS ARROW (Math_Symbol)


The emoji command (shortcut: e) is is the real reason I wrote this:

$ uni e cry
	name                     (cldr)
🥹	face holding back tears  (angry, cry, proud, resist, sad)
😢	crying face              (sad, tear)
😭	loudly crying face       (sad, sob, tear)
😿	crying cat               (face, sad, tear)
🔮	crystal ball             (fairy tale, fantasy, fortune, tool)

By default both the name and CLDR data are searched; the CLDR data is a list of keywords for an emoji; prefix with name: or n: to search on the name only:

$ uni e smile
	name                             (cldr)
😃	grinning face with big eyes      (mouth, open, smile)
😄	grinning face with smiling eyes  (mouth, open, smile)

$ uni e name:smile
	name                (cldr)
😼	cat with wry smile  (face, ironic)

As you can see, the CLDR is pretty useful, as "smile" only gives one result as most emojis use "smiling".

Prefix with group: to search by group:

$ uni e group:hands
	name               (cldr)
👏	clapping hands     ()
🙌	raising hands      (celebration, gesture, hooray, raised)
🫶	heart hands        (love)
👐	open hands         ()
🤲	palms up together  (prayer)
🤝	handshake          (agreement, meeting)
🙏	folded hands       (ask, high 5, high five, please, pray, thanks)

Group and search can be combined, and group: can be abbreviated to g::

$ uni e g:cat-face grin
	name                            (cldr)
😺	grinning cat                    (face, mouth, open, smile)
😸	grinning cat with smiling eyes  (face, smile)

Like with search, use -or to OR the parameters together instead of AND:

$ uni e -or g:face-glasses g:face-hat
	name                          (cldr)
🤠	cowboy hat face               (cowgirl)
🥳	partying face                 (celebration, hat, horn)
🥸	disguised face                (glasses, incognito, nose)
😎	smiling face with sunglasses  (bright, cool)
🤓	nerd face                     (geek)
🧐	face with monocle             (stuffy)

Apply skin tone modifiers with -tone:

$ uni e -tone dark g:hands
	name                               (cldr)
👏🏿	clapping hands: dark skin tone     ()
🙌🏿	raising hands: dark skin tone      (celebration, gesture, hooray, raised)
🫶🏿	heart hands: dark skin tone        (love)
👐🏿	open hands: dark skin tone         ()
🤲🏿	palms up together: dark skin tone  (prayer)
🤝	handshake                          (agreement, meeting)
🙏🏿	folded hands: dark skin tone       (ask, high 5, high five, please, pray, thanks)

The "heart hands" may not show as it's very recent. The handshake emoji supports setting individual skin tones per hand since Unicode 14, but this isn't supported, mostly because I can't really really think a good CLI interface for setting this without breaking compatibility (there are some other emojis too, like "holding hands" and "kissing" where you can set both the gender and skin tone of both sides individually). Maybe for uni v3 someday.

The default is to display only the gender-neutral "person", but this can be changed with the -gender option:

$ uni e -gender man g:person-gesture
	name              (cldr)
🙍‍♂️	man frowning      (gesture, person frowning)
🙎‍♂️	man pouting       (gesture, person pouting)
🙅‍♂️	man gesturing NO  (forbidden, gesture, hand, person gesturing NO, prohibited)
🙆‍♂️	man gesturing OK  (gesture, hand, person gesturing OK)
💁‍♂️	man tipping hand  (help, information, person tipping hand, sassy)
🙋‍♂️	man raising hand  (gesture, happy, person raising hand, raised)
🧏‍♂️	deaf man          (accessibility, deaf person, ear, hear)
🙇‍♂️	man bowing        (apology, gesture, person bowing, sorry)
🤦‍♂️	man facepalming   (disbelief, exasperation, person facepalming)
🤷‍♂️	man shrugging     (doubt, ignorance, indifference, person shrugging)

Both -tone and -gender accept multiple values. -gender women,man will display both the female and male variants (in that order), and -tone light,dark will display both a light and dark skin tone; use all to display all skin tones or genders:

$ uni e -tone light,dark -gender f,m shrug
	name                              (cldr)
🤷🏻‍♀️	woman shrugging: light skin tone  (doubt, ignorance, indifference, person shrugging)
🤷🏻‍♂️	man shrugging: light skin tone    (doubt, ignorance, indifference, person shrugging)
🤷🏿‍♀️	woman shrugging: dark skin tone   (doubt, ignorance, indifference, person shrugging)
🤷🏿‍♂️	man shrugging: dark skin tone     (doubt, ignorance, indifference, person shrugging)

Like print and identify, you can use -format:

$ uni e g:cat-face -q -format '%(name): %(emoji)'
grinning cat: 😺
grinning cat with smiling eyes: 😸
cat with tears of joy: 😹
smiling cat with heart-eyes: 😻
cat with wry smile: 😼
kissing cat: 😽
weary cat: 🙀
crying cat: 😿
pouting cat: 😾

See uni help for more details on the -format flag.


With -json or -j you can output the data as JSON:

$ uni i -json h€ý
	"cat": "Lowercase_Letter",
	"char": "h",
	"cpoint": "U+0068",
	"dec": "104",
	"html": "h",
	"utf8": "68"
}, {
	"cat": "Currency_Symbol",
	"char": "€",
	"cpoint": "U+20AC",
	"dec": "8364",
	"html": "€",
	"name": "EURO SIGN",
	"utf8": "e2 82 ac"
}, {
	"cat": "Lowercase_Letter",
	"char": "ý",
	"cpoint": "U+00FD",
	"dec": "253",
	"html": "ý",
	"utf8": "c3 bd"

All the columns listed in -f will be included; you can use -f all to include all columns:

$ uni i -json -f all h€ý
	"bin": "1101000",
	"block": "Basic Latin",
	"cat": "Lowercase_Letter",
	"char": "h",
	"cpoint": "U+0068",
	"dec": "104",
	"digraph": "h",
	"hex": "68",
	"html": "h",
	"json": "\\u0068",
	"keysym": "h",
	"oct": "150",
	"plane": "Basic Multilingual Plane",
	"utf16be": "00 68",
	"utf16le": "68 00",
	"utf8": "68",
	"width": "neutral",
	"xml": "h"
}, {
	"bin": "10000010101100",
	"block": "Currency Symbols",
	"cat": "Currency_Symbol",
	"char": "€",
	"cpoint": "U+20AC",
	"dec": "8364",
	"digraph": "=e",
	"hex": "20ac",
	"html": "€",
	"json": "\\u20ac",
	"keysym": "EuroSign",
	"name": "EURO SIGN",
	"oct": "20254",
	"plane": "Basic Multilingual Plane",
	"utf16be": "20 ac",
	"utf16le": "ac 20",
	"utf8": "e2 82 ac",
	"width": "ambiguous",
	"xml": "€"
}, {
	"bin": "11111101",
	"block": "Latin-1 Supplement",
	"cat": "Lowercase_Letter",
	"char": "ý",
	"cpoint": "U+00FD",
	"dec": "253",
	"digraph": "y'",
	"hex": "fd",
	"html": "ý",
	"json": "\\u00fd",
	"keysym": "yacute",
	"oct": "375",
	"plane": "Basic Multilingual Plane",
	"utf16be": "00 fd",
	"utf16le": "fd 00",
	"utf8": "c3 bd",
	"width": "narrow",
	"xml": "ý"

This also works for the emoji command:

$ uni e -json -f all 'kissing cat'
	"cldr": "eye, face",
	"cldr_full": "cat, eye, face, kiss, kissing cat",
	"cpoint": "U+1F63D",
	"emoji": "😽",
	"group": "Smileys & Emotion",
	"name": "kissing cat",
	"subgroup": "cat-face"

All values are always a string, even numerical values. This makes things a bit easier/consistent as JSON doesn't support hex literals and such. Use jq or some other tool if you want to process the data further.


v2.4.0 (2021-12-20)

  • Update import path to

  • Add oct and bin flags for -f to print a codepoint as octal or binary.

  • Add f format flag to change the fill character with alignment; e.g. %(bin r:auto f:0) will print zeros on the left.

  • Allow using just o123 for an octal number (instead of 0o123). We can't do this for binary and decimal numbers (since b and d are valid hexidecimals), but no reason not to do it for o.

v2.3.0 (2021-10-05)

  • Update to Unicode 14.0.

  • UTF-16 and JSON are printed as lower case, just like UTF-8 was. Upper-case is used only for codepoints (i.e. U+00AC).

  • uni print can now print from UTF-8 byte sequence; for example to print the € sign:

    uni p utf8:e282ac
    uni p 'utf8:e2 82 ac'
    uni p 'utf8:0xe2 0x82 0xac'

    Bytes can optionally be separated by any combination of 0x, -, _, or spaces.

v2.2.1 (2021-06-15)

  • You can now use uni p 0d40 to get U+28 by decimal.

    uni print 40 interprets the 40 as hex instead of decimal, and there was no way to get a codepoint by decimal number. Since codepoints are much more more common than decimals, leaving off the U+ and U is a useful shortcut I'd like to keep. AFAIK there isn't really a standard(-ish) was to explicitly indicate a number is a decimal, so this is probably the closest.

v2.2.0 (2021-06-05)

  • Make proper use of the /v2 import path so that go get and go install work. (#26)

  • Don't panic if -f doesn't contain any formatting characters.

v2.1.0 (2021-03-30)

  • Can now output as JSON with -j or -json.

  • -format all is a special value to include all columns uni knows about. This is useful especially in combination with -json.

  • Add %(block), %(plane), %(width), %(utf16be), %(utf16le), and %(json) to -f`.

  • Refactor the package to be more useful for other use cases. This isn't really relevant for uni users as such, but if you want to get information about codepoints or emojis then this package is a nice addition to the standard library's unicode package.

v2.0.0 (2021-01-03)

This changes some flags, semantics, and defaults in incompatible ways, hence the bump to 2.0. If you use the dmenu-uni script with dmenu or fzf, then you'll need to update that to.

  • Remove the -group flag in favour of group:name syntax; this is more flexible and will allow adding more query syntax later.

    uni emoji -group groupname,othergroup                  Old syntax
    uni emoji -group groupname,othergroup smile            Old syntax
    uni emoji -or group:groupname group:othergroup         New syntax
    uni emoji -or group:groupname group:othergroup smile   New syntax
    uni emoji -or g:groupname g:othergroup                 Can use shorter g: instead of group:
  • Default for -gender is now person instead of all; including all genders by default isn't all that useful, and the gender-neutral "person" should be a fine default for most, just as the skin colour-neutral "yellow" is probably a fine default for most.

  • Add new -or/-o flag. The default for search and emoji is to show everything where all query parameters match ("AND"); with this flag it shows everything where at least one parameter matches ("OR").

  • Add new -format/-f flag to control which columns to output and column width. You can now also print X11 keysyms and Vim digraphs. See uni help for details.

  • Include CLDR data for emojis, which is searched by default if you use uni e <something>. You can use uni e name:x to search for the name specifically.

  • Show a short terse help when using just uni, and a more detailed help on uni help. I hate it when programs print 5 pages of text to my terminal when I didn't ask for it.

  • Update Unicode data to 13.1.

  • Add option to output to $PAGER with -p or -pager. This isn't done automatically (I don't really like it when programs throw me in a pager), but you can define a shell alias (alias uni='uni -p') if you want it by default since flags can be both before or after the command.

v1.1.1 (2020-05-31)

  • Fix tests of v1.1.0, requested by a packager. No changes other than this.

v1.1.0 (2020-03-17)

  • Update Unicode data from 12.1 to 13.0.

  • print command supports codepoints as hex (0xff), octal (0o42), and binary (0b1001).

  • A few very small bugfixes.

v1.0.0 (2019-12-12)

  • Initial release


Re-generate the Unicode data with go generate unidata. Files are cached in unidata/.cache, so clear that if you want to update the files from remote.




    More or less similar to uni, but very different CLI, and has some additional features. Seems pretty good.


    Doesn't support emojis sequences (e.g. MAN SHRUGGING is PERSON SHRUGGING + MAN, FIREFIGHTER is PERSON + FIRE TRUCK, etc); quite slow for a CLI program (emoj smiling takes 1.8s on my system, sometimes a lot longer), search results are pretty bad (shrug returns unamused face, thinking face, eyes, confused face, neutral face, tears of joy, and expressionless face ... but not the shrugging emoji), not a fan of npm (has 1862 dependencies).


    Grouping could be better, doesn't support emojis sequences, only interactive TUI, feels kinda slow-ish especially when searching.


    Only deals with codepoints, not emojis.


  • gnome-characters

    Uses Gnome interface/window decorations and won't work well with other WMs, doesn't deal with emoji sequences, I don't like the grouping/ordering it uses, requires two clicks to copy a character.

  • gucharmap

    Doesn't display emojis, just unicode blocks.

  • KCharSelect

    Many KDE-specific dependencies (106M). Didn't try it.

  • and

    Both are pretty similar to the dmenu/rofi integration of uni with some minor differences, and both seem to work well with no major issues.

  • gtk3 emoji picker (Ctrl+; or Ctrl+. in gtk 3.93 or newer)

    Only works in GTK, doesn't work with GTK_IM_MODULE=xim (needed for compose key), for some reasons the emojis look ugly, doesn't display emojis sequences, doesn't have a tooltip or other text description about what the emoji actually is, the variation selector doesn't seem to work (never displays skin tone?), doesn't work in Firefox.

    This is so broken on my system that it seems that I'm missing something for this to work or something?


    Only works in Firefox; takes a tad too long to open; doesn't support skin tones.

Didn't investigate (yet)

Some alternatives people have suggested that I haven't looked at; make an issue or email me if you know of any others.