barebones graphical pdf/djvu/cbr/image viewer that works inside iTerm2 2.9+ and Kitty
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termpdf is a barebones graphical PDF (and DJVU and TIFF and CBR and CBZ and JPG and PNG and GIF and BMP) viewer that runs in your terminal.

Right now, it runs in

And has experimental support for

It is a ridiculous hack---a bash script wrapped around some special terminal escape codes and a bunch of command line tools. But it works well enough for me to be useful.


Running in Kitty:

Screenshot in Kitty

Running in iTerm:

Screenshot in iTerm


Let me start with the tl;dr instructions.

Make sure you are running a recent version of Kitty or iTerm.

Install terminal dimensions:

git clone
cd terminal_dimensions
gcc terminal_dimensions.c -o terminal_dimensions
mv terminal_dimensions /usr/local/bin

Install dependencies. On OSX,

brew install poppler djvulibre libtiff unrar imagemagick bash

On Debian,

apt install ghostscript bc libtiff5 unrar imagemagick poppler-utils

Download the termpdf, make it executable, and put it in your path:

git clone
cd termpdf
chmod u+x termpdf
cd /usr/local/bin
ln -s /path/to/termpdf

Terminal Emulator

You will need iTerm version 2.9 or later, or Kitty, version greater than 0.6.1, or, if you want to play around, a terminal with sixel support. iTerm support has been around for awhile. It should be pretty stable if a bit slow. Kitty support is new and significantly faster than iTerm---especially if you use the terminal_dimensions helper app.

To use with Kitty, be sure that the kitty executable is in your path.

A previous version of the script tried to support X11 using w3mimgdisplay. That got complicated and it didn't work, so I removed it. But recent changes to the code probably make it easier to implement.


This is a tiny command line tool written in C that reports terminal dimensions, both in character cells and in pixels, e.g.,

$ terminal_dimensions
141 43 2538 1548

This is helpful, because standard cli tools don't report pixel dimensions. But in many emulators, including iTerm, the pixel dimensions will be misreported as 0 and 0:

$ terminal_dimensions
141 43 0 0

This is too bad, because pixel dimensions are super helpful! Install this, and image rendering in Kitty is much faster. Also, you will need this if you want to play around with the sixel support.

$ git clone
$ cd terminal_dimensions
$ gcc terminal_dimensions.c -o terminal_dimensions
$ mv terminal_dimensions /usr/local/bin

Poppler, djvulibre, libtiff, unrar, imagemagick, ghostscript

The script uses pdfseparate and pdfinfo, from Poppler to manipulate PDFs, ddjvu and djvudump, from DJVULibre, to manipulate DJVU files, and tiffutil and tiffinfo, to manipulate TIFF files. It uses unrar and unzip to unpack CBR and CBZ files. It uses ImageMagick's convert and identify. And it uses Ghostscript to convert PDFs to PNGS, because it is faster, and offers more control, than Poppler's pdfcairo.

On OS X, you can install all these things by running:

$ brew install poppler djvulibre libtiff unrar imagemagick

Bash 4.x

If you run the script from Bash 4.x, it supports marks. OS X still ships with Bash 3.x, so,

$ brew install bash


I've added basic support for viewing Microsoft Office (docx, xlsx, pptx) and LibreOffice (odt, ods, odp) files. The script converts them to PDF using LibreOffice, and then displays the resulting PDF. For this to work, you'll need to have a copy of LibreOffice installed in your /Applications folder.

TODO: As written, this probably only works on OS X.


If you want to try out the experimental sixel support, be sure you have terminal_dimensions installed. You also need to install

and make sure that the img2sixel command is in your path. Then try:

$ termpdf -sixel <file>
$ termpdf -sixel <directory>

Here is a screenshot of the best results I can get using a version of xterm built with sixel support on OS X:

sixel screenshot


termpdf is a bash script. Put it somewhere in your path and make sure it has the appropriate permissions (i.e., chmod u+x termpdf).


$ termpdf -h
termpdf <options> <file/directory>
  -d n, --depth N                    how deep to search directories for images
  -sixel                             use libsixel to (badly) display graphics     
  -kitty                             force using kitty to display graphics
  -iterm                             force using iterm to display graphics
  -k                                 list keyboard shortcuts
  -h, --help                         view this help

<file/directory> should be a file in one of the supported formats or a path to a directory containing images.

Format is determined by extension. Supported multipage are formats:


Supported single image formats are


It should be trivial to add support for any format that Imagemagick supports that doesn't require special handling.

Directories, along with common archive formats (ZIP, RAR, and TAR), are treated as multipage documents. Directories are searched recursively by find, and displayed in the order found. The --depth option specifies the depth of find's recursive search.

By default, termpdf uses Kitty's image rendering if it is available, and otherwise tries to use iTerm's image rendering. You can override this behavior by specifying one of -sixel, -kitty, or -iterm.

Keyboard Shortcuts

$ termpdf -k
Keyboard shortcuts:

  enter/space:                   forward one page
  [n]k/j:                        forward or back [n] pages
  [n]G:                          go to page [n]
  G:                             go to last page
  gg:                            go to first page
  /<query>:                      search text for <query>
  [n]n:                          go to next search result
  [n]N:                          go to previous search result
  [n]p:                          print [n copies of] document
  [n]y:                          yank [n] pages forward and save as pdf
  yy:                            yank current page and save as pdf
  [n]+:                          zoom in (currently broken)
  [n]-:                          zoom out (currently broken)
  =:                             fit screen (currently broken)
  c:                             crop margins 
  m[r]:                          store current page in register [r]
  '[r]:                          go to page stored in register [r]
  g'[r]:                         go to to page in register [r] 
  y'[r]:                         yank from current page to mark and save as pdf
  r:                             refresh display
  R:                             reload document
  [n]r:                          rotate [n] degrees (0=0;1=90;2=180;3=270)
  t:                             view entire document as text in less
  T:                             view current page as text in less
  M:                             remake document
  a:                             annotate in split pane
  q:                             quit
  h:                             view this help
  u:                             user definable function

These commands are all set by the keys() function. You can override them in the config file if you want.

There is also mostly undocumented support for : style commands, e.g.,

:first go to first page :last go to last page :goto 20 go to page 20 :print :yank :search :next :gui open the document in your default viewer :text all :text page :refresh :reload :rotate 90 :crop :marks list marks :quit quit

This is mostly useless from within the software, because bash's read command doesn't support customizable autocompletion when called within scripts. But it is useful when using tpdfc.

Controlling termpdf using tpdfc

You can issue : style commands to a running instance of termpdf using the command tpdfc. For example,

$ tpdfc goto 5

will flip to page 5. If more than one instance of termpdf is running, you can specify the instance you wish to control either by PID or just by number:

$ tpdfc -n 2 goto 5
$ tpdfc -p <PID> goto 5

To list all available instances,

$ tpdfc -l

Configuration files

You can put any commands you want into $HOME/.config/termpdf/config, which is sourced during the setup process. This allows you, among other things, to override the key mappings and tweak the print settings.

You can also put commands in $HOME/.config/termpdf/exithook, which will be sourced before the script exits.

Known issues

  • Earlier versions of the script worked well with tmux on iTerm. The current version does not. I'm not sure why.

  • The make command only works if you have a Makefile in the same directory as the PDF. It would be nice to support a configurable make command.

  • There is no robust error checking. This is just a bash script. So occasionally it will just crash or fart or do something unexpected.


  • rewrite in real language (using ncurses?).
  • rewrite kitty support using escape codes instead of kitty icat

Similar Projects

Emacs users already know about pdf-tools. It would be amazing to replicate its level of functionality for a pdf viewer in the tmux+vim workflow.

  • fbpdf: a pdf viewer for the framebuffer with vim-like navigation.
  • jfbview: another pdf viewer for the framebuffer.
  • imgcat: the sample imgcat implementation from the developer of iTerm2. Works in tmux. Doesn't provide control over width and height of image.
  • term-img: javascript node library for viewing images in iTerm2. Also offers a command line tool. Doesn't work in tmux.
  • imgcat-cli: a javascript node image viewer for iTerm2 (fork of term-img). Doesn't work in tmux.
  • termimg: uses w3mimgdisplay.