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instant coding answers via the command line

Are you a hack programmer? Do you find yourself constantly Googling for how to do basic programing tasks?

Suppose you want to know how to format a date in bash. Why open your browser and read through blogs (risking major distraction) when you can simply stay in the console and ask howdoi:

$ howdoi format date bash
> DATE=`date +%Y-%m-%d`

howdoi will answer all sorts of queries:

$ howdoi print stack trace python
> import traceback
> try:
>     1/0
> except:
>     print '>>> traceback <<<'
>     traceback.print_exc()
>     print '>>> end of traceback <<<'
> traceback.print_exc()

$ howdoi convert mp4 to animated gif
> video=/path/to/video.avi
> outdir=/path/to/output.gif
> mplayer "$video" \
>         -ao null \
>         -ss "00:01:00" \  # starting point
>         -endpos 10 \ # duration in second
>         -vo gif89a:fps=13:output=$outdir \
>         -vf scale=240:180

$ howdoi create tar archive
> tar -cf backup.tar --exclude "www/subf3" www


pip install howdoi


pip install git+


brew install


python install


usage: [-h] [-p POS] [-a] [-l] [-c] [-n NUM_ANSWERS] [-C] [-v] QUERY [QUERY ...]

instant coding answers via the command line

positional arguments:
  QUERY                 the question to answer

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -p POS, --pos POS     select answer in specified position (default: 1)
  -a, --all             display the full text of the answer
  -l, --link            display only the answer link
  -c, --color           enable colorized output
  -n NUM_ANSWERS, --num-answers NUM_ANSWERS
                        number of answers to return
  -C, --clear-cache     clear the cache
  -v, --version         displays the current version of howdoi



  • Works with Python2 and Python3
  • A standalone Windows executable with the howdoi application is available here.
  • An Alfred Workflow for howdoi can be found at
  • Slack integration available through slack-howdoi.
  • Howdoi uses a cache for faster access to previous questions. Caching functionality can be disabled by setting the HOWDOI_DISABLE_CACHE environment variable. The cache is stored in ~/.cache/howdoi.
  • You can set the HOWDOI_URL environment variable to change the source url for answers (default: Other options include or Here's the full list.
  • Setting the HOWDOI_COLORIZE environment variable will colorize the output by default.
  • Special thanks to Rich Jones (@miserlou) for the idea.


  • Checkout the repo
  • Run python -m howdoi.howdoi QUERY (if you try running python howdoi/ you my get ValueError: Attempted relative import in non-package).


You might get the following error when installing with Homebrew:

==> python install

Please make the appropriate changes for your system and try again.

Fix the error by executing the following command:

sudo chmod -R go+w /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/

An official lxml for python 3.3+ for windows has not yet been released. You may get an error while installing. Try and install an unofficial binary for lxml from
Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.