Turn images into text better than caca/aalib
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hiptext is command line tool for rendering images and videos inside terminals.

Last Supper in Macterm

Happy Cat in Macterm

Obama in Macterm


You need clang or gcc >=4.7. You also need to install:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libpng12-dev libjpeg-dev \
    libfreetype6-dev libavformat-dev libavcodec-dev \
    libswscale-dev libgflags-dev libgoogle-glog-dev ragel


wget https://github.com/jart/hiptext/releases/download/0.2/hiptext-0.2.tar.gz
tar xvzf hiptext-0.2.tar.gz
cd hiptext-0.2

make -j4
sudo make install



Most image types, e.g. JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc. are supported.

hiptext balls.png


You can play videos in your terminal using hiptext. Yes, really.

youtube-dl -o gangnam-style.mp4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0
hiptext gangnam-style.mp4


hiptext --spectrum
hiptext --nocolor balls.png
hiptext --nocolor --chars=" .oO0" balls.png

Rendering Modes


By default, hiptext assumes you're using an xterm256 compatible terminal, e.g. gnome-terminal, without bothering to check the TERMINAL environment variable.

hiptext --xterm256 balls.png

To double the number of pixels using Unicode half blocks, consider using the following option, which may become the default in the future:

hiptext --xterm256unicode balls.png


The most beautiful terminal for hiptext is the one built into Mac OS X called Terminal.app. This terminal uses xterm256 but it's implemented using a custom color palette that was chosen by designers rather than engineers.

But the interesting thing about this palette is that it uses slightly different colors for foreground and background. By using Unicode half blocks, this allows us to simulate something closer to 512 colors!

hiptext --macterm balls.png

However to use this, you must be using the black color scheme. After all, why would you use anything else?


If you want to render an image without the ANSI color escape codes, you can use the --nocolor flag. This will render the image using shaded unicode block characters.

hiptext --nocolor balls.png


The no-color mode supports a very simple character quantiser that can convert images to ASCII. Please understand that if this is what you want, there are much better tools for the job, like cacalib.

hiptext --nocolor --chars=" .oO0" balls.png


If you use a SIXEL terminal, e.g. mlterm >=v3.1.3, then the following flags can provide much more minute rendering:

hiptext --sixel256 balls.png           # For 256-color SIXEL terminal such as mlterm (>=v3.1.3)
hiptext --sixel16 balls.png            # For 16-color SIXEL terminal such as xterm(patch level >= #294) with "-ti vt340 option"
hiptext --sixel2 balls.png             # For monochrome SIXEL terminals



By default, hiptext assumes that your terminal background is black. If this is not the case, you can specify your background color using a CSS or X11 color string.

hiptext --bg=white balls.png