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libvips: an image processing library

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libvips is a demand-driven, horizontally threaded image processing library. Compared to similar libraries, libvips runs quickly and uses little memory. libvips is licensed under the LGPL 2.1+.

It has around 300 operations covering arithmetic, histograms, convolution, morphological operations, frequency filtering, colour, resampling, statistics and others. It supports a large range of numeric types, from 8-bit int to 128-bit complex. Images can have any number of bands. It supports a good range of image formats, including JPEG, JPEG2000, JPEG-XL, TIFF, PNG, WebP, HEIC, AVIF, FITS, Matlab, OpenEXR, PDF, SVG, HDR, PPM / PGM / PFM, CSV, GIF, Analyze, NIfTI, DeepZoom, and OpenSlide. It can also load images via ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick, letting it work with formats like DICOM.

It comes with bindings for C, C++, and the command-line. Full bindings are available for :

Language Binding
Ruby ruby-vips
Python pyvips
PHP php-vips
C# / .NET NetVips
Go govips
Lua lua-vips
Crystal crystal-vips
Elixir vix

libvips is used as an image processing engine by:

sharp (on node.js)
sharp for Go
Ruby on Rails

and others. The official libvips GUI is nip2, a strange combination of a spreadsheet and a photo editor.


There are packages for most Unix-like operating systems, including macOS. Check your package manager.

There are binaries for Windows in releases.

The libvips website has detailed install notes.

Building from source

libvips uses the Meson build system, version 0.56 or later. Meson can use ninja, Visual Studio or XCode as a backend, so you'll also need one of them.

libvips must have build-essential, pkg-config, libglib2.0-dev, libexpat1-dev. See the Dependencies section below for a full list of the libvips optional dependencies.

There are basic bash completions in completions/, see the README in there.


cd libvips-x.y.x
meson setup build --prefix /my/install/prefix
cd build
meson compile
meson test
meson install

Check the output of meson setup carefully and make sure it found everything you wanted it to find. Add arguments to meson setup to change the build configuration.

  • Add flags like -Dnsgif=false to turn libvips options on and off, see meson_options.txt for a list of all the build options libvips supports.

  • Add flags like -Dmagick=disabled to turn libvips dependencies on and off, see meson_options.txt and the list below for a summary of all the libvips dependencies.

  • You might need to add --libdir lib on Debian if you don't want the arch name in the library path.

  • Add --default-library static for a static build.

  • Use eg. CC=clang CXX=clang++ meson setup ... to change compiler.

  • You can have many build-dir, pick whatever names you like, for example one for release and one for debug.

There's a more comprehensive test suite you can run once libvips has been installed. Use pytest in the libvips base directory.

Optional dependencies

If suitable versions are found, libvips will add support for the following libraries automatically. Packages are generally found with pkg-config, so make sure that is working.


Anything that is compatible with the IJG JPEG library. Use mozjpeg if you can. Another option is libjpeg-turbo.


If available, libvips adds support for EXIF metadata in JPEG files.


The usual SVG loader. If this is not present, vips will try to load SVGs via imagemagick instead.


If present, libvips will attempt to load PDFs with PDFium. Download the prebuilt pdfium binary from:

Untar to the libvips install prefix, for example:

cd ~/vips
tar xf ~/pdfium-linux.tgz

Create a pdfium.pc like this (update the version number):

cat > $VIPSHOME/lib/pkgconfig/pdfium.pc << EOF
     Name: pdfium
     Description: pdfium
     Version: 4290
     Libs: -L\${libdir} -lpdfium
     Cflags: -I\${includedir}

If PDFium is not detected, libvips will look for poppler-glib instead.


The Poppler PDF renderer, with a glib API. If this is not present, vips will try to load PDFs via imagemagick.


If available, libvips will save GIFs with cgif. If this is not present, vips will try to save gifs via imagemagick instead.


If available, libvips adds support for creating image pyramids with dzsave.


The TIFF library. It needs to be built with support for JPEG and ZIP compression. 3.4b037 and later are known to be OK.


If libvips finds this library, it uses it for fourier transforms.


If present, vips_icc_import(), vips_icc_export() and vips_icc_transform() can be used to manipulate images with ICC profiles.


If present, libvips will load and save PNG files using libspng. If not, it will look for the standard libpng package.

libimagequant, quantizr

If one of these quantisation packages is present, libvips can write 8-bit palette-ised PNGs and GIFs.

ImageMagick, or optionally GraphicsMagick

If available, libvips adds support for loading and saving all libMagick-supported image file types. You can enable and disable load and save separately.

Imagemagick 6.9+ needs to have been built with --with-modules. Most packaged IMs are, I think.

If you are going to be using libvips with untrusted images, perhaps in a web server, for example, you should consider the security implications of enabling a package with such a large attack surface.


If available, libvips adds support for text rendering. You need the package pangocairo in pkg-config --list-all.


If present, libvips will accelerate some operations with SIMD. If not, it will look for the orc-0.4 package.


If available, vips can load images from Matlab save files.


If available, vips can load FITS images.


If available, vips can load and save WebP images.


If available, vips can load and save NIfTI images.


If available, libvips will directly read (but not write, sadly) OpenEXR images.


If available, libvips will read and write JPEG2000 images.


If available, libvips will read and write JPEG-XL images.


If available, libvips can load OpenSlide-supported virtual slide files: Aperio, Hamamatsu, Leica, MIRAX, Sakura, Trestle, and Ventana.


If available, libvips can load and save HEIC and AVIF images. Your libheif (in turn) needs to be built with the correct decoders and encoders. You can check with eg.:

$ heif-convert --list-decoders
HEIC decoders:
- libde265 = libde265 HEVC decoder, version 1.0.9
AVIF decoders:
- dav1d = dav1d v6.6.0
- aom = AOMedia Project AV1 Decoder v3.5.0
$ heif-enc --list-encoders
HEIC encoders:
- x265 = x265 HEVC encoder (3.5+1-f0c1022b6) [default]
AVIF encoders:
- aom = AOMedia Project AV1 Encoder v3.5.0 [default]
- svt = SVT-AV1 encoder v1.1.0
- rav1e = Rav1e encoder


Code Contributors

This project exists thanks to all the people who contribute.


We've had generous financial support from our sponsors. Thank you very much!