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Carbon CLI

🎨 Beautiful images of your code β€” from right inside your terminal.

Build Status XO code style Featured in awesome-nodejs Twitter Follow Maintenance MIT license

Table of Contents

Description by @dawn_labs is a wonderful tool that lets you generate beautiful images of your source code through an intuitive UI, while letting you customize aspects like fonts, themes, window controls and much more.

carbon-now-cli gives you the full power of Carbon β€” right at your fingertips, inside the terminal.

Generate beautiful images from a source file, or sections of a source file, by running a single command.

Want to customize everything before generating the image? Run it in ⚑️ interactive mode ⚑️. 😎

Basic example


  • πŸ–Ό Downloads the real, high-quality image (no DOM screenshots)
  • ✨ Detects file type automatically
  • πŸ—‚ Supports all file extensions supported by and more
  • ⚑️ Interactive mode via --interactive
  • πŸŽ’ Presets: save and reuse your favorite settings
  • πŸ–± Selective highlighting via --start and --end
  • πŸ“Ž Copies image to clipboard via --copy (cross-OS 😱)
  • πŸ“š Accepts file, stdin or clipboard content as input
  • 🐢 Displays image directly in supported terminals
  • ⏱ Reports each step and therefore shortens the wait
  • πŸ‘€ Saves to given location or only opens in browser for manual finish
  • 🌈 Supports saving as .png or .svg β€” just like Carbon
  • πŸ“ Supports 2x, 4x or 1x resolutions β€” just like Carbon
  • βœ… Tested
  • ⛏ Maintained



$ npm i -g carbon-now-cli


$ yarn global add carbon-now-cli


$ npx carbon-now-cli <file>


Minimum Node.js version


$ carbon-now --help

Beautiful images of your code β€” from right inside your terminal.

  $ carbon-now <file>
  $ pbpaste | carbon-now
  $ carbon-now --from-clipboard

  -s, --start          Starting line of <file>
  -e, --end            Ending line of <file>
  -i, --interactive    Interactive mode
  -l, --location       Image save location, default: cwd
  -t, --target         Image name, default: original-hash.{png|svg}
  -o, --open           Open in browser instead of saving
  -c, --copy           Copy image to clipboard
  -p, --preset         Use a saved preset
  -h, --headless       Use only non-experimental Puppeteer features
  --config             Use a different, local config (read-only)
  --from-clipboard     Read input from clipboard instead of file



Assuming you have a file unfold.js with this content

// Example from
const unfold = (f, seed) => {
  const go = (f, seed, acc) => {
    const res = f(seed)
    return res ? go(f, res[1], acc.concat([res[0]])) : acc
  return go(f, seed, [])

and you’d like to make a beautiful image out of it. You could approach this in several ways.


$ carbon-now unfold.js

Takes the entire source of unfold.js, uses Carbon’s default settings and saves as .png into your cwd.


Basic example

Note: carbon-now will be smart enough to reuse your last used settings, instead of the default ones. πŸ€“

Fully customized

$ carbon-now unfold.js -i

Launches an interactive mode, prompting questions, allowing you to customize every aspect of Carbon, like syntax theme, font-family, padding, drop-shadow, etc.

Given this input…

Example 2, Input

…the result will look like so 😍:

Example 2, Output

If you’re not sure what each question, e.g. β€œMake squared image?”, refers to, just confirm by hitting Enter β€” it will default to a sensible, nice-looking thing.

If needed, you can always check the default settings.


$ carbon-now unfold.js -s 3 -e 6

Reads and creates an image based on lines 3 to 6, instead of the entire file. Will throw an error if -s > -e.

Selective mode can of course be combined with interactive mode, just with like any other option. 😊


Example 3

Note: carbon-now will be smart enough to reuse your last used settings, instead of the default ones. πŸ€“

Copying to clipboard

Copying to Clipboard

It is sometimes desired to just put the image in the clipboard, so that it can be instantly pasted into other apps (like Keynote πŸ’» or Twitter 🐦). This is what the --copy/-c flag is for.

$ carbon-now unfold.js -c

will copy the image to clipboard instead of downloading it to a given directory.

Please be aware that this requires some binaries to be present on certain OS.


xclip is required. You can install it via

sudo apt-get install xclip

NirCmd is required. It can be installed via

choco install nircmd

Also make sure the nircmd command is globally accessible/inside your Windows directory.

Input Sources

You’ll sometimes find yourself in a situation where you’d like to create an image based on a piece of code, but don’t want to be creating a file for it first.

In addition to files, carbon-now-cli therefore also accepts input coming from stdin or the clipboard.

$ pbpaste | carbon-now
$ echo '<h1>Hi</h1>' | carbon-now
$ carbon-now --from-clipboard

Full Example

For demonstration purposes, here is an example using all options.

$ carbon-now unfold.js -s 3 -e 6 -l ~/Desktop -t example-23 -i

This saves a beautiful image of lines 3 to 6 to ~/Desktop/example-23.png, after accepting custom wishes via interactive mode.

If you’re not sure how exactly the image will turn out, you can always use -o or --open.

$ carbon-now unfold.js -s 3 -e 6 -i -o

This will open the image in the browser for final touches, instead of saving it immediately. 😌



The most requested feature after carbon-now-cli’s initial release has been the support for reusable settings, to not having to go through the entire process of answering all questions in interactive mode each time.

Presets are officially included as of v1.1.0 of carbon-now-cli. πŸŽ‰

Creating a preset

However you use the carbon-now command, a ~/.carbon-now.json file will be created for you. This is where all your presets and the settings of the last interactive run will live.

When running carbon-now with -i, you’ll be asked the following two questions last:

Presets 1

Answering with yes and naming the preset (in this case presentation) will result in the preset being saved to ~/.carbon-now.json. In this particular case, ~/.carbon-now.json will look like so:

  "latest-preset": {
    "t": "base16-light",
    "bg": "none",
    "wt": "none",
    "wc": true,
    "fm": "Inconsolata",
    "fs": "18px",
    "ln": true,
    "ds": true,
    "dsyoff": "3px",
    "dsblur": "5px",
    "wa": true,
    "pv": "15px",
    "ph": "15px",
    "si": false,
    "wm": false,
    "es": "2x",
    "type": "png"
  "presentation": {
    "t": "base16-light",
    "bg": "none",
    "wt": "none",
    "wc": true,
    "fm": "Inconsolata",
    "fs": "18px",
    "ln": true,
    "ds": true,
    "dsyoff": "3px",
    "dsblur": "5px",
    "wa": true,
    "pv": "15px",
    "ph": "15px",
    "si": false,
    "wm": false,
    "es": "2x",
    "type": "png"

latest-preset will be overwritten after each interactive run. presentation is meant to stay until you eventually decide to delete it manually.

Using a saved preset

Reusing presets is as easy and straight-forward as:

carbon-now unfold.js -p <name-of-preset>

If a given preset or ~/.carbon-now.json doesn’t exist, carbon-now-cli will fall back to the default settings.

Taken the presentation preset we have created above, this is all we have to do:

carbon-now unfold.js -p presentation


Presets 1

Reusing the last used settings

It just works! β„’ πŸŽ‰

Any time you use -i, carbon-now-cli will automatically reuse those settings for its next run.

So you can carbon-now <file> -i and carbon-now <file> from there on β€” the output will always look as pretty as the one where you’ve used -i. 😊

Local configs

It is possible to use local configuration files via the --config flag.

This is convenient if you’re using carbon-now-cli via a script and would like to share presets among the users of your project.

carbon-now unfold.js --config local-config.json -p dark

Local configs differ from ~/.carbon-now.json in the sense that they behave in a read-only manner, hence:

  1. local-config.json won’t be created if it doesn’t exist
  2. latest-preset will not be written to local-config.json


MIT Β© MiloΕ‘ Sutanovac