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Simple X Image Viewer
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Simple X Image Viewer

sxiv is an alternative to feh and qiv. Its only dependencies besides xlib are imlib2, libexif and giflib. The primary goal for writing sxiv is to create an image viewer, which only has the most basic features required for fast image viewing (the ones I want). It has vi key bindings and works nicely with tiling window managers. Its code base should be kept small and clean to make it easy for you to dig into it and customize it for your needs.


  • Basic image operations, e.g. zooming, panning, rotating
  • Customizable key and mouse button mappings (in config.h)
  • Thumbnail mode: grid of selectable previews of all images
  • Ability to cache thumbnails for fast re-loading
  • Basic support for multi-frame images
  • Load all frames from GIF files and play GIF animations
  • Display image information in status bar


Image mode:


Thumbnail mode:



sxiv is built using the commands:

$ make
# make install

Please note, that the latter one requires root privileges. By default, sxiv is installed using the prefix "/usr/local", so the full path of the executable will be "/usr/local/bin/sxiv".

You can install sxiv into a directory of your choice by changing the second command to:

# make PREFIX="/your/dir" install

The build-time specific settings of sxiv can be found in the file config.h. Please check and change them, so that they fit your needs. If the file config.h does not already exist, then you have to create it with the following command:

$ make config.h


sxiv has two modes of operation: image and thumbnail mode. The default is image mode, in which only the current image is shown. In thumbnail mode a grid of small previews is displayed, making it easy to choose an image to open.

Command line options:

-a           Play animations of multi-frame images
-b           Do not show info bar on bottom of window
-c           Remove all orphaned cache files from thumbnail cache and exit
-f           Start in fullscreen mode
-G GAMMA     Set image gamma to GAMMA (-32..32)
-g GEOMETRY  Set window position and size
             (see section GEOMETRY SPECIFICATIONS of X(7))
-i           Read file list from stdin
-N NAME      Set X window resource name to NAME
-n NUM       Start at picture NUM
-o           Write list of marked files to stdout when quitting
-q           Be quiet, disable warnings
-r           Search given directories recursively for images
-S DELAY     Enable slideshow and set slideshow delay to DELAY seconds
-s MODE      Set scale mode to MODE ([d]own, [f]it, [w]idth, [h]eight)
-t           Start in thumbnail mode
-v           Print version information and exit
-Z           Same as `-z 100'
-z ZOOM      Set zoom level to ZOOM percent

Key mappings:

0-9          Prefix the next command with a number (denoted via [count])
q            Quit sxiv
Return       Switch to thumbnail mode / open selected image
f            Toggle fullscreen mode
b            Toggle visibility of info bar on bottom of window
Ctrl-x       Send the next key to the external key-handler
g            Go to first image
G            Go to the last image, or image number [count]
r            Reload image
D            Remove image from file list and go to next image
Ctrl-h,j,k,l Scroll one window width/height left/down/up/right
+            Zoom in
-            Zoom out
m            Mark/unmark current image
M            Reverse all image marks
Ctrl-m       Remove all image marks
N            Go [count] marked images forward
P            Go [count] marked images backward
{,}          Decrease/increase gamma correction by [count] steps
Ctrl-g       Reset gamma correction

Thumbnail mode:

h,j,k,l      Move selection left/down/up/right [count] times (also with
             arrow keys)
R            Reload all thumbnails

Image mode:

n,Space      Go [count] images forward
p,Backspace  Go [count] images backward
[,]          Go [count] * 10 images backward/forward
Ctrl-n,p     Go [count] frames of a multi-frame image forward/backward
Ctrl-Space   Play/stop animations of multi-frame images
h,j,k,l      Scroll image 1/5 of window width/height or [count] pixels
             left/down/up/right (also with arrow keys)
H,J,K,L      Scroll to left/bottom/top/right image edge
=            Set zoom level to 100%, or [count]%
w            Set zoom level to 100%, but fit large images into window
W            Fit image to window
e            Fit image to window width
E            Fit image to window height
<,>          Rotate image (counter-)clockwise by 90 degrees
?            Rotate image by 180 degrees
|,_          Flip image horizontally/vertically
a            Toggle anti-aliasing
A            Toggle visibility of alpha-channel, i.e. transparency
s            Toggle slideshow or set delay to [count] seconds

Mouse button mappings:

Image mode:

Button1      Go to the next image
Button3      Go to the previous image
Button2      Drag image with mouse while keeping it pressed
Wheel        Scroll image up/down
Shift+Wheel  Scroll image left/right
Ctrl+Wheel   Zoom in/out

Download & Changelog

You can browse the source code repository on GitHub or get a copy using git with the following command:

git clone

Stable releases

v1.3.2 (December 20, 2015)

  • external key handler gets file paths on stdin, not as arguments
  • Cache out-of-view thumbnails in the background
  • Apply gamma correction to thumbnails

v1.3.1 (November 16, 2014)

  • Fixed build error, caused by delayed config.h creation
  • Fixed segfault when run with -c

v1.3 (October 24, 2014)

  • Extract thumbnails from EXIF tags (requires libexif)
  • Zoomable thumbnails, supported sizes defined in config.h
  • Fixed build error with giflib version >= 5.1.0

v1.2 (April 24, 2014)

  • Added external key handler, called on keys prefixed with Ctrl-x
  • New keybinding {/} to change gamma (by András Mohari)
  • Support for slideshows, enabled with -S option & toggled with s
  • Added application icon (created by 0ion9)
  • Checkerboard background for alpha layer
  • Option -o only prints files marked with m key
  • Fixed rotation/flipping of multi-frame images (gifs)

v1.1.1 (June 2, 2013)

  • Various bug fixes

v1.1 (March 30, 2013)

  • Added status bar on bottom of window with customizable content
  • New keyboard shortcuts \/|: flip image vertically/horizontally
  • New keyboard shortcut Ctrl-6: go to last/alternate image
  • Added own EXIF orientation handling, removed dependency on libexif
  • Fixed various bugs

v1.0 (October 31, 2011)

  • Support for multi-frame images & GIF animations
  • POSIX compliant (IEEE Std 1003.1-2001)

v0.9 (August 17, 2011)

  • Made key and mouse mappings fully configurable in config.h
  • Complete code refactoring

v0.8.2 (June 29, 2011)

  • POSIX-compliant Makefile; compiles under NetBSD

v0.8.1 (May 8, 2011)

  • Fixed fullscreen under window managers, which are not fully EWMH-compliant

v0.8 (April 18, 2011)

  • Support for thumbnail caching
  • Ability to run external commands (e.g. jpegtran, convert) on current image

v0.7 (February 26, 2011)

  • Sort directory entries when using -r command line option
  • Hide cursor in image mode
  • Full functional thumbnail mode, use Return key to switch between image and thumbnail mode

v0.6 (February 16, 2011)

  • Bug fix: Correctly display filenames with umlauts in window title
  • Basic support of thumbnails

v0.5 (February 6, 2011)

  • New command line option: -r: open all images in given directories
  • New key shortcuts: w: resize image to fit into window; W: resize window to fit to image

v0.4 (February 1, 2011)

  • New command line option: -F, -g: use fixed window dimensions and apply a given window geometry
  • New key shortcut: r: reload current image

v0.3.1 (January 30, 2011)

  • Bug fix: Do not set setuid bit on executable when using make install
  • Pan image with mouse while pressing middle mouse button

v0.3 (January 29, 2011)

  • New command line options: -d, -f, -p, -s, -v, -w, -Z, -z
  • More mouse mappings: Go to next/previous image with left/right click, scroll image with mouse wheel (horizontally if Shift key is pressed), zoom image with mouse wheel if Ctrl key is pressed

v0.2 (January 23, 2011)

  • Bug fix: Handle window resizes correctly
  • New keyboard shortcuts: g/G: go to first/last image; [/]: go 10 images back/forward
  • Support for mouse wheel zooming (by Dave Reisner)
  • Added fullscreen mode

v0.1 (January 21, 2011)

  • Initial release
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