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Simple (or small or suckless) X Image Viewer

sxiv is an alternative to feh and qiv. Its only dependencies besides xlib are imlib2 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 window title


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:

-b           Do not show info bar on bottom of window
-c           Remove all orphaned cache files from thumbnail cache and exit
-d           Scale all images to 100%, but fit large images into window
-F           Use size-hints to make the window fixed/floating
-f           Start in fullscreen mode
-g GEOMETRY  Set window position and size
             (see section GEOMETRY SPECIFICATIONS of X(7))
-n NUM       Start at picture NUM
-N NAME      Set X window resource name to NAME
-p           Pixelize, i.e. turn off image anti-aliasing
-q           Be quiet, disable warnings
-r           Search given directories recursively for images
-s           Scale all images to fit into window
-t           Start in thumbnail mode
-v           Print version information and exit
-Z           Same as `-z 100'
-z ZOOM      Scale all images to current zoom level, use ZOOM at startup

Key mappings:

q            Quit sxiv
Return       Switch to thumbnail mode / open selected image

0-9          Prefix the next command with a number (denoted via [count])

g            Go to first image
G            Go to the last image, or image number [count]

f            Toggle fullscreen mode (requires an EWMH/NetWM compliant
             window manager)
b            Toggle visibility of info bar on bottom of window
A            Toggle visibility of alpha-channel, i.e. transparency

r            Reload image
R            Reload all thumbnails
D            Remove image from file list and go to next image

Thumbnail mode:

h,j,k,l      Move selection left/down/up/right [count] times
Ctrl-j,k     Scroll thumbnail grid one window height down/up

Image mode:

n,Space      Go [count] images forward
p,Backspace  Go [count] images backward
[,]          Go [count] * 10 images backward/forward

Ctrl-n,p     Go to the next/previous frame of a multi-frame image
Ctrl-Space   Play/pause animation of a multi-frame image

+            Zoom in
-            Zoom out
=            Set zoom level to 100%, or [count]%
w            Fit image into window
e            Fit image width to window width
E            Fit image height to window height

h,j,k,l      Pan image 1/5 of window width/height or [count] pixels
             left/down/up/right (also with arrow keys)
H,J,K,L      Pan to left/bottom/top/right image edge
Ctrl-h,j,k,l Pan image one window width/height left/down/up/right
             (also with Ctrl-arrow keys)

<,>          Rotate image (counter-)clockwise by 90 degrees
\,|          Flip image horizontally/vertically

a            Toggle anti-aliasing
W            Resize window to fit image

Mouse button mappings:

Image mode:

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

v1.0 (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, only enabled if directory ~/.sxiv/ exists
  • 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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