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Unix pager (with very rich functionality) designed for work with tables. Designed for PostgreSQL, but MySQL is supported too. Works well with pgcli too. Can be used as CSV or TSV viewer too. It supports searching, selecting rows, columns, or block and export selected area to clipboard.

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pspg - Postgres Pager

Everybody who uses psql uses less pager. It is working well, but there is not any special support for tabular data. I found few projects, but no one was completed for this purpose. I decided to write some small specialized pager for usage as psql pager.

This pager can be used from the following clients command line clients too:

Main target

Video presentation

Video presentation


Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot


[pavel@localhost ~]$ pspg --help
pspg is a Unix pager designed for table browsing.

  pspg [OPTION] [file]

General options:
  --about                  about authors
  --help                   show this help
  -V, --version            show version
  -f, --file=FILE          open file
  -F, --quit-if-one-screen
                           quit if content is one screen
  --clipboard-app=NUM      specify app used by copy to clipboard (1, 2, 3)
  --hold-stream=NUM        can reopen closed FIFO (0, 1, 2)
  --interactive            force interactive mode
  --ignore_file_suffix     don't try to deduce format from file suffix
  --ni                     not interactive mode (only for csv and query)
  --no-watch-file          don't watch inotify event of file
  --no-mouse               don't use own mouse handling
                           without reset searching on sigint (CTRL C)
  --no-sleep               without waits against flickering
  --no_xterm_mouse_mode    don't use optional xterm mouse mode
  --only-for-tables        use std pager when content is not table
  --on-sigint-exit         exit on sigint(CTRL C or Escape)
  --pgcli-fix              try to fix some pgcli related issues
  --querystream            read queries from stream forever
  --quit-on-f3             exit on F3 like mc viewers
  --rr=ROWNUM              rows reserved for specific purposes
  --stream                 read input forever
  -X, --reprint-on-exit    preserve content after exit

Output format options:
  -a, --ascii              force ascii
  -b, --blackwhite         black-white style
  -s, --style=N            set color style number (0..22)
  --bold-labels            row, column labels use bold font
  --bold-cursor            cursor use bold font
  --border                 type of borders (0..2)
  --double-header          header separator uses double lines
  --force-uniborder        replace ascii borders by unicode borders
  --ignore-bad-rows        rows with wrong column numbers are ignored
  --null=STRING            STRING used instead NULL

Searching options
  -g --hlite-search, -G --HILITE-SEARCH
                           don't highlight lines for searches
  -i --ignore-case         ignore case in searches that do not contain uppercase
  -I --IGNORE-CASE         ignore case in all searches

Interface options:
  -c, --freezecols=N       freeze N columns (0..9)
  --less-status-bar        status bar like less pager
  --line-numbers           show line number column
  --menu-always            show top bar menu every time
  --no-bars, --no-commandbar, --no-topbar
                           don't show bottom, top bar or both
  --no-cursor              row cursor will be hidden
  --no-scrollbar           don't show scrollbar
  --no-sound               don't use beep when scroll is not possible
  --tabular-cursor         cursor is visible only when data has table format
  --vertical-cursor        show vertical column cursor

Input format options:
  --csv                    input stream has csv format
  --csv-separator          char used as field separator
  --csv-header [on/off]    specify header line usage
  --skip-columns-like="SPACE SEPARATED STRING LIST"
                           columns with substr in name are ignored
  --tsv                    input stream has tsv format

Watch mode options:
  -q, --query=QUERY        execute query
  -w, --watch time         the query (or read file) is repeated every time (sec)

Connection options
  -d, --dbname=DBNAME      database name
  -h, --host=HOSTNAME      database server host (default: "local socket")
  -p, --port=PORT          database server port (default: "5432")
  -U, --username=USERNAME  database user name
  -W, --password           force password prompt

Debug options:
  --log=FILE               log debug info to file
  --wait=NUM               wait NUM seconds to allow attach from a debugger

pspg shares lot of key commands with less pager or vi editor.

Options can be passed inside env variable PSPG too.

Environment variables

Name Usage
PSPG can holds same options like command line
PSPG_CONF path to configuration file
PSPG_HISTORY path to file pspg's readline history file


Code Name
0 black & white
1 Midnight Commander like
2 FoxPro like
3 Pdmenu like
4 White theme
5 Mutt like
6 PCFand like
7 Green theme
8 Blue theme
9 Word Perfect like
10 Low contrast blue theme
11 Dark cyan/black mode
12 Paradox like
13 dBase IV retro style
14 dBase IV retro style (Magenta labels)
15 Red white theme
16 Simple theme
17 Solarized dark theme
18 Solarized light theme
19 Gruvbox light theme
20 Tao Light theme
21 FlatWhite theme
22 Relational pipes theme


Keyboard commands

Key(s) Command
0, 1, 2, 3, .., 9 freeze first N columns
KEY_UP, k navigate backward by one line
KEY_DOWN, j navigate forward by one line
KEY_LEFT, h scroll to left
KEY_RIGHT, l scroll to right
Ctrl+Home, g go to the start of file
Ctrl+End, G go to the end of file
Alt+l go to line number
H go to first line of current window
M go to half of current window
L go to end of current window
PPAGE, Ctrl+b backward one window
NPAGE, Ctrl+f, space forward one window
HOME, ^ go to begin of line, first column
END, $ go to end of line, last column
Ctrl+e scroll a window down
Ctrl+y scroll a window up
Ctrl+d forward a half window
Ctrl+u backward a half window
s save content to file
/ search for a pattern which will take you to the next occurrence
? search for a pattern which will take you to the previous occurrence
n for next match
N for next match in reverse direction
c column search
Alt+c switch (on, off) drawing line cursor
Alt+m switch (on, off) own mouse handler
Alt+n switch (on, off) drawing line numbers
Alt+v, double click on column header switch (on, off) drawing column cursor
Mouse button wheel scroll vertical
Alt+Mouse button wheel scroll horizontal
F9 show menu
q, F10, Esc 0 quit
Alt+q quit and print raw (unformatted) content
Alt+k, Alt+double click switch bookmark
Alt+j go to next bookmark
Alt+i go to previous bookmark
Alt+o flush bookmarks
a sort ascendent
d sort descendent
u unsorted (sorted in origin order)
space stop/continue in watch mode
R Repaint screen and refresh input file
Ins export row, column or cell to default target
shift+cursor... define range
F3 start/finish of selection rows
shift+F3 start/finish of selection block
Ctrl + drag mouse defines rows selection, on column header defines column selection


The pager can be ended by pressing keys q or F10 or Esc 0. With option --on-sigint-exit then the pager is closed by pressing keys Ctrl+c or Esc Esc.

Column search

Column search is case insensitive every time. Searched column is marked by vertical cursor. Last non empty string searching pattern is used when current searching pattern is empty string. Searching is starting after visible vertical column or on first visible not freezed columns (after some horizontal scrolling) or on first column. After last column searching starts from first again.

Export & Clipboard

For clipboard support the clipboard application should be installed: 1. wl-clipboard (Wayland), 2. xlip (xwindows) or 3. pbcopy (MacOS).

pspg try to translate unicode symbol '∅' to NULL every time. If you don't use special setting by \pset null ..., then psql displays empty string instead NULL. pspg hasn't any special detection (in export routines) for this case. You should to check and enable or disable menu item Empty string is NULL.

pspg has automatic detection of clipboard application. Unfortunatelly, this detection should not to work for same cases. You can specify the application by specify number (1,2,3) to --clipboard-app option.

Status line description

  • V: [d/d d..d] - vertical cursor: (column number)/(columns) (char possitions from) .. (char possitions to)
  • FC: d - freezed columns length in chars
  • C: d..d/d - unfreezed visible data in chars (from .. to)/(total)
  • L:[d + d d/d] - lines (number of first visible line) + (number of line of display), (current line)/(lines)
  • d% - percent of already displayed data

Usage as csv viewer

It works well with miller

mlr --icsv --opprint --barred put '' obce.csv | pspg --force-uniborder

New version has integrated csv support - just use --csv option.

It can be integrated into mc

  • copy file from /etc/mc/mc.ext to your ~/.config/mc directory
  • insert there

    View=pspg -f %f --csv
  • restart mc

Know issues

  • When you use pspg on Cygwin, then some temporary freezing of scrolling was reported In this case, please, use an option --no-sleep. I see slow scrolling (via scrollbar) inside konsole (KDE terminal). The option --no-sleep helps too.

Usage in watch mode

The result of query can be refreshed every n seconds. pspg remembers cursor row, possible vertical cursor, possible ordering. The refreshing should be paused by pressing space key. Repeated pressing of this key enables refreshing again.

pspg uses inotify API when it is available, and when input file is changed, then pspg reread file immediately. This behave can be disabled by option --no-watch-file or by specification watch time by option --watch.

Special options for reading from stream (file or FIFO)

pspg can continually read from file or FIFO (named pipe). This behave should should be forced by option --stream.

When last writer to FIFO is ending, then pspg is ending too. This behave can be changed by option --hold-stream. Default value is 0. When --hold-stream=1 then pspg will try to reopen FIFO and will hang until the FIFO will be opened for writing. --hold-stream=2 is different strategy. The pspg reopen FIFO in write mode, and then FIFO will be opened until pspg is running.

Streaming modes

pspg can read a stream of tabular data from pipe or from file (with an option --stream or it can read a stream of queries from pipe or from file (with an option --querystream). It is good to use these option with option --hold-stream.

Without this option, there are possible unwanted issues when pipe will be closed.

The query stream mode is an sequence of SQL statements separated by char GS (Group separator - 0x1D on separated line.

Recommended psql configuration

you should to add to your profile:

#for Postgres 10 and older
export PAGER="pspg"

#for postgres 11 and newer
export PSQL_PAGER="pspg"

#or "\setenv PAGER pspg" to .psqlrc

and .psqlrc

\set QUIET 1
\pset linestyle unicode
\pset border 2
\pset null ∅
\unset QUIET

some possible configuration:

-- Switch pagers with :x and :xx commands
\set x '\\setenv PAGER less'
\set xx '\\setenv PAGER \'pspg -bX --no-mouse\''

LC_CTYPE should be correct. Mainly when you use unicode borders. ncurses doesn't display unicode borders (produced by psql) without correct setting of this variable. Is possible to check a value 'C.UTF8'.


When you use a option --only-for-tables, then

  • set PAGER to pspg and PSQL_PAGER to less or
  • set PAGER to less and PSQL_PAGER to pspg

MySQL usage

MariaDB [sakila]> pager pspg -s 14 -X --force-uniborder --quit-if-one-screen
PAGER set to 'pspg -s 14 -X --force-uniborder --quit-if-one-screen'
MariaDB [sakila]> select now();
MariaDB [sakila]> select * from nicer_but_slower_film_list limit 100;


SQLite native client doesn't produce well formatted output, but can be forced to generate CSV format - and this format is well readable for pspg

sqlite3 -csv -header testdb.db 'select * from foo2' | pspg --csv --csv-header=on --double-header


pgcli needs the following configuration options (~/.config/pgcli/config):

pager = /usr/bin/pspg --csv --rr=2 --quit-if-one-screen --ignore-case --csv-header on --pgcli-fix
table_format = csv

Note - mouse

pspg try to use xterm mouse mode 1002, when terminal and ncurses are not too antique. If there are problems with usage - unwanted visual artefacts when you move with mouse when some mouse button is pressed, then 1. please, report issue (please, attach log file), 2. use an option --no-xterm-mouse-mode and pspg will not try to activate this mode.

Note - compilation issue

Some linker issues can be fixed by:

I changed 
gcc -lncursesw pager.c -o pspg -ggdb
gcc pager.c -o pspg -ggdb -lncursesw

On some old systems a compilation fails with error

/home/user/Src/pspg-0.6/src/pspg.c:2403: undefined reference to `set_escdelay`

In this case comment line with function set_escdelay

If you want to use pspg as Postgres client, then you need run configure --with-postgres=yes. On Fedora with own Postgres build I had to install openssl-devel package and I had to set export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="/usr/local/pgsql/master/lib/pkgconfig/".

Note - Installation

When you compile code from source, run ./configure first. Sometimes ./ first

If you would to display UTF-8 characters, then pspg should be linked with ncursesw library. UTF-8 characters are displayed badly when library ncursesw is used. You can see broken characters with incorrect locale setting too.

You can check wide chars support by pspg --version. Row ncurses with wide char support is expected. Re-run configure with --with-ncursesw option. When this command fails check if development package for ncuresesw library is installed.

Homebrew (for Linux & MacOS)

# brew install pspg


# apt-cache search pspg
# apt-get install pspg

Fedora (28 and later)

# dnf install pspg

RPM (CentOS/openSUSE/…)

The pspg is available from community repository

Alpine Linux

# apk add pspg


# emerge -av dev-db/pspg

Arch Linux

The Arch User Repository contains two versions:

  • pspg is a fixed release.
  • pspg-git tracks the master branch.

Use the AUR helper of your choice or git and makepkg to install pspg.


# pkg install pspg

Using MacPorts (MacOS only)

# port install pspg


There are few issues requires manual code changes for successful compilation - we successfully tested pspg, but although pspg was linked with ncursesw libraries, the utf8 encoding support didn't work fully correctly - probably due some issues in libc library. There are problems with chars encoded to 3bytes - unicode borders, .. Two bytes unicode chars should be displayed well.

You can use pspg with usual accented chars, but unicode bordes should not be used. Replacement ascii borders by special borders chars (by ncurses technology) works well - looks on Options|Force unicode borders option.

  • Solaris make doesn't support conditional statements - should be removed So, remove unsupported functionality from Makefile (ifdef,endif), replace -include by include first.

  • After running configure remove link on termcap library from config.make. It is garabage produced by readline automake script. Combination with ncurses libraries makes some linking issues.

builtin libraries

export CURSES_CFLAGS="-I/usr/include/ncurses/"
export PANEL_LIBS="-lpanelw"

OpenCSW development

export CFLAGS="-m64 -I/opt/csw/include"
export LDFLAGS="-L/opt/csw/lib/64 -R/opt/csw/lib/64"
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="/opt/csw/lib/64/pkgconfig"

Possible ToDo

  • Store data in some column format (now data are stored like array of rows). With this change can be possible to operate over columns - hide columns, change width, cyclic iteration over columns, change order of columns, mark columns and export only selected columns (selected rows).


This project uses st_menu library - implementation of CUA menubar and pulldown menu for ncurses


If you like it, send a postcard from your home country to my address, please:

Pavel Stehule
Skalice 12
256 01 Benesov u Prahy
Czech Republic

I invite any questions, comments, bug reports, patches on mail address


Unix pager (with very rich functionality) designed for work with tables. Designed for PostgreSQL, but MySQL is supported too. Works well with pgcli too. Can be used as CSV or TSV viewer too. It supports searching, selecting rows, columns, or block and export selected area to clipboard.





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