Small C++ program to display images in a (modern) terminal using RGB ANSI codes and unicode block graphics characters
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TerminalImageViewer (tiv)

Small C++ program to display images in a (modern) terminal using RGB ANSI codes and unicode block graphic characters.

There are various similar tools (such as timg) using the unicode half block character to display two 24bit pixels per character cell. This program enhances the resolution by mapping 4x8 pixel cells to different unicode characters, using the following algorithm:

For each 4x8 pixel cell of the (potentially downscaled) image:

  1. Find the color channel (R, G or B) that has the biggest range of values for the current cell
  2. Split this range in the middle and create a corresponding bitmap for the cell
  3. Compare the bitmap to the assumed bitmaps for various unicode block graphics characters
  4. Re-calculate the foregound and background colors for the chosen character.

See the difference by disabling this optimization using the -0 option. Or just take a look at the comparsion image at the end of this text.


sudo apt install imagemagick || yum install ImageMagick
git clone
cd TerminalImageViewer/src/main/cpp
sudo make install


tiv [options] <filename(s)>

The shell will expand wildcards. By default, thumbnails and file names will be displayed if more than one image is provided. To display a list of options, just run the command without any parameters.

Common problems

  • If you see strange horizontal lines, the characters don't fully fill the character cell. Remove additional line spacing in your terminal app
  • Wrong colors? Try -256 to use a 256 color palette instead of 24 bit colors



If multiple images match the filename spec, thumbnails are shown.


Comparison to Using Half-Block Characters Only

The top image was generated with the character optization diabled via the -0 option.