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Actions Status PyPI version PyPI PyPI

Terminal string styling done right, in Python πŸŽ‰

Here's a tease

colorful example

import colorful as cf

# create a colored string using clever method translation
print(cf.bold_white('Hello World'))
# create a colored string using `str.format()`
print('{c.bold}{c.lightCoral_on_white}Hello World{c.reset}'.format(c=cf))

# nest colors
print('red {0} red'.format(cf.white('white'))))
print('red' + cf.white(' white ', nested=True) + 'red'))

# combine styles with strings
print(cf.bold & | 'Hello World')

# use true colors

# extend default color palette
cf.update_palette({'mint': '#c5e8c8'})
print(cf.mint_on_snow('Wow, this is actually mint'))

# choose a predefined style
# print the official solarized colors
print(cf.yellow('yellow'),'orange'),'red'), cf.magenta('magenta'),

# directly print with colors
cf.print('{c.bold_blue}Hello World{c.reset}')

# choose specific color mode for one block
with cf.with_8_ansi_colors() as c:
    print(c.bold_green('colorful is awesome!'))

# create and choose your own color palette
    'companyOrange': '#f4b942',
    'companyBaige': '#e8dcc5'
with cf.with_palette(MY_COMPANY_PALETTE) as c:
    print(c.companyOrange_on_companyBaige('Thanks for choosing our product!'))

# use f-string (only Python >= 3.6)
print(f'{cf.bold}Hello World')

# support for chinese
print('δ½ ε₯½'))

Key Features

  • expressive and consistent API (docs)
  • support for different color modes (8 ANSI, 256 ANSI, true colors) (docs)
  • support for predefined awesome styles (solarized, ...) (docs)
  • support for custom color palettes (docs)
  • support nesting styles (docs)
  • support for different platforms (using colorama on Windows)
  • context managers for clean color mode, color palette or style switch (docs)
  • support len() on colored strings (docs)
  • support color names from X11 rgb.txt (docs)
  • no dependencies


colorful supports all major Python versions: 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11.
We recommend to use the latest version released on PyPI:

pip install colorful

colorful does not require any special setup in order to be used:

import colorful as cf

print(cf.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello World'))
print(cf.italic & cf.coral_on_beige | 'Hello World')
print('{c.italic_coral_on_beige}Hello World{c.reset}'.format(c=cf))

Note: the entire documentation assumes colorful to be imported as cf.

See the Style a string section for more information!

Color modes

These days terminals not only support the ancient 8 ANSI colors but often they support up to 16 Million colors with true color. And if they don't support true color they might support the 256 ANSI color palette at least.

colorful supports the following color modes:

  • no colors / disable (cf.NO_COLORS)
  • 8 colors -> 8 ANSI colors (cf.ANSI_8_COLORS)
  • 256 colors -> 256 ANSI color palette (8bit cf.ANSI_256_COLORS)
  • 16'777'215 colors -> true color (24bit, cf.TRUE_COLORS)

By default colorful tries to auto detect the best supported color mode by your terminal. Consult cf.terminal for more details.

However, sometimes it makes sense to specify what color mode should be used.
colorful provides multiple ways to do so:

(1) specify color mode globally via Python API


If you change the color mode during runtime it takes affect immediately and globally.

(2) enforce color mode globally via environment variable

COLORFUL_DISABLE=1 python  # this process will not use ANY coloring
COLORFUL_FORCE_8_COLORS=1 python  # this process will use 8 ANSI colors by default
COLORFUL_FORCE_256_COLORS=1 python  # this process will use 256 ANSI colors by default
COLORFUL_FORCE_TRUE_COLORS=1 python  # this process will use true colors by default

(3) specify color mode locally via Python API (contextmanager)

with cf.with_8_ansi_colors() as c:
    print(c.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello world'))

with cf.with_256_ansi_colors() as c:
    print(c.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello world'))

with cf.with_true_colors() as c:
    print(c.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello world'))

Color palette

colorful's Python API is based on color names like in cf.bold_white_on_black('Hello'). During runtime these color names are translated into proper ANSI escape code sequences supported by the color mode in use. However, all color names are registered in a color palette which is basically a mapping between the color names and it's corresponding RGB value. Very much like this:

color_palette_example = {
    'black': '#000000',
    'white': '#FFFFFF',

Note: Depending on the color mode which is used the RGB value will be reduced to fit in the value domain of the color mode.

The default color palette is the X11 rgb.txt palette - it's shipped with colorful, thus, you don't have to provide your own. colorful ships with a second built-in color palette called colornames. Those colors are from the curated list of the color-names repository. You can use those via the cf.setup() method, like this:


If you wish to have another color palette from a file as your default color palette you can set the COLORFUL_DEFAULT_COLOR_PALETTE environment variable to this file:

COLORFUL_DEFAULT_COLOR_PALETTE=/usr/share/X11/rgb.txt python

The file either has to be a txt file like the X11 rgb.txt or a JSON file:

    {"name": "18th Century Green", "hex":"#a59344"},
    {"name": "1975 Earth Red", "hex":"#7a463a"}

Custom color palette

colorful supports to update or replace the default color palette with custom colors. The colors have to be specified as RGB hex or channel values:

# corporate identity colors
ci_colors = {
    'mint': '#c5e8c8',  # RGB hex value
    'darkRed': '#c11b55',  # RGB hex value
    'lightBlue': (15, 138, 191)  # RGB channel triplet

# replace the default palette with my custom one
# update the default palette with my custom one

# we can use these colors
print(cf.italic_mint_on_darkRed('My company'))


colorful supports some famous color palettes using what's called styles in colorful:


# print the official solarized colors
print(cf.yellow('yellow'),'orange'),'red'), cf.magenta('magenta'),

The following styles are already supported:

solarized - Website
solarized colors
monokai colors

Note: if you know some awesome color palettes which could be a new style in colorful, please contribute it!

Style a string

colorful provides multiple ways to use style a string. Most useful and expressive is probably the method syntax where you specify the modifiers and colors in the method name itself and pass the string as argument to this method. However, you can use all the following methods to achive similars things:

(1) Style a string with a method call cf.[<modifiers...>]_[<fgColor>]_[on_<bgColor>](str, nested=False)

print('I am red'))
print(cf.italic_yellow('I am italic and yellow'))
print(cf.black_on_white('I am black on white'))

The method syntax can be one of:

  • cf.<modifier>
  • cf.<modifier1>_<modifier2>
  • cf.<fg_color>
  • cf.on_<bg_color>
  • cf.<modifiers>_<fg_color>
  • cf.<modifiers>_<bg_color>
  • cf.<fg_colors>_on_<bg_color>
  • cf.<modifiers>_<fg_color>_on_<bg_color>

Note that multiple <modifier>s can be specified at once.

Available modifiers are:

  • reset (explicitely reset all styles before the passed argument)
  • bold
  • dimmed (not widely supported)
  • italic
  • underlined
  • blinkslow
  • blinkrapid
  • inversed (not widely supported)
  • concealed (not widely supported)
  • struckthrough

The available colors depend on the color palette you are using. By default all X11 rgb.txt colors are available.

The type of the return value of such a style method is colorful.ColorfulString. It correctly supports all str() methods including len().

As you can see from the syntax in the section name, colorful supports nesting styles. See Nesting styles.

(2) Style a string with & and |

colorful implements the __or__ and __and__ protocol to combine styles and pipe strings into them:

print(cf.bold & | 'Hello World')
print(cf.bold_red_on_black | 'Hello World')
print(cf.bold | cf.red_on_black('Hello World')

Note: the piping | has the same effect as doing a method call to the style.
So you could do (cf.bold &'Hello World')

(3) Style a string with cf.format(string, *args, **kwargs)

print(cf.format('{}I am {what}{c.close_fg_color}', what='red'))
# alternatively to ``c.close_fg_color`` you can reset every style with ``c.reset``
print(cf.format('{}I am red{c.reset}'))

print(cf.format('{c.italic_yellow}I am italic and yellow{c.no_italic}{c.close_fg_color}'))
print(cf.format('{c.black_on_white}I am black on white{c.close_fg_color}{c.close_bg_color}'))

colorful will replace the {c.<style>} with the correspnding style. It's not necessary to pass a colorful object for c to format() - colorful will handle that. Every other format argument ({<name>}) has to be pass to the cf.format() call as args or kwarg.

Note: The same syntax, modifiers and colors for the style in {c.<style>} can be used as for (1) Style a string with a method call.

(4) Style and print a string with cf.print(*strings, sep=' ', end='\n', file=sys.stdout, flush=False)

cf.print('{c.italic_yellow}I am italic and yellow{c.no_italic}{c.close_fg_color}')
cf.print('{}I am red{c.reset}', end='', file=open('log.txt', 'a+'))

The cf.print() method accepts the same arguments as the Python 3.X built-in print() function.

(5) Style a string with str.format()

print('{}I am red{c.close_fg_color}'.format(c=cf))
# alternatively to ``c.close_fg_color`` you can reset every style with ``c.reset``
print('{}I am red{c.reset}'.format(c=cf))

print('{c.italic_yellow}I am italic and yellow{c.no_italic}{c.close_fg_color}'.format(
print('{c.black_on_white}I am black on white{c.close_fg_color}{c.close_bg_color}'.format(

Note: The same syntax, modifiers and colors for the style in {c.<style>} can be used as for (1) Style a string with a method call.

Nesting styles

colorful supports to nest styles with it's method call syntax when setting the parameter nested to True. If you are using str.format() like in the first example below you don't even need the nested=True flag!

The following examples show the behavior:

print('red {0} red'.format(cf.white('white'))))
print('red' + cf.white(' white ', nested=True) + 'red'))

# if using ``nested=True`` but you don't actually nest
# it's absolutely fine and will work as expected.
print('red', nested=True) + ' default color')

Correctly support the len() protocol

colorful correctly supports the len() protocol (__len__) on the styled strings. As mentioned above, when you style a string a colorful.ColorfulString object is returned. This object returns the length (when calling len()) as it would be for the unstyled string to integrate styled strings seemlessly into your application.

>>> s = 'Hello World'
>>> len(s)
>>> len(cf.yellow(s))
>>> assert len(s) == len(cf.yellow(s))

Temporarily change colorful settings

colorful provides a hand full of convenient context managers to change the colorful settings temporarily:

(1) change color mode

Use 8 ANSI colors:

with cf.with_8_ansi_colors() as c:
    print('I am red'))

Use 256 ANSI colors:

with cf.with_256_ansi_colors() as c:
    print('I am red'))

Use true colors:

with cf.with_true_colors() as c:
    print('I am red'))

(2) change color palette

# replace the entire color palette
with cf.with_palette(my_palette) as c:
    print(c.customRed('I am custom red'))

# update the color palette
with cf.with_updated_palette(my_palette) as c:
    print(c.customRed('I am custom red'))

(3) change style

with cf.with_style('solarized') as c:
    print('I am solarized red'))

This project is published under MIT.
A Timo Furrer project.
- πŸŽ‰ -