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ansiecho - Colored echo command using ANSI terminal sequence


ansiecho [ options ] args ...

Command Options:

-n                 Do not print the trailing newline
-j --join          Do not print space between arguments
-e --escape        Enable backslash escape notation
   --rgb24         Produce 24bit color sequence
   --separate=s    Set argument separator
-h --help          Print this message
-v --version       Print version

Prefix Options:

-s/-S SPEC         Produce ANSI sequence
-c/-C SPEC ARG     Colorize next argument
-f/-F FORMAT ARGS  Format arguments
   -E              Terminate -C -S -F effect
-i/-a SPEC         Insert/Append ANSI sequence


ansiecho -c R Red -c M/551 Magenta/Yellow -c FSDB BlinkReverseBoldBlue

ansiecho -f '[ %12s ]' -c SR -f '%+06d' 123

ansiecho -C '555/(132,0,41)' d i g i t a l

read -a color < <( ansiecho -S ZE K/544 K/454 K/445 )


Version 0.04



ansiecho print arguments with ANSI terminal escape sequence according to the given color specification.

In a simple case, ansiecho behave exactly same as echo command.

ansiecho a b c

Like echo command, option -n disables to print newline at the end. Option -j (or --join) removes white space between arguments.

Arguments can include backslash escaped characters, such as \n for a new line. There is an bash-echo-compatible -e option, but it is enabled by default. You can include control and named Unicode characters using this.

ansiecho '\t\N{ALARM CLOCK}\a'

See "STRING LITERAL" section for detail.


You can specify color of each argument by preceding with -c option:

ansiecho -c R a -c GI b -c BD c

This command print strings a, b and c according to the color spec of R (Red), GI (Green Italic) and BD (Blue Bold) respectively.

Foreground and background color is specified in the form of fore/back.

ansiecho -c B/M 'Blue on Magenta' -c '<pink>/<salmon>' fish

Color can be described by 8+8 standard colors, 24 gray scales, 6x6x6 216 colors, RGB values or color names, with special effects such as I (Italic), D (Double-struck; Bold), S (Stand-out; Reverse Video) and such. More information is described in "COLOR SPEC" section.


Format string can be specified by -f option, and it behaves like a printf(1) command.

ansiecho -f '[ %5s : %5s : %5s ]' -c R RED -c G GREEN -c B BLUE

As in above example, colored text can be given as an argument for -f option, and the string width is calculated as you expect, including multibyte Unicode characters.

Formatted result ends up to a single argument, and can be a subject of other operation. In the next example, numbers are formatted, colored, and gave to other format.

ansiecho -f '\N{ALARM CLOCK} %s' -c KF/544 -f ' %02d:%02d:%02d ' 1 2 3

Formatting is done by Perl sprintf function. See "sprintf" in perlfunc for detail.


To get desired ANSI sequence, use -s option. Next example produce ANSI terminal sequence to indicate deeppink color on lightyellow background.

ansiecho -n -s '<deeppink>/<lightyellow>'

You will get the next result for the 256-color terminal:


and the next for the full-color terminal:


Using -S option, you can set multiple ANSI sequences at once in a shell script. Next bash code will initialize multiple variables with the sequence for given color specs.

read ZE C M Y < <( ansiecho -S ZE K/355 K/535 K/553 )

Or you can set array variable.

read -a color < <( ansiecho -S ZE K/533 K/353 K/335 )

Then use this variable like:

echo "${C} Cyan     ${ZE}"
echo "${M} Mafenata ${ZE}"
echo "${Y} Yellow   ${ZE}"

echo "${color[1]} Red   ${reset}"
echo "${color[2]} Green ${reset}"
echo "${color[3]} Blue  ${reset}"


  • -n

    Do not print newline at the end.

  • -e, --[*no-]escape*

    Enable interpretation of backslash escapes in the normal string argument. This option is enabled by default, unlike bash built-in echo(1) command. Use --no-escape to disable it.

  • -j, --join

    Do not print space between arguments. This is a short-cut for --separate ''.

  • --separate string

    Set separator string between each arguments. Option -j is a short-cut for --separate ''.

  • --[*no]rgb24*

    Produce 24bit full-color sequence for 12bit/24bit specified colors. They are converted to 216 colors by default.

  • -h, --help

    Print help.

  • -v, --version

    Print version.


  • -s spec

    Print raw ANSI sequence for given spec.

  • -c spec string

    Print string in a color given by spec.

  • -f format args ...

    Print args in a given format. Backslash escape is always interpreted in the format string.

    The result of -f sequence ends up to a single argument, and can be a subject of other -c or -f option.

    Number of arguments are calculated from the number of % characters in the format string except %%. Variable width and precision parameter * can be used like %*s or %*.*s.

    Format string also can be made by -f option. Next commands produce same output, but second one looks better.

    ansiecho -f -f '%%%ds' 16 hello
    ansiecho -f '%*s' 16 hello
  • -S spec

    If option -S found, all following arguments are considered as a color spec given to -s option, until option -E is found.

    Next two commands are equivalent.

    ansiecho -s ZE -s K/544 -s K/454 -s K/445
    ansiecho -S ZE K/544 K/454 K/445
  • -C spec

    Option -C set permanent color which is applied to all following arguments until option -E found.

    Next command prints only a word Yellow in yellow, but second one print Yellow, Brick, and Road in yellow.

    ansiecho Follow the -cYS Yellow Brick Road
    ansiecho Follow the -CYS Yellow Brick Road

    You may want to color the phrase instead.

    ansiecho Follow the -cYS "Yellow Brick Road"

    Option -C can be used multiple times mixed with -F option. See below.

  • -F format

    As with the -C option, -F defines a format which is applied to all arguments until option -E found. Format string have to include single %s placeholder.

    ansiecho Follow the -CYS -F ' %s ' Yellow Brick Road

    Option -C and -F can be used repeatedly, and they will take effect in the reverse order of their appearance.

    Next command show argument A in underline/bold with blinking red arrow.

    ansiecho -cRF -f'->%s' -cUD A B C

    Next one does the same thing for all arguments.

    ansiecho -CRF -F'->%s' -CUD A B C
  • -E

    Terminate -C, -F and -S effects.

  • -i spec

  • -a spec

    Add raw ANSI sequence given by spec. Option -i insert the sequence before the next argument, while -a append to the final argument.

    Next two commands are equivalent.

    ansiecho -c R Red
    ansiecho -i R Red -a ZE

    Color spec ZE produces RESET and ERASE LINE sequence.

    Because -i and -a does not produce RESET sequence, you can use them to accumulate the effects.

    ansiecho -i R R -i U RU -i I RUI -i S RUIS -i F RUISF -a Z


This is a backslash escape samples described in "Quote and Quote-like Operators" in perlop. Non-alphabetical character after backslash is always correspond to the character itself.

Sequence     Description
\t           tab               (HT, TAB)
\n           newline           (NL)
\r           return            (CR)
\f           form feed         (FF)
\b           backspace         (BS)
\a           alarm (bell)      (BEL)
\e           escape            (ESC)
\x{263A}     hex char          (example: SMILEY)
\x1b         restricted range hex char (example: ESC)
\N{name}     named Unicode character or character sequence
\N{U+263D}   Unicode character (example: FIRST QUARTER MOON)
\c[          control char      (example: chr(27))
\o{23072}    octal char        (example: SMILEY)
\033         restricted range octal char  (example: ESC)


This is a brief summary. Read "COLOR SPEC" in Getopt::EX::Colormap for complete description.

Color specification is a combination of single uppercase character representing 8 colors, and alternative (usually brighter) colors in lowercase :

R  r  Red
G  g  Green
B  b  Blue
C  c  Cyan
M  m  Magenta
Y  y  Yellow
K  k  Black
W  w  White

or RGB values and 24 grey levels if using ANSI 256 or full color terminal :

(255,255,255)      : 24bit decimal RGB colors
#000000 .. #FFFFFF : 24bit hex RGB colors
#000    .. #FFF    : 12bit hex RGB 4096 colors
000 .. 555         : 6x6x6 RGB 216 colors
L00 .. L25         : Black (L00), 24 grey levels, White (L25)

or color names enclosed by angle bracket :

<red> <blue> <green> <cyan> <magenta> <yellow>
<aliceblue> <honeydue> <hotpink> <mooccasin>

with other special effects :

N    None
Z  0 Zero (reset)
D  1 Double-struck (boldface)
P  2 Pale (dark)
I  3 Italic
U  4 Underline
F  5 Flash (blink: slow)
Q  6 Quick (blink: rapid)
S  7 Stand-out (reverse video)
V  8 Vanish (concealed)
X  9 Crossed out

E    Erase Line

;    No effect
/    Toggle foreground/background
^    Reset to foreground
~    Cancel following effect


RGB  6x6x6    12bit      24bit           color name
===  =======  =========  =============  ==================
B    005      #00F       (0,0,255)      <blue>
 /M     /505      /#F0F   /(255,0,255)  /<magenta>
K/W  000/555  #000/#FFF  000000/FFFFFF  <black>/<white>
R/G  500/050  #F00/#0F0  FF0000/00FF00  <red>/<green>
W/w  L03/L20  #333/#ccc  303030/c6c6c6  <dimgrey>/<lightgrey>


12bit/24bit colors are converted to 216 colors because most terminal can not display them. If you are using full-color terminal, such as iTerm2 on Mac, use --rgb24 option or set GETOPTEX_RGB24 environment variable to produce full-color sequence.



From CPAN archive:

$ cpanm App::ansiecho
$ curl -sL | perl - App::ansiecho

From GIT repository:



"Quote and Quote-like Operators" in perlop



App::ansifold, App::ansicolumn


Kazumasa Utashiro


Copyright 2021 Kazumasa Utashiro.

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.