Command Line Interface

You can use Pygments from the shell, provided you installed the pygmentize script:

$ pygmentize
print "Hello World"

will print the file to standard output, using the Python lexer (inferred from the file name extension) and the terminal formatter (because you didn’t give an explicit formatter name).


If you are on Windows, an extra tool may be needed for colored output to work in the terminal. You can make sure Pygments is installed with Windows console coloring support by installing Pygments with the windows-terminal extra (e.g., pip install pygments[windows-terminal]).

pygmentize attempts to detect the maximum number of colors that the terminal supports. The difference between color formatters for 16 and 256 colors is immense, but there is a less noticeable difference between color formatters for 256 and 16 million colors.

Here’s the process of how it detects the maxiumum number of colors supported by your terminal. If the COLORTERM environment variable is set to either truecolor or 24bit, it will use a 16 million color representation (like terminal16m). Next, it will try to find 256 is anywhere in the environment variable TERM, which it will use a 256-color representaion (such as terminal256). When neither of those are found, it falls back to a the 16 color representation (like terminal).

If you want HTML output:

$ pygmentize -f html -l python -o test.html

As you can see, the -l option explicitly selects a lexer. As seen above, if you give an input file name and it has an extension that Pygments recognizes, you can omit this option.

The -o option gives an output file name. If it is not given, output is written to stdout.

The -f option selects a formatter (as with -l, it can also be omitted if an output file name is given and has a supported extension). If no output file name is given and -f is omitted, the TerminalFormatter is used.

The above command could therefore also be given as:

$ pygmentize -o test.html

To create a full HTML document, including line numbers and stylesheet (using the “emacs” style), highlighting the Python file to test.html:

$ pygmentize -O full,style=emacs,linenos=1 -o test.html

Options and filters

Lexer and formatter options can be given using the -O option:

$ pygmentize -f html -O style=colorful,linenos=1 -l python

Be sure to enclose the option string in quotes if it contains any special shell characters, such as spaces or expansion wildcards like *. If an option expects a list value, separate the list entries with spaces (you’ll have to quote the option value in this case too, so that the shell doesn’t split it).

Since the -O option argument is split at commas and expects the split values to be of the form name=value, you can’t give an option value that contains commas or equals signs. Therefore, an option -P is provided (as of Pygments 0.9) that works like -O but can only pass one option per -P. Its value can then contain all characters:

$ pygmentize -P "heading=Pygments, the Python highlighter" ...

Filters are added to the token stream using the -F option:

$ pygmentize -f html -l pascal -F keywordcase:case=upper main.pas

As you see, options for the filter are given after a colon. As for -O, the filter name and options must be one shell word, so there may not be any spaces around the colon.

Generating styles

Formatters normally don’t output full style information. For example, the HTML formatter by default only outputs <span> tags with class attributes. Therefore, there’s a special -S option for generating style definitions. Usage is as follows:

$ pygmentize -f html -S colorful -a .syntax

generates a CSS style sheet (because you selected the HTML formatter) for the “colorful” style prepending a “.syntax” selector to all style rules.

For an explanation what -a means for a particular formatter, look for the arg argument for the formatter’s .get_style_defs() method.

Getting lexer names

Added in version 1.0.

The -N option guesses a lexer name for a given filename, so that

$ pygmentize -N

will print out python. It won’t highlight anything yet. If no specific lexer is known for that filename, text is printed.

Additionally, there is the -C option, which is just like like -N, except that it prints out a lexer name based solely on a given content from standard input.

Guessing the lexer from the file contents

The -g option will try to guess the correct lexer from the file contents, or pass through as plain text if nothing can be guessed. This option also looks for Vim modelines in the text, and for some languages, shebangs. Usage is as follows:

$ pygmentize -g

Note though, that this option is not very relaiable, and probably should be used only if Pygments is not able to guess the correct lexer from the file’s extension.

Highlighting stdin until EOF

The -s option processes lines one at a time until EOF, rather than waiting to process the entire file. This only works for stdin, only for lexers with no line-spanning constructs, and is intended for streaming input such as you get from tail -f. Usage is as follows:

$ tail -f sql.log | pygmentize -s -l sql

Custom Lexers and Formatters

Added in version 2.2.

The -x flag enables custom lexers and formatters to be loaded from files relative to the current directory. Create a file with a class named CustomLexer or CustomFormatter, then specify it on the command line:

$ pygmentize -l -f -x

You can also specify the name of your class with a colon:

$ pygmentize -l -x

For more information, see the Pygments documentation on Lexer development.

Getting help

The -L option lists lexers, formatters, along with their short names and supported file name extensions, styles and filters. If you want to see only one category, give it as an argument:

$ pygmentize -L filters

will list only all installed filters.

Added in version 2.11.

The --json option can be used in conjunction with the -L option to output its contents as JSON. Thus, to print all the installed styles and their description in JSON, use the command:

$ pygmentize -L styles --json

The -H option will give you detailed information (the same that can be found in this documentation) about a lexer, formatter or filter. Usage is as follows:

$ pygmentize -H formatter html

will print the help for the HTML formatter, while

$ pygmentize -H lexer python

will print the help for the Python lexer, etc.

A note on encodings

Added in version 0.9.

Pygments tries to be smart regarding encodings in the formatting process:

  • If you give an encoding option, it will be used as the input and output encoding.

  • If you give an outencoding option, it will override encoding as the output encoding.

  • If you give an inencoding option, it will override encoding as the input encoding.

  • If you don’t give an encoding and have given an output file, the default encoding for lexer and formatter is the terminal encoding or the default locale encoding of the system. As a last resort, latin1 is used (which will pass through all non-ASCII characters).

  • If you don’t give an encoding and haven’t given an output file (that means output is written to the console), the default encoding for lexer and formatter is the terminal encoding (sys.stdout.encoding).