26 releases (15 breaking)

0.16.0 Oct 2, 2020
0.15.4 May 27, 2020
0.15.0 Apr 25, 2020
0.13.0 Mar 22, 2020
0.4.1 May 31, 2018

#3 in Command line utilities

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Used in 10 crates (9 directly)

MIT/Apache and LGPL-3.0-or-later

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bat - a cat clone with wings
Build Status license Version info
A cat(1) clone with syntax highlighting and Git integration.

Key FeaturesHow To UseInstallationCustomizationProject goals, alternatives
[中文] [日本語] [한국어] [Русский]

Syntax highlighting

bat supports syntax highlighting for a large number of programming and markup languages:

Syntax highlighting example

Git integration

bat communicates with git to show modifications with respect to the index (see left side bar):

Git integration example

Show non-printable characters

You can use the -A/--show-all option to show and highlight non-printable characters:

Non-printable character example

Automatic paging

bat can pipe its own output to a pager (e.g less) if the output is too large for one screen.

File concatenation

Oh.. you can also use it to concatenate files 😉. Whenever bat detects a non-interactive terminal (i.e. when you pipe into another process or into a file), bat will act as a drop-in replacement for cat and fall back to printing the plain file contents.

How to use

Display a single file on the terminal

> bat README.md

Display multiple files at once

> bat src/*.rs

Read from stdin, determine the syntax automatically (note, highlighting will only work if the syntax can be determined from the first line of the file, usually through a shebang such as #!/bin/sh)

> curl -s https://sh.rustup.rs | bat

Read from stdin, specify the language explicitly

> yaml2json .travis.yml | json_pp | bat -l json

Show and highlight non-printable characters:

> bat -A /etc/hosts

Use it as a cat replacement:

bat > note.md  # quickly create a new file

bat header.md content.md footer.md > document.md

bat -n main.rs  # show line numbers (only)

bat f - g  # output 'f', then stdin, then 'g'.

Integration with other tools

find or fd

You can use the -exec option of find to preview all search results with bat:

find -exec bat {} +

If you happen to use fd, you can use the -X/--exec-batch option to do the same:

fd -X bat


With batgrep, bat can be used as the printer for ripgrep search results.

batgrep needle src/

tail -f

bat can be combined with tail -f to continuously monitor a given file with syntax highlighting.

tail -f /var/log/pacman.log | bat --paging=never -l log

Note that we have to switch off paging in order for this to work. We have also specified the syntax explicitly (-l log), as it can not be auto-detected in this case.


You can combine bat with git show to view an older version of a given file with proper syntax highlighting:

git show v0.6.0:src/main.rs | bat -l rs

Note that syntax highlighting within diffs is currently not supported. If you are looking for this, check out delta.


The line numbers and Git modification markers in the output of bat can make it hard to copy the contents of a file. To prevent this, you can call bat with the -p/--plain option or simply pipe the output into xclip:

bat main.cpp | xclip

bat will detect that the output is being redirected and print the plain file contents.


bat can be used as a colorizing pager for man, by setting the MANPAGER environment variable:

export MANPAGER="sh -c 'col -bx | bat -l man -p'"
man 2 select

It might also be necessary to set MANROFFOPT="-c" if you experience formatting problems.

If you prefer to have this bundled in a new command, you can also use batman.

Note that the Manpage syntax is developed in this repository and still needs some work.

Also, note that this will not work with Mandocs man implementation.

prettier / shfmt / rustfmt

The prettybat script is a wrapper that will format code and print it with bat.


Packaging status

On Ubuntu (using apt)

... and other Debian-based Linux distributions.

bat is making its way through the Ubuntu and Debian package release process, and is available for Ubuntu as of Eoan 19.10. On Debian bat is currently only available on the unstable "Sid" branch.

If your Ubuntu/Debian installation is new enough you can simply run:

apt install bat

If you install bat this way, please note that the executable may be installed as batcat instead of bat (due to a name clash with another package). You can set up a bat -> batcat symlink or alias to prevent any issues that may come up because of this and to be consistent with other distributions:

mkdir -p ~/.local/bin
ln -s /usr/bin/batcat ~/.local/bin/bat

On Ubuntu (using most recent .deb packages)

... and other Debian-based Linux distributions.

If the package has not yet been promoted to your Ubuntu/Debian installation, or you want the most recent release of bat, download the latest .deb package from the release page and install it via:

sudo dpkg -i bat_0.16.0_amd64.deb  # adapt version number and architecture

On Alpine Linux

You can install the bat package from the official sources, provided you have the appropriate repository enabled:

apk add bat

On Arch Linux

You can install the bat package from the official sources:

pacman -S bat

On Fedora

You can install the bat package from the official Fedora Modular repository.

dnf install bat

On Gentoo Linux

You can install the bat package from the official sources:

emerge sys-apps/bat

On Void Linux

You can install bat via xbps-install:

xbps-install -S bat

On FreeBSD

You can install a precompiled bat package with pkg:

pkg install bat

or build it on your own from the FreeBSD ports:

cd /usr/ports/textproc/bat
make install

Via nix

You can install bat using the nix package manager:

nix-env -i bat

On openSUSE

You can install bat with zypper:

zypper install bat

On macOS

You can install bat with Homebrew:

brew install bat

Or install bat with MacPorts:

port install bat

On Windows

There are a few options to install bat on Windows. Once you have installed bat, take a look at the "Using bat on Windows" section.


You will need to install the Visual C++ Redistributable package.

With Chocolatey

You can install bat via Chocolatey:

choco install bat

With Scoop

You can install bat via scoop:

scoop install bat

From prebuilt binaries:

You can download prebuilt binaries from the Release page,

You will need to install the Visual C++ Redistributable package.

From binaries

Check out the Release page for prebuilt versions of bat for many different architectures. Statically-linked binaries are also available: look for archives with musl in the file name.

From source

If you want to build bat from source, you need Rust 1.40 or higher. You can then use cargo to build everything:

cargo install --locked bat

Note that addition files like the man page or shell completion files can not be installed in this way. They will be generated by cargo and should be available in the cargo target folder (under build).


Highlighting theme

Use bat --list-themes to get a list of all available themes for syntax highlighting. To select the TwoDark theme, call bat with the --theme=TwoDark option or set the BAT_THEME environment variable to TwoDark. Use export BAT_THEME="TwoDark" in your shell's startup file to make the change permanent. Alternatively, use bats configuration file.

If you want to preview the different themes on a custom file, you can use the following command (you need fzf for this):

bat --list-themes | fzf --preview="bat --theme={} --color=always /path/to/file"

bat looks good on a dark background by default. However, if your terminal uses a light background, some themes like GitHub or OneHalfLight will work better for you. You can also use a custom theme by following the 'Adding new themes' section below.

8-bit themes

bat has four themes that always use 8-bit colors, even when truecolor support is available:

  • ansi-dark looks decent on any terminal with a dark background. It uses 3-bit colors: black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, and white.
  • ansi-light is like ansi-dark, but for terminals with a light background.
  • base16 is designed for base16 terminal themes. It uses 4-bit colors (3-bit colors plus bright variants) in accordance with the base16 styling guidelines.
  • base16-256 is designed for base16-shell. It replaces certain bright colors with 8-bit colors from 16 to 21. Do not use this simply because you have a 256-color terminal but are not using base16-shell.

Although these themes are more restricted, they have two advantages over truecolor themes:

  • They harmonize better with other terminal software using 3-bit or 4-bit colors.
  • When you change your terminal theme, bat output already on the screen will update to match.

Output style

You can use the --style option to control the appearance of bats output. You can use --style=numbers,changes, for example, to show only Git changes and line numbers but no grid and no file header. Set the BAT_STYLE environment variable to make these changes permanent or use bats configuration file.

Adding new syntaxes / language definitions

bat uses the excellent syntect library for syntax highlighting. syntect can read any Sublime Text .sublime-syntax file and theme. To add new syntax definitions, do the following.

Create a folder with syntax definition files:

mkdir -p "$(bat --config-dir)/syntaxes"
cd "$(bat --config-dir)/syntaxes"

# Put new '.sublime-syntax' language definition files
# in this folder (or its subdirectories), for example:
git clone https://github.com/tellnobody1/sublime-purescript-syntax

Now use the following command to parse these files into a binary cache:

bat cache --build

Finally, use bat --list-languages to check if the new languages are available.

If you ever want to go back to the default settings, call:

bat cache --clear

Adding new themes

This works very similar to how we add new syntax definitions.

First, create a folder with the new syntax highlighting themes:

mkdir -p "$(bat --config-dir)/themes"
cd "$(bat --config-dir)/themes"

# Download a theme in '.tmTheme' format, for example:
git clone https://github.com/greggb/sublime-snazzy

# Update the binary cache
bat cache --build

Finally, use bat --list-themes to check if the new themes are available.

Using a different pager

bat uses the pager that is specified in the PAGER environment variable. If this variable is not set, less is used by default. If you want to use a different pager, you can either modify the PAGER variable or set the BAT_PAGER environment variable to override what is specified in PAGER.

If you want to pass command-line arguments to the pager, you can also set them via the PAGER/BAT_PAGER variables:

export BAT_PAGER="less -RF"

Instead of using environment variables, you can also use bats configuration file to configure the pager (--pager option).

Note: By default, if the pager is set to less (and no command-line options are specified), bat will pass the following command line options to the pager: -R/--RAW-CONTROL-CHARS, -F/--quit-if-one-screen and -X/--no-init. The last option (-X) is only used for less versions older than 530.

The -R option is needed to interpret ANSI colors correctly. The second option (-F) instructs less to exit immediately if the output size is smaller than the vertical size of the terminal. This is convenient for small files because you do not have to press q to quit the pager. The third option (-X) is needed to fix a bug with the --quit-if-one-screen feature in old versions of less. Unfortunately, it also breaks mouse-wheel support in less.

If you want to enable mouse-wheel scrolling on older versions of less, you can pass just -R (as in the example above, this will disable the quit-if-one-screen feature). For less 530 or newer, it should work out of the box.


bat expands tabs to 4 spaces by itself, not relying on the pager. To change this, simply add the --tabs argument with the number of spaces you want to be displayed.

Note: Defining tab stops for the pager (via the --pager argument by bat, or via the LESS environment variable for less) won't be taken into account because the pager will already get expanded spaces instead of tabs. This behaviour is added to avoid indentation issues caused by the sidebar. Calling bat with --tabs=0 will override it and let tabs be consumed by the pager.

Dark mode

If you make use of the dark mode feature in macOS, you might want to configure bat to use a different theme based on the OS theme. The following snippet uses the default theme when in the dark mode and the GitHub theme when in the light mode.

alias cat="bat --theme=\$(defaults read -globalDomain AppleInterfaceStyle &> /dev/null && echo default || echo GitHub)"

Configuration file

bat can also be customized with a configuration file. The location of the file is dependent on your operating system. To get the default path for your system, call

bat --config-file

Alternatively, you can use the BAT_CONFIG_PATH environment variable to point bat to a non-default location of the configuration file:

export BAT_CONFIG_PATH="/path/to/bat.conf"

A default configuration file can be created with the --generate-config-file option.

bat --generate-config-file


The configuration file is a simple list of command line arguments. Use bat --help to see a full list of possible options and values. In addition, you can add comments by prepending a line with the # character.

Example configuration file:

# Set the theme to "TwoDark"

# Show line numbers, Git modifications and file header (but no grid)

# Use italic text on the terminal (not supported on all terminals)

# Use C++ syntax for .ino files
--map-syntax "*.ino:C++"

# Use ".gitignore"-style highlighting for ".ignore" files
--map-syntax ".ignore:Git Ignore"

Using bat on Windows

bat mostly works out-of-the-box on Windows, but a few features may need extra configuration.


You will need to install the Visual C++ Redistributable package.


Windows only includes a very limited pager in the form of more. You can download a Windows binary for less from its homepage or through Chocolatey. To use it, place the binary in a directory in your PATH or define an environment variable. The Chocolatey package installs less automatically.


Windows 10 natively supports colors in both conhost.exe (Command Prompt) and PowerShell since v1511, as well as in newer versions of bash. On earlier versions of Windows, you can use Cmder, which includes ConEmu.

Note: The Git and MSYS versions of less do not correctly interpret colors on Windows. If you don’t have any other pagers installed, you can disable paging entirely by passing --paging=never or by setting BAT_PAGER to an empty string.


bat on Windows does not natively support Cygwin's unix-style paths (/cygdrive/*). When passed an absolute cygwin path as an argument, bat will encounter the following error: The system cannot find the path specified. (os error 3)

This can be solved by creating a wrapper or adding the following function to your .bash_profile file:

bat() {
    local index
    local args=("$@")
    for index in $(seq 0 ${#args[@]}) ; do
        case "${args[index]}" in
        -*) continue;;
        *)  [ -e "${args[index]}" ] && args[index]="$(cygpath --windows "${args[index]}")";;
    command bat "${args[@]}"


Terminals & colors

bat handles terminals with and without truecolor support. However, the colors in most syntax highlighting themes are not optimized for 8-bit colors. It is therefore strongly recommended that you use a terminal with 24-bit truecolor support (terminator, konsole, iTerm2, ...), or use one of the basic 8-bit themes designed for a restricted set of colors. See this article for more details and a full list of terminals with truecolor support.

Make sure that your truecolor terminal sets the COLORTERM variable to either truecolor or 24bit. Otherwise, bat will not be able to determine whether or not 24-bit escape sequences are supported (and fall back to 8-bit colors).

Line numbers and grid are hardly visible

Please try a different theme (see bat --list-themes for a list). The OneHalfDark and OneHalfLight themes provide grid and line colors that are brighter.

File encodings

bat natively supports UTF-8 as well as UTF-16. For every other file encoding, you may need to convert to UTF-8 first because the encodings can typically not be auto-detected. You can iconv to do so. Example: if you have a PHP file in Latin-1 (ISO-8859-1) encoding, you can call:

iconv -f ISO-8859-1 -t UTF-8 my-file.php | bat

Note: you might have to use the -l/--language option if the syntax can not be auto-detected by bat.


# Recursive clone to retrieve all submodules
git clone --recursive https://github.com/sharkdp/bat

# Build (debug version)
cd bat
cargo build --bins

# Run unit tests and integration tests
cargo test

# Install (release version)
cargo install --locked

# Build a bat binary with modified syntaxes and themes
bash assets/create.sh
cargo install --locked --force


Project goals and alternatives

bat tries to achieve the following goals:

  • Provide beautiful, advanced syntax highlighting
  • Integrate with Git to show file modifications
  • Be a drop-in replacement for (POSIX) cat
  • Offer a user-friendly command-line interface

There are a lot of alternatives, if you are looking for similar programs. See this document for a comparison.


Copyright (c) 2018-2020 bat-developers.

bat is made available under the terms of either the MIT License or the Apache License 2.0, at your option.

See the LICENSE-APACHE and LICENSE-MIT files for license details.


~276K SLoC