#markdown #cat #less

bin+lib mdcat

cat for markdown: Show markdown documents in terminals

64 releases (11 stable)

2.1.2 Mar 11, 2024
2.1.0 Oct 16, 2023
2.0.3 Apr 24, 2023
1.1.1 Mar 18, 2023
0.8.0 Feb 15, 2018

#99 in Text processing

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675 downloads per month
Used in 6 crates (5 directly)

MPL-2.0 AND Apache-2.0

3.5K SLoC


Fancy cat for Markdown (that is, CommonMark):

$ mdcat sample.md

mdcat showcase with different colour themes

mdcat in WezTerm, with "One Light (base16)", "Gruvbox Light", and "Darcula (base16)" (from left to right), and JetBrains Mono as font.


mdcat works best with iTerm2, WezTerm, and kitty, and a good terminal font with italic characters. Then it

  • nicely renders all basic CommonMark syntax,
  • highlights code blocks with syntect,
  • shows links, and also images inline in supported terminals (see above, where "Rust" is a clickable link!),
  • adds jump marks for headings in iTerm2 (jump forwards and backwards with ⇧⌘↓ and ⇧⌘↑).
Terminal Basic syntax Syntax highlighting Images Jump marks
Basic ANSI¹
Windows 10 console
iTerm2 ✓³
kitty ✓³
WezTerm ✓³
VSCode ✓³
  1. mdcat requires that the terminal supports strikethrough formatting and inline links. It will not render strikethrough text and links correctly on terminals that don't support these (e.g. the Linux text console)
  2. VTE is Gnome’s terminal emulation library used by many popular terminal emulators on Linux, including Gnome Terminal, Xfce Terminal, Tilix, etc.
  3. SVG images are rendered with resvg, see SVG support.

Not supported:

  • CommonMark extensions for footnotes and tables.


Try mdcat --help or read the mdcat(1) manpage.


  • Release binaries built on Github Actions.
  • 3rd party packages at Repology
  • You can also build mdcat manually with cargo install mdcat (see below for details).

mdcat can be linked or copied to mdless; if invoked as mdless it automatically uses pagination.


Run cargo build --release. The resulting mdcat executable links against the system's SSL library, i.e. openssl on Linux. To build a self-contained executable use cargo build --features=static; the resulting executable uses a pure Rust SSL implementation. It still uses the system's CA roots however.

The build process also generates the following additional files in $OUT_DIR:

  • Completions for Bash, Zsh, Fish, and Powershell, for both mdcat and mdless, in completions sub-directory.
  • A mdcat.1 manpage, build from mdcat.1.adoc with the asciidoctor command from AsciiDoctor. If asciidoctor is not found the build script prints a warning.

These additional artifacts are included in the release builds. If you package mdcat you may want to include these files too.

You may also want to include an mdless link to mdcat (see above).


mdcat can output extensive tracing information when asked to. Run mdcat with $MDCAT_LOG=trace for complete tracing information, or with $MDCAT_LOG=mdcat::render=trace to trace only rendering.


Copyright Sebastian Wiesner sebastian@swsnr.de

Binaries are subject to the terms of the Mozilla Public License, v. 2.0, see LICENSE.

Most of the source is subject to the terms of the Mozilla Public License, v. 2.0, see LICENSE, unless otherwise noted; some files are subject to the terms of the Apache 2.0 license, see http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0


~607K SLoC