#markdown #less #cat

bin+lib mdcat

cat for markdown: Show markdown documents in terminals

56 releases (3 stable)

1.1.1 Mar 18, 2023
1.0.0 Jan 7, 2023
0.30.3 Dec 1, 2022
0.30.1 Nov 29, 2022
0.8.0 Feb 15, 2018

#205 in Text processing

Download history 462/week @ 2022-12-10 473/week @ 2022-12-17 245/week @ 2022-12-24 288/week @ 2022-12-31 649/week @ 2023-01-07 984/week @ 2023-01-14 531/week @ 2023-01-21 233/week @ 2023-01-28 537/week @ 2023-02-04 1279/week @ 2023-02-11 519/week @ 2023-02-18 875/week @ 2023-02-25 783/week @ 2023-03-04 412/week @ 2023-03-11 657/week @ 2023-03-18 395/week @ 2023-03-25

2,500 downloads per month
Used in 6 crates (5 directly)

MPL-2.0 license



Fancy cat for Markdown (that is, CommonMark):

$ mdcat sample.md

mdcat showcase with different colour themes

mdcat in kitty, with Tango Light, Solarized Light, and Dracula (from left to right), and PragmataPro as font.


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

  • nicely renders all basic CommonMark syntax (no tables or footnotes though),
  • 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 ANSI
Windows ConEmu
Windows 10 console
Generic VTE 0.50 or newer¹
iTerm2 ✓ 2)
kitty ✓ 2)
WezTerm ✓ 2)
  1. VTE is Gnome’s terminal emulation library used by many popular terminal emulators on Linux, including Gnome Terminal, Xfce Terminal, Tilix, etc.
  2. SVG images are rendered with resvg, see SVG support.

Not supported:


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


  • 3rd party packages:
    • Homebrew: brew install mdcat
    • MacPorts: sudo port install mdcat
    • Arch Linux: pacman -S mdcat
    • Void Linux: xbps-install -S mdcat
    • Nixpkgs: nix-env -i mdcat
    • Scoop: scoop install mdcat
    • Chocolatey: choco install mdcat
  • You can also build mdcat manually with cargo install mdcat.


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.


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.

Future plans

  • Figure out a better way to show HTML #3.
  • CommonMark extensions: Footnotes #1.
  • CommonMark extensions: Tables #2.
  • Ignore soft wraps and wrap inline text a column limit instead #4.


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


~1M SLoC