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Terminal string styling done right, in Python :snake: :tada:

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Terminal string styling done right, in Python :tada:

Here's a tease

colorful example

import colorful as cf

create a colored string using clever method translation

print(cf.bold_white('Hello World'))

create a colored string using str.format()

print('{c.bold}{c.lightCoral_on_white}Hello World{c.reset}'.format(c=cf))

nest colors

print('red {0} red'.format(cf.white('white')))) print('red' + cf.white(' white ', nested=True) + 'red'))

combine styles with strings

print(cf.bold & | 'Hello World')

use true colors


extend default color palette

cf.update_palette({'mint': '#c5e8c8'}) print(cf.mint_on_snow('Wow, this is actually mint'))

choose a predefined style


print the official solarized colors

print(cf.yellow('yellow'),'orange'),'red'), cf.magenta('magenta'), cf.violet('violet'),'blue'), cf.cyan('cyan'),'green'))

directly print with colors

cf.print('{c.bold_blue}Hello World{c.reset}')

choose specific color mode for one block

with cf.with_8_ansi_colors() as c: print(c.bold_green('colorful is awesome!'))

create and choose your own color palette

MY_COMPANY_PALETTE = { 'companyOrange': '#f4b942', 'companyBaige': '#e8dcc5' } with cf.with_palette(MY_COMPANY_PALETTE) as c: print(c.companyOrange_on_companyBaige('Thanks for choosing our product!'))

use f-string (only Python >= 3.6)

print(f'{cf.bold}Hello World')

support for chinese


Key Features

  • expressive and consistent API (docs)
  • support for different color modes (8 ANSI, 256 ANSI, true colors) (docs)
  • support for predefined awesome styles (solarized, ...) (docs)
  • support for custom color palettes (docs)
  • support nesting styles (docs)
  • support for different platforms (using colorama on Windows)
  • context managers for clean color mode, color palette or style switch (docs)
  • support
    on colored strings (docs)
  • support color names from X11 rgb.txt (docs)
  • no dependencies


colorful supports all major Python versions: 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7.
We recommend to use the latest version released on PyPI:

pip install colorful

colorful does not require any special setup in order to be used:

import colorful as cf

print(cf.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello World')) print(cf.italic & cf.coral_on_beige | 'Hello World') print('{c.italic_coral_on_beige}Hello World{c.reset}'.format(c=cf))

Note: the entire documentation assumes

to be imported as

See the Style a string section for more information!

Color modes

These days terminals not only support the ancient 8 ANSI colors but often they support up to 16 Million colors with true color. And if they don't support true color they might support the 256 ANSI color palette at least.

colorful supports the following color modes:

  • no colors / disable (
  • 8 colors -> 8 ANSI colors (
  • 256 colors -> 256 ANSI color palette (8bit
  • 16'777'215 colors -> true color (24bit,

By default colorful tries to auto detect the best supported color mode by your terminal. Consult

for more details.

However, sometimes it makes sense to specify what color mode should be used.
colorful provides multiple ways to do so:

(1) specify color mode globally via Python API


If you change the color mode during runtime it takes affect immediately and globally.

(2) enforce color mode globally via environment variable

COLORFUL_DISABLE=1 python  # this process will not use ANY coloring
COLORFUL_FORCE_8_COLORS=1 python  # this process will use 8 ANSI colors by default
COLORFUL_FORCE_256_COLORS=1 python  # this process will use 256 ANSI colors by default
COLORFUL_FORCE_TRUE_COLORS=1 python  # this process will use true colors by default

(3) specify color mode locally via Python API (contextmanager)

with cf.with_8_ansi_colors() as c:
    print(c.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello world'))

with cf.with_256_ansi_colors() as c: print(c.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello world'))

with cf.with_true_colors() as c: print(c.italic_coral_on_beige('Hello world'))

Color palette

colorful's Python API is based on color names like in

. During runtime these color names are translated into proper ANSI escape code sequences supported by the color mode in use. However, all color names are registered in a color palette which is basically a mapping between the color names and it's corresponding RGB value. Very much like this:
color_palette_example = {
    'black': '#000000',
    'white': '#FFFFFF',

Note: Depending on the color mode which is used the RGB value will be reduced to fit in the value domain of the color mode.

The default color palette is the X11 rgb.txt palette - it's shipped with colorful, thus, you don't have to provide your own. colorful ships with a second built-in color palette called colornames. Those colors are from the curated list of the color-names repository. You can use those via the

method, like this:

If you wish to have another color palette from a file as your default color palette you can set the

environment variable to this file:
COLORFUL_DEFAULT_COLOR_PALETTE=/usr/share/X11/rgb.txt python

The file either has to be a txt file like the X11 rgb.txt or a JSON file:

    {"name": "18th Century Green", "hex":"#a59344"},
    {"name": "1975 Earth Red", "hex":"#7a463a"}

Custom color palette

colorful supports to update or replace the default color palette with custom colors. The colors have to be specified as RGB hex or channel values:

# corporate identity colors
ci_colors = {
    'mint': '#c5e8c8',  # RGB hex value
    'darkRed': '#c11b55',  # RGB hex value
    'lightBlue': (15, 138, 191)  # RGB channel triplet

replace the default palette with my custom one


update the default palette with my custom one


we can use these colors

print(cf.italic_mint_on_darkRed('My company'))


colorful supports some famous color palettes using what's called styles in colorful:


print the official solarized colors

print(cf.yellow('yellow'),'orange'),'red'), cf.magenta('magenta'), cf.violet('violet'),'blue'), cf.cyan('cyan'),'green'))

The following styles are already supported:

solarized - Website
solarized colors
monokai colors

Note: if you know some awesome color palettes which could be a new style in colorful, please contribute it!

Style a string

colorful provides multiple ways to use style a string. Most useful and expressive is probably the method syntax where you specify the modifiers and colors in the method name itself and pass the string as argument to this method. However, you can use all the following methods to achive similars things:

(1) Style a string with a method call
cf.[]_[]_[on_](str, nested=False)

print('I am red'))
print(cf.italic_yellow('I am italic and yellow'))
print(cf.black_on_white('I am black on white'))

The method syntax can be one of:

  • cf.
  • cf._
  • cf.
  • cf.on_
  • cf._
  • cf._
  • cf._on_
  • cf.__on_

Note that multiple

s can be specified at once.

Available modifiers are:

  • reset (explicitely reset all styles before the passed argument)
  • bold
  • dimmed (not widely supported)
  • italic
  • underlined
  • blinkslow
  • blinkrapid
  • inversed (not widely supported)
  • concealed (not widely supported)
  • struckthrough

The available colors depend on the color palette you are using. By default all X11 rgb.txt colors are available.

The type of the return value of such a style method is

. It correctly supports all
methods including

As you can see from the syntax in the section name, colorful supports nesting styles. See Nesting styles.

(2) Style a string with

colorful implements the

protocol to combine styles and pipe strings into them:
print(cf.bold & | 'Hello World')
print(cf.bold_red_on_black | 'Hello World')
print(cf.bold | cf.red_on_black('Hello World')

Note: the piping

has the same effect as doing a method call to the style.
So you could do
(cf.bold &'Hello World')

(3) Style a string with
cf.format(string, *args, **kwargs)

print(cf.format('{}I am {what}{c.close_fg_color}', what='red'))
# alternatively to ``c.close_fg_color`` you can reset every style with ``c.reset``
print(cf.format('{}I am red{c.reset}'))

print(cf.format('{c.italic_yellow}I am italic and yellow{c.no_italic}{c.close_fg_color}')) print(cf.format('{c.black_on_white}I am black on white{c.close_fg_color}{c.close_bg_color}'))

colorful will replace the


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