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BAT(1) General Commands Manual BAT(1)

bat - a cat(1) clone with syntax highlighting and Git integration.

bat prints the syntax-highlighted content of a collection of FILEs to the terminal. If no FILE is specified, or when FILE is '-', it reads from standard input.

bat supports a large number of programming and markup languages. It also communicates with git(1) to show modifications with respect to the git index. bat automatically pipes its output through a pager (by default: less).

Whenever the output of bat goes to a non-interactive terminal, i.e. when the output is piped into another process or into a file, bat will act as a drop-in replacement for cat(1) and fall back to printing the plain file contents.

General remarks: Command-line options like '-l'/'--language' that take values can be specified as either '--language value', '--language=value', '-l value' or '-lvalue'.

-A, --show-all

Show non-printable characters like space, tab or newline. Use '--tabs' to control the width of the tab-placeholders.

--nonprintable-notation <notation>

Specify how to display non-printable characters when using --show-all.

Possible values:

Use character sequences like ^G, ^J, ^@, .. to identify non-printable characters
Use special Unicode code points to identify non-printable characters

-p, --plain

Only show plain style, no decorations. This is an alias for '--style=plain'. When '-p' is used twice ('-pp'), it also disables automatic paging (alias for '--style=plain --paging=never').

-l, --language <language>

Explicitly set the language for syntax highlighting. The language can be specified as a name (like 'C++' or 'LaTeX') or possible file extension (like 'cpp', 'hpp' or 'md'). Use '--list-languages' to show all supported language names and file extensions.

-H, --highlight-line <N:M>...

Highlight the specified line ranges with a different background color. For example:
highlights line 40
highlights lines 30 to 40
highlights lines 1 to 40
highlights lines 40 to the end of the file
highlights lines 30 to 40

--file-name <name>...

Specify the name to display for a file. Useful when piping data to bat from STDIN when bat does not otherwise know the filename. Note that the provided file name is also used for syntax detection.

-d, --diff

Only show lines that have been added/removed/modified with respect to the Git index. Use '--diff-context=N' to control how much context you want to see.

--diff-context <N>...

Include N lines of context around added/removed/modified lines when using '--diff'.

--tabs <T>

Set the tab width to T spaces. Use a width of 0 to pass tabs through directly

--wrap <mode>

Specify the text-wrapping mode (*auto*, never, character). The '--terminal-width' option can be used in addition to control the output width.

--terminal-width <width>

Explicitly set the width of the terminal instead of determining it automatically. If prefixed with '+' or '-', the value will be treated as an offset to the actual terminal width. See also: '--wrap'.

-n, --number

Only show line numbers, no other decorations. This is an alias for '--style=numbers'

--color <when>

Specify when to use colored output. The automatic mode only enables colors if an interactive terminal is detected. Possible values: *auto*, never, always.

--italic-text <when>

Specify when to use ANSI sequences for italic text in the output. Possible values: always, *never*.

--decorations <when>

Specify when to use the decorations that have been specified via '--style'. The automatic mode only enables decorations if an interactive terminal is detected. Possible values: *auto*, never, always.

-f, --force-colorization

Alias for '--decorations=always --color=always'. This is useful if the output of bat is piped to another program, but you want to keep the colorization/decorations.

--paging <when>

Specify when to use the pager. To disable the pager, use '--paging=never' or its alias, -P. To disable the pager permanently, set BAT_PAGER to an empty string. To control which pager is used, see the '--pager' option. Possible values: *auto*, never, always.

--pager <command>

Determine which pager is used. This option will override the PAGER and BAT_PAGER environment variables. The default pager is 'less'. To control when the pager is used, see the '--paging' option. Example: '--pager "less -RF"'.

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.

-m, --map-syntax <glob-pattern:syntax-name>...

Map a glob pattern to an existing syntax name. The glob pattern is matched on the full path and the filename. For example, to highlight *.build files with the Python syntax, use -m '*.build:Python'. To highlight files named '.myignore' with the Git Ignore syntax, use -m '.myignore:Git Ignore'. Note that the right-hand side is the *name* of the syntax, not a file extension.

--theme <theme>

Set the theme for syntax highlighting. Use '--list-themes' to see all available themes. To set a default theme, add the '--theme="..."' option to the configuration file or export the BAT_THEME environment variable (e.g.: export BAT_THEME="...").


Display a list of supported themes for syntax highlighting.

--style <style-components>

Configure which elements (line numbers, file headers, grid borders, Git modifications, ..) to display in addition to the file contents. The argument is a comma-separated list of components to display (e.g. 'numbers,changes,grid') or a pre-defined style ('full'). To set a default style, add the '--style=".."' option to the configuration file or export the BAT_STYLE environment variable (e.g.: export BAT_STYLE=".."). Possible values: *default*, full, auto, plain, changes, header, header-filename, header-filesize, grid, rule, numbers, snip.

-r, --line-range <N:M>...

Only print the specified range of lines for each file. For example:
prints lines 30 to 40
prints lines 1 to 40
prints lines 40 to the end of the file
prints lines 30 to 40

-L, --list-languages

Display a list of supported languages for syntax highlighting.

-u, --unbuffered

This option exists for POSIX-compliance reasons ('u' is for 'unbuffered'). The output is always unbuffered - this option is simply ignored.

-h, --help

Print this help message.

-V, --version

Show version information.


Files to print and concatenate. Use a dash ('-') or no argument at all to read from standard input.

cache - Modify the syntax-definition and theme cache.

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.

To generate a default configuration file, call:

bat --generate-config-file

bat supports Sublime Text .sublime-syntax language files, and can be customized to add additional languages to your local installation. To do this, add the .sublime-syntax language files to `$(bat --config-dir)/syntaxes` and run `bat cache --build`.


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

# And then build the cache.
bat cache --build

Once the cache is built, the new language will be visible in `bat --list-languages`.
If you ever want to remove the custom languages, you can clear the cache with `bat cache --clear`.

Similarly to custom languages, bat supports Sublime Text .tmTheme themes. These can be installed to `$(bat --config-dir)/themes`, and are added to the cache with `bat cache --build`.

Much like less(1) does, bat supports input preprocessors via the LESSOPEN and LESSCLOSE environment variables. In addition, bat attempts to be as compatible with less's preprocessor implementation as possible.

To use the preprocessor, call:

bat --lessopen

Alternatively, the preprocessor may be enabled by default by adding the '--lessopen' option to the configuration file.

To temporarily disable the preprocessor if it is enabled by default, call:

bat --no-lessopen

For more information, see the "INPUT PREPROCESSOR" section of less(1).

For more information and up-to-date documentation, visit the bat repo: