Is there a variant of cat that outputs syntax-highlighted lines of code when used on a source file?

An idea: maybe vi[m] or another editor can be asked to dump the syntax-highlighted contents of said files to stdout and exit immediately?


Passing the file through pygmentize-f terminal will attempt to detect the type from the filename and highlight it appropriately.

  • Is that the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine font in their logo? If it is that's awesome. – amphetamachine Aug 26 '11 at 3:57
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    Available as package python-pygments on Debian. – enzotib Aug 26 '11 at 7:57
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    I found alias pcat="pygmentize -f terminal256 -O style=native -g" to be a nice solution – Mikael Öhman Dec 26 '12 at 7:51
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    also available via pip install pygments – craigb Nov 8 '13 at 20:59
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    Actually it must be cat code.extension | pygmentize -f terminal -l extension. – fiatjaf Apr 16 '15 at 21:34

The Source-highlight package is shipped with the esc.outlang output language definition, which highlights with ANSI escape sequences.

A handy wrapper src-hilite-lesspipe.sh is also included in the package, so displaying highlighted output in the terminal is just src-hilite-lesspipe.sh source.file.

Actually src-hilite-lesspipe.sh's primary reason is to help automating the use of source-highlight with less. You just set:

export LESSOPEN="| /path/to/src-hilite-lesspipe.sh %s"
export LESS=' -R '

Then any less source.file will show highlighted source code. (Code in unknown language will pass through unaltered. Highlighting will be also skipped in case of redirected content, like less < source.file.)

  • Nice, thank you for taking the time to write up this answer – Paolo Nov 5 '11 at 7:39

Highlight is simple to use and faster than pygmentize

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    Just don't forget to use -O ansi: unlike pygmentize, highlight outputs HTML by default. – Ruslan Sep 20 '17 at 15:26

I use vimcat.


vimcat example

It looks good enough for me.

  • I like this idea to use my existing Vim highlighting, just wish the utility worked on all *nix and was available for MacOS via Homebrew! – camflint Mar 29 '20 at 0:40

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