Is there a way to color output for git (or any command)?


baller@Laptop:~/rails/spunky-monkey$ git status
# On branch new-message-types
# Changes not staged for commit:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
#   (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
#       modified:   app/models/message_type.rb
no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")
baller@Laptop:~/rails/spunky-monkey$ git add app/models


baller@Laptop:~/rails/spunky-monkey$ git status
# On branch new-message-types
# Changes to be committed:
#   (use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)
#       modified:   app/models/message_type.rb

The output looks the same, but the information is totally different: the file has gone from unstaged to staged for commit.

Is there a way to colorize the output? For example, files that are unstaged are red, staged are green?

Or even Changes not staged for commit: to red and # Changes to be committed: to green?

Working in Ubuntu.

EDIT: Googling found this answer which works great: git config --global --add color.ui true.

However, is there any more general solution for adding color to a command output?

  • 1
    You want something that colorizes all command outputs? How would it know which parts to color? Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 0:28
  • I guess if there was a way to configure it using regex: Each color could have a start regex. And there could be a default color regex to turn off all colors. And, if text "foo" appears, display it in a certain color...
    – B Seven
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 0:33

12 Answers 12


You can create a section [color] in your ~/.gitconfig with e.g. the following content

  diff = auto
  status = auto
  branch = auto
  interactive = auto
  ui = true
  pager = true

You can also fine control what you want to have coloured in what way, e.g.

[color "status"]
  added = green
  changed = red bold
  untracked = magenta bold

[color "branch"]
  remote = yellow

I hope this gets you started. And of course, you need a terminal which supports colour.

Also see this answer for a way to add colorization directly from the command line.

  • 23
    I think it might be worth putting git config --global color.ui auto (@Evgeny 's answer) at the top of yours...I think that's likely to be what most people are looking for. I've upvoted both...I'm just saying, for the sake of the internet as it comes here, I think a lot of people just want that simple one liner. All the better if they get it, plus your extra goodness.
    – msouth
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 3:06
  • This worked perfectly for me - in the [color "status"] section I added branch = yellow. Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 17:06
  • 3
    you can add [color] section to project's .git/config file too
    – andrej
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 9:30
  • And you can just set a configuration variable for a single invocation of a git command: stackoverflow.com/a/18304605/134044
    – NeilG
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 1:01
  • 1
    @msouth putting git config --global color.ui auto on top of this answer actually produces error fatal: bad config line 1 in file ~/.gitconfig.
    – nougako
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 20:46

You probably want to use

git config --global color.ui auto

The auto part says that git will only try and use color on terminals that support it, and you will not get ANSI sequences if you redirect output of git commands to a file for example. Setting it to true is same as auto, and this is also the default since Git 1.8.4.

The color.ui is a meta configuration that includes all the various color.* configurations available with git commands.

This is explained in-depth in git help config.

When color.ui is set to always it will always emit ANSI color characters, even when piping the output like git log | less while when set to auto it will not print colors unless the output is to the terminal.

  • 1
    Can you explain the difference between color.ui true (which auto points to) versus always? I read the docs but I still don’t get the difference.
    – chharvey
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 15:03
  • 5
    @chharvey color.ui = auto + git diff | less - no colors, color.ui = always + git diff | less - colored output. LESS=-R is implied.
    – x-yuri
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 11:50

The accepted answer gives the most common solution. If for any reason you need not to permanently change the configuration, which that solution does, you may override the configuration for a single git command:

git -c color.ui=always <usual git command and options>

For example:

git -c color.ui=always status
git -c color.ui=always diff

Tested: supported on git 2.4.6, not supported on git 1.7.1.

  • 8
    For anyone else trying to get color when piping into less like I just was, you can make less pass the color escape characters through to the terminal via less -R.
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 18:16
  • When was this feature added? Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 16:47
  • And for completeness: if you pipe it to less and forget to use -R on the command line, you can interactively type -R at it to switch that mode on. :)
    – Peeja
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 20:34
git config --global color.ui auto
git config --global color.branch auto
git config --global color.status auto
  • FYI, Only this worked for git version, others answers didn't.
    – AbhiNickz
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 7:59
git config --global color.ui always
git config --global color.branch always
git config --global color.diff always
git config --global color.interactive always
git config --global color.status always
git config --global color.grep always
git config --global color.pager true
git config --global color.decorate always
git config --global color.showbranch always

or turn off all/most of the colorization off via:

git config --global color.ui false
git config --global color.branch false
git config --global color.diff false
git config --global color.interactive false
git config --global color.status false
git config --global color.grep false
git config --global color.pager false
git config --global color.decorate false
git config --global color.showbranch false
  • OP wasn't looking to turn off colors, rather to turn on colors. In the OP he stated how to do in for git and wants some way of doing it in a more global sense. If you know of such a method, please edit your answer to explain that.
    – Chindraba
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 4:51
  • sometimes people are looking for something closely related but slightly different - but thanks for the downvote.
    – theRiley
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 16:04
  • 1
    I liked it @theRiley Commented May 2, 2017 at 12:32

For a colored git diff piped into less, this works:

git -c color.diff=always diff [...] | less -R

You can do this with Arbitrary Command Output Colourer. It mostly works, but I haven't figured out how to work around a bug where prompts expecting input aren't shown and you can't simply type the known needed input and press enter to continue in every case.

Example of ~/.acoc.conf for git:

# git
/.*(error:.*)/                                    red+bold
/.*(warning:.*)/                                  yellow
/.*(hint:.*)/                                     magenta
/.*(up-to-date).*/                                green+bold
/.*(nothing to commit).*/                         green
/^(\+.*)/                                         green
/^(-.*)/                                          red

..which works nicely along with alias git="acoc git" in .bash_profile.


I know the post is four years old but no one responded from my camp, the color blind. If you can distinguish colors, ignore my post.

"git status" for example puts out text that is white on background/black on white background (legible), dark gray for deleted (illegible against a black background but legible against a white background) and medium gray for added (barley legible on black background, illegible on white background). I used to toggle the background of my terminal window to/from white/black so I could read the illegible text. A simple solution is more:

 git status | more

This makes all the text legible on a standard white or black background terminal window.

  • 2
    You can also change the config to set everything to no color by default (color.ui = never). Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 19:27
  • Brilliant use of piping to get readable colors.
    – RufusVS
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 19:03

To colorize the output of git diff you can add a color.diff section to ~/.gitconfig. For example:

[color "diff"]
  new = bold italic 154
  old = bold italic 196

Here 154 and 196 are ANSI 256-color codes. For more details see man git config.


Some minimalist OSes popular for creating docker containers, like Alpine, may come with stripped down versions of lesss that do not output in color. Install the less package with apk add less command in Alpine.


Definitely recommend: diff-so-fancy

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer! It could be made a bit more valuable to future readers if you (briefly) explain how to obtain, configure, and use the tool to solve the problem at hand. Thanks!
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 15:45
  • brew install diff-so-fancy then follow the export suggestions linked in my answer. It was very easy to setup. Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 23:56

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