printc - Allows you to print in any color in the RGB space via a simple printc call.

printc - Allows you to print in any color in the RGB space via a simple printc call.


With this plugin you can print any color within the rgb color space via an interface that is as simple as a regular print statement.

This simple tool provides an abstraction layer on top of terminal ANSI rgb escape codes, making the addition of colorized output to your functions, shell scripts, and/or interactive terminal in zsh a piece of cake. There is support for any of the colors which can be achieved via the form R G B, where R, G and B are any numeric value between 0 and 255, representing the red, green, blue color space values respectively. Users of this plugin are able to issue a printc statement, followed by the previous mentioned rgb values, followed by the text to be printed. There is also 36 built in colors which can be accessed via tab auto-complete. And there is support for bold, italic, blinking, and underline text.


Table of Contents


git clone

Put the printc file in a location that is in your $PATH. Perhaps ~/bin or ~/.bin or any other directory which you have access to, and is in your $PATH. There is an autocomplete function included called _printc. Put that file in any location which is under your $fpath. You may need to delete the ~/.zcompdump file, and reload zsh. This will re-build the ~/.zcompdump file, and should pick up the new completion function as long as it is stored in a directory that is in the $fpath. The autocomplete is nice because it lets you tab through all of the built in colors included with this plugin.



Your terminal emulator must support 256 color. If you want to leverage italic text, depending on your terminal emulator you will likely need to add support for displaying italic text. The process is very simple, and I'll include instruction on how to do so. As long as your terminal emulator supports, and is set up for 256 color, which almost all are now-a-days, you can use the color aspect of the plugin, even without the italic functionality.

At the least your TERM environment variable must be set as so:

export TERM=xterm-256color

It is possible that this is all that will be needed for the italic functionality to work as well. I do recommend trying and seeing if italics work. It it does not, just follow the simple steps below.

Italics Setup

An Aside on Italics
  • It is likely that the italics as implemented in the printc plugin will work without needing the setup described below.
  • This section is here as reference for people who do have problems getting italics to work in the terminal.
  • This method of enabling italics may cause problems.
  • The most common problems arise for those who ssh into remote machines.
  • If you do use this method, and end up with ssh problems, because the terminal reports a TERM value that the server doesn't understand, it can probably be remedied as follows...

Logging into a remote server with something like ssh [email protected]

Can be changed to TERM=xterm-256color ssh [email protected]

Prepending TERM=xterm-256color just before your normal ssh command will pass along a TERM value that the server understands, without impacting your local TERM value. This can be aliased for convenience.

  1. Create a directory ~/.terminfo

  2. Create a file inside ~/.terminfo called xterm-256color-italics.terminfo

  3. Place the following contents inside xterm-256color-italics.terminfo exactly as they are shown:

xterm-256color-italic|xterm with 256 colors and italic,
sitm=\E[3m, ritm=\E[23m,
  1. Inside ~/.terminfo run the command tic xterm-256color-italics.terminfo

  2. Set your TERM environment variable as so:

export TERM=xterm-256color-italic

You can export TERM in your ~/.zshrc or ~/.zshenv or many other ways. If you're an iTerm2 user you can do it through the GUI terminal emulator settings there. It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as the TERM environment variable is set and exported to one of the above mentioned values, either xterm-256color or xterm-256color-italic. Again, I recommend trying things out with xterm-256color and seeing if they work for you before following the italics setup.

As an aside, I have not tested this inside TMUX, but it should work there as long as the environment is set up to properly handle color and italics.

Blinking Text

Many terminals have no support for blinking text. This may be considered a feature of those terminals rather than a bug.



Option Function
-b Bold
-u Underline
-i Italic
-k Blink
-C color Specify built in color
-l List built in colors
-n No newline
-r No ending ANSI code
-R Print only ending ANSI code
-h Display help page

General Structure of Command

  • printc [-b] [-u] [-i] [-n] [-r] <0-255> <0-255> <0-255> "Colorized Text to Display"
    • This is the structure used when specifying a color with RGB values.
    • Note the absense of quotes around the RGB numbers, this is required.
    • Note the inclusion of quotes around the intended output, also required.
      • As usual double quotes will allow parameter expansion.
    • The RGB values must come after any options, and before the intended output.
  • printc [-b] [-u] [-i] [-k] [-n] [-r] -C <built in color> "Colorized Text to Display"
    • This is the structure used when specifying a color that is built in to the plugin.
    • Quoting the intended output is not required when using built in color options.
  • printc -R
    • For use with an earlier printc -r -C <color> "text", for use in prompts and other places where the color code and the ending code may need to be separate.
  • Options can be given in any order, and chained together, such as -buinC <built in color>, so long as built in color follows immediately after -C, and in the case of using RGB values, they must come after any options that are given.

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Feb 19, 2022