print color string without ncurses

Printing color strings uses only printf, without any alternative libraries such as ncurses? Yes, we can do that in any unix based operating system that support ANSI codes, I am not sure whether it works on either windows or mac, have no chance to try at the moment.

By feeding some magic characters to printf, you can manipulate your fore color, background color and even attributes. Lets look at a simple example to print “Hello World” in Bright Red with background black.

#define BRIGHT 1
#define RED 31
#define BG_BLACK 40
printf("%c[%d;%d;%dmHello World", 0x1B, BRIGHT,RED,BG_BLACK);

Okay, the code above print the string with bright red but the color setting will remain, to reset back the color to default, refers the code as bellow:

printf("%c[%dm", 0x1B, 0);

The fore color, background color and attributes codes are shown as bellow

Text attributes
       0    All attributes off
       1    Bold on
       4    Underscore (on monochrome display adapter only)
       5    Blink on
       7    Reverse video on
       8    Concealed on
    Foreground colors
       30    Black
       31    Red
       32    Green
       33    Yellow
       34    Blue
       35    Magenta
       36    Cyan
       37    White
    Background colors
       40    Black
       41    Red
       42    Green
       43    Yellow
       44    Blue
       45    Magenta
       46    Cyan
       47    White

How’s the color magic works? 0x1B is a special code that used to do all the color settings. 0x1B is hex code equivalent to decimal 27. With character(27) and a open square blacket “[“, initiate the setting. The rest of the values are (attribute);(fore color);(background color) and it ends the setting with ” m “. So entire thing will be look like this:


With that the rest of your print line will be in bright yellow with background color black.

I have transparent background, What if I want my default background instead of any color?
Simple, ignore the background color, How?

printf("%c[%d;%dmHello World%c[%dm\n",27,1,33,27,0);

The line above will print bright yellow “Hello World” with default bg color.

Print Color Text in Command Line

19 thoughts on “print color string without ncurses

  1. Pingback: c/c++ programming by examples

  2. Pingback: writting a fun cli apps with ncurses

  3. Tyvm 🙂 Works great in PHP (cli) as well for those without the ncurses lib compiled in, or the PECL library.

  4. nice
    but can u write the full program
    I mean with #includ
    int main()
    please …. I need it alot
    thanks *_*

  5. #include “stdio.h”
    #define BRIGHT 1
    #define RED 31
    #define BG_BLACK 40
    int main()
    printf(“%c[%d;%d;%dmHello World”, 0x1B, BRIGHT,RED,BG_BLACK);

  6. Can u help me with this code.A program to read a string as well as color and to print it in that font color.Once system receives these two arguments in the function , compiler will return the required result as follows:-

    Enter the string: Can’t believe it’s possible in C.

    Enter the colour: Red

    Output: Can’t believe it’s possible in C.//(this has to be in “RED”colour)

  7. Doesn’t work in Dev-C++ (as .C).
    What is wrong?

    Copied the code above and then corrected some, such as the “-signs and the x between 0 and 1B, but only writes

    a “leftarrow” and then: [1;31;40mHello World
    and still in only white on black background.

  8. You can alsow define your definition of function for example:

    bufig_printf (const char *tekst) {
    printf (“%c[%d;%d;%d;%dm%s”, 0x1B, 1, 4, 5, GREEN, tekst);
    printf (“%c[%dm”, 0x1B, 0); // Restoring default settings

  9. Its not work in g++ compiler.
    How can we used color text in g++ compiler.
    we want to make colored home page. is it possible???

  10. you can make it more usable and more pretty :

    // define buffers
    char cYellow[40];
    char cEnd[40];

    // define colors
    sprintf( (char*) &cYellow, "%c[1;33m", 27 );
    sprintf( (char*) &cReset, "%c[0m", 27 );

    // use colors
    printf( " %s My Color-Text %s \n", cYellow, cReset );

  11. possibly
    sprintf( (char*) &cYellow, “%c[1;33m”, 27 );
    sprintf( (char*) &cYellow, “\x1B[1;33m” );

  12. Pingback: want to know error in the program ... plz help ...

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