Besides the functionality that Click provides to interface with argument parsing and handling, it also provides a bunch of addon functionality that is useful for writing command line utilities.

Printing to Stdout

The most obvious helper is the echo() function, which in many ways works like the Python print statement or function. The main difference is that it works the same in Python 2 and 3, it intelligently detects misconfigured output streams, and it will never fail (except in Python 3; for more information see Python 3 Limitations).


import click

click.echo('Hello World!')

Most importantly, it can print both Unicode and binary data, unlike the built-in print function in Python 3, which cannot output any bytes. It will, however, emit a trailing newline by default, which needs to be suppressed by passing nl=False:

click.echo(b'\xe2\x98\x83', nl=False)

New in version 3.0.

Starting with Click 3.0 you can also easily print to standard error by passing err=True:

click.echo('Hello World!', err=True)

ANSI Colors

New in version 2.0.

Starting with Click 2.0, the echo() function gained extra functionality to deal with ANSI colors and styles. Note that on Windows, this functionality is only available if colorama is installed. If it is installed, then ANSI codes are intelligently handled.

Primarily this means that:

  • Click’s echo() function will automatically strip ANSI color codes if the stream is not connected to a terminal.
  • the echo() function will transparently connect to the terminal on Windows and translate ANSI codes to terminal API calls. This means that colors will work on Windows the same way they do on other operating systems.

Note for colorama support: Click will automatically detect when colorama is available and use it. Do not call colorama.init()!

To install colorama, run this command:

$ pip install colorama

For styling a string, the style() function can be used:

import click

click.echo(click.style('Hello World!', fg='green'))
click.echo(click.style('Some more text', bg='blue', fg='white'))
click.echo(click.style('ATTENTION', blink=True, bold=True))

The combination of echo() and style() is also available in a single function called secho():

click.secho('Hello World!', fg='green')
click.secho('Some more text', bg='blue', fg='white')
click.secho('ATTENTION', blink=True, bold=True)

Pager Support

In some situations, you might want to show long texts on the terminal and let a user scroll through it. This can be achieved by using the echo_via_pager() function which works similarly to the echo() function, but always writes to stdout and, if possible, through a pager.


def less():
    click.echo_via_pager('\n'.join('Line %d' % idx
                                   for idx in range(200)))

Screen Clearing

New in version 2.0.

To clear the terminal screen, you can use the clear() function that is provided starting with Click 2.0. It does what the name suggests: it clears the entire visible screen in a platform-agnostic way:

import click

Getting Characters from Terminal

New in version 2.0.

Normally, when reading input from the terminal, you would read from standard input. However, this is buffered input and will not show up until the line has been terminated. In certain circumstances, you might not want to do that and instead read individual characters as they are being written.

For this, Click provides the getchar() function which reads a single character from the terminal buffer and returns it as a Unicode character.

Note that this function will always read from the terminal, even if stdin is instead a pipe.


import click

click.echo('Continue? [yn] ', nl=False)
c = click.getchar()
if c == 'y':
    click.echo('We will go on')
elif c == 'n':
    click.echo('Invalid input :(')

Note that this reads raw input, which means that things like arrow keys will show up in the platform’s native escape format. The only characters translated are ^C and ^D which are converted into keyboard interrupts and end of file exceptions respectively. This is done because otherwise, it’s too easy to forget about that and to create scripts that cannot be properly exited.

Waiting for Key Press

New in version 2.0.

Sometimes, it’s useful to pause until the user presses any key on the keyboard. This is especially useful on Windows where cmd.exe will close the window at the end of the command execution by default, instead of waiting.

In click, this can be accomplished with the pause() function. This function will print a quick message to the terminal (which can be customized) and wait for the user to press a key. In addition to that, it will also become a NOP (no operation instruction) if the script is not run interactively.


import click

Launching Editors

New in version 2.0.

Click supports launching editors automatically through edit(). This is very useful for asking users for multi-line input. It will automatically open the user’s defined editor or fall back to a sensible default. If the user closes the editor without saving, the return value will be None otherwise the entered text.

Example usage:

import click

def get_commit_message():
    MARKER = '# Everything below is ignored\n'
    message = click.edit('\n\n' + MARKER)
    if message is not None:
        return message.split(MARKER, 1)[0].rstrip('\n')

Alternatively, the function can also be used to launch editors for files by a specific filename. In this case, the return value is always None.

Example usage:

import click

Launching Applications

New in version 2.0.

Click supports launching applications through launch(). This can be used to open the default application assocated with a URL or filetype. This can be used to launch web browsers or picture viewers, for instance. In addition to this, it can also launch the file manager and automatically select the provided file.

Example usage:

click.launch('/my/downloaded/file.txt', locate=True)

Printing Filenames

Because filenames might not be Unicode, formatting them can be a bit tricky. Generally, this is easier in Python 2 than on 3, as you can just write the bytes to stdout with the print function, but in Python 3, you will always need to operate in Unicode.

The way this works with click is through the format_filename() function. It does a best-effort conversion of the filename to Unicode and will never fail. This makes it possible to use these filenames in the context of a full Unicode string.


click.echo('Path: %s' % click.format_filename(b'foo.txt'))

Standard Streams

For command line utilities, it’s very important to get access to input and output streams reliably. Python generally provides access to these streams through sys.stdout and friends, but unfortunately, there are API differences between 2.x and 3.x, especially with regards to how these streams respond to Unicode and binary data.

Because of this, click provides the get_binary_stream() and get_text_stream() functions, which produce consistent results with different Python versions and for a wide variety pf terminal configurations.

The end result is that these functions will always return a functional stream object (except in very odd cases in Python 3; see Python 3 Limitations).


import click

stdin_text = click.get_text_stream('stdin')
stdout_binary = click.get_binary_stream('stdout')

Intelligent File Opening

New in version 3.0.

Starting with Click 3.0 the logic for opening files from the File type is exposed through the open_file() function. It can intelligently open stdin/stdout as well as any other file.


import click

stdout = click.open_file('-', 'w')
test_file = click.open_file('test.txt', 'w')

If stdin or stdout are returned, the return value is wrapped in a special file where the context manager will prevent the closing of the file. This makes the handling of standard streams transparent and you can always use it like this:

with click.open_file(filename, 'w') as f:
    f.write('Hello World!\n')

Finding Application Folders

New in version 2.0.

Very often, you want to open a configuration file that belongs to your application. However, different operating systems store these configuration files in different locations depending on their standards. Click provides a get_app_dir() function which returns the most appropriate location for per-user config files for your application depending on the OS.

Example usage:

import os
import click
import ConfigParser

APP_NAME = 'My Application'

def read_config():
    cfg = os.path.join(click.get_app_dir(APP_NAME), 'config.ini')
    parser = ConfigParser.RawConfigParser()
    rv = {}
    for section in parser.sections():
        for key, value in parser.items(section):
            rv['%s.%s' % (section, key)] = value
    return rv

Showing Progress Bars

New in version 2.0.

Sometimes, you have command line scripts that need to process a lot of data, but you want to quickly show the user some progress about how long that will take. Click supports simple progress bar rendering for that through the progressbar() function.

The basic usage is very simple: the idea is that you have an iterable that you want to operate on. For each item in the iterable it might take some time to do processing. So say you have a loop like this:

for user in all_the_users_to_process:

To hook this up with an automatically updating progress bar, all you need to do is to change the code to this:

import click

with click.progressbar(all_the_users_to_process) as bar:
    for user in bar:

Click will then automatically print a progress bar to the terminal and calculate the remaining time for you. The calculation of remaining time requires that the iterable has a length. If it does not have a length but you know the length, you can explicitly provide it:

with click.progressbar(all_the_users_to_process,
                       length=number_of_users) as bar:
    for user in bar:

Another useful feature is to associate a label with the progress bar which will be shown preceding the progress bar:

with click.progressbar(all_the_users_to_process,
                       label='Modifying user accounts',
                       length=number_of_users) as bar:
    for user in bar:

Sometimes, one may need to iterate over an external iterator, and advance the progress bar irregularly. To do so, you need to specify the length (and no iterable), and use the update method on the context return value instead of iterating directly over it:

with click.progressbar(length=total_size,
                       label='Unzipping archive') as bar:
    for archive in zip_file: