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Library for building powerful interactive command lines in Python

Project description

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prompt_toolkit is a Library for building powerful interactive command lines in Python. It ships with a nice interative Python shell (called ptpython) built on top of the library.

prompt_toolkit could be a replacement for readline, but it can be much more than that.


  • Pure Python.
  • Syntax highlighting of the input while typing. (For instance, with a Pygments lexer.)
  • Multiline input editing.
  • Advanced code completion.
  • Both Emacs and Vi keybindings. (Similar to readline.)
  • Reverse and forward incremental search.
  • Both Python 3 and Python 2.7 support.
  • Works well with Unicode double width characters. (Chinese input.)
  • No global state.
  • Code written with love.


  • Only for vt100-compatible terminals. (Actually, all terminals in OS X and Linux systems are VT100 compatible the days, so that should not be an issue. There is no Windows support, however.)

Feel free to create tickets for bugs and feature requests, and create pull requests if you have a nice patches that you would like to share with others.


pip install prompt-toolkit

The Python repl

Run ptpython to get an interactive Python prompt with syntaxt highlighting, code completion, etc…


If you prefer to have Vi keybindings (which currently are more completely implemented than the Emacs bindings), run ptpython --vi.

If you want to embed the repl inside your application at one point, do:

from prompt_toolkit.contrib.repl import embed
embed(globals(), locals(), vi_mode=False, history_filename=None)


Tab and shift+tab complete the input. (Thanks to the Jedi autocompletion library.) In Vi-mode, you can also use Ctrl+N and Ctrl+P.


Multiline editing

Usually, multiline editing mode will automatically turn on when you press enter after a colon, however you can always turn it on by pressing F7.

To execute the input in multiline mode, you can either press Alt+Enter, or Esc followed by Enter. (If you want the first to work in the OS X terminal, you have to check the “Use option as meta key” checkbox in your terminal settings. For iTerm2, you have to check “Left option acts as +Esc” in the options.)

You love IPython?

Run ptipython (prompt_toolkit - IPython), to get a nice interactive shell with all the power that IPython has to offer, like magic functions and shell integration.


Using as a library

This is a library which allows you to build highly customizable input prompts. Every step (from key bindings, to line behaviour until the renderer) can be customized.

Note that this is work in progress. Many things work, but code is still refactored a lot and APIs are changing. (They become better.)

A simple example looks like this:

from prompt_toolkit import CommandLineInterface, AbortAction
from prompt_toolkit import Exit

def main():
    # Create CommandLineInterface
    cli = CommandLineInterface()

        while True:
            code_obj = cli.read_input(on_exit=AbortAction.RAISE_EXCEPTION)
            print('You said: ' + code_obj.text)

    except Exit: # Quit on Ctrl-D keypress

if __name__ == '__main__':

Have a look at the example directory to see what is possible.


The Ctrl-S forward search doesn’t work and freezes my terminal.
Try to run stty -ixon in your terminal to disable flow control.
The Meta-key doesn’t work.
For some terminals you have to enable the Alt-key to act as enum key, but you can also type Escape before any key instead.

Special thanks to

  • Pygments: Syntax highlighter.
  • Jedi: Autocompletion library.

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