How can I pretty-print JSON in a (Unix) shell script?

AnC Source

Is there a (Unix) shell script to format JSON in human-readable form?

Basically, I want it to transform the following:

{ "foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }

... into something like this:

    "foo": "lorem",
    "bar": "ipsum"


answered 10 years ago Robert Gould #1

There is TidyJSON.

It's C#, so maybe you can get it to compile with Mono, and working on *nix. No guarantees though, sorry.

answered 10 years ago jfs #2

$ echo '{ "foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }' \
> | python -c'import fileinput, json;
> print(json.dumps(json.loads("".join(fileinput.input())),
>                  sort_keys=True, indent=4))'
    "bar": "ipsum",
    "foo": "lorem"

NOTE: It is not the way to do it.

The same in Perl:

$ cat json.txt \
> | perl -0007 -MJSON -nE'say to_json(from_json($_, {allow_nonref=>1}), 
>                                     {pretty=>1})'
   "bar" : "ipsum",
   "foo" : "lorem"

Note 2: If you run

echo '{ "Düsseldorf": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }' \
| python -c'import fileinput, json;
                 sort_keys=True, indent=4))'

the nicely readable word becomes \u encoded

    "D\u00fcsseldorf": "lorem", 
    "bar": "ipsum"

If the remainder of your pipeline will gracefully handle unicode and you'd like your JSON to also be human-friendly, simply use ensure_ascii=False

echo '{ "Düsseldorf": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }' \
| python -c'import fileinput, json;
print json.dumps(json.loads("".join(fileinput.input())),
                 sort_keys=True, indent=4, ensure_ascii=False)'

and you'll get:

    "Düsseldorf": "lorem", 
    "bar": "ipsum"

answered 10 years ago AnC #3

Thanks to J.F. Sebastian's very helpful pointers, here's a slightly enhanced script I've come up with:


Convert JSON data to human-readable form.

Usage: inputFile [outputFile]

import sys
import simplejson as json

def main(args):
        if args[1] == '-':
            inputFile = sys.stdin
            inputFile = open(args[1])
        input = json.load(inputFile)
    except IndexError:
        return False
    if len(args) < 3:
        print json.dumps(input, sort_keys = False, indent = 4)
        outputFile = open(args[2], "w")
        json.dump(input, outputFile, sort_keys = False, indent = 4)
    return True

def usage():
    print __doc__

if __name__ == "__main__":
    sys.exit(not main(sys.argv))

answered 9 years ago pimlottc #4

J.F. Sebastian's solutions didn't work for me in Ubuntu 8.04.
Here is a modified Perl version that works with the older 1.X JSON library:

perl -0007 -MJSON -ne 'print objToJson(jsonToObj($_, {allow_nonref=>1}), {pretty=>1}), "\n";'

answered 9 years ago Daryl Spitzer #5

On *nix, reading from stdin and writing to stdout works better:

#!/usr/bin/env python
Convert JSON data to human-readable form.

(Reads from stdin and writes to stdout)

import sys
    import simplejson as json
    import json

print json.dumps(json.loads(, indent=4)

Put this in a file (I named mine "prettyJSON" after AnC's answer) in your PATH and chmod +x it, and you're good to go.

answered 9 years ago darscan #6

Or, with Ruby:

echo '{ "foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }' | ruby -r json -e 'jj JSON.parse gets'

answered 9 years ago B Bycroft #7

With Python 2.6+ you can just do:

echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | python -m json.tool

or, if the JSON is in a file, you can do:

python -m json.tool my_json.json

if the JSON is from an internet source such as an API, you can use

curl http://my_url/ | python -m json.tool

For convenience in all of these cases you can make an alias:

alias prettyjson='python -m json.tool'

For even more convenience with a bit more typing to get it ready:

prettyjson_s() {
    echo "$1" | python -m json.tool

prettyjson_f() {
    python -m json.tool "$1"

prettyjson_w() {
    curl "$1" | python -m json.tool

for all the above cases. You can put this in .bashrc and it will be available every time in shell. Invoke it like prettyjson_s '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}'.

answered 8 years ago Paul Horsfall #8

The JSON Ruby Gem is bundled with a shell script to prettify JSON:

sudo gem install json
echo '{ "foo": "bar" }' | prettify_json.rb

Script download:

answered 8 years ago knb #9

With Perl, use the CPAN module JSON::XS. It installs a command line tool json_xs.


json_xs -t null < myfile.json

Prettify the JSON file src.json to pretty.json:

< src.json json_xs > pretty.json

If you don't have json_xs, try json_pp . "pp" is for "pure perl" – the tool is implemented in Perl only, without a binding to an external C library (which is what XS stands for, Perl's "Extension System").

answered 8 years ago Somu #10

I use the "space" argument of JSON.stringify to pretty-print JSON in JavaScript.


// Indent with 4 spaces
JSON.stringify({"foo":"lorem","bar":"ipsum"}, null, 4);

// Indent with tabs
JSON.stringify({"foo":"lorem","bar":"ipsum"}, null, '\t');

From the Unix command-line with nodejs, specifying json on the command line:

$ node -e "console.log(JSON.stringify(JSON.parse(process.argv[1]), null, '\t'));" \


    "foo": "lorem",
    "bar": "ipsum"

From the Unix command-line with Node.js, specifying a filename that contains JSON, and using an indent of four spaces:

$ node -e "console.log(JSON.stringify(JSON.parse(require('fs') \
      .readFileSync(process.argv[1])), null, 4));"  filename.json

Using a pipe:

echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | node -e \

answered 7 years ago Mike Conigliaro #11

Check out Jazor. It's a simple command line JSON parser written in Ruby.

gem install jazor
jazor --help

answered 7 years ago isaacs #12

If you use npm and Node.js, you can do npm install -g json and then pipe the command through json. Do json -h to get all the options. It can also pull out specific fields and colorize the output with -i.

curl -s | json

answered 7 years ago htaccess #13

I recommend using the json_xs command line utility which is included in the JSON::XS perl module. JSON::XS is a Perl module for serializing/deserializing JSON, on a Debian or Ubuntu machine you can install it like this:

sudo apt-get install libjson-xs-perl

It is obviously also available on CPAN.

To use it to format JSON obtained from a URL you can use curl or wget like this:

$ curl -s | json_xs

or this:

$ wget -q -O - | json_xs

and to format JSON contained in a file you can do this:

$ json_xs < file-full-of.json

To reformat as YAML, which some people consider to be more humanly-readable than JSON:

$ json_xs -t yaml < file-full-of.json

answered 7 years ago Bryan Larsen #14

$ sudo apt-get install edit-json
$ prettify_json myfile.json

answered 7 years ago Hank Gay #15

yajl is very nice, in my experience. I use its json_reformat command to pretty-print .json files in vim by putting the following line in my .vimrc:

autocmd FileType json setlocal equalprg=json_reformat

answered 7 years ago yardena #16

I use jshon to do exactly what you're describing. Just run:


You can also pass arguments to transform the JSON data.

answered 7 years ago Philip Durbin #17

With Perl, if you install JSON::PP from CPAN you'll get the json_pp command. Stealing the example from B Bycroft you get:

[[email protected] ~]$ echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | json_pp
   "bar" : "ipsum",
   "foo" : "lorem"

It's worth mentioning that json_pp comes pre-installed with Ubuntu 12.04 (at least) and Debian in /usr/bin/json_pp

answered 7 years ago locojay #18

I usually just do:

echo '{"test":1,"test2":2}' | python -mjson.tool

And to retrieve select data (in this case, "test"'s value):

echo '{"test":1,"test2":2}' | python -c 'import sys,json;data=json.loads(; print data["test"]'

If the JSON data is in a file:

python -mjson.tool filename.json

If you want to do it all in one go with curl on the command line using an authentication token:

curl -X GET -H "Authorization: Token wef4fwef54te4t5teerdfgghrtgdg53" http://testsite/api/ | python -mjson.tool

answered 7 years ago numan salati #19

Here is how to do it with Groovy script.

Create a Groovy script, let's say "pretty-print"

#!/usr/bin/env groovy

import groovy.json.JsonOutput { println JsonOutput.prettyPrint(it.readLine()) }

Make script executable:

chmod +x pretty-print

Now from the command line,

echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | ./pretty-print

answered 6 years ago Wu Yongzheng #20

I'm the author of json-liner. It's a command line tool to turn JSON into a grep friendly format. Give it a try.

$ echo '{"a": 1, "b": 2}' | json-liner
/%a 1
/%b 2
$ echo '["foo", "bar", "baz"]' | json-liner
/@0 foo
/@1 bar
/@2 baz

answered 6 years ago vadimk #21

With JavaScript/NodeJS: take a look at the vkBeautify.js plugin, which provides pretty printing for both JSON and XML text.

It's written in plain JavaScript, less than 1.5KB (minified) and very fast.

answered 6 years ago nelaaro #22

My JSON files were not parsed by any of these methods.

My problem was similar to this post Google Data Source JSON not valid?.

The answer to that post helped me find a solution.

It is considered to be invalid JSON without the string keys.


must be:

{"id": "name", "label": "Name", "type": "string"}

This link gives a nice comprehensive comparison of some of the different JSON parsers.

Which led me to I think this one parser is much more fault tolerant than many others.

answered 6 years ago Salman A #23

JSONLint has an open-source implementation on github can be used on the command line or included in a node.js project.

npm install jsonlint -g

and then

jsonlint -p myfile.json


curl -s "" | jsonlint | less

answered 6 years ago Dave Dopson #24

I wrote a tool that has one of the best "smart whitespace" formatters available. It produces more readable and less verbose output than most of the other options here.


This is what "smart whitespace" looks like:

I may be a bit biased, but it's an awesome tool for printing and manipulating JSON data from the command-line. It's super-friendly to use and has extensive command-line help/documentation. It's a Swiss Army knife that I use for 1001 different small tasks that would be surprisingly annoying to do any other way.

Latest use-case: Chrome, Dev console, Network tab, export all as HAR file, "cat site.har | underscore select '.url' --outfmt text | grep mydomain"; now I have a chronologically ordered list of all URL fetches made during the loading of my company's site.

Pretty printing is easy:

underscore -i data.json print

Same thing:

cat data.json | underscore print

Same thing, more explicit:

cat data.json | underscore print --outfmt pretty

This tool is my current passion project, so if you have any feature requests, there is a good chance I'll address them.

answered 6 years ago Roberto #25

I know that the original post asked for a shell script, but there are so many useful and irrelevant answers that probably did not help the original author. Adding on to irrelevance :)

BTW I could not get any command line tools to work.

If somebody want simple JSON JavaScript code, they could do:

JSON.stringfy(JSON.parse(str), null, 4)

Here is JavaScript code that not only pretties the JSON, but orders them by their attribute or by attribute and level.

If input is

{ "c": 1, "a": {"b1": 2, "a1":1 }, "b": 1},

it either prints (groups all the objects together):

     "b": 1,
     "c": 1,
     "a": {
          "a1": 1,
          "b1": 2

OR (just orders by key):

 "a": {
      "a1": 1,
      "b1": 2
 "b": 1,
 "c": 1

answered 6 years ago Uma sankar pradhan #26

Install yajl-tools with the command below:

sudo apt-get install yajl-tools


echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | json_reformat

answered 5 years ago Johann Philipp Strathausen #27

Try pjson. It has colors!

echo '{"json":"obj"} | pjson

Install it with pip:

⚡ pip install pjson

And then pipe any JSON content to pjson.

answered 5 years ago Vita Pluvia #28

You can use: jq

It's very simple to use and it works great! It can handle very large JSON structures, including streams. You can find their tutorials here.

Here is an example:

$ jq . <<< '{ "foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }'
  "bar": "ipsum",
  "foo": "lorem"

Or in other words:

$ echo '{ "foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }' | jq .
  "bar": "ipsum",
  "foo": "lorem"

answered 5 years ago svidgen #29

The PHP version, if you have PHP >= 5.4.

alias prettify_json=php -E '$o = json_decode($argn); print json_encode($o, JSON_PRETTY_PRINT);'
echo '{"a":1,"b":2}' | prettify_json

answered 5 years ago jordelver #30

UPDATE I'm using jq now as suggested in another answer. It's extremely powerful at filtering JSON, but, at its most basic, also an awesome way to pretty print JSON for viewing.

jsonpp is a very nice command line JSON pretty printer.

From the README:

Pretty print web service responses like so:

curl -s -L http://<!----> | jsonpp

and make beautiful the files running around on your disk:

jsonpp data/long_malformed.json

If you're on Mac OS X, you can brew install jsonpp. If not, you can simply copy the binary to somewhere in your $PATH.

answered 5 years ago Pablo Fernandez heelhook #31

I know this question has been replied ad nauseam, but I wanted to document a Ruby solution that is better than Json's prettify command, the gem colorful_json is fairly good.

gem install colorful_json
echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | cjson
  "foo": "lorem",
  "bar": "ipsum"

answered 4 years ago Orest Ivasiv #32

Here is Groovy one-liner:

echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | groovy -e 'import groovy.json.*; println JsonOutput.prettyPrint('

answered 4 years ago Javaaaa #33

You can also use online tools instead if that is an option for you.

I find to be the simplest and easiest.

answered 3 years ago slashmili #34

I'm using httpie

$ pip install httpie

And you can use it like this

 $ http PUT localhost:8001/api/v1/ports/my 
 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
 Connection: keep-alive
 Content-Length: 93
 Content-Type: application/json
 Date: Fri, 06 Mar 2015 02:46:41 GMT
 Server: nginx/1.4.6 (Ubuntu)
 X-Powered-By: HHVM/3.5.1

     "data": [], 
     "message": "Failed to manage ports in 'my'. Request body is empty", 
     "success": false

answered 3 years ago Shubham Chaudhary #35


I combine Python's json.tool with pygmentize:

echo '{"foo": "bar"}' | python -m json.tool | pygmentize -g

There are some alternatives to pygmentize which are listed in my this answer.

Here is a live demo:


answered 3 years ago adius #36

For Node.js you can also use the "util" module. It uses syntax-highlighting, smart indentation, removes quotes from keys and just makes the output as pretty as it gets.

cat file.json | node -e "process.stdin.pipe(new require('stream').Writable({write: chunk =>  {console.log(require('util').inspect(JSON.parse(chunk), {depth: null, colors: true}))}}))"

answered 3 years ago lev #37

gem install jsonpretty
echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | jsonpretty

This method also "Detects HTTP response/headers, prints them untouched, and skips to the body (for use with `curl -i')".

answered 2 years ago Evgeny Karpov #38

Vanilla Bash

A simple Bash script (grep/awk) for pretty JSON printing, without third party install:


grep -Eo '"[^"]*" *(: *([0-9]*|"[^"]*")[^{}\["]*|,)?|[^"\]\[\}\{]*|\{|\},?|\[|\],?|[0-9 ]*,?' | awk '{if ($0 ~ /^[}\]]/ ) offset-=4; printf "%*c%s\n", offset, " ", $0; if ($0 ~ /^[{\[]/) offset+=4}'


1) Read file and pretty print in console

cat file.json |

2) Use with the windows GIT Bash from file to file (UTF8 based):

cat fileIn.json |sh.exe > fileOut.json

answered 2 years ago josch #39

The tool ydump is a JSON pretty-printer:

$ ydump my_data.json
  "foo": "lorem",
  "bar": "ipsum"

Or you can pipe in the JSON:

$ echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | ydump
  "foo": "lorem",
  "bar": "ipsum"

This is probably the shortest solution apart from using the jq tool.

This tool is part of the yojson library for OCaml, and is documented here.

On Debian and derivatives, the package libyojson-ocaml-dev contains this tool. Alternatively, yojson can be installed via OPAM.

answered 2 years ago Ackshaey Singh #40

Simply pipe the output to jq ..


twurl -H '.......' | jq .

answered 2 years ago Yada #41

If you don't mind using a third party tool you can simply curl to This is for the case where you can't install packages on the machine.

curl -XPOST -d '{"user" : 1}'

answered 1 year ago chronos #42
answered 1 year ago Nikhil Ranjan #43

If you have Node.js installed you can create one on your own with one line of code. Create a file pretty:

> vim pretty

#!/usr/bin/env node

console.log(JSON.stringify(JSON.parse(process.argv[2]), null, 2));

Add execute permission:

> chmod +x pretty

> ./pretty '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}'

Or if your JSON is in a file:

#!/usr/bin/env node

console.log(JSON.stringify(require("./" + process.argv[2]), null, 2));

> ./pretty file.json

answered 1 year ago JedatKinports #44

That's how I do it:

curl yourUri | json_pp

It shortens the code and gets the job done.

answered 1 year ago Aidan Melen #45

from __future__ import unicode_literals
from __future__ import absolute_import
from __future__ import print_function
from __future__ import division

import json
import jsonschema

def _validate(data):
    schema = {"$schema": ""}
        jsonschema.validate(data, schema,
    except jsonschema.exceptions.ValidationError as ve:
        sys.stderr.write("Whoops, the data you provided does not seem to be " \
        "valid JSON.\n{}".format(ve))

def pprint(data, python_obj=False, **kwargs):
    kwargs["indent"] = kwargs.get("indent", 4)
    pretty_data = json.dumps(data, **kwargs)
    if python_obj:
       repls = (("u'",'"'),
    print(reduce(lambda a, kv: a.replace(*kv), repls, pretty_data))

answered 1 year ago Olexandr Minzak #46

It is not too simple with a native way with the jq tools.

For example:

cat xxx | jq .

answered 9 months ago alexanderjsingleton #47

  1. brew install jq
  2. command + | jq
  3. (example: curl localhost:5000/blocks | jq)
  4. Enjoy!

enter image description here

answered 8 months ago fangxing #48

Use Ruby in one line:

echo '{"test":1,"test2":2}' | ruby -e "require 'json'; puts JSON.pretty_generate(JSON.parse("

And you can set an alias for this:

alias to_j="ruby -e \"require 'json';puts JSON.pretty_generate(JSON.parse(\""

Then you can use it more conveniently

echo '{"test":1,"test2":2}' | to_j

  "test": 1,
  "test2": 2

And if you want display JSON with color, your can install awesome_print,

gem install awesome_print


alias to_j="ruby -e \"require 'json';require 'awesome_print';ap JSON.parse(\""

Try it!

echo '{"test":1,"test2":2, "arr":["aa","bb","cc"] }' | to_j

Enter image description here

answered 4 months ago peak #49

jj is super-fast, can handle ginormous JSON documents economically, does not mess with valid JSON numbers, and is easy to use, e.g.

jj -p # for reading from STDIN


jj -p -i input.son

It is (2018) still quite new so maybe it won’t handle invalid JSON the way you expect, but it is easy to install on major platforms.

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