Code Quality Rank: L4
Programming language: C
License: MIT License
Tags: CLI    
Latest version: v1.1.2

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This library is no longer maintained. It's pretty small if you have a big project that relies on it, just maintain it yourself. Or look for forks. Or look for alternatives. Or better - avoid using terminals for UI. Never the less, thanks to all who ever contributed.


Termbox is a library that provides minimalistic API which allows the programmer to write text-based user interfaces.

It is based on a very simple abstraction. The main idea is viewing terminals as a table of fixed-size cells and input being a stream of structured messages. Would be fair to say that the model is inspired by windows console API. The abstraction itself is not perfect and it may create problems in certain areas. The most sensitive ones are copy & pasting and wide characters (mostly Chinese, Japanese, Korean (CJK) characters). When it comes to copy & pasting, the notion of cells is not really compatible with the idea of text. And CJK runes often require more than one cell to display them nicely. Despite the mentioned flaws, using such a simple model brings benefits in a form of simplicity. And KISS principle is important.

At this point one should realize, that CLI (command-line interfaces) aren't really a thing termbox is aimed at. But rather pseudo-graphical user interfaces.


Termbox comes with a waf-based build scripts. In order to configure, build and install it, do the following::

./waf configure --prefix=/usr                                (configure)
./waf                                                        (build)
./waf install --destdir=DESTDIR                              (install)

By default termbox will install the header file and both shared and static libraries. If you want to install a shared library or static library alone, use the following as an install command::

./waf install --targets=termbox_shared --destdir=PREFIX      (shared library)


./waf install --targets=termbox_static --destdir=PREFIX      (static library)

In order to install the python module, use the following command (as root or via sudo)::

python setup.py install

for Python 3::

python3 setup.py install

Getting started

Termbox's interface only consists of 12 functions::

tb_init() // initialization
tb_shutdown() // shutdown

tb_width() // width of the terminal screen
tb_height() // height of the terminal screen

tb_clear() // clear buffer
tb_present() // sync internal buffer with terminal

tb_blit() // drawing functions

tb_select_input_mode() // change input mode
tb_peek_event() // peek a keyboard event
tb_poll_event() // wait for a keyboard event

See src/termbox.h header file for full detail.


If you want me to add your Termbox project here, send me a pull request or drop a note via email, you can find my email below.

Language bindings
Other implementations

Bugs & questions

Report bugs to the https://github.com/nsf/termbox issue tracker. Send rants and questions to me: [email protected].



  • Properly include changelog into the tagged version commit. I.e. I messed up by tagging v1.1.1 and describing it in changelog after tagged commit. This commit marked as v1.1.2 includes changelog for both v1.1.1 and v1.1.2. There are no code changes in this minor release.



  • API: tb_width() and tb_height() are guaranteed to be negative if the termbox wasn't initialized.
  • API: Output mode switching is now possible, adds 256-color and grayscale color modes.
  • API: Better tb_blit() function. Thanks, Gunnar Zötl [email protected].
  • API: New tb_cell_buffer() function for direct back buffer access.
  • API: Add new init function variants which allow using arbitrary file descriptor as a terminal.
  • Improvements in input handling code.
  • Calling tb_shutdown() twice is detected and results in abort() to discourage doing so.
  • Mouse event handling is ported from termbox-go.
  • Paint demo port from termbox-go to demonstrate mouse handling capabilities.
  • Bug fixes in code and documentation.


  • Remove the Go directory. People generally know about termbox-go and where to look for it.
  • Remove old terminfo-related python scripts and backport the new one from termbox-go.
  • Remove cmake/make-based build scripts, use waf.
  • Add a simple terminfo database parser. Now termbox prefers using the terminfo database if it can be found. Otherwise it still has a fallback built-in database for most popular terminals.
  • Some internal code cleanups and refactorings. The most important change is that termbox doesn't leak meaningless exported symbols like 'keys' and 'funcs' now. Only the ones that have 'tb_' as a prefix are being exported.
  • API: Remove unsigned ints, use plain ints instead.
  • API: Rename UTF-8 functions 'utf8_' -> 'tb_utf8_'.
  • API: TB_DEFAULT equals 0 now, it means you can use attributes alones assuming the default color.
  • Move python module to its own directory and update it due to changes in the termbox library.