The only document-focused mailcap style utility with a wombat mascot.

Project maintained by uriel1998 Hosted on GitHub Pages — Theme by mattgraham


The only cli document viewer with a wombat in a sombrero as a mascot.

showdocs logo


Demo on YouTube:



  1. About
  2. Features
  3. License
  4. Prerequisites
  5. Installation
  6. Usage
  7. TODO

1. About

Very simply, this is a document viewer type version that plays a similar role as mailcap and other such utilities. Its focus is on displaying documents quickly in a terminal (or a popup terminal).

Inspiration taken from mutt.octet.filter for how to best match mimetypes.

2. Features

Why should you use this instead of another mailcap type solution?

  1. As written with the full helper list, it is set up to render Word (DOC & DOCX), Excel (XLS and XLSX), Open/LibreOffice (ODS/ODT), RTF, PDF, markdown, JSON, ANSI/ASCII art, HTML, and will pretty much gladly take any text file (XML, etc) and colorize it.

  2. If it runs across an undefined filetype, it can pass it on to any other mailcap style program, and is set up to use my fork of gotbletu’s URLPortal by default.

  3. It can call and decorate its own xterm window if called from a GUI file manager.

  4. With TDAB installed, when called in TMUX it will automatically show the document in a new zoomed pane.

  5. It has a wombat in a sombrero as a mascot.

Why should you not use this script?

  1. While there’s a few “fallback” checks if helpers aren’t installed, if you want to use different helpers to render and display things, you’ll have to edit the script directly. Which is an issue with any mailcap style solution, so…

  2. You’re happy with what you have. Hey, that’s cool!

2. License

This project is licensed under the MIT License. For the full license, see LICENSE.

3. Prerequisites

This includes all of the helpers as well; the “core” first four are for the script itself and are probably already installed on your system. Installing all the helpers is obviously not necessary; however, doing so will result in everything working out of the box.

Apt install

The following can be installed on Debian Buster or Bullseye (and probably Ubuntu) by typing

sudo apt update;sudo apt-get install fzf awk sed file mysql sqlite3 pandoc lynx wv unrtf pdftotext bat dtrx csvtool gnumeric w3m libfile-mimeinfo-perl ansilove chafa node-iconv

Install via Apt, but check the version.

Via pip

These can be installed (if you have python and pip installed, naturally) by typing:

sudo pip3 install -r requirements.txt

sudo pip3 install git+

These are really optional, but are nice:

4. Installation

Clone or download the repo. If you downloaded it, unarchive it into a directory, then make a symlink into your path. Place lynx.lss in `$HOME/.lynx

Examine to determine if the “helpers” I use are the ones you wish to use.

5. Usage

The most basic usage is to invoke [FILENAME]

The program can handle most unescaped filenames - see the demo - but some special characters (such as #) must still be escaped, like so: "[FILENAME]"

Occasionally a different viewer is invoked - such as when the devour function is used inside tmux. That is usually for aesthetic reasons (such as line wrapping).

Viewing MySQL

To invoke the MySQL viewer, the command should be: mysql [MYSQL USERNAME] [MYSQL PASSWORD]


If you invoke it under tmux and have TDAB installed, the devour script will automatically be invoked, creating a new maximized pane with your document in it.

From a GUI File Manager

The old way of calling this script from a GUI viewer (such as Double Commander which spawned a new window was something like:

xfce4-terminal --hide-menubar --geometry=80x43 -e "/home/steven/bin/showdocs %f"

That will still work, but you can simplify (and enhance) the experience by using the -g switch, making the command something like this:

/home/steven/bin/showdocs -g %f

Not only will it launch a new xterm, but if you have wmctrl and xseticon set, it will decorate the window with the script’s icon and name.

Drop-in with URLPortal

If you would like to streamline and consolidate your mailcap style experience, you can use showdocs in place of your regular mailcap file.

If offered an URL, showdocs will follow any redirection (if muna is installed and in your $PATH). If there’s a filename with extension already there, it will grab it and process the file locally (using URLPortal if needed). If there is not a file extension specified on the URL, it will download the file, then use mimeinfo to try to figure out what it is, rename it appropriately, and process it locally (using URLPortal if needed).

This means that you can pass filenames or URLs straight to showdocs and use the same flow.

I’m sure I’ve missed some major mimetypes that are odd (like how “” is a mimetype for WMV files), please let me know what I’ve missed!

Colorizing Output

If you wish to colorize your output - particularly of sourcecode - you should use .lessfilter. There’s a good tutorial at

Other File Types

If it cannot find a match, and you have the URLPortal script from newsbeuter-dangerzone in $PATH - see this file if you don’t care about the rest of the repository - it will then hand everything off to that program. In that way, it can handle a lot of other datatypes as well without getting too complicated. Feel free to substitute your own “mailcap” style solution instead.


Steven Saus injects people with radioactivity for his day job, but only to serve the forces of good.