Getting started


pip install prompt_toolkit

For Conda, do:

conda install -c prompt_toolkit

Several use cases: prompts versus full screen terminal applications

prompt_toolkit was in the first place meant to be a replacement for readline. However, when it became more mature, we realised that all the components for full screen applications are there and prompt_toolkit is very capable of handling many use situations. Pyvim and pymux are examples of full screen applications.


Basically, at the core, prompt_toolkit has a layout engine, that supports horizontal and vertical splits as well as floats, where each “window” can display a user control. The API for user controls is simple yet powerful.

When prompt_toolkit is used as a readline replacement, (to simply read some input from the user), it uses a rather simple built-in layout. One that displays the default input buffer and the prompt, a float for the autocompletions and a toolbar for input validation which is hidden by default.

For full screen applications, usually we build a custom layout ourselves.

Further, there is a very flexible key binding system that can be programmed for all the needs of full screen applications.

A simple prompt

The following snippet is the most simple example, it uses the prompt() function to asks the user for input and returns the text. Just like (raw_)input.

from __future__ import unicode_literals
from prompt_toolkit import prompt

text = prompt('Give me some input: ')
print('You said: %s' % text)

Learning prompt_toolkit

In order to learn and understand prompt_toolkit, it is best to go through the all sections in the order below. Also don’t forget to have a look at all the examples examples in the repository.

  • First, learn how to print text. This is important, because it covers how to use “formatted text”, which is something you’ll use whenever you want to use colors anywhere.
  • Secondly, go through the asking for input section. This is useful for almost any use case, even for full screen applications. It covers autocompletions, syntax highlighting, key bindings, and so on.
  • Then, learn about Dialogs, which is easy and fun.
  • Finally, learn about full screen applications and read through the advanced topics.