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13 days ago

🖼️ image.nvim

This plugin attempts to add image support to Neovim.

It works wonderfully with Kitty + Tmux, and it handles painful things like rendering an image at a given position in a buffer, scrolling, windows, etc.

It has built-in Markdown and Neorg integrations that you can use right now.
It can also render image files as images when opened.

Join on Discord: https://discord.gg/GTwbCxBNgz



This plugin requires a few external dependencies. Here is a list, there are instructions for specific plugin managers below.

Mandatory Deps:

You need one of:

  • Kitty >= 28.0 - for the kitty backend
  • ueberzugpp - for the ueberzug backend

Fully optional:

  • curl - for remote images

Installing The Plugin & Rock

Since version v11.* of Lazy rockspec is supported, so no need of extra plugins vhyrro/luarocks.nvim

    config = function()
        -- ...

NOTE: Don't forget to install the imageMagick system package, detailed below

It's recommended that you use vhyrro/luarocks.nvim to install luarocks for neovim while using lazy. But you can install manually as well.

With luarocks.nvim: Please readthe luarocks.nvim README, it currently has an external dependency.

    priority = 1001, -- this plugin needs to run before anything else
    opts = {
        rocks = { "magick" },
    dependencies = { "luarocks.nvim" },
    config = function()
        -- ...

OR Without luarocks.nvim:

You have to install the luarock manually.

  1. install luarocks on your system via your system package manager
  2. run luarocks --local --lua-version=5.1 install magick
-- Example for configuring Neovim to load user-installed installed Lua rocks:
package.path = package.path .. ";" .. vim.fn.expand("$HOME") .. "/.luarocks/share/lua/5.1/?/init.lua"
package.path = package.path .. ";" .. vim.fn.expand("$HOME") .. "/.luarocks/share/lua/5.1/?.lua"

-- lazy snippet
    config = function()
        -- ...

NOTE: Don't forget to install the imageMagick system package, detailed below

:Rocks install image.nvim

NixOS users need to install imagemagick and luajitPackages.magick (thanks to @donovanglover).

It's recommended that you can build your Neovim with those packages like so:

thanks to @wuliuqii in #13

{ pkgs, ... }:

  programs.neovim = {
    enable = true;
    extraLuaPackages = ps: [ ps.magick ];
    extraPackages = ps: [ ps.imagemagick ];
    # ... other config
# https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/blob/master/pkgs/applications/editors/neovim/utils.nix#L27
{ pkgs, neovimUtils, wrapNeovimUnstable, ... }:

  config = pkgs.neovimUtils.makeNeovimConfig {
    extraLuaPackages = p: [ p.magick ];
    extraPackages = p: [ p.imagemagick ];
    # ... other config
in {
  nixpkgs.overlays = [
    (_: super: {
      neovim-custom = pkgs.wrapNeovimUnstable
        (super.neovim-unwrapped.overrideAttrs (oldAttrs: {
          buildInputs = oldAttrs.buildInputs ++ [ super.tree-sitter ];
        })) config;
  environment.systemPackages = with pkgs; [ neovim-custom ];

Installing ImageMagick

The magick luarock provides bindings to ImageMagick's MagickWand, so we need to install that package as well.

  • Ubuntu: sudo apt install libmagickwand-dev
  • MacOS: brew install imagemagick
    • By default, brew installs into a weird location, so you have to add $(brew --prefix)/lib to DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH by adding something like export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="$(brew --prefix)/lib:$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH" to your shell profile (probably .zshrc or .bashrc)
  • Fedora: sudo dnf install ImageMagick-devel
  • Arch: sudo pacman -Syu imagemagick


-- default config
  backend = "kitty",
  integrations = {
    markdown = {
      enabled = true,
      clear_in_insert_mode = false,
      download_remote_images = true,
      only_render_image_at_cursor = false,
      filetypes = { "markdown", "vimwiki" }, -- markdown extensions (ie. quarto) can go here
    neorg = {
      enabled = true,
      clear_in_insert_mode = false,
      download_remote_images = true,
      only_render_image_at_cursor = false,
      filetypes = { "norg" },
    html = {
      enabled = false,
    css = {
      enabled = false,
  max_width = nil,
  max_height = nil,
  max_width_window_percentage = nil,
  max_height_window_percentage = 50,
  window_overlap_clear_enabled = false, -- toggles images when windows are overlapped
  window_overlap_clear_ft_ignore = { "cmp_menu", "cmp_docs", "" },
  editor_only_render_when_focused = false, -- auto show/hide images when the editor gains/looses focus
  tmux_show_only_in_active_window = false, -- auto show/hide images in the correct Tmux window (needs visual-activity off)
  hijack_file_patterns = { "*.png", "*.jpg", "*.jpeg", "*.gif", "*.webp", "*.avif" }, -- render image files as images when opened


  • You must set: set -gq allow-passthrough on
  • If you want the images to be automatically hidden/shown when you switch windows (tmux_show_only_in_active_window = true), set: set -g visual-activity off

Try it out with a minimal setup

Download minimal-setup.lua from the root of this repository and run the demo with:

nvim --clean -c ":luafile minimal-setup.lua"


All the backends support rendering inside Tmux.

  • kitty - best in class, works great and is very snappy
  • ueberzug - backed by ueberzugpp, supports any terminal, but has lower performance
    • Supports multiple images thanks to @jstkdng.


You can configure where images are searched for on a per-integration basis by passing a function to resolve_image_path as shown below:

  integrations = {
    markdown = {
      resolve_image_path = function(document_path, image_path, fallback)
        -- document_path is the path to the file that contains the image
        -- image_path is the potentially relative path to the image. for
        -- markdown it's `![](this text)`

        -- you can call the fallback function to get the default behavior
        return fallback(document_path, image_path)


Check types.lua for a better overview of how everything is modeled.

local api = require("image")

-- from a file (absolute path)
local image = api.from_file("/path/to/image.png", {
  id = "my_image_id", -- optional, defaults to a random string
  window = 1000, -- optional, binds image to a window and its bounds
  buffer = 1000, -- optional, binds image to a buffer (paired with window binding)
  with_virtual_padding = true, -- optional, pads vertically with extmarks, defaults to false

  -- optional, binds image to an extmark which it follows. Forced to be true when
  -- `with_virtual_padding` is true. defaults to false.
  inline = true,

  -- geometry (optional)
  x = 1,
  y = 1,
  width = 10,
  height = 10

-- from a URL
api.from_url("https://gist.ro/s/remote.png", {
    -- all the same options from above
}, function(img)
    -- do stuff with the image

image:render() -- render image
image:render(geometry) -- update image geometry and render it

image:move(x, y) -- move image
image:brightness(value) -- change brightness
image:saturation(value) -- change saturation
image:hue(value) -- change hue


The story behind

Some years ago, I took a trip to Emacs land for a few months to learn Elisp and also research what Org-mode is, how it works, and look for features of interest for my workflow. I already had my own document syntax, albeit a very simple one, hacked together with Vimscript and a lot of Regex, and I was looking for ideas to improve it and build features on top of it.

I kept working on my syntax over the years, rewrote it many times, and today it's a proper Tree-sitter grammar, that I use for all my needs, from second braining to managing my tasks and time. It's helped me control my ADHD and be productive long before I was diagnosed, and it's still helping me be so much better than I'd be without it today.

One thing Emacs and Org-mode had that I liked was the ability to embed images in the document. Of course, we don't "need" it, but... I really wanted to have images in my documents.

About 3 years ago, I made my first attempt at solving this problem but didn't get far. If you have similar interests, you might have seen the vimage.nvim demo video on YouTube.

It was using ueberzug, which is now dead. It was buggy and didn't handle things like window-relative positioning, attaching images to windows and buffers, folds, etc.

Kitty's graphics protocol was a thing, but it didn't work with Tmux, which I'll probably use forever or replace it with something of my own.

Now, things have changed, and I'm happy to announce that rendering images using Kitty's graphics protocol from Neovim inside Tmux is working, and it's working pretty well!

My plan for this plugin is to support multiple backends, provide a few core integrations, and an easy-to-use API for other plugin authors to build on top of. There is a lot of logic that deals with positioning, cropping, bounds, folds, extmarks, etc. that is painful and unrealistic to write from scratch for every plugin that wants to use images.