How to create a quick ASCII banner in the OS X Terminal

NewTerminalIconXEven if you are not a Terminal wizard, there are some fun tools and features of it that can be amusing. For instance, some online services are available for you to log into with Telnet and watch a text-based version of Star Wars, or you can play odd games that folks have coded into the “emacs” editor, among others. If you are ever sitting at your Mac and suddenly have the urge to print out a massive banner of a text phrase, then you can do that to.

First, open the Terminal, then type the following:

banner "MacIssues"

This will create a vertical banner in hash characters of the word “MacIssues” and you can change the text to whatever you would like, to have a banner of that printed. By default this will output to the Terminal window, but you can quickly route the output to a TextEdit document by piping the output with the following approach:

banner "MacIssues" | open -fe

In the text document that opens, if the banner appears garbles, then resize the window until the message is accommodated, and then print to whatever printer you have.

Granted there are plenty of free tools or those in common word processing and design programs that can do this, and often with greater style (drop shadows, colors, fonts, etc.); however, this is a quick way to punch out a banner on pretty much any Mac, at any time. Note that being a Terminal-based option, this approach is doable on many other Unix and Linux distributions as well, so if you’re ever indulging in your geek side and suddenly have the urge to make a banner, this is likely how you would do it.

TextEdit printing banner from the Terminal

Piping the banner to TextEdit will allow you print the banner easily. Note that you may need to resize the window to accommodate the text if everything looks garbled.

5 thoughts on “How to create a quick ASCII banner in the OS X Terminal

  1. xAirbusdriver

    Topher, please slowly move away from the computer. Now, take a long, slow, deep breath and try to hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. Now slowly exhale. Move to a comfortable chair or bed and recline. Close your eyes. Think of your favorite vacation spot. Remain reclined for at least 5 minutes.


    GET UP!



    Now, tell us how these “banners” can be printed on something bigger than a #10 envelope!!! :+P

    1. xAirbusdriver

      Yeah! I know I’ve still got some boxes of pre-perforated, continuous paper with the rip-off edges with the holes that lets the printer feed the paper under the 9-pin print head!!! And the high-acid content paper has such a ‘glow’ about it!! LOL! Those were the days!!! Probably before Mr. Kessler was born!

      BTW, I give these “comments” two days, max, before they get ripped off and thrown away like those paper edges! 8+O

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      It creates an ASCII banner, so only ASCII characters are recognized. The Terminal supports unicode input, so while you can enter accented and other non-ASCII characters, the “banner” tool will not know how to handle them.

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