Json – How to pretty-print JSON in a shell script


Is there a (Unix) shell script to format JSON in human-readable form?

Basically, I want it to transform the following:

{ "foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum" }

… into something like this:

    "foo": "lorem",
    "bar": "ipsum"

Best Solution

With Python 2.6+ you can do:

echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}' | python -m json.tool

or, if the JSON is in a file, you can do:

python -m json.tool my_json.json

if the JSON is from an internet source such as an API, you can use

curl http://my_url/ | python -m json.tool

For convenience in all of these cases you can make an alias:

alias prettyjson='python -m json.tool'

For even more convenience with a bit more typing to get it ready:

prettyjson_s() {
    echo "$1" | python -m json.tool

prettyjson_f() {
    python -m json.tool "$1"

prettyjson_w() {
    curl "$1" | python -m json.tool

for all the above cases. You can put this in .bashrc and it will be available every time in shell. Invoke it like prettyjson_s '{"foo": "lorem", "bar": "ipsum"}'.

Note that as @pnd pointed out in the comments below, in Python 3.5+ the JSON object is no longer sorted by default. To sort, add the --sort-keys flag to the end. I.e. ... | python -m json.tool --sort-keys.