Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Manipulating images from the CLI

2 min read

I often need to resize images - for many reasons: to downsize massive images from the camera to a regular size, or to convert Mac screenshots from png to jpg.

Until today I would open Photoshop, which takes around 10 seconds (on a fast machine!), export as, choose the right settings, and save it to disk.

TIL (today I learnt) there's a super-fast and easy way to do it: sips. SIPS is a command line tool that comes installed with every Mac (on Windows you have ImageMagick), that stands for - Scriptable Image Processing System.

If you just enter sips in your Terminal, you'll get a list of options and commands available.

Resize an image

To resize an image, use this command:

sips -Z 640 path/to/yourImage.jpg

The -Z argument tells sips to keep the original image aspect ratio. The number 640 tells it to resize the image to 640 pixels (in this case the largest side of the image will become 640px).

Convert image format

To convert from png to jpg, use this one:

sips -Z 640 --setProperty format jpeg originalImage.png --out newImage.jpg

Batch Processing Images

Convert a folder of jpgs to pngs:

for file in *.jpg; do sips -s format png $file --out $file.png; done

Just be careful, as this tool does its job unapologetically...


This tool is saving me so much time, it's very fast even on big images. Not needing to open a clunky massive Photoshop for simple image resizing & converting is a big timesaver.

Although most regular people who are afraid of the Terminal won't use this, but for us developers this is simple... You can probably even build a UI for this tool, and sell it to regular people, which will wonder at your genius tool that can do so many things with images... 🤣