# The basics¶

Foundational knowledge on using and configuring Black.

Black is a well-behaved Unix-style command-line tool:

• it does nothing if no sources are passed to it;

• it will read from standard input and write to standard output if - is used as the filename;

• it only outputs messages to users on standard error;

• exits with code 0 unless an internal error occurred (or --check was used).

## Usage¶

To get started right away with sensible defaults:

black {source_file_or_directory}


You can run Black as a package if running it as a script doesn’t work:

python -m black {source_file_or_directory}


### Command line options¶

Black has quite a few knobs these days, although Black is opinionated so style configuration options are deliberately limited and rarely added. You can list them by running black --help.

Help output
Usage: black [OPTIONS] SRC ...

The uncompromising code formatter.

Options:
-c, --code TEXT                 Format the code passed in as a string.
-l, --line-length INTEGER       How many characters per line to allow.
[default: 88]
-t, --target-version [py27|py33|py34|py35|py36|py37|py38|py39]
Python versions that should be supported by
Black's output. [default: per-file auto-
detection]
--pyi                           Format all input files like typing stubs
regardless of file extension (useful when
piping source on standard input).
--ipynb                         Format all input files like Jupyter
Notebooks regardless of file extension
(useful when piping source on standard
input).
-S, --skip-string-normalization
Don't normalize string quotes or prefixes.
-C, --skip-magic-trailing-comma
Don't use trailing commas as a reason to
split lines.
--check                         Don't write the files back, just return the
status. Return code 0 means nothing would
change. Return code 1 means some files would
be reformatted. Return code 123 means there
was an internal error.
--diff                          Don't write the files back, just output a
diff for each file on stdout.
--color / --no-color            Show colored diff. Only applies when
--diff is given.
--fast / --safe                 If --fast given, skip temporary sanity
checks. [default: --safe]
--required-version TEXT         Require a specific version of Black to be
running (useful for unifying results across
many environments e.g. with a pyproject.toml
file).
--include TEXT                  A regular expression that matches files and
directories that should be included on
recursive searches. An empty value means all
files are included regardless of the name.
Use forward slashes for directories on all
platforms (Windows, too). Exclusions are
calculated first, inclusions later.
[default: \.pyi?$] --exclude TEXT A regular expression that matches files and directories that should be excluded on recursive searches. An empty value means no paths are excluded. Use forward slashes for directories on all platforms (Windows, too). Exclusions are calculated first, inclusions later. [default: /(\.direnv|\.eggs|\.git|\.h g|\.mypy_cache|\.nox|\.tox|\.venv|venv|\.svn |_build|buck-out|build|dist)/] --extend-exclude TEXT Like --exclude, but adds additional files and directories on top of the excluded ones. (Useful if you simply want to add to the default) --force-exclude TEXT Like --exclude, but files and directories matching this regex will be excluded even when they are passed explicitly as arguments. --stdin-filename TEXT The name of the file when passing it through stdin. Useful to make sure Black will respect --force-exclude option on some editors that rely on using stdin. -q, --quiet Don't emit non-error messages to stderr. Errors are still emitted; silence those with 2>/dev/null. -v, --verbose Also emit messages to stderr about files that were not changed or were ignored due to exclusion patterns. --version Show the version and exit. --config FILE Read configuration from FILE path. -h, --help Show this message and exit.  ### Code input alternatives¶ #### Standard Input¶ Black supports formatting code via stdin, with the result being printed to stdout. Just let Black know with - as the path. $ echo "print ( 'hello, world' )" | black -
print("hello, world")
reformatted -
All done! ✨ 🍰 ✨
1 file reformatted.


Tip: if you need Black to treat stdin input as a file passed directly via the CLI, use --stdin-filename. Useful to make sure Black will respect the --force-exclude option on some editors that rely on using stdin.

#### As a string¶

You can also pass code as a string using the -c / --code option.

$black --code "print ( 'hello, world' )" print("hello, world")  ### Writeback and reporting¶ By default Black reformats the files given and/or found in place. Sometimes you need Black to just tell you what it would do without actually rewriting the Python files. There’s two variations to this mode that are independently enabled by their respective flags. Both variations can be enabled at once. #### Exit code¶ Passing --check will make Black exit with: • code 0 if nothing would change; • code 1 if some files would be reformatted; or • code 123 if there was an internal error $ black test.py --check
All done! ✨ 🍰 ✨
1 file would be left unchanged.
$echo$?
0

$black test.py --check would reformat test.py Oh no! 💥 💔 💥 1 file would be reformatted.$ echo $? 1$ black test.py --check
error: cannot format test.py: INTERNAL ERROR: Black produced code that is not equivalent to the source.  Please report a bug on https://github.com/psf/black/issues.  This diff might be helpful: /tmp/blk_kjdr1oog.log
Oh no! 💥 💔 💥
1 file would fail to reformat.
$echo$?
123


#### Diffs¶

Passing --diff will make Black print out diffs that indicate what changes Black would’ve made. They are printed to stdout so capturing them is simple.

If you’d like colored diffs, you can enable them with the --color.

$black test.py --diff --- test.py 2021-03-08 22:23:40.848954 +0000 +++ test.py 2021-03-08 22:23:47.126319 +0000 @@ -1 +1 @@ -print ( 'hello, world' ) +print("hello, world") would reformat test.py All done! ✨ 🍰 ✨ 1 file would be reformatted.  ### Output verbosity¶ Black in general tries to produce the right amount of output, balancing between usefulness and conciseness. By default, Black emits files modified and error messages, plus a short summary. $ black src/
error: cannot format src/black_primer/cli.py: Cannot parse: 5:6: mport asyncio
reformatted src/black_primer/lib.py
reformatted src/blackd/__init__.py
reformatted src/black/__init__.py
Oh no! 💥 💔 💥
3 files reformatted, 2 files left unchanged, 1 file failed to reformat.


Passing -v / --verbose will cause Black to also emit messages about files that were not changed or were ignored due to exclusion patterns. If Black is using a configuration file, a blue message detailing which one it is using will be emitted.

$black src/ -v Using configuration from /tmp/pyproject.toml. src/blib2to3 ignored: matches the --extend-exclude regular expression src/_black_version.py wasn't modified on disk since last run. src/black/__main__.py wasn't modified on disk since last run. error: cannot format src/black_primer/cli.py: Cannot parse: 5:6: mport asyncio reformatted src/black_primer/lib.py reformatted src/blackd/__init__.py reformatted src/black/__init__.py Oh no! 💥 💔 💥 3 files reformatted, 2 files left unchanged, 1 file failed to reformat  Passing -q / --quiet will cause Black to stop emitting all non-critial output. Error messages will still be emitted (which can silenced by 2>/dev/null). $ black src/ -q
error: cannot format src/black_primer/cli.py: Cannot parse: 5:6: mport asyncio


### Versions¶

You can check the version of Black you have installed using the --version flag.

$black --version black, version 21.9b0  An option to require a specific version to be running is also provided. $ black --required-version 21.9b0 -c "format = 'this'"
format = "this"
$black --required-version 31.5b2 -c "still = 'beta?!'" Oh no! 💥 💔 💥 The required version does not match the running version!  This is useful for example when running Black in multiple environments that haven’t necessarily installed the correct version. This option can be set in a configuration file for consistent results across environments. ## Configuration via a file¶ Black is able to read project-specific default values for its command line options from a pyproject.toml file. This is especially useful for specifying custom --include and --exclude/--force-exclude/--extend-exclude patterns for your project. Pro-tip: If you’re asking yourself “Do I need to configure anything?” the answer is “No”. Black is all about sensible defaults. Applying those defaults will have your code in compliance with many other Black formatted projects. ### What on Earth is a pyproject.toml file?¶ PEP 518 defines pyproject.toml as a configuration file to store build system requirements for Python projects. With the help of tools like Poetry or Flit it can fully replace the need for setup.py and setup.cfg files. ### Where Black looks for the file¶ By default Black looks for pyproject.toml starting from the common base directory of all files and directories passed on the command line. If it’s not there, it looks in parent directories. It stops looking when it finds the file, or a .git directory, or a .hg directory, or the root of the file system, whichever comes first. If you’re formatting standard input, Black will look for configuration starting from the current working directory. You can use a “global” configuration, stored in a specific location in your home directory. This will be used as a fallback configuration, that is, it will be used if and only if Black doesn’t find any configuration as mentioned above. Depending on your operating system, this configuration file should be stored as: • Windows: ~\.black • Unix-like (Linux, MacOS, etc.): $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/black (~/.config/black if the XDG_CONFIG_HOME environment variable is not set)

Note that these are paths to the TOML file itself (meaning that they shouldn’t be named as pyproject.toml), not directories where you store the configuration. Here, ~ refers to the path to your home directory. On Windows, this will be something like C:\\Users\UserName.

You can also explicitly specify the path to a particular file that you want with --config. In this situation Black will not look for any other file.

If you’re running with --verbose, you will see a blue message if a file was found and used.

Please note blackd will not use pyproject.toml configuration.

### Configuration format¶

As the file extension suggests, pyproject.toml is a TOML file. It contains separate sections for different tools. Black is using the [tool.black] section. The option keys are the same as long names of options on the command line.

Note that you have to use single-quoted strings in TOML for regular expressions. It’s the equivalent of r-strings in Python. Multiline strings are treated as verbose regular expressions by Black. Use [ ] to denote a significant space character.

Example pyproject.toml
[tool.black]
line-length = 88
target-version = ['py37']
include = '\.pyi?\$'
extend-exclude = '''
# A regex preceded with ^/ will apply only to files and directories
# in the root of the project.
^/foo.py  # exclude a file named foo.py in the root of the project (in addition to the defaults)
'''


### Lookup hierarchy¶

Command-line options have defaults that you can see in --help. A pyproject.toml can override those defaults. Finally, options provided by the user on the command line override both.

Black will only ever use one pyproject.toml file during an entire run. It doesn’t look for multiple files, and doesn’t compose configuration from different levels of the file hierarchy.

## Next steps¶

You’ve probably noted that not all of the options you can pass to Black have been covered. Don’t worry, the rest will be covered in a later section.

A good next step would be configuring auto-discovery so black . is all you need instead of laborously listing every file or directory. You can get started by heading over to File collection and discovery.

Another good choice would be setting up an integration with your editor of choice or with pre-commit for source version control.