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sc-im short for Spreadsheet Calculator — Improved is a terminal-based spreadsheet and calculator with vim-like key bindings. The program is fairly advanced and capable spreadsheet application with most of the features modern spreadsheet users have come to expect in GUI-based spreadsheet applications. Additionally, sc-im can be used non-interactively as a simple calculator tool somewhat like bc.

Development of the original program, then called sc, began in 1981 but stalled sometime in 2002. Around 2015 a group of sc enthusiasts decided to resume development under the name sc-im. In late 2022 the maintained package app-office/sc-im fork was migrated from GURU to the main Gentoo package repository and the unmaintained app-office/sc was removed from the tree via bug #877051.

sc-im has a number of use-cases. It can be used non-interactively as a filter to translate incompatible spreadsheets to the text-based .sc format. It is also popular among Mutt users who wish to have a way to view spreadsheets attached to emails without exiting the terminal.

Supported File Formats

The following file formats can be imported or exported:

  • Spreadsheet Calculator .sc files.
  • Comma Seperated Values .csv files.
  • Tab Separated Values .tsv files.
  • Markdown Table .md files.
  • Plain Text .txt files.

The following formats are supported, but only as import filters:

  • LibreOffice OpenDocument Spreadsheet .ods files.
  • Legacy Microsoft Excel .xls files.
  • Microsoft Office Open XML .xlsx files.


USE flags

USE flags for app-office/sc-im Ncurses based, vim-like spreadsheet calculator

X Use x11-misc/xclip for clipboard copy/paste
lua Enable Lua scripting support
ods Add ods import support
plots Add sci-visualization/gnuplot for plotting support
tmux Use app-misc/tmux for clipboard copy/paste
wayland Use gui-apps/wl-clipboard for clipboard copy/paste
xls Add xls support
xlsx Add xlsx support


root #emerge --ask app-office/sc-im



  • $HOME/.config/sc-im/scimrc — Per-user configuration file.


The sc-im spreadsheet editor is closely modeled after vim text editor. The program has several different modes:

  • Normal Mode: where cell navigation occurs.
  • Insert Mode: where new values are entered into cells.
  • Edit Mode: to modify existing cells.
  • Command Mode: For entering commands to modify application settings.
  • Visual Mode: For selecting ranges of cells in a visually intuitive manner.

Basic navigation is performed with keys on a QWERTY keyboard's home row. As a result H moves the cursor up one cell, J moves the cursor down one cell, K moves the cursor right one cell, and the L moves the cursor right one cell. That said, the , , , and the cursor keys work as expected. The PgUp and PgDn key works the same way it does with the less or more screen pagers.

Like vim, sc-im has an extensive internal help system that can be accessed in the following manner:



user $sc-im --help
SC-IM - SC Improved

Usage: sc-im [arguments] [file]          specified file
   or: sc-im [arguments] -               read text from stdin


  --autocalc                  Set variable 'autocalc'.
  --copy_to_clipboard_delimited_tab  Set variable 'copy_to_clipboard_delimited_tab'
  --debug                     Set variable 'debug'
  --default_copy_to_clipboard_cmd=COMMAND  set variable 'default_copy_from_clipboard_cmd'
  --default_paste_from_clipboard_cmd=COMMAND  set variable 'default_paste_from_clipboard_cmd'
  --default_open_file_under_cursor_cmd=COMMAND  set variable 'default_open_file_under_cursor_cmd'
  --export_csv                Export to csv without interaction
  --export_tab                Export to tab without interaction
  --export_txt                Export to txt without interaction
  --export_mkd                Export to markdown without interaction
  --external_functions        Set variable 'external_functions'
  --half_page_scroll          Set variable 'half_page_scroll'
  --ignorecase                Set variable 'ignorecase'
  --import_delimited_as_text Import text as
  --newline_action={j or l}   Set variable 'newline_action'
  --nocurses                  Run interactive but without ncurses interface.
  --numeric                   Set variable 'numeric'
  --numeric_decimal           Set variable 'numeric_decimal'
  --output=FILE               Save the results in FILE
  --overlap                   Set variable 'overlap variable'
  --quit_afterload            Quit after loading all the files
  --show_cursor               Make the screen cursor follow the active cell
  --tm_gmtoff={seconds}       set gmt offset used for converting datetimes to localtime.
  --txtdelim={"," or ";" or "\t" or "|"}  Sets delimiter when opening a .tab of .csv file

  --version                   Print version information and exit
  --help                      Print Help (this message) and exit


Issues loading spreadsheets larger that 65,536 rows

By default sc-im limits its spreadsheets to 65,536 rows. This was a sane limit when the software was first released but as time passed spreadsheets began to be treated as "poor man's databases" and have grown ever larger. Eventually a compile-time option was added to raise this figure to a new maximum of 1,048,576 rows. Starting with sc-im-0.8.3-r1 the compile time option of 1,048,576 rows is set. If you're having issues opening large spreadsheets upgrade to at least that version.

Currently, sc-im is limited to a maximum 702 columns.

Converting between spreadsheet formats non-interactively

It's possible to use sc-im to convert between spreadsheet file formats. In fact, this is a popular use of the program. Assuming you're trying to convert a modern Microsoft Excel .xlsx file to .csv the command would look something like this:

user $sc-im --nocurses --export_csv --quit_afterload infile.xlsx > outfile.csv

Other options are possible, but at this time only .csv, .tsv, .txt, and .md files have output filters.


root #emerge --ask --depclean --verbose app-office/sc-im

See also

  • bc — arbitrary-precision fixed-point mathematical scripting language