ANSI.SYS is a device driver in the DOS family of operating systems that provides extra console functions through ANSI escape sequences. It is partially based upon a subset of the text terminal control standard proposed by the ANSI X3L2 Technical Committee on Codes and Character Sets (the "X3 Committee").
As it was not installed by default, and was notoriously slow, little software took advantage of it and instead resorted to directly manipulating the IBM PC hardware. A number of third-party alternatives that ran at reasonable speed were created, such as ANSI.COM, NANSI.SYS and ANSIPLUS.EXE to attempt to change this.[third-party source needed]
where drive: and path are the drive letter and path to the directory in which the file ANSI.SYS is found, and options can be a number of optional switches to control the behaviour. ANSI.SYS may also be loaded into upper memory via DEVICEHIGH/HIDEVICE.
Once loaded, ANSI.SYS enables code sequences to apply various text formatting features. Using this driver, programs that write to the standard output can make use of the 16 text foreground colors and 8 background colors available in VGA-compatible text mode, make text blink, change the location of the cursor on the screen, and blank the screen. It also allows for the changing of the video mode from standard 80×25 text mode to a number of different graphics modes (for example, 320×200 graphics mode with text drawn as pixels, though ANSI.SYS does not provide calls to turn individual pixels on and off).
The standard ANSI.SYS is relatively slow as it maps escape sequences to the equivalent BIOS calls. Several companies made third-party replacements that interface directly with the video memory, in a similar way to most DOS programs that have a full-screen user interface.
By default, the internal DOS command CLS works by directly calling the corresponding BIOS function to clear the screen, thereby prominently violating the hardware abstraction model otherwise maintained. However, if an ANSI driver is detected by the DR-DOS COMMAND.COM, it will instead send the control sequence defined in the reserved environment variable $CLS to the attached console device. If the environment variable is undefined, it falls back to send the sequence ESC [ 2 J instead. Specifying other sequences can be used to control various screen settings after a CLS. Due to the difficulties to define environment variables containing binary data COMMAND.COM also accepts a special \nnn notation for octal numbers. For example, to send an alternative control sequence like ESC + (for 1Bh 2Bh as used by ASCII terminals), one could define the variable as follows:
These features are supported by COMMAND.COM in all versions of DOS Plus and DR-DOS, but not in MS-DOS or PC DOS. They are also supported by the command interpreters in Concurrent DOS, Multiuser DOS and REAL/32, although they use VT52 rather than ANSI control sequences by default (e.g. ESC E).
An interesting feature of ANSI.SYS is the ability to remap any key on the keyboard in order to perform shortcuts or macros for complex instructions. Using special escape sequences, the user can define any keystroke that has a character-code mapping to simulate an arbitrary sequence of such keystrokes. This feature was also used to create simple trojans out of text files laced with nefarious keyboard remaps, known as "ANSI bombs". A number of products were released to protect users against this:
ANSI.SYS appeared in MS-DOS 2.0, the first version of the operating system supporting device drivers. It was supported by all following versions of MS-DOS. It is also present in many non-Microsoft DOS systems, e.g. IBM PC DOS and DR-DOS.
ANSI.SYS was required to run some software that used its cursor and color control functions. It could also be used to enable elaborate color codes in the COMMAND.COM prompt. These uses were overshadowed by the use of ANSI.SYS in BBSes; ANSI escape sequences were used to enable BBSes to send text graphics more elaborate than ASCII art, and to control the cursor in ways that were used in a number of online games and similar features.
Most versions of Windows did not support ANSI escape codes in any useful way (it could be used by MSDOS emulation in some versions). In Windows 10 support for similar escape sequences was built into the Win32 console (the text terminal window), but must be activated using the Windows API function
SetConsoleMode by setting the
CSI (Control Sequence Introducer) is a placeholder for the common two-byte escape lead-in sequence "ESC [" (that is, 0x1B 0x5B). The ANSI standard also defines an alternative single-byte CSI code 0x9B, which is not supported by ANSI.SYS.
Standard DOS ANSI.SYS drivers support only the following sub-set of ANSI escape sequences:
|ESC [ r A||Cursor up (CUU)|
|ESC [ r B||Cursor down (CUD)|
|ESC [ c C||Cursor forward (CUF)|
|ESC [ c D||Cursor back (CUB)|
|ESC [ r;c f||Horizontal and vertical position (HVP)|
|ESC [ r;c H||Cursor position (CUP)|
|ESC [ n J||Erase display (ED) (n=0, 2 or n=0, 1, 2)[nb 1]|
|ESC [ n K||Erase in line (EL) (n=0 or n=0, 1, 2)[nb 1]|
|ESC [ n m||Select graphic rendition (SGR) (n=0..47)|
|ESC [ 6 n||Device status report (DSR) requests cursor position, |
returned as cursor position report (CPR):
ESC [ r;c R
|ESC [ s||Save cursor position (SCP)|
|ESC [ u||Restore cursor position (RCP)|
There are also some escape sequences specific to the implementation of ANSI.SYS. They are not generally supported by ANSI consoles in other operating systems.
|ESC [ n h
ESC [ ?n h
ESC [ =n h
ESC [ >n h[nb 2]
|Set screen mode (SM)[nb 2]|
|ESC [ n l
ESC [ ?n l
ESC [ =n l
ESC [ >n l[nb 2]
|Reset screen mode (RM)[nb 2]|
|ESC [ n q||Enable (n=1) or disable (n=0) /X support[nb 3]|
|ESC [ L||Insert line (IL)[nb 4]|
|ESC [ M||Delete line (DL)[nb 4]|
|ESC $ ) 1||Switch keyboard input mode to Korean (Hangul)[nb 5]|
|ESC ( 2||Switch keyboard input mode to English[nb 5]|
|ESC [ +||Enable console output[nb 6]|
|ESC [ -||Disable console output[nb 6]|
|ESC [ a;b;... p||Set key re-definement (SKR/KR)|
|0||40 × 25 monochrome||1||40 × 25 color|
|2||80 × 25 monochrome||3||80 × 25 color|
|4||320 × 200 color||5||320 × 200 monochrome|
|6||640 × 200 monochrome|
|7||Wrap at end of line[nb 7]|
|13||320 x 200 color (graphics)||14||640 x 200 color (16-color graphics)|
|15||640 x 350 monochrome (2-color graphics)||16||640 x 350 color (16-color graphics)|
|17||640 x 480 monochrome (2-color graphics)||18||640 x 480 color (16-color graphics)|
|19||320 x 200 color (256-color graphics)|
|114||640 x 480 color (16-color graphics)[nb 8]||115||640 x 475 color (16-color graphics)[nb 8]|