Welcome to the PETSCII page, where you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about the crossplatform PETSCII editor ingeniously called PETSCII. The tool lets you create character-based screens and animations for the Commodore 64, VIC-20, PET and Plus/4 computers. Enjoy!



It should be straightforward to download and unzip the package (see downloads below), after which you can run the version that corresponds to your operating system of choice: Linux, Mac or Windows. 32-bit binaries are still included, but you may encounter problems with old Windows or Mac OS versions – I can’t support and test each and every one of them.

Use the GUI buttons for saving your work. The native file format is a C array, which is why the file extension should be “.c”. In addition, the automatic backup will create a file called _backup_.c in the program directory every two minutes or so. The Ref. button will load a reference image (png/jpg/gif) that can either be overlaid with the characters or converted to PETSCII.

For showing the piece on a real machine you need to export the picture to a .prg file. At the moment animations can’t be exported as standalone executables. See the keyboard shortcuts below, and in the case of source code exports check the generated file for further instructions. Not all the export options are available for all the target platforms. Optionally, create a d64 image (c1541 is part of VICE):

c1541 -format mypic,0 d64 mypic.d64 -attach mypic.d64 -write image.prg image

There’s also a video tutorial on the basic functions of the editor. See here:

Mouse Buttons

Editing Commands

GUI Toggles

Animation Related

Modifier Keys

File Operations

Cheat Sheet

Forgot some keys? Of course you did – even I don’t remember them all. Print out this handy cheat sheet to support your failing memory:

On Macs use the Command key instead of Ctrl.


You can control some general settings with a file called prefs.txt which should be in the same directory as the actual program. So far the following settings are recognized:

Assign a new value like this: ZOOM=2. Note that on recent versions of macOS the prefs file might need to be in your home folder, e.g. /Users/marq.

There are some simple command line parameters as well. The parameters override prefs.txt.



Trying to create a reliable crossplatform application in Java is tricky business these days. If all else fails I recommend downloading the source-only version and running it straight from Processing version 3.x. Bug reports can be sent to marq [at] iki [dot] fi or alternatively on CSDb.


The compiled binaries + stable source are available right here: Note that you need to have the Java Runtime Environment installed on your system. I’m using JRE 1.8 (Java 8) myself, so that’s probably your safest bet. The tried and tested 2019 (Processing 2) version, not yet much worse featurewise, is still available here for a while in case you have trouble with the latest one or only have an old version of the JRE available.

WIP source-only release for the adventurous: or svn:// Revision 872 in the SVN repository is the last one that works on Processing 2. The code can be used according to the terms of the liberal WTFPL license.


Some artistic endeavours to give you a glimpse of what’s possible.

In addition to still images there are demos and games where the editor has been put into good use.

Additions and corrections most welcome, as usual.


Thanks to Dr. TerrorZ for his artworks, numerous comments and remap tables, Viznut for help with the VIC-20, Six for the SEQ conversion example, BassCadet for bug reports, Groepaz and Deekay for help with dirart, and Rexbeng, Manu, Shine, Electric, Archmage, Hammerfist, Awsm, Redcrab and iLKke for gallery images.