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A ruby wrapper for ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick command line.


I was using RMagick and loving it, but it was eating up huge amounts of memory. Even a simple script would use over 100MB of RAM. On my local machine this wasn't a problem, but on my hosting server the ruby apps would crash because of their 100MB memory limit.


Using MiniMagick the ruby processes memory remains small (it spawns ImageMagick's command line program mogrify which takes up some memory as well, but is much smaller compared to RMagick). See Thinking of switching from RMagick? below.

MiniMagick gives you access to all the command line options ImageMagick has (found here).


ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick command-line tool has to be installed. You can check if you have it installed by running

$ convert -version
Version: ImageMagick 6.8.9-7 Q16 x86_64 2014-09-11
Copyright: Copyright (C) 1999-2014 ImageMagick Studio LLC
Features: DPC Modules
Delegates: bzlib fftw freetype jng jpeg lcms ltdl lzma png tiff xml zlib

MiniMagick has been tested on following Rubies:

  • MRI 1.9.3
  • MRI 2.0
  • MRI 2.1
  • MRI 2.2
  • Rubinius
  • JRuby (1.7.18 and later)


Add the gem to your Gemfile:

gem "mini_magick"



Let's first see a basic example of resizing an image.

image ="input.jpg")
image.path #=> "/var/folders/k7/6zx6dx6x7ys3rv3srh0nyfj00000gn/T/magick20140921-75881-1yho3zc.jpg"
image.resize "100x100"
image.format "png"
image.write "output.png" makes a copy of the image, and further methods modify that copy (the original stays untouched). We then resize the image, and write it to a file. The writing part is necessary because the copy is just temporary, it gets garbage collected when we lose reference to the image. also accepts URLs.

image ="")

On the other hand, if we want the original image to actually get modified, we can use

image ="input.jpg")
image.path #=> "input.jpg"
image.resize "100x100"
# No calling #write, because it's no a copy

Combine options

While using methods like #resize directly is convenient, if we use more methods in this way, it quickly becomes inefficient, because it calls the command on each methods call. MiniMagick::Image#combine_options takes multiple options and from them builds one single command.

image.combine_options do |b|
  b.resize "250x200>"
  b.rotate "-90"
end # the command gets executed

As a handy shortcut, also accepts an optional block which is used to combine_options.

image ="input.jpg") do |b|
  b.resize "250x200>"
  b.rotate "-90"
end # the command gets executed

The yieled builder is an instance of MiniMagick::Tool::Mogrify. To learn more about its interface, see Metal below.


A MiniMagick::Image has various handy attributes.

image.type        #=> "JPEG"
image.mime_type   #=> "image/jpeg"
image.width       #=> 250
image.height      #=> 300
image.dimensions  #=> [250, 300]
image.size        #=> 3451 (in bytes)
image.colorspace  #=> "DirectClass sRGB"
image.exif        #=> {"DateTimeOriginal" => "2013:09:04 08:03:39", ...}
image.resolution  #=> [75, 75]
image.signature   #=> "60a7848c4ca6e36b8e2c5dea632ecdc29e9637791d2c59ebf7a54c0c6a74ef7e"

If you need more control, you can also access raw image attributes:

image["%[gamma]"] # "0.9"

To get the all information about the image, MiniMagick gives you a handy method (which just converts the output from identify -verbose into a Hash):

image.details #=> {"Format" => "JPEG", "Mime type" => "image/jpeg", "Resolution" => "300x300", ...}


MiniMagick.configure do |config|
  config.cli = :graphicsmagick
  config.timeout = 5

For a complete list of configuration options, see Configuration.


MiniMagick also allows you to composite images:

first_image  ="first.jpg")
second_image ="second.jpg")
result = first_image.composite(second_image) do |c|
  c.compose "Over"    # OverCompositeOp
  c.geometry "+20+20" # copy second_image onto first_image from (20, 20)
result.write "output.jpg"


For multilayered images you can access its layers.

gif.frames #=> [...]
pdf.pages  #=> [...]
psd.layers #=> [...]

gif.frames.each_with_index do |frame, idx|

Image validation

By default, MiniMagick validates images each time it's opening them. It validates them by running identify on them, and see if ImageMagick finds them valid. This adds slight overhead to the whole processing. Sometimes it's safe to assume that all input and output images are valid by default and turn off validation:

MiniMagick.configure do |config|
  config.validate_on_create = false
  config.validate_on_write = false

You can test whether an image is valid:

image.validate! # raises MiniMagick::Invalid if image is invalid


When things go wrong and commands start failing, you can set the debug mode:

MiniMagick.configure do |config|
  config.debug = true

In this mode every command that gets executed in the shell will be written to stdout.

Switching CLIs (ImageMagick <=> GraphicsMagick)

Default CLI is ImageMagick, but if you want to use GraphicsMagick, you can specify it in configuration:

MiniMagick.configure do |config|
  config.cli = :graphicsmagick

If you're a real ImageMagick guru, you might want to use GraphicsMagick only for certain processing blocks (because it's more efficient), or vice versa. You can accomplish this with .with_cli:

MiniMagick.with_cli(:graphicsmagick) do
  # Some processing that GraphicsMagick is better at

WARNING: If you're building a multithreaded web application, you should change the CLI only on application startup. This is because the configuration is global, so if you change it in a controller action, other threads in the same process will also have their CLI changed, which could lead to race conditions.


If you want to be close to the metal, you can use ImageMagick's command-line tools directly. do |mogrify|
  mogrify << "image.jpg"
end #=> `mogrify -resize 100x100 -negate image.jpg`

# OR

mogrify =
mogrify << "image.jpg" #=> `mogrify -resize 100x100 -negate image.jpg`

This way of using MiniMagick is highly recommended if you want to maximize performance of your image processing. Here are some of the features.


The most basic way of building a command is appending strings: do |convert|
  convert << "input.jpg"
  convert.merge! ["-resize", "500x500", "-negate"]
  convert << "output.jpg"

Note that it is important that every command you would pass to the command line has to be separated with <<, e.g.:

convert << "-resize" << "500x500"

convert << "-resize 500x500"

Shell escaping is also handled for you. If an option has a value that has spaces inside it, just pass it as a regular string.

convert << "-distort"
convert << "Perspective"
convert << "0,0,0,0 0,45,0,45 69,0,60,10 69,45,60,35"
convert -distort Perspective '0,0,0,0 0,45,0,45 69,0,60,10 69,45,60,35'


Instead of passing in options directly, you can use Ruby methods:

convert.distort("Perspective", "0,0,0,0 0,45,0,45 69,0,60,10 69,45,60,35")

MiniMagick knows which options each tool has, so you will get an explicit NoMethodError if you happen to have mispelled an option.


Every method call returns self, so you can chain them to create logical groups. do |convert|
  convert << "input.jpg"
  convert << "output.jpg"

"Plus" options do |convert|
  convert << "input.jpg"
  convert.distort.+("Perspective", "more args")
convert input.jpg +repage +distort Perspective 'more args'

Stacks do |convert|
  convert << "wand.gif"
  convert.stack do |stack|
    stack << "wand.gif"
  convert << "images.gif"
convert wand.gif \( wand.gif -rotate 90 \) images.gif


Errors being raised when they shouldn't

This gem raises an error when ImageMagick returns a nonzero exit code. Sometimes, however, ImageMagick returns nonzero exit codes when the command actually went ok. In these cases, to avoid raising errors, you can add the following configuration:

MiniMagick.configure do |config|
  config.whiny = false

If you're using the metal version, you can pass the whiny value to the constructor: do |b|


It can happen that, when dealing with very large images, the process runs out of memory, and Errno::ENOMEM is raised in your code. In that case try installing the posix-spawn gem, and tell MiniMagick to use it when executing shell commands.

MiniMagick.configure do |config|
  config.shell_api = "posix-spawn"

Thinking of switching from RMagick?

Unlike RMagick, MiniMagick is a much thinner wrapper around ImageMagick.

  • To piece together MiniMagick commands refer to the Mogrify Documentation. For instance you can use the -flop option as image.flop.
  • Operations on a MiniMagick image tend to happen in-place as image.trim, whereas RMagick has both copying and in-place methods like image.trim and image.trim!.
  • To open files with MiniMagick you use as you would To open a file and directly edit it, use