How to Clear Only One Line of Output in IPython Jupyter Notebook

How to Clear Only One Line of Output in IPython Jupyter Notebook

Have you ever wanted to clear only a single line of output in an IPython or Jupyter Notebook? Imagine the convenience of updating specific lines without the need to reprint everything. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various techniques to achieve this precise control over your notebook’s output.

From leveraging the ‘update’ function to using escape sequences and even employing JavaScript manipulation, you’ll discover practical ways to enhance your coding experience and streamline your workflow.

Clearing Single Line of Output in IPython or Jupyter Notebook


To clear only a single line of output in an IPython or Jupyter Notebook, you can use the following approaches:

  1. Update Display Handle:
    You can use the update function of the display handle to modify a specific line of output. Here’s an example:

    from IPython.display import display
    from time import sleep
    print('Test 1')
    dh = display('Test2', display_id=True)

    This will update the second line of output without reprinting everything.

  2. Escape Sequence Trick:
    You can use escape sequences like \\r (carriage return) to overwrite a specific line of output. Here’s an example:

    import time
    print('This is important info!')
    for i in range(100):
        print("\\r" + 'Processing BIG data file {}'.format(i), end="")
        if i == 50:
            print("\\r" + 'Something bad happened on run {}. This needs to be visible at the end!'.format(i))
    print("\\r" + 'Done.')

    This will overwrite the second line of output while keeping the first line intact.

  3. JavaScript to Modify HTML:
    You can use JavaScript to manipulate the HTML of the notebook’s output. Here’s an example:

    from IPython.display import display_javascript
        var el = document.querySelector('.output_text:last-of-type > pre');
        el.innerHTML = el.innerHTML.replace(/(\\n.*$)/gm, "");
    ''', raw=True)

    This will remove the second line of output by targeting the HTML of the first output block.


Selective Cell Hiding in Jupyter Notebook


In Jupyter Notebook, you can selectively hide specific input or output cells using tags. Here’s how you can achieve this:

  1. Tagging Cells:
    • Add the tag remove_cell to any cells you want to hide. You can do this using the tag editor built into the notebook or JupyterLab. The specific name “remove_cell” doesn’t matter; you can choose any descriptive name.
    • For example, if you want to hide a specific code cell, add the remove_cell tag to it.
  2. Using nbconvert:
    • Open a terminal or command prompt.
    • Navigate to the directory containing your Jupyter Notebook file (.ipynb).
    • Run the following command to convert the notebook while removing cells with the remove_cell tag:
      jupyter nbconvert your-notebook.ipynb --TagRemovePreprocessor.remove_cell_tags='{"remove_cell"}'
    • This will create a new version of your notebook without the tagged cells in the output.
  3. Partial Filtering:
    • If you want more control, you can filter just inputs or just outputs using additional tags:
      • TagRemovePreprocessor.remove_input_tags: Removes cells based on input tags.
      • TagRemovePreprocessor.remove_single_output_tags: Removes cells based on output tags.
      • TagRemovePreprocessor.remove_all_outputs_tags: Removes all output cells.

For more details, you can refer to the Stack Overflow discussion

Options for the Jupyter notebook interface, including the ability to collapse and expand code and outputs.

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Controlling Output Display in Jupyter Notebooks


In Jupyter notebooks, you can control the output display using the display() function and selectively clear cell output using clear_output(). Let’s explore how to achieve this:

  1. Using display():
    • The display() function allows you to show specific content (such as plots, images, or HTML) within a notebook cell.
    • You can use it to display results from calculations, visualizations, or any other relevant information.
    • For example, to display a plot generated by Matplotlib, you can use:
      import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
      plt.plot([1, 2, 3, 4])
  2. Using clear_output():
    • The clear_output() function is particularly useful when you want to update the output of a cell dynamically.
    • It clears the existing output in the current cell, allowing you to display new content.
    • Here’s an example of how to use it:
      from IPython.display import clear_output
      for i in range(10):
          clear_output(wait=True)  # Wait=True prevents flickering
          print(f"Step {i}")

      In this example, only the most recent output (e.g., “Step 9”) will be visible in the cell.

Remember that these functions are handy for interactive notebooks, especially when you want to manage output visibility during code execution.

Screenshot of a Python script that repeatedly clears the output and then prints

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Customizing Code Outputs


When working with Jupyter Notebooks, you can customize the output of code cells in various ways. Let’s explore some techniques:

  1. Formatting Code Outputs:
    • Jupyter Book allows you to format code outputs extensively. You can even insert outputs into different parts of your document. For instance:
      import pandas as pd
      # Create a sample DataFrame
      df = pd.DataFrame({
          'A': [1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0],
          'B': [1.329212, -1.070816, -1.626404, 0.961538, 1.453425]
      # Display the DataFrame with Pandas styling{
          'A': '{:.2f}',
          'B': '{:.2f}'

      This example formats the DataFrame columns ‘A’ and ‘B’ to two decimal places. You can explore more styling options in the Pandas Styling documentation.

  2. Scrolling Cell Outputs:
    • In traditional Jupyter Notebook interfaces, you can toggle output scrolling for cells. This allows you to visualize part of a long output without it taking up the entire page. To achieve this in Jupyter Book, add the following tag to a cell’s metadata:
      { "tags": [ "scroll-output" ] }

      For example, the following cell will be scrollable in the book:

      for ii in range(40):
          print(f"this is output line {ii}")
  3. Customizing Images:
    • For any image types output by your code, you can apply formatting via cell metadata. You can use standard image directives to control image properties such as size, alignment, and units of length (e.g., ‘em’, ‘px’, ‘in’, etc.).
A scatter plot showing the distribution of lunch and dinner times.

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Efficient Jupyter Notebook Management Tips


Managing Jupyter Notebook output efficiently can significantly enhance your productivity. Here are some useful tips and tricks:

  1. Keyboard Shortcuts:
    • Keyboard shortcuts are your best friends. To access them, go to Help > Keyboard Shortcuts or press H in command mode. Additionally, use the command palette (press Cmd + Shift + P or Ctrl + Shift + P on Linux/Windows) to run commands by name.
    • Some handy shortcuts:
      • Esc: Enter command mode (navigate with arrow keys).
      • A: Insert a new cell above.
      • B: Insert a new cell below.
      • M: Change the current cell to Markdown.
      • Y: Change it back to code.
      • D + D: Delete the current cell (press the key twice).
      • Enter: Switch from command mode to edit mode for the selected cell.
      • Shift + Tab: Show the Docstring (documentation) for the object typed in a code cell.
  2. Split Cells:
    • Use Ctrl + Shift + – to split the current cell into two at the cursor position.
  3. Interrupt Running Cells:
    • Press I, I to interrupt a running cell.
  4. Restart the Kernel:
    • Press 0, 0 to restart the kernel.
  5. Clear Cell Output:
    • Clear the output of all cells by pressing O, O.
  6. Shell Commands and Environment Variables:
    • Run shell commands in a Jupyter cell by adding an exclamation mark at the beginning (e.g., !ls or !pwd).
    • Manage environment variables using commands like env: OMP_NUM_THREADS=4.
  7. IPython Magic:
    • Execute and show the output from all code cells of a specified notebook using %%run.
  8. Jupyter Themes:
    • Install a package with different themes to personalize your Jupyter notebook’s appearance.
  9. Limit Output and Use Progress Indicators:
    • Avoid cluttering your notebook with excessive output.
    • Use progress indicators (e.g., tqdm library) to track computation progress.
  10. Optimize Loops and Data Processing:
    • Use vectorized operations and optimized libraries for better performance.

!Jupyter Notebook Command Palette
Dataquest – 28 Jupyter Notebook Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts

A table of keyboard shortcuts for editing Jupyter notebooks.

IMG Source:

In conclusion, mastering the art of clearing only one line of output in an IPython or Jupyter Notebook can significantly elevate your coding efficiency and readability. By implementing strategies like updating display handles, employing escape sequence tricks, and utilizing JavaScript for HTML manipulation, you can customize and fine-tune your notebook outputs with precision. These tools not only streamline your code presentation but also enhance the overall user experience.

So, whether you’re a seasoned data scientist or a programming enthusiast, the ability to selectively manage output lines will undoubtedly empower your Jupyter Notebook usage. Embrace these techniques, experiment with different approaches, and unlock a new level of control and sophistication in your coding endeavors.


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