News Migration Tutorial Objects herbstluftwm(1) herbstclient(1)

SYNOPSIS

herbstluftwm [OPTION …]

DESCRIPTION

Starts the herbstluftwm window manager on DISPLAY. It also listens for calls from herbstclient(1) and executes them. The list of available COMMANDS is listed below.

OPTION can be:

-v, --version

print version and exit

-h, --help

print a short help and exit

-c, --autostart PATH

use PATH as autostart file instead of the one in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME

--replace

Replace existing window manager.

-l, --locked

Initially set the monitors_locked setting to 1

--exit-on-xerror

Make herbstluftwm exit whenever xlib reports an error. This may only be activated for automated testing and never for actual sessions.

--no-transparency

Disable true transparency.

--no-tag-import

Do not preserve the tags (virtual desktops) from a previous running window manager.

--verbose

print verbose information to stderr. This can be switched at run-time by the verbose setting.

This manual documents the scripting and configuration interface. For a more verbose introduction see herbstluftwm-tutorial(7).

TILING ALGORITHM

The basic tiling concept is that the layout is represented by a binary tree. On startup you see one big frame across the entire screen. A frame fulfills exactly one of the following conditions:

  1. Frame contains windows:
    It shows some clients and arranges them. The available layout algorithms are:

    • vertical - clients are placed below each other

    • horizontal - clients are placed next to each other

    • max - all clients are maximized in this frame

    • grid - clients are arranged in an almost quadratic grid

  2. Frame is split into subframes:
    It is split into exactly two subframes in a configurable fraction either in a vertical or horizontal way. So it produces two frames which fulfill the same conditions (new frames always are about to contain windows). If you split a frame that already contains windows, the windows are inherited by the first new child frame.

If a new window appears, it is put in the currently focused frame. Only the leaves of the frame tree can be focused.

A frame can be removed, it is then merged with its neighbour frame. Due to the layout structure of a binary tree, each frame (i.e. node in binary tree) has exactly one neighbour.

The analogy to a binary tree is explained the best way with a small example: On startup you have a simple binary tree, with one frame that can contain clients:

C

When splitting it (e.g. with the command split vertical 0.5) you will get this:

  V
 / \
C   C

You also can split the left frame horizontally and you will get:

    V
   / \
  H   C
 / \
C   C

If you change the focus to the client on the right and remove this frame, it will be merged with the left subtree and you will get:

  H
 / \
C   C

The layout command prints the current layout of all tags as a tree.

FRAME INDEX

The exact position of a frame in the layout tree may be described by its index which is just a string of characters. The lookup algorithm starts at the root frame and interprets the index string character by character as follows:

  • 0: select the first subtree

  • 1: select the second subtree

  • .: select the subtree having the focus

  • /: select the subtree not having the focus

  • @: select the frame having the focus. In contrast to ., this passes multiple layers all down to the focused leaf of the frame tree.

  • p: select the parent tree

  • e: finds a suitable empty frame: if the focused frame is not empty, this selects the closest frame that is empty (in any subtree)

For example:

  • An empty string refers to the root frame

  • 00 refers to the first subtree of the first subtree of the root frame.

  • 1e refers to the first empty frame in the second subtree.

  • /@ refers to the focused frame within the unfocused "half" of the frame tree

  • @p/ refers to the sibling of the focused frame

TAGS

Tags are very similar to workspaces, virtual desktops or window groups. Each tag has one layout. There is a list of tags. You can add or remove tags dynamically.

MONITORS

Monitors in herbstluftwm are totally independent of the actual physical screens. This means you can for example split your screen in two virtual monitors to view two tags at once on a big screen.

Each monitor displays exactly one tag on a specified rectangle on the screen.

Each monitor may have a name, which can be set via add_monitor and rename_monitor. It can be unset with the rename_monitor command. A monitor name is an arbitrary non-empty string which must not start with +, - or any digit.

A monitor can be referenced in different ways:

  • by its absolute index as listed in the list_monitors command.

  • by its relative index: a + or - followed by a delta, e.g.: +3

  • by its relative position to the focused monitor. -l denotes the monitor left of the focused monitor, -r right of, -u above of, and -d below of, respectively.

  • by "" (an empty string) which represents the current monitor.

  • by its name.

COMMANDS

herbstluftwm is controlled by internal commands, which can be executed via herbstclient(1) or via keybindings.

quit

Quits herbstluftwm.

reload

Executes the autostart file.

version

Prints the version of the running herbstluftwm instance.

echo [ARGS …]

Prints all given ARGS separated by a single space and a newline afterwards.

true

Ignores all arguments and always returns success, i.e. 0.

false

Ignores all arguments and always returns failure, i.e. 1.

help [OBJECT|ATTRIBUTE]

Print help on a given object or attribute. For example:

  • help clients.focus

  • help monitors

  • help types.color

list_commands

Lists all available commands.

list_monitors

List currently configured monitors with their index, area (as rectangle), name (if named) and currently viewed tag.

list_rules

Lists all active rules. Each line consists of all the parameters the rule was called with, plus its label, separated by tabs.

list_keybinds

Lists all bound keys with their associated command. Each line consists of one key combination and the command with its parameters separated by tabs.

Warning
Tabs within command parameters are not escaped!
list_clients [--tag=TAG|--monitor=MONITOR] [--frame=FRAME_PATH|--floating|--tiling] [--title]

Lists the window ids of all clients on the given TAG or MONITOR (or the current if unspecified). In addition to that, one can restrict to clients in a specific frame (--frame=) or to tiled or floated clients. The output is one line per client; if --title is given, then in addition to every client’s window id, its window title is printed in the same line.

lock

Increases the monitors_locked setting. Use this if you want to do multiple window actions at once (i.e. without repainting between the single steps). See also: unlock

unlock

Decreases the monitors_locked setting. If monitors_locked is changed to 0, then all monitors are repainted again. See also: lock

keybind KEY COMMAND [ARGS …]

Adds a key binding. When KEY is pressed, the internal COMMAND (with its ARGS) is executed. A key binding is a (possibly empty) list of modifiers (Mod1, Mod2, Mod3, Mod4, Mod5, Alt, Super, Control/Ctrl, Shift) and one key (see keysymdef.h for a list of keys). Modifiers and the key are concatenated with - or + as separator. If there is already a binding for this KEY, it will be overwritten. Examples:

  • keybind Mod4+Ctrl+q quit

  • keybind Mod1-i toggle always_show_frame

  • keybind Mod1-Shift-space cycle_layout -1

keyunbind KEY|-F|--all

Removes the key binding for KEY. The syntax for KEY is defined in keybind. If -F or --all is given, then all key bindings will be removed.

mousebind BUTTON ACTION [COMMAND …]

Adds a mouse binding for the floating mode. When BUTTON is pressed, the specified ACTION will be performed. BUTTON has a similar syntax to the KEY argument of keybind: It consists of a list of modifiers (separated by - or +, valid modifiers are listed in the description of keybind) and exactly one button name:

  • B1 or Button1

  • B2 or Button2

  • B3 or Button3

  • B4 or Button4

  • B5 or Button5

ACTION must be one of the following actions:

  • move: Moves the window by dragging the cursor.

  • resize: Resizes the window by dragging a corner.

  • zoom: Resizes the window into all four directions while keeping the center of the window constant.

  • call: Only calls the specified COMMAND while client.dragged links to the client on which the BUTTON has been performed.

While an ACTION is performed, client.dragged is the client which is dragged. E.g.:

  • mousebind Mod1-Button3 zoom

  • mousebind Mod1-B4 call substitute WID clients.dragged.winid spawn transset-df --inc -i WID 0.05

  • mousebind Mod1-B5 call substitute WID clients.dragged.winid spawn transset-df --dec -i WID -m 0.2 0.05

drag WINID ACTION

Starts dragging the specified client window WINID with the specified ACTION (see mousebind). E.g. drag '' resize starts resizing the focused window.

mouseunbind

Removes all mouse bindings.

spawn EXECUTABLE [ARGS …]

Spawns an EXECUTABLE with its ARGS. For details see man 3 execvp. Example:

  • spawn xterm -e man 3 execvp

wmexec [WINDOWMANAGER [ARGS …]]

Executes the WINDOWMANAGER with its ARGS. This is useful to switch the window manager in the running session without restarting the session. If no or an invalid WINDOWMANAGER is given, then herbstluftwm is restarted. For details see man 3 execvp. Example:

  • wmexec openbox

chain SEPARATOR [COMMANDS …]

chain expects a SEPARATOR and a list of COMMANDS with arguments. The commands have to be separated by the specified SEPARATOR. The SEPARATOR can by any word and only is recognized as the separator between commands if it exactly matches SEPARATOR. "chain" outputs the appended outputs of all commands and returns the exit code of the last executed command. Examples are:

  • Create a tag called "foo" and directly use it:
    chain , add foo , use foo

  • Rotate the layout clockwise:
    chain .-. lock .-. rotate .-. rotate .-. rotate .-. unlock

Counterexamples are:

  • This will only create a tag called "foo,":
    chain , add foo, use foo

  • Separator "." defined, but "," is used:
    chain . add foo , use foo

and SEPARATOR [COMMANDS …]

"and" behaves like the chain command but only executes the specified COMMANDS while the commands return the exit code 0.

or SEPARATOR [COMMANDS …]

"or" behaves like the chain command but only executes the specified COMMANDS until one command returns the exit code 0.

! COMMAND

"!" executes the provided command, but inverts its return value. If the provided command returns a nonzero, "!" returns a 0, if the command returns a zero, "!" returns a 1.

try COMMAND

"try" executes the provided command, prints its output, but always returns success, i.e. 0.

silent COMMAND

"silent" executes the provided command, but discards its output and only returns its exit code.

focus_nth INDEX

Focuses the nth window in a frame. The first window has INDEX 0. If INDEX is negative or greater than the last window index, then the last window is focused.

cycle [DELTA]

Cycles the selection within the current frame by DELTA or cycles through the clients in the floating layer if that is focused. If DELTA is omitted, DELTA = 1 will be used. DELTA can be negative; DELTA = -1 means: cycle in the opposite direction by 1.

cycle_all [--skip-invisible] [DIRECTION]

Cycles through all non-minimized windows and frames on the current tag. DIRECTION = 1 means forward (default value), DIRECTION = -1 means backward, DIRECTION = 0 has no effect. If there are multiple windows within one frame, then it acts similar to the cycle command. If --skip-invisible is given, then this only cycles through all visible windows and skips invisible windows in the max layout (the flag only affects invisible windows in the max layout; minimized windows are always skipped). After each focus change, the focused window is raised.

cycle_frame [DIRECTION]

Cycles through all frames on the current tag. DIRECTION = 1 means forward, DIRECTION = -1 means backward, DIRECTION = 0 has no effect. DIRECTION defaults to 1.

cycle_layout [DELTA [LAYOUTS …]]

Cycles the layout algorithm in the current frame by DELTA. DELTA defaults to 1. You can find a list of layout algorithms above. If a list of LAYOUTS is given, cycle_layout will cycle through those instead of the default layout algorithm list. This is done by finding the first occurrence of the current layout in LAYOUTS and picking the next layout according to DELTA. If the current layout doesn’t occur in LAYOUTS, the first entry is picked. Example:

  • cycle_layout -1

  • cycle_layout 1 vertical grid

set_layout LAYOUT

Sets the layout algorithm in the current frame to LAYOUT. For the list of layouts, check the list of layout algorithms above.

close WINID

Closes the specified window gracefully or the focused window if none is given explicitly. See the section on WINDOW IDS how to reference a certain window.

close_or_remove

Closes the focused window or removes the current frame if no window is focused. In floating mode, this acts as the close command.

close_and_remove

Closes the focused window and removes the current frame if no other window is present in that frame. In floating mode, this acts as the close command.

split ALIGN [FRACTION [FRAMEINDEX]]

Splits the focused frame (or the frame specified by FRAMEINDEX, see the section frame index) into two subframes with a specified FRACTION between 0 and 1 which defaults to 0.5. ALIGN is one of

  • top

  • bottom (= vertical)

  • left

  • right (= horizontal)

  • explode

  • auto (split along longest side)
    It specifies which of the two halves will be empty after the split. The other half will be occupied by the currently focused frame. After splitting, the originally focused frame will stay focused. One special ALIGN mode is explode, which splits the frame in such a way that the window focus, window sizes, and positions are kept as much as possible (so the default FRACTION is not always 0.5, unlike for the other ALIGN modes). Example:

  • split explode

  • split bottom 0.5

  • split horiz 0.3

  • split vertical 0.5

  • split h

  • split top 0.2 '' (splits the root frame)

focus [-i|-e] DIRECTION

Moves the focus from current frame to the next frame or client in DIRECTION which is in:

  • l[eft]

  • r[ight]

  • u[p]

  • d[own]

If -i (internal) is given or default_direction_external_only is unset, then the next client in DIRECTION can also be within the same frame. If there is no client within this frame or -e (external) is given, then the next frame in specified DIRECTION will be focused.

The direction between frames is defined as follows: The focus is in a leaf of the binary tree. Each inner node in the tree remembers the last focus direction (child 0 or child 1). The algorithm uses the shortest possible way from the leaf (the currently focused frame) to the root until it is possible to change focus in the specified DIRECTION. From there the focus goes back to the leaf.

Example: The focus is at frame A. After executing focus right focus will be at frame C.

 Tree:  H,0     Screen: ┌─────┐┌─────┐ (before)
        ╱ ╲             │  B  ││  C  │
       ╱   ╲            └─────┘└─────┘
     V,1   V,0          ┌─────┐┌─────┐
     ╱ ╲   ╱ ╲          │  A* ││  D  │
    B  A* C   D         └─────┘└─────┘

 Tree:  H,1     Screen: ┌─────┐┌─────┐ (after focus right)
        ╱ ╲             │  B  ││  C* │
       ╱   ╲            └─────┘└─────┘
     V,1   V,0          ┌─────┐┌─────┐
     ╱ ╲   ╱ ╲          │  A  ││  D  │
    B   A C*  D         └─────┘└─────┘

If the currently focused client is floated, then the next floating window in the specified direction is focused and raised.

If focus_crosses_monitor_boundaries is set and no client or frame is found in the specified DIRECTION, then the next monitor in that DIRECTION is focused.

focus_edge [-i|-e] DIRECTION

Focuses the window on the edge of the tag in the specified DIRECTION. The DIRECTIONS and -e behave as specified at the focus command.

If -i (internal) is given or default_direction_external_only is unset, then the window on the edge of the tag will be focused. Else, only the frame on the edge of the tag will be focused, and the window that was last focused in that frame will be focused.

raise WINID

Raises the specified managed or unmanaged window. Managed windows are only moved within the tag’s stack (as reported by the stack command), and unmanaged windows are raised globally, i.e. are raised above all managed windows. See the section on WINDOW IDS on how to reference a certain window. Its result is only visible for floating windows and unmanaged windows.

lower WINID

Lowers the specified managed or unmanaged window, analogously to the raise command: managed windows are lowered within the stack of floating windows (with no effect for tiled windows) and unmanaged windows are moved below all managed windows (for example, it can be used to lower desktop windows).

jumpto WINID

Puts the focus to the specified window. See the section on WINDOW IDS on how to reference a certain window.

bring WINID

Moves the specified window to the current frame and focuses it. Floating windows are brought to the current tag, but keep their floating state. See the section on WINDOW IDS on how to reference a certain window.

resize DIRECTION [FRACTIONDELTA]

Changes the size of the focused frame in the specified DIRECTION by FRACTIONDELTA (which defaults to 0.02 if none is supplied). DIRECTION behaves as specified at the focus command. If a floating window is focused, it grows towards next edge, i.e. either the edge of the next window or the monitor edge in the specified DIRECTION (FRACTIONDELTA is ignored in that case). Example:

  • resize right +0.05

  • resize down -0.1

shift_edge [-i|-e] DIRECTION

Shifts the focused window to the the edge of a tag in the specified DIRECTION. The DIRECTIONS behave as specified at the focus command and -i and -e behave as specified at the focus_edge command.

shift [-i|-e] DIRECTION

Shifts the focused window to the next frame in the specified DIRECTION. The DIRECTIONS and -i|-e behave as specified at the focus command. If the focused client is floated instead of being tiled, then client is shifted to the next window or screen edge. If the window cannot be moved and the setting focus_crosses_monitor_boundaries is activated, then the window is moved to the monitor in the specified DIRECTION.

shift_to_monitor MONITOR

Moves the focused window to the tag on the specified MONITOR. See the MONITORS section, how to address a monitor.

remove

Removes focused frame and merges its windows to its closest neighbour frame.

rotate

Rotates the layout on the focused tag counterclockwise by 90 degrees. This only manipulates the alignment of frames, not the content of them.

mirror [vertical|horizontal|both]

Mirrors the layout on the focused tag vertically, horizontally, or both; the default is horizontal. This command only manipulates the alignment of frames, not the content of them.

set NAME VALUE

Sets the specified setting NAME to VALUE. Allowed values for boolean settings are on or true for on, off or false for off, toggle to toggle its value. All SETTINGS are listed in the section below.

get NAME

Prints the value of setting NAME. All SETTINGS are listed in the section below.

toggle NAME

Toggles the setting NAME if it’s a boolean setting.

cycle_value PATH VALUES

Cycles value of the attribute PATH through VALUES: I.e. it searches the first occurrence of the current value in VALUES and changes the value to the next in the list or to the first one if the end is reached or current value wasn’t found. For compatibility reasons, PATH can also be the name of a setting. Examples:

  • cycle_value settings.frame_gap 0 5 10 15

  • cycle_value theme.active.inner_color red green blue

  • the command cycle_layout +1 is equivalent to cycle_value tags.focus.tiling.focused_frame.algorithm

cycle_monitor [DELTA]

Cycles monitor focused by DELTA. DELTA defaults to 1.

focus_monitor MONITOR

Puts focus to the specified monitor. See the MONITORS section, how to address a monitor.

add TAG

Creates a new empty tag named TAG.

use TAG

Switches the focused monitor to specified TAG.

use_index INDEX [--skip-visible]

Switches the focused monitor to the TAG with the specified INDEX. If INDEX starts with + or -, then INDEX is treated relative to the current TAG. If --skip-visible is passed and INDEX is relative, then tags that are already visible on a monitor are skipped. E.g. this cycles backwards through the tags:

  • use_index -1 --skip-visible

use_previous

Switches the focused monitor to the previously viewed tag.

merge_tag TAG [TARGET]

Removes tag named TAG and moves all its windows to tag TARGET. If TARGET is omitted, the focused tag will be used.

rename OLDTAG NEWTAG

Renames tag named OLDTAG to NEWTAG.

move TAG

Moves the focused window to the tag named TAG.

move_index INDEX [--skip-visible]

Moves the focused window to the tag specified by INDEX. Analogical to the argument for use_index: If INDEX starts with + or -, then it is treated relative. If --skip-visible is passed with a relative index, then already visible tags are skipped.

lock_tag [MONITOR]

Lock the tag switching on the specified monitor. If no argument is given, the currently focused monitor is used. When the tag switching is disabled for a monitor, the commands use and use_index have no effect when executed there. When swap_monitors_to_get_tag is enabled, switching to a tag which is located on a locked monitor, switches to that monitor instead of stealing it from there. The lock state of a monitor is indicated by "[LOCKED]" in the list_monitors output.

unlock_tag [MONITOR]

Re-enables the tag switching on the specified monitor. If no argument is given, the currently focused monitor is used. This is the reverse operation to lock_tag and has no further side effects but removing this lock.

disjoin_rects RECTS

Takes a list of rectangles and splits them into smaller pieces until all rectangles are disjoint, the result rectangles are printed line by line. This command does not modify the current list of monitors! So this can be useful in combination with the set_monitors command.

  • E.g. disjoin_rects 600x400+0+0 600x400+300+250 prints this:

    300x150+300+250
    600x250+0+0
    300x150+0+250
    300x150+600+250
    600x250+300+400
  • In the above example two monitors are split into 5 monitors, which graphically means:

    ┌──────┐                  ┌──────┐
    │      │                  └──────┘
    │  ┌───┼───┐              ┌─┐┌───┐┌──┐
    │  │   │   │   disjoin    │ ││   ││  │
    └──┼───┘   │  ─────────>  └─┘└───┘└──┘
       │       │                 ┌───────┐
       └───────┘                 └───────┘
set_monitors RECTS

Sets the list of monitors exactly to the list of given rectangles:

  • The i’th existing monitor is moved to the i’th given RECT

  • New monitors are created if there are more RECTS than monitors

  • Existing monitors are deleted if there are more monitors than RECTS

detect_monitors -l|--list|--list-all|--no-disjoin

Sets the list of monitors to the physically available monitors. If both Xinerama and xrandr are missing, it will fall back to one monitor across the entire screen. If the detected monitors overlap, the will be split into more monitors that are disjoint but cover the same area using disjoin_rects.
If -l or --list is passed, the list of rectangles of detected physical monitors is printed. So hc detect_monitors is equivalent to the bash command hc set_monitors $(hc disjoin_rects $(hc detect_monitors -l)).
If --list-all is passed, then it is printed which multimonitor detection (xinerama, xrandr) has which set of physical monitors.

add_monitor RECT [TAG [NAME]]

Adds a monitor on the specified rectangle RECT and displays TAG on it. TAG currently must not be displayed on any other monitor. RECT is a string of the form WxH±X±Y. If no or an empty TAG is given, then any free tag will be chosen. If a NAME is given, you can reference to this monitor by its name instead of using an index. Example:

  • add_monitor 1024x768-20+0 mynewtag main

remove_monitor MONITOR

Removes the specified monitor.

move_monitor MONITOR RECT [PADUP [PADRIGHT [PADDOWN [PADLEFT]]]]

Moves the specified monitor to rectangle RECT. RECT is defined as in add_monitor. If no or an empty pad is given, it is not changed.

raise_monitor [MONITOR]

Raises the specified monitor or the current one if MONITOR is omitted.

rename_monitor MONITOR NAME

(Re)names an already existing monitor. If NAME is empty, it removes the monitor’s name.

stack

Prints the stack of monitors with the visible tags and their layers as a tree. The order of the printed stack is top to bottom. The style is configured by the tree_style setting.

monitor_rect [[-p] MONITOR]

Prints the rectangle of the specified monitor in the format: X Y W H
If no MONITOR or cur is given, then the current monitor is used. If -p is supplied, then the remaining rect without the pad around this monitor is printed.

pad MONITOR [PADUP [PADRIGHT [PADDOWN [PADLEFT]]]]

Sets the pad of specified monitor to the specified padding. If no or an empty padding is given, it is not changed.

list_padding [MONITOR]

Lists the padding of the specified monitor, or the currently focused monitor if no monitor is given.

layout [TAG [INDEX]]

Prints the layout of frame with INDEX on TAG, in a nice tree style. Its style is defined by the tree_style setting. If no TAG is given, the current tag is used. If no INDEX is given, the root frame is used. To specify INDEX without specifying TAG (i.e. use current tag), pass an empty string as TAG.
An example output is:

╾─┐ horizontal 50% selection=1
  ├─╼ vertical: 0xe00009
  └─┐ vertical 50% selection=0
    ├─╼ vertical: 0xa00009 [FOCUS]
    └─╼ vertical: 0x1000009
dump [TAG [INDEX]]

Prints the same information as the layout command but in a machine readable format. Its output can be read back with the load command.
An example output (formatted afterwards) is:

(split horizontal:0.500000:1
    (clients vertical:0 0xe00009)
    (split vertical:0.500000:1
        (clients vertical:0 0xa00009)
        (clients vertical:0 0x1000009)))
load [TAG] LAYOUT

Loads a given LAYOUT description to specified TAG or current tag if no TAG is given.

Caution
LAYOUT is exactly one parameter. If you are calling it manually from your shell or from a script, quote it properly!
complete POSITION [COMMAND ARGS …]

Prints the result of tab completion for the partial COMMAND with optional ARGS. You usually do not need this, because there is already tab completion for bash, zsh and fish. Example:

  • complete 0 m
    prints all commands beginning with m

  • complete 1 toggle fra
    prints all settings beginning with fra that can be toggled

complete_shell POSITION [COMMAND ARGS …]

Behaves like complete with the following extras, useful for completion on posix shells:

  • Escape sequences are removed in COMMAND and ARGS.

  • A space is appended to each full completion result.

  • Special characters will be escaped in the output.

emit_hook NAME ARGS …

Emits a custom hook NAME to all idling herbstclients.

tag_status [MONITOR]

Print a tab separated list of all tags for the specified MONITOR index. If no MONITOR index is given, the focused monitor is used. Each tag name is prefixed with one char, which indicates its state:

  • . the tag is empty

  • : the tag is not empty

  • + the tag is viewed on the specified MONITOR, but this monitor is not focused.

  • # the tag is viewed on the specified MONITOR and it is focused.

  • - the tag is viewed on a different MONITOR, but this monitor is not focused.

  • % the tag is viewed on a different MONITOR and it is focused.

  • ! the tag contains an urgent window

Warning
If you use a tab in one of the tag names, then tag_status is probably quite useless for you.
floating [[TAG] on|off|toggle|status]

Changes specified TAG to floating/tiling mode or prints its current status. If no TAG is given, the current tag is used. If no argument is given, floating mode is toggled. If status is given, then on or off is printed, depending of the floating state of TAG.

rule [[--]FLAG|[--]LABEL|[--]CONDITION|[--]CONSEQUENCE …]

Defines a rule which will be applied to all new clients. Its behaviour is described in the RULES section.

unrule LABEL|--all|-F

Removes all rules named LABEL. If --all or -F is passed, then all rules are removed.

apply_rules WINID|--all

Apply the rules to the specified window WINID. If --all is passed, then the rules are applied to all clients.

apply_tmp_rule WINID|--all [RULEDESCRIPTION…]

Apply the rule RULEDESCRIPTION to one particular client WINID or all clients (--all) without adding the rule to the rule list. The RULEDESCRIPTION specifies a rule consisting of conditions and consequences as one would pass it to the rule command as described in the RULES section. This allows testing rules before adding them. Running apply_tmp_rule only applies the particular rule given in the arguments and ignores the existing rules.

fullscreen [on|off|toggle]

Sets or toggles the fullscreen state of the focused client. If no argument is given, fullscreen mode is toggled.

pseudotile [on|off|toggle]

Sets or toggles the pseudotile state of the focused client. If a client is pseudotiled, then in tiling mode the client is only moved but not resized - the client size will stay the floating size. The only reason to resize the client is to ensure that it fits into its tile. If no argument is given, pseudotile mode is toggled.

object_tree [PATH]

Prints the tree of objects. If the object path PATH is given, only the subtree starting at PATH is printed. See the OBJECTS section for more details.

attr [PATH [NEWVALUE]

Prints the children and attributes of the given object addressed by PATH. If PATH is an attribute, then print the attribute value. If NEWVALUE is given, assign NEWVALUE to the attribute given by PATH. See the OBJECTS section for more details.

get_attr ATTRIBUTE

Print the value of the specified ATTRIBUTE as described in the OBJECTS section.

set_attr ATTRIBUTE NEWVALUE

Assign NEWVALUE to the specified ATTRIBUTE as described in the OBJECTS section.

attr_type ATTRIBUTE

Print the type of the specified ATTRIBUTE.

new_attr bool|color|int|string|uint PATH [VALUE]

Creates a new attribute with the name and in the object specified by PATH. Its type is specified by the first argument. The attribute name has to begin with my_. If VALUE is supplied, then it is written to the attribute (if this fails the attribute still remains).

watch PATH

Watch the value of the given attribute PATH. Whenever the value changes from OLDVALUE to NEWVALUE, a hook is emitted:
attribute_changed PATH OLDVALUE NEWVALUE

remove_attr PATH

Removes the user defined attribute PATH.

substitute IDENTIFIER ATTRIBUTE COMMAND [ARGS …]

Replaces all exact occurrences of IDENTIFIER in COMMAND and its ARGS by the value of the ATTRIBUTE. Note that the COMMAND also is replaced by the attribute value if it equals IDENTIFIER. The replaced command with its arguments then is executed. Example:

  • substitute MYTITLE clients.focus.title echo MYTITLE

    Prints the title of the currently focused window.

sprintf IDENTIFIER FORMAT [FORMATARG …] COMMAND [CMDARGS …]

Replaces all exact occurrences of IDENTIFIER in COMMAND and its CMDARGS by the string specified by FORMAT. The FORMAT string may contain several placeholders, similar to the printf(1) command:

  • %s inserts an attribute value whose path is given by the string value of the next FORMATARG

  • %c ("constant") inserts the next FORMATARG without modification.

  • %% stands for a plain %

The replaced command with its arguments then is executed. Examples:

  • sprintf STR title=%s clients.focus.title echo STR

    Prints the title of the currently focused window prepended by title=.

  • sprintf X "%c %s tags" "there are" tags.count echo X
    Prints there are N tags with N replaced by the number of tags.

  • sprintf X tag=%s tags.focus.name rule once X

    Moves the next client that appears to the tag that is currently focused.

  • sprintf X %s/%s tags.focus.index tags.count echo X

    Tells which tag is focused and how many tags there are

  • sprintf l somelongstring echo l l l

    Prints somelongstring three times, separated by spaces.

  • substitute X tags.count sprintf Y "number=%c" X echo Y

    has the same output as
    sprintf Y "number=%s" tags.count echo Y

    (Note how the %c changes to %s)

foreach IDENTIFIER OBJECT COMMAND [ARGS …]

For each child of the given OBJECT the COMMAND is called with its ARGS, where the IDENTIFIER is replaced by the path of the child. The exit code is the exit code of the command executed last. Examples:

  • foreach T tags.by-name. echo T

    Prints:

    tags.by-name.1
    tags.by-name.2
    tags.by-name.3
    [...]
  • Note that foreach only iterates over children, but not over attributes, so foreach S settings echo S prints nothing, since the settings object has only attributes but no child objects.

  • foreach C clients. echo C prints the object paths of all clients, but the focused client twice, because it is mentioned in clients. twice: by window id and as clients.focus.

mktemp [bool|int|string|uint] IDENTIFIER COMMAND [ARGS …]

Creates a temporary attribute with the given type and replaces all occurrences of IDENTIFIER in COMMAND and ARGS by the path of the temporary attribute. The replaced command with its arguments is executed then. The exit status of COMMAND is returned.

compare ATTRIBUTE OPERATOR VALUE

Compares the value of ATTRIBUTE with VALUE using the comparison method OPERATOR. If the comparison succeeds, it returns 0, else 1. The operators are:

  • =: ATTRIBUTE's value equals VALUE

  • !=: ATTRIBUTE's value does not equal VALUE

  • le: ATTRIBUTE's value <= VALUE

  • lt: ATTRIBUTE's value < VALUE

  • ge: ATTRIBUTE's value >= VALUE

  • gt: ATTRIBUTE's value > VALUE

The OPERATORs le,lt,ge,gt can only be used if ATTRIBUTE is of the type integer or unsigned integer. Note that the first parameter must always be an attribute and the second a constant value. If you want to compare two attributes, use the substitute command:

substitute FC tags.focus.frame_count \
    compare tags.focus.client_count gt FC

It returns success if there are more clients on the focused tag than frames.

getenv NAME

Gets the value of the environment variable NAME.

setenv NAME VALUE

Set the value of the environment variable NAME to VALUE. See the export command for a convenience wrapper.

unsetenv NAME

Unsets the environment variable NAME.

export NAME=VALUE

Set the value of the environment variable NAME to VALUE. The syntax is the same as for export in unix shells (notice that there is a =). Intuitively, if you forgot to run export FOO=BAR before starting herbstluftwm, you can run herbstclient export FOO=BAR from within your herbstluftwm session for the same effect. The export command is the same as the setenv command with different syntax.

SETTINGS

Settings configure the behaviour of herbstluftwm and can be controlled via the set, get and toggle commands. The following list mentions all settings and their type. The settings can also be accessed via the object tree (see the section OBJECTS).

frame_gap (Integer)

The gap between frames in the tiling mode.

frame_padding (Integer)

The padding within a frame in the tiling mode, i.e. the space between the border of a frame and the windows within it.

window_gap (Integer)

The gap between windows within one frame in the tiling mode.

snap_distance (Integer)

If a client is dragged in floating mode, then it snaps to neighbour clients if the distance between them is smaller than snap_distance.

snap_gap (Integer)

Specifies the remaining gap if a dragged client snaps to an edge in floating mode. If snap_gap is set to 0, no gap will remain.

mouse_recenter_gap (Integer)

Specifies the gap around a monitor. If the monitor is selected and the mouse position would be restored into this gap, it is set to the center of the monitor. This is useful, when the monitor was left via mouse movement, but is reselected by keyboard. If the gap is 0 (default), the mouse is never recentered.

frame_border_active_color (String/Color)

The border color of a focused frame.

frame_border_normal_color (String/Color)

The border color of an unfocused frame.

frame_border_inner_color (String/Color)

The color of the inner border of a frame.

frame_bg_active_color (String/Color)

The fill color of a focused frame.

frame_bg_normal_color (String/Color)

The fill color of an unfocused frame (It is only visible if always_show_frame is set).

frame_bg_transparent (Integer)

If set, the background of frames are transparent. That means a rectangle is cut out from the inner such that only the frame border and a stripe of width frame_transparent_width can be seen. Use frame_active_opacity and frame_normal_opacity for real transparency.

frame_transparent_width (Integer)

Specifies the width of the remaining frame colored with frame_bg_active_color if frame_bg_transparent is set.

frame_border_width (Integer)

Border width of a frame.

frame_border_inner_width (Integer)

The width of the inner border of a frame. Must be less than frame_border_width, since it does not add to the frame border width but is a part of it.

focus_crosses_monitor_boundaries (Boolean)

If set, commands focus and shift cross monitor boundaries. If there is no client in the direction given to focus, then the monitor in the specified direction is focused. Similarly, if shift cannot move a window within a tag, the window is moved to the neighbour monitor in the desired direction.

raise_on_focus (Boolean)

If set, a window is raised if it is focused. The value of this setting is only used in floating mode.

raise_on_focus_temporarily (Boolean)

If set, a window is raised temporarily if it is focused on its tag. Temporarily in this case means that the window will return to its previous stacking position if another window is focused.

raise_on_click (Boolean)

If set, a window is raised if it is clicked. The value of this setting is only noticed in floating mode.

window_border_width (Integer)

Border width of a window. Warning: This only exists for compatibility reasons; it is only an alias for the attribute theme.border_width.

window_border_inner_width (Integer)

The width of the inner border of a window. Must be less than window_border_width, since it does not add to the window border width but is a part of it. Warning: This only exists for compatibility reasons; it is only an alias for the attribute theme.inner_width.

window_border_active_color (String/Color)

Border color of a focused window. Warning: This only exists for compatibility reasons; it is only an alias for the attribute theme.active.color.

window_border_normal_color (String/Color)

Border color of an unfocused window. Warning: This only exists for compatibility reasons; it is only an alias for the attribute theme.normal.color.

window_border_urgent_color (String/Color)

Border color of an unfocused but urgent window. Warning: This only exists for compatibility reasons; it is only an alias for the attribute theme.urgent.color.

window_border_inner_color (String/Color)

Color of the inner border of a window. Warning: This only exists for compatibility reasons; it is only an alias for the attribute theme.inner_color.

always_show_frame (Boolean)

If set, all frames are displayed. If unset, only frames with focus or with windows in them are displayed.

frame_active_opacity (Integer)

Focused frame opacity in percent. Requires a running compositing manager to take actual effect.

frame_normal_opacity (Integer)

Unfocused frame opacity in percent. Requires a running compositing manager to take actual effect.

default_frame_layout (LayoutAlgorithm)

Name of the layout algorithm, which is used if a new frame is created (on a new tag or by a non-trivial split). See above for the list of layout algorithms.

default_direction_external_only (Boolean)

This setting controls the behaviour of focus and shift if no -e or -i argument is given. If set, then focus and shift changes the focused frame even if there are other clients in this frame in the specified DIRECTION. Else, a client within current frame is selected if it is in the specified DIRECTION.

gapless_grid (Boolean)

This setting affects the size of the last client in a frame that is arranged by grid layout. If set, then the last client always fills the gap within this frame. If unset, then the last client has the same size as all other clients in this frame.

hide_covered_windows (Boolean)

If activated, windows are explicitly hidden when they are covered by another window in a frame with max layout. This only has a visible effect if a compositor is used. If activated, shadows do not stack up and transparent windows show the wallpaper behind them instead of the other clients in the max layout.

smart_frame_surroundings (Boolean)

If set, frame borders and gaps will be removed when there’s no ambiguity regarding the focused frame.

smart_window_surroundings (Boolean)

If set, window borders and gaps will be removed and minimal when there’s no ambiguity regarding the focused window. This minimal window decoration can be configured by the theme.minimal object.

focus_follows_mouse (Boolean)

If set and a window is focused by mouse cursor, this window is focused (this feature is also known as sloppy focus). If unset, you need to click to change the window focus by mouse.

If another window is hidden by the focus change (e.g. when having pseudotiled windows in the max layout) then an extra click is required to change the focus.

focus_stealing_prevention (Boolean)

If set, only pagers and taskbars are allowed to change the focus. If unset, all applications can request a focus change.

monitors_locked (Unsigned Integer)

If greater than 0, then the clients on all monitors aren’t moved or resized anymore. If it is set to 0, then the arranging of monitors is enabled again, and all monitors are rearranged if their content has changed in the meantime. You should not change this setting manually due to concurrency issues; use the commands lock and unlock instead.

swap_monitors_to_get_tag (Boolean)

If set: If you want to view a tag, that already is viewed on another monitor, then the monitor contents will be swapped and you see the wanted tag on the focused monitor. If not set, the other monitor is focused if it shows the desired tag.

auto_detect_monitors (Boolean)

If set, detect_monitors is automatically executed every time a monitor is connected, disconnected or resized.

auto_detect_panels (Boolean)

If set, EWMH panels are automatically detected and reserve space at the side of the monitors they are on (via pad attributes of each monitor). This setting is activated per default.

tree_style (String)

It contains the chars that are used to print a nice ascii tree. It must contain at least 8 characters. e.g. X|:#+*-. produces a tree like:

X-.
  #-. child 0
  | #-* child 00
  | +-* child 01
  +-. child 1
  : #-* child 10
  : +-* child 11

Useful values for tree_style are: ╾│ ├└╼─┐ or -| |'--. or ╾│ ├╰╼─╮.

wmname (String)

It controls the value of the _NET_WM_NAME property on the root window, which specifies the name of the running window manager. The value of this setting is not updated if the actual _NET_WM_NAME property on the root window is changed externally. Example usage:

  • cycle_value wmname herbstluftwm LG3D

pseudotile_center_threshold (Integer)

If greater than 0, it specifies the least distance between a centered pseudotile window and the border of the frame or tile it is assigned to. If this distance is lower than pseudotile_center_threshold, it is aligned to the top left of the client’s tile.

update_dragged_clients (Integer)

If set, a client’s window content is resized immediately during resizing it with the mouse. If unset, the client’s content is resized after the mouse button is released.

verbose (Boolean)

If set, verbose output is logged to herbstluftwm’s stderr. The default value is controlled by the --verbose command line flag.

RULES

Rules are used to change default properties for certain clients when they appear or when the apply_rules command is called. Each rule matches against a certain subset of all clients and defines a set of properties for them (called CONSEQUENCEs). A rule can be defined with this command:

rule [[--]FLAG|[--]LABEL|[--]CONDITION|[--]CONSEQUENCE …]

Each rule consists of a list of FLAGs, CONDITIONs, CONSEQUENCEs and, optionally, a LABEL. (each of them can be optionally prefixed with two dashes (--) to provide a more iptables(8)-like feeling).

Each rule can be given a custom label by specifying the LABEL property:

  • [--]label=VALUE

If multiple labels are specified, the last one in the list will be applied. If no label is given, then the rule will be given an integer name that represents the index of the rule since the last unrule -F command (which is triggered in the default autostart).

Tip
Rule labels default to an incremental index. These default labels are unique, unless you assign a different rule a custom integer LABEL. Default labels can be captured with the printlabel flag.

If a new client appears, herbstluftwm tries to apply each rule to this new client as follows: If each CONDITION of this rule matches against this client, then every CONSEQUENCE is executed. (If there are no conditions given, then this rule is executed for each client)

Each CONDITION consists of a property name, an operator and a value. Valid operators are:

  • ~ matches if client’s property is matched by the regex value.

  • = matches if client’s property string is equal to value.

Valid properties are:

instance

the first entry in client’s WM_CLASS.

class

the second entry in client’s WM_CLASS.

title

client’s window title.

pid

the client’s process id (Warning: the pid is not available for every client. This only matches if the client sets _NET_WM_PID to the pid itself).

pgid

this client’s process group id. Since the pgid of a window is derived from its pid the same restrictions apply as above.

maxage

matches if the age of the rule measured in seconds does not exceed value. This condition only can be used with the = operator. If maxage already is exceeded (and never will match again), then this rule is removed. (With this you can build rules that only live for a certain time.)

windowtype

matches the _NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE property of a window. If _NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE has multiple entries, then only the first entry is used here.

windowrole

matches the WM_WINDOW_ROLE property of a window if it is set by the window.

Each CONSEQUENCE consists of a NAME=VALUE pair. Valid NAMES are:

tag

moves the client to tag VALUE.

monitor

moves the client to the tag on monitor VALUE. If the tag consequence was also specified, and switchtag is set for the client, move the client to that tag, then display that tag on monitor VALUE. If the tag consequence was specified, but switchtag was not, ignore this consequence.

focus

decides whether the client gets the input focus in its tag. The default is off. VALUE is a boolean (on or off).

switchtag

if focus is activated and the client is put to a not focused tag, then switchtag tells whether the client’s tag will be shown or not. If the tag is shown on any monitor but is not focused, the client’s tag only is brought to the current monitor if swap_monitors_to_get_tag is activated. VALUE is a boolean (on or off).

manage

decides whether the client will be managed or not. The default is on. VALUE is a boolean (on or off).

index

moves the window to a specified index in the tree. VALUE is a frame index.

floating

sets the floating state of the client. VALUE is a boolean.

pseudotile

sets the pseudotile state of the client. VALUE is a boolean.

ewmhrequests

sets whether the window state (the fullscreen state and the demands attention flag) can be changed by the application via ewmh itself. This does not affect the initial fullscreen state requested by the window. VALUE is a boolean; it defaults to on.

ewmhnotify

sets whether hlwm should let the client know about EMWH changes (currently only the fullscreen state). If this is set, applications do not change to their fullscreen-mode while still being fullscreen. VALUE is a boolean, it defaults to on.

fullscreen

sets the fullscreen flag of the client. VALUE is a boolean.

hook

emits the custom hook rule VALUE WINID when this rule is triggered by a new window with the id WINID. This consequence can be used multiple times, which will cause a hook to be emitted for each occurrence of a hook consequence.

keymask

sets the keymask for a client (see explanation in OBJECTS).

keys_inactive

sets a regex that determines which key bindings are inactive for a client (see explanation in OBJECTS).

floatplacement

changes the floating position of a window. The VALUE can be one of the following:

  • none does not change the placement at all

  • center centers the window on the monitor

  • smart tries to place it with as little overlap to other floating windows as possible. If there are multiple options with the least overlap, then the position with the least overlap to tiling windows is chosen.

floating_geometry

Sets the client’s floating_geometry attribute. The VALUE is a rectangle, interpreted relatively to the monitor. If floatplacement is also specified for the client (possibly by another rule), then only the size of the floating_geometry is used. In order to force the position from the geometry, it is necessary to add floatplacement=none.

A rule’s behaviour can be configured by some special FLAGS:

  • not: negates the next CONDITION.

  • !: same as not.

  • once: only apply this rule once (and delete it afterwards).

  • printlabel: prints the label of the newly created rule to stdout.

  • prepend: prepend the rule to the list of rules instead of appending it. So its consequences may be overwritten by already existing rules.

Examples:

  • rule --class=Netscape --tag=6 --focus=off

    Moves all Netscape instances to tag 6, but doesn’t give focus to them.

  • rule not class~.*[Tt]erm tag=2

    Moves all clients to tag 2, if their class does not end with term or Term.

  • rule class=Thunderbird index=/0
    Insert all Thunderbird instances in the tree that has no focus and there in the first child.

  • rule --windowtype=_NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE_DIALOG --focus=on
    Sets focus to new dialogs which set their _NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE correctly.

WINDOW IDS

Several commands accept a window as reference, e.g. close. The syntax is as follows:

  • an empty string — or missing argument — references the currently focused window.

  • urgent references some window that is urgent.

  • 0xHEXID — where HEXID is some hexadecimal number — references the window with hexadecimal X11 window id HEXID.

  • longest-minimized references the minimized window on the focused tag that has been minimized for the longest time.

  • latest-minimized references the minimized window on the focused tag that has been minimized most recently.

  • DECID — where DECID is some decimal number — references the window with the decimal X11 window id DECID.

OBJECTS

The object tree is a collection of objects with attributes similar to /sys known from the Linux kernel. Many entities (like tags, monitors, clients, …) have objects to access their attributes directly. The tree is printed by the object_tree command and looks more or less as follows:

$ herbstclient object_tree
╾─┐
  ├─┐ tags
  │ ├─┐ by-name
  │ │ ├─╼ 1
  │ │ ...
  │ │ └─╼ 9
  │ └─╼ focus
  ├─┐ clients
  │ ├─╼ 0x1400022
  │ └─╼ focus
  └─┐ monitors
    ├─╼ by-name
    └─╼ focus

To print a subtree starting at a certain object, pass the PATH of the object to object_tree. The object PATH is the path using the separator . (dot), e.g. tags.by-name:

$ herbstclient object_tree tags.by-name.
╾─┐ tags.by-name.
  ├─╼ 1
  ├─╼ 2
  ...
  └─╼ 9

To query all attributes and children of a object, pass its PATH to attr:

$ herbstclient attr tags.
2 children:
  by-name.
  focus.

1 attributes:
 .---- type
 | .-- writable
 V V
 u - count                = 9

$ herbstclient attr tags.focus.
0 children.
6 attributes:
 .---- type
 | .-- writable
 V V
 s w name                 = "1"
 b w floating             = false
 i - frame_count          = 2
 i - client_count         = 1
 i - curframe_windex      = 0
 i - curframe_wcount      = 1

This already gives an intuition of the output: attr first lists the names of the child objects and then all attributes, telling for each attribute:

  • its type

    • b for boolean

    • c for color

    • i for integer

    • r for regex

    • s for string

    • u for unsigned integer

  • if it is writable by the user: w if yes, - else.

  • the name of the attribute

  • its current value (only quoted for strings)

To get the unquoted value of a certain attribute, address the attribute using the same syntax as for object paths and pass it to attr or get_attr:

$ herbstclient attr clients.focus.title
herbstluftwm.txt = (~/dev/c/herbstluftwm/doc) - VIM
$ herbstclient get_attr  clients.focus.title
herbstluftwm.txt = (~/dev/c/herbstluftwm/doc) - VIM

To change a writable attribute value pass the new value to attr or to set_attr:

$ herbstclient attr tags.focus.floating
false
$ herbstclient attr tags.focus.floating true
$ herbstclient attr tags.focus.floating
true
$ herbstclient set_attr tags.focus.floating false
$ herbstclient attr tags.focus.floating
false

More information on an attribute or object is given by the help command:

$ herbstclient help clients.focus

Just look around to get a feeling what is there. The entry point is a root object that has the following child objects:

autostart:

  • string global_path = globalAutostart: Path of the system-wide autostart, used as a fallback.

  • int last_status = 0: the exit status of the last autostart run. if the autostart is still running, then this status corresponds to the exit status of the previous autostart invocation.

  • string path = autostartFromCmdLine: Custom path to the user’s autostart path. If it is empty, then the autostart in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME or $HOME is used.

  • uint pid = 0: the process id of the last autostart invocation. Even if the autostart is not running anymore, its pid is still present here.

  • bool running = false: whether the autostart process (with pid) is still running.

clients:

The managed windows. For every (managed) window id there is an entry here.

  • dragged: the object of a client which is currently dragged by the mouse, if any. See the documentation of the mousebind command for examples. For attributes and children, see clients.focus

  • focus: the focused client (only exists if a client is focused). a managed window

    • string class: the class of it (second entry in WM_CLASS)

    • Rectangle content_geometry: the geometry of the application content, that is, not taking the decoration into account. Also, this is the last window geometry that was reported to the client application.

    • Rectangle decoration_geometry: the geometry of the client, taking the window decoration into account. The position is the global window position, that is, relative to the top left corner of the entire screen

    • bool ewmhnotify = true: if the client is told about its state via ewmh

    • bool ewmhrequests = true: if ewmh requests are permitted for this client

    • bool floating = false: whether this client is set as a (single-window) floating client. If set, the client is floated above the tiled clients.

    • bool floating_effectively = false: whether this client is in the floating state currently. This is the case if the client’s tag is set to floating mode or if the client itself is set as floating. Its value is also indicated via the X11 properties HLWM_FLOATING_WINDOW and HLWM_TILING_WINDOW.

    • Rectangle floating_geometry = 0: the geometry of the client content if the client is in floating mode. The position is relative to the monitor and does not take the window decoration into account.

    • bool fullscreen = false: whether this client covers all other windows and panels on its monitor.

    • string instance: the instance of it (first entry in WM_CLASS)

    • regex keymask = "": A regular expression that is matched against the string representation of all key bindings (as they are printed by list_keybinds). While this client is focused, only bindings that match the expression will be active. Any other bindings will be disabled. The default keymask is an empty string (), which does not disable any keybinding.

    • regex keys_inactive = "": A regular expression that describes which keybindings are inactive while the client is focused. If a key combination is pressed and its string representation (as given by list_keybinds) matches the regex, then the key press is propagated to the client.

    • bool minimized = false: whether this client is minimized (also called iconified).

    • int pgid = -1

    • int pid = -1: the process id of it (-1 if unset).

    • bool pseudotile = false: if activated, the client always has its floating window size, even if it is in tiling mode.

    • bool sizehints_floating = true: if sizehints for this client should be respected in floating mode

    • bool sizehints_tiling = false: if sizehints for this client should be respected in tiling mode

    • string tag: the name of the tag it’s currently on.

    • string title = "": its window title

    • bool urgent = false: the urgency state (also known as: demands attention)

    • bool visible = visible_already: whether this client is rendered currently

    • string winid = "": its window id (as a hexadecimal number with 0x prefix)

    • parent_frame: the frame contaning this client if the client is tiled. For attributes and children, see tags.focus.tiling.root

monitors:

Every monitor is a rectangular part of the screen on which a tag is shown. These monitors may or may not match the actual outputs. This has an entry INDEX for each monitor with index INDEX.

  • uint count

  • by-name: This has an entry name for every object with the given name. If an object has an empty name then it is not listed here.

  • focus: the focused monitor. The monitor is a rectangular part on the screen that holds precisely one tag at a time. The pad attributes reserve space on the monitor’s edge for panels, so this space (given in number of pixels) is never occupied by tiled clients.

    • Rectangle geometry = rect_: the outer geometry of the monitor

    • uint index = 0: the monitor’s index (starts at index 0)

    • bool lock_tag = false: if activated, then it it is not possible to switch this monitor to a different tag.

    • string name = "": the monitor’s name (can be empty)

    • int pad_down = 0: space for panels at the monitor’s lower edge

    • int pad_left = 0: space for panels at the monitor’s left edge

    • int pad_right = 0: space for panels at the monitor’s right edge

    • int pad_up = 0: space for panels at the monitor’s upper edge

    • string tag: the name of the tag viewed here

panels:

For every panel window, there is an entry with the panel’s window id here.

  • uint count

  • 0xWindowID: a panel is an unmanaged window that reserves space at the edge of the monitor it is on. The space depends on the _NET_WM_STRUT defined by the panel. If it is however not defined explicitly, then the amount of reserved space is inferred from the window geometry.

    • string class: the window class (second entry of WM_CLASS)

    • Rectangle geometry: the size and position of the window

    • string instance: the window instance (first entry of WM_CLASS)

    • WindowID winid = winid: the ID of the panel window

settings:

This has an attribute for each setting. Many settings are wrappers around attributes and only exist for compatibility.

  • bool always_show_frame = false

  • bool auto_detect_monitors = false

  • bool auto_detect_panels = true

  • bool default_direction_external_only = false

  • LayoutAlgorithm default_frame_layout = vertical

  • bool focus_crosses_monitor_boundaries = true

  • bool focus_follows_mouse = false

  • bool focus_stealing_prevention = true

  • int frame_active_opacity = 100

  • color frame_bg_active_color = black

  • color frame_bg_normal_color = black

  • bool frame_bg_transparent = false

  • color frame_border_active_color = red

  • color frame_border_inner_color = black

  • int frame_border_inner_width = 0

  • color frame_border_normal_color = blue

  • int frame_border_width = 2

  • int frame_gap = 5

  • int frame_normal_opacity = 100

  • int frame_padding = 0

  • int frame_transparent_width = 0

  • bool gapless_grid = true

  • bool hide_covered_windows = false

  • uint monitors_locked = 0

  • int mouse_recenter_gap = 0

  • int pseudotile_center_threshold = 10

  • bool raise_on_click = true

  • bool raise_on_focus = false

  • bool raise_on_focus_temporarily = false

  • bool smart_frame_surroundings = false

  • bool smart_window_surroundings = false

  • int snap_distance = 10

  • int snap_gap = 5

  • bool swap_monitors_to_get_tag = true

  • string tree_style = "*| +`--."

  • bool update_dragged_clients = false

  • bool verbose = false

  • color window_border_active_color

  • color window_border_inner_color

  • int window_border_inner_width

  • color window_border_normal_color

  • color window_border_urgent_color

  • int window_border_width

  • int window_gap = 0

  • string wmname = herbstluftwm

tags:

The tags (or virtual desktops or workspaces). This contains an entry index for each tag with the given index.

  • uint count

  • by-name: For attributes and children, see monitors.by-name

  • focus: the object of the focused tag, equivalently, the tag on the focused monitor.

    • int client_count: the number of clients on this tag

    • int curframe_wcount: number of clients in the selected frame

    • int curframe_windex: index of the focused client in the selected frame

    • bool floating = false: if the entire tag is set to floating mode

    • bool floating_focused = false: if the floating layer is focused (otherwise the tiling layer is)

    • int frame_count: the number of frames on this tag

    • uint index = 0: index of this tag (the first index is 0)

    • string name = name_: name of the tag (must be non-empty)

    • int urgent_count: the number of urgent clients on this tag

    • bool visible = false: if this tag is shown on some monitor

    • focused_client: For attributes and children, see clients.focus

    • tiling:

      • focused_frame: The focused frame (leaf) in this frame tree. For attributes and children, see tags.focus.tiling.root

      • root can be a frame leaf.

        • LayoutAlgorithm algorithm

        • int client_count

        • string index

        • int selection

      • root can be a frame split.

theme:

inner_color/inner_width
      ╻        outer_color/outer_width
      │                  ╻
      │                  │
┌────╴│╶─────────────────┷─────┐ ⎫ border_width
│     │      color             │ ⎬ + title_height
│  ┌──┷─────────────────────┐  │ ⎭ + padding_top
│  │====================....│  │
│  │== window content ==....│  │
│  │====================..╾──────── background_color
│  │........................│  │
│  └────────────────────────┘  │ ⎱ border_width +
└──────────────────────────────┘ ⎰ padding_bottom

Setting an attribute of the theme object just propagates the value to the respective attribute of the tiling and the floating object.

  • color background_color = black

  • uint border_width = 0

  • color color = black

  • color inner_color = black

  • uint inner_width = 0

  • color outer_color = black

  • uint outer_width = 0

  • uint padding_bottom = 0

  • uint padding_left = 0

  • uint padding_right = 0

  • uint padding_top = 0

  • string reset: writing this resets all attributes to a default value

  • bool tight_decoration = false

  • color title_color = black

  • font title_font = fixed

  • uint title_height = 0

  • active: configures the decoration of the focused client.

    • color background_color = black

    • uint border_width = 0

    • color color = black

    • color inner_color = black

    • uint inner_width = 0

    • color outer_color = black

    • uint outer_width = 0

    • uint padding_bottom = 0

    • uint padding_left = 0

    • uint padding_right = 0

    • uint padding_top = 0

    • string reset: writing this resets all attributes to a default value

    • bool tight_decoration = false

    • color title_color = black

    • font title_font = fixed

    • uint title_height = 0

  • floating: behaves analogously to tiling.

    • color background_color = black

    • uint border_width = 0

    • color color = black

    • color inner_color = black

    • uint inner_width = 0

    • color outer_color = black

    • uint outer_width = 0

    • uint padding_bottom = 0

    • uint padding_left = 0

    • uint padding_right = 0

    • uint padding_top = 0

    • string reset: writing this resets all attributes to a default value

    • bool tight_decoration = false

    • color title_color = black

    • font title_font = fixed

    • uint title_height = 0

    • active: configures the decoration of the focused client. For attributes and children, see theme.active

    • normal: the default decoration scheme for clients. For attributes and children, see theme.active

    • urgent: configures the decoration of urgent clients. For attributes and children, see theme.active

  • fullscreen: configures clients in fullscreen state. For attributes and children, see theme.floating

  • minimal: configures clients with minimal decorations triggered by smart_window_surroundings. For attributes and children, see theme.floating

  • normal: the default decoration scheme for clients. For attributes and children, see theme.active

  • tiling: configures the decoration of tiled clients, setting one of its attributes propagates the respective attribute of the active, normal and urgent child objects. For attributes and children, see theme.floating

  • urgent: configures the decoration of urgent clients. For attributes and children, see theme.active

types:

This lists the types that are used for attributes and command arguments.

  • bool: Type representing boolean values, i.e. an on or off state, with aliases true and false. When writing to a boolean value, one can also specify toggle in order to alter its value.

    • string fullname: the full and unique name of this type

    • string shortname: A short (one-character long) name of this type which is used in the output of the attr command

  • color: Type representing colors. A color can be defined in one of the following formats:

    1. #RRGGBB where R, G, B are hexidecimal digits (0-9, A-F), and RR, GG, BB represent the values for red, green, blue.

    2. #RRGGBBAA represents a color with alpha-value AA. The alpha value 00 is fully transparent and FF is fully opaque/intransparent.

    3. a common color name like red, blue, orange, etc. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • decimal: Fixed precision decimal numbers, e.g. 0.34. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • font: A font specification (font family with modifiers regarding size, weight, etc.) in one of the following formats:

    • Fontconfig description. This supports antialiased fonts, for example:

      • Dejavu Sans:pixelsize=12

      • Bitstream Vera Sans:size=12:bold

    • X logical font description (XLFD), as provided by the xfontsel tool. No antialiasing is supported here, but this is usually superior for bitmap fonts. For example:

      • -*-fixed-medium-r-*-*-13-*-*-*-*-*-*-* for a standard bitmap font available on most systems. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • int: Type representing signed integers. When overwriting an integer, you can increase or decrease its value relatively by writing +=N or -=N where N is an integer. So for example, writing +=3 to an attribute increases its value by 3. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • names: A fixed set of names, depending on the context, e.g. names of layout algorithms or the split type of a non-leaf frame (which is only horizontal or vertical). For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • rectangle: A rectangle on the screen consisting of a size and the position on the screen. The format is WxH+X+Y where W is the width, H is the height, and X and Y are the coordinates of the top left corner of the rectangle: X is the number of pixels to the left screen edge and Y is the number of pixels to the top screen edge. (if X or Y is negative, then the + turns into -). For example: 800x600+800+0 or 400x200-10+30. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • regex: A POSIX extended regular expression. Note that when passing a regex on the command line, additional quoting can be necessary. For explanations and examples, see section 9.4.6 of the documentation: https://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/basedefs/V1_chap09.html#tag_09_04_06. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • string: Type representing normal text. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • uint: Type representing unsigned (i.e. non-negative) integers. When overwriting an integer, you can increase or decrease its value relatively by writing +=N or -=N where N is an integer. For attributes and children, see types.bool

  • windowid: The window id is the number of a window. This can be a managed window (i.e. client) or an unmanaged window (e.g. a panel, a menu, or a desktop window). The default format is 0xHEX where HEX is a hexadecimal number (digits 0-9 and a-f) but it can also be specified in the decimal system (base 10), or as an octal number (with prefix 0 and base 8). When a window id is printed, it is always printed in the 0xHEX format and without any leading zeroes. For attributes and children, see types.bool

watchers:

  • uint count: the number of attributes that are watched

AUTOSTART FILE

There is no configuration file but an autostart file, which is executed on startup. It is also executed on command reload. If not specified by the --autostart argument, autostart file is located at $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/herbstluftwm/autostart or at ~/.config/herbstluftwm/autostart. Normally it consists of a few herbstclient calls. If executing the autostart file in a user’s home fails the global autostart file (mostly placed at /etc/xdg/herbstluftwm/autostart) is executed as a fallback.

For a quick install, copy the default autostart file to ~/.config/herbstluftwm/.

HOOKS

On special events, herbstluftwm emits some hooks (with parameters). You can receive or wait for them with herbstclient(1). Also custom hooks can be emitted with the emit_hook command. The following hooks are emitted by herbstluftwm itself:

attribute_changed PATH OLDVALUE NEWVALUE

The attribute PATH was changed from OLDVALUE to NEWVALUE. Requires that the attribute PATH has been passed to the watch command before.

fullscreen [on|off] WINID

The fullscreen state of window WINID was changed to [on|off].

tag_changed TAG MONITOR

The tag TAG was selected on MONITOR.

focus_changed WINID TITLE

The window WINID was focused. Its window title is TITLE.

window_title_changed WINID TITLE

The title of the focused window was changed. Its window id is WINID and its new title is TITLE.

tag_flags

The flags (i.e. urgent or filled state) have been changed.

tag_added TAG

A tag named TAG was added.

tag_removed TAG

The tag named TAG was removed.

tag_renamed OLD NEW

The tag name changed from OLD to NEW.

urgent [on|off] WINID

The urgent state of client with given WINID has been changed to [on|off].

rule NAME WINID

A window with the id WINID appeared which triggered a rule with the consequence hook=NAME.

There are also other useful hooks, which never will be emitted by herbstluftwm itself, but which can be emitted with the emit_hook command:

quit_panel

Tells a panel to quit. The default panel.sh quits on this hook. Many scripts are using this hook.

reload

Tells all daemons that the autostart file is reloaded — and tells them to quit. This hook should be emitted in the first line of every autostart file.

STACKING

Every tag has its own stack of clients that are on this tag. Similar to the EWMH specification each tag stack contains several layers, which are from top to bottom:

  • the focused client (if raise_on_focus_temporarily is enabled)

  • clients in fullscreen

  • normal clients

  • frame decorations

All monitors are managed in one large stack which only consists of the stacks of the visible tags put above each other. The stacking order of these monitors is independent from their indices and can be modified using the raise_monitor command. The current stack is illustrated by the stack command.

EWMH and X11 Properties

As far as possible, herbstluftwm tries to be EWMH compliant. That includes:

  • Information about tag names and client lists is provided.

  • Desktop windows from desktop environments are not managed and kept below the other windows.

  • Client requests like getting focused are only processed if the setting focus_stealing_prevention is disabled.

Moreover, herbstluftwm sets the X11 properties HLWM_FLOATING_WINDOW and HLWM_TILING_WINDOW to indicate whether a window is in floating or tiling mode, that is, the value of the client’s floating_effectively attribute.

ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES

DISPLAY

Specifies the DISPLAY to use.

FILES

The following files are used by herbstluftwm:

EXIT STATUS

Returns 0 on success. Returns EXIT_FAILURE if it cannot startup or if wmexec fails.

BUGS

See the herbstluftwm Github issues: https://github.com/herbstluftwm/herbstluftwm/issues

COMMUNITY

Feel free to join the IRC channel #herbstluftwm on irc.libera.chat.

AUTHOR

herbstluftwm was written by Thorsten Wißmann. All contributors are listed in the herbstluftwm distribution AUTHORS file.

RESOURCES

Patch submission and bug reporting:

hlwm@lists.herbstluftwm.org

COPYING

Copyright 2011-2020 Thorsten Wißmann. All rights reserved.

This software is licensed under the "Simplified BSD License". See LICENSE for details.