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


herbstluftwm [OPTION …]


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

-l, --locked

Initially set the monitors_locked setting to 1


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


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


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).


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 current layout algorithms are:

    • 0: vertical - clients are placed below each other

    • 1: horizontal - clients are placed next to each other

    • 2: max - all clients are maximized in this frame

    • 3: 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:


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

 / \
C   C

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

   / \
  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:

 / \
C   C

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


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 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 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.


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


Quits herbstluftwm.


Executes the autostart file.


Prints the version of the running herbstluftwm instance.

echo [ARGS …]

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


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


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


Print help on a given object or attribute.


Lists all available commands.


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


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


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

Tabs within command parameters are not escaped!

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


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.


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


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


Removes all mouse bindings.


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

  • spawn xterm -e man 3 execvp


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


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


"!" 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" 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. 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.


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


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.


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 window. See the section on WINDOW IDS on how to reference a certain window. Its result is only visible in floating mode.

The WINID also can specify an unmanaged window, although the completion for the raise command does not list the IDs of unmanaged 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.


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.

shift_to_monitor MONITOR

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


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


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.


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 NAME VALUES

Cycles value of the setting NAME 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. Example:

  • cycle_value frame_gap 0 5 10 15

  • cycle_value frame_bg_normal_color red green blue

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


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.


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:

  • 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.


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.


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.


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)))

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

LAYOUT is exactly one parameter. If you are calling it manually from your shell or from a script, quote it properly!

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

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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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 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)


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 echo T

  • 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.


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.


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.


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 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, the focus command crosses monitor boundaries. If there is no client in the direction given to focus, then the monitor in the specified direction is focused.

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

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 (Integer)

Index of the frame layout, which is used if a new frame is created (by split or on a new tag). For a list of valid indices and their meanings, check the list of layout algorithms above.

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 (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:

  #-. 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 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:


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).

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:


the first entry in client’s WM_CLASS.


the second entry in client’s WM_CLASS.


client’s window title.


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).


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


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.)


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.


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:


moves the client to tag VALUE.


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.


decides whether the client gets the input focus in its tag. The default is off. VALUE can be on, off or toggle.


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 can be on, off or toggle.


decides whether the client will be managed or not. The default is on. VALUE can be on, off or toggle.


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


sets the floating state of the client. VALUE can be on, off or toggle.


sets the pseudotile state of the client. VALUE can be on, off or toggle.


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 can be on, off or toggle, it defaults to on.


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 can be on, off or toggle, it defaults to on.


sets the fullscreen flag of the client. VALUE can be on or off.


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.


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


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


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.

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.


  • 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.


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.

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


The object tree is not stable yet, i.e. its interface may change until the next stable release. So check this documentation again after upgrading the next time.

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.

$ herbstclient object_tree
  ├─╼ 1
  ├─╼ 2
  └─╼ 9

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

$ herbstclient attr tags.
2 children:

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

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 detailed tree content is listed as follows:

  • tags: subtree for tags.

    u - count

    number of tags

    • index: the object of the tag with index index.

    • by-name

      • TAG: an object for each tag with the name TAG

        s w name

        name of the tag

        b w floating

        if it is in floating mode

        i - index

        index of this tag

        i - frame_count

        number of frames

        i - client_count

        number of clients on this tag

        i - urgent_count

        number of urgent clients on this tag

        i - curframe_windex

        index of the focused client in the select frame

        i - curframe_wcount

        number of clients in the selected frame

    • focus: the object of the focused tag

  • clients

    • WINID: a object for each client with its WINID

      s - winid

      its window id

      s - title

      its window title

      r - 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.

      r - 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.

      s - tag

      the tag it’s currently on

      i - pid

      the process id of it (-1 if unset)

      s - class

      the class of it (second entry in WM_CLASS)

      s - instance

      the instance of it (first entry in WM_CLASS)

      b w fullscreen

      b w floating

      whether this client is in floating mode

      b w pseudotile

      b w ewmhrequests

      if ewmh requests are permitted for this client

      b w ewmhnotify

      if the client is told about its state via ewmh

      b w urgent

      its urgent state

      b w sizehints_tiling

      if sizehints for this client should be respected in tiling mode

      b w sizehints_floating

      if sizehints for this client should be respected in floating mode

    • focus: the object of the focused client, if any

    • dragged: the object of a client which is dragged by the mouse, if any. See the documentation of the mousebind command for examples.

  • monitors

    u - count

    number of monitors

    • INDEX: a object for each monitor with its INDEX

    • by-name

      • NAME: a object for each named monitor

        s - name

        its name

        i - index

        its index

        s - tag

        the tag currently viewed on it

        b - lock_tag

    • focus: the object of the focused monitor

  • settings has an attribute for each setting. See SETTINGS for a list.

  • theme has attributes to configure the window decorations. theme and many of its child objects have the following attributes

    i w border_width

    the base width of the border

    i w padding_top

    additional border width on the top

    i w padding_right

    on the right

    i w padding_bottom

    on the bottom

    i w padding_left

    and on the left of the border

    c w color

    the basic background color of the border

    i w inner_width

    width of the border around the clients content

    c w inner_color

    its color

    i w outer_width

    width of an additional border close to the edge

    c w outer_color

    its color

    c w background_color

    color behind window contents visible on resize

    b w tight_decoration

    specifies whether the size hints also affect the window decoration or only the window contents of tiled clients (requires enabled sizehints_tiling)

    s w reset

    Writing this resets all attributes to a default value

          ╻        outer_color/outer_width
          │                  ╻
          │                  │
    ┌────╴│╶─────────────────┷─────┐ ⎫ border_width
    │     │      color             │ ⎬     +
    │  ┌──┷─────────────────────┐  │ ⎭ 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.

    • tiling configures the decoration of tiled clients, setting one of its attributes propagates the respective attribute of the active, normal and urgent child objects.

      • active configures the decoration of focused and tiled clients

      • normal configures the decoration of unfocused and tiled clients

      • urgent configures the decoration of urgent and tiled clients

    • floating behaves analogously to tiling

    • minimal behaves analogously to tiling and configures those minimal decorations triggered by smart_window_surroundings.

    • active propagates the attribute values to and

    • normal propagates the attribute values to tiling.normal and floating.normal

    • urgent propagates the attribute values to tiling.urgent and floating.urgent


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/.


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.


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].


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:


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


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.


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.


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.



Specifies the DISPLAY to use.


The following files are used by herbstluftwm:


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


See the herbstluftwm Github issues:


Feel free to join the IRC channel #herbstluftwm on


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


Patch submission and bug reporting:


Copyright 2011-2020 Thorsten Wißmann. All rights reserved.

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