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Compton is a standalone composite manager, suitable for use with window managers that do not natively provide compositing functionality. Compton is a fork of xcompmgr-dana, which in turn is a fork of xcompmgr. See the compton github page for more information.


Install compton or its git version, compton-gitAUR.


Compton may be manually enabled or disabled at any time during a session, or autostarted as a background (Daemon) process for sessions. There are also several optional arguments that may be used to tweak the compositing effects provided. These include:

  • -b: Run as a background (Daemon) process for a session (e.g. when autostarting for a window manager such as Openbox)
  • -c: Enable shadow effects
  • -C: Disable shadow effects on panels and docks
  • -G: Disable shadow effects for application windows and drag-and-drop objects
  • --config: Use a specified configuration file

Many more options are available, including to set timing, displays to be managed, and the opacity of menus, window borders, and inactive application menus. See the Compton Man Page for further information.


How compton would be autostarted as a Daemon process will depend on the desktop environment or window manager used. For example, for Openbox the ~/.config/openbox/autostart file must be edited, while for i3 it would be the ~/.i3/config file. Where necessary, compton may also be autostarted from xprofile or Xinitrc. Read the startup files article for further information.

Command only

To manually enable default compositing effects during a session, use the following command:

$ compton

Alternatively, to disable all shadowing effects during a session, the -C and -G arguments must be added:

$ compton -CG

To autostart compton as a background (Daemon) process for a session, the -b argument must be used:

compton -b

To disable all shadowing effects from the Daemon process, the -C and -G arguments must again be added:

compton -CGb

Finally, this is an example where additional arguments that require values to be set have been used:

compton -cCGfF -o 0.38 -O 200 -I 200 -t 0 -l 0 -r 3 -D2 -m 0.88

Using a configuration file

The default configuration is available in /etc/xdg/compton.conf. For modifications, it can be copied to ~/.config/compton.conf, or to ~/.compton.conf.

To use a custom configuration file with compton during a session, use the following command:

compton --config path/to/compton.conf

To auto-start compton as a background (Daemon) process for a session, specify the -b argument:

compton --config path/to/compton.conf -b

Disable shadowing of some windows

Due to the way compton draws its shadows, certain applications will have visual glitches when you have shadows enabled. The shadow-exclude options could disable compton shadows.

For example, to disable Compton shadows on all GTK +3 windows, add below setting to shadow-exclude in compton.conf:


To disable shadows around conky windows - where used - first amend the conky configuration file ~/.conkyrc as follows:

own_window_class conky

Then amend the compton configuration file as follows:

shadow-exclude = "class_g = 'conky'";

For currently disabled windows, please see here.


If a multihead configuration is used without xinerama - meaning that X server is started with more than one screen - then compton will start on only one screen by default. It can be started on all screens by using the -d argument. For example, compton can be executed for 4 monitors with the following command:

seq 0 3 | xargs -l1 -I@ compton -b -d :0.@


The use of compositing effects may on occasion cause issues such as visual glitches when not configured correctly for use with other applications and programs.


Where inactive window transparency has been enabled (the -i argument when running as a command), this may provide troublesome results when also using slock. One solution is to amend the transparency to 0.2. For example, where running compton arguments as a command:

$ compton <any other arguments> -i 0.2

Otherwise, where using a configuration file:

inactive-dim = 0.2;

Alternatively, you may try to exclude slock by its window id, or by excluding all windows with no name.

Note: Some programs change their id for every new instance, but slock's appears to be static. Someone more knowledgeable will have to confirm that slock's id is in fact static- until then, use at your own risk.

Exclude all windows with no name from compton using the following options:

$ compton <other arguments> --focus-exclude "! name~="

Find your slock's window id by running the command:

$ xwininfo & slock

Quickly click anywhere on the screen (before slock exits), then type your password to unlock. You should see the window id in the output:

xwininfo: Window id: 0x1800001 (has no name)

Take the window id and exclude it from compton with:

$ compton <any other arguments> --focus-exclude 'id = 0x1800001'

Otherwise, where using a configuration file:

focus-exclude = "id = 0x1800001";

dwm & dmenu

dwm's statusbar is not detected by any of compton's functions to automatically exclude window manager elements. Neither dwm statusbar nor dmenu have a static window id. If you want to exclude it from inactive window transparency (or other), you'll have to either patch a window class into the source code of each, or exclude by less precise attributes. I have dmenu and dwm's status on top, which allows me to write a resolution independent location exclusion.

$ compton <any other arguments> --focus-exclude "x = 0 && y = 0 && override_redirect = true"

Otherwise, where using a configuration file:

focus-exclude = "x = 0 && y = 0 && override_redirect = true";

The override redirect property seems to be false for most windows- having this in the exclusion rule prevents other windows drawn in the upper left corner from being excluded (for example, when dwm statusbar is hidden, x0 y0 will match whatever is in dwm's master stack).

Unable to change the background color with xsetroot

Currently, compton is incompatible with xsetroot's -solid option, a workaround is to use hsetrootAUR to set the background color:

$ hsetroot -solid '#000000'

For a detailed explaination, please see

Screen artifacts/screenshot issues when using AMD's Catalyst driver

Try running compton with

--backend xrender

or adding

backend = "xrender";

to your compton.conf file.

For more info, please see

High CPU use with nvidia drivers

When facing high CPU use with --backend glx or tearing with --vsync enabled, install nvidia-libgl as described in NVIDIA.

Errors while trying to daemonize with nvidia drivers

If you get error main(): Failed to create new session. while trying to start compton in background you should try compton-garnetius-gitAUR. It also provides a few pulls from upstream that aren't merged yet.

See also