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dmenu is a fast and lightweight dynamic menu for X. It reads arbitrary text from stdin, and creates a menu with one item for each line. The user can then select an item, through the arrow keys or typing a part of the name, and the line is printed to stdout. dmenu_run is a wrapper that ships with the dmenu distribution that allows its use as an application launcher.


Install the dmenu package, or dmenu-gitAUR for the development version.

Various patched variants exist which extend dmenu's default functionality. Consider installing one of the following packages from the AUR:

  • dmenu2AUR: dmenu fork with many useful patches applied and additional capabilities added including dimming, specifying a custom opacity, and underlining.

You may run dmenu with:

$ dmenu_run


Now, you will want to attach the dmenu_run command to a keystroke combination. This can be done either via your window manager or desktop environment configuration, or with a program like xbindkeys. See the Hotkeys article for more information.

Displaying Custom Items

Custom items will be shown by separating them with a new line (\n) and piping them into dmenu. For example:

$ echo -e "first\nsecond\nthird" | dmenu

Manually Adding Items

dmenu will look for executables in the directories defined in your $PATH. For information on modifying your $PATH see environment variables.


Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: Since dmenu 4.6 XFT font rendering is enabled by default: 4.6 Release Notes. Specifying fonts via X logical font description does not work anymore. Instead fontconfig's font.conf syntax is used. (Discuss in Talk:Dmenu#)

dmenu can display fonts using the X logical font description as found using the tool xfontsel, which is provided by xorg-xfontsel. This example will run dmenu using the terminus-font:

$ dmenu_run -fn "-xos4-terminus-medium-r-*-*-14-*"

The syntax is similar if using a dmenu variant patched with XFT support.

$ dmenu_run -fn 'Droid Sans Mono-9'

Support for shell aliases

dmenu does not support shell aliases. To have dmenu recognize your aliases, install the dmenu-recent-aliases-gitAUR package from the AUR and run dmenu-recent-aliases. Your aliases must be in ~/.bash_aliases to be recognized by dmenu-recent-aliases.


No locale support

Running dmenu_run results in the following error message:

$ dmenu_run
no locale support

Make sure that the environment variable LANG is correctly set. See the following for more information: Locale#Troubleshooting

Missing menu entries

If certain entries are missing from dmenu, the cache may be malformed. Delete it and restart dmenu.

$ rm ~/.dmenu_cache
$ rm ~/.cache/dmenu_run

Note that there will most likely be only one cache file, depending on if $XDG_CACHE_HOME is set. See the contents of /usr/bin/dmenu_run for more information.

Environment Variables

Environment variables needed for applications should instead be added to /etc/environment.

Current window loses focus

A bug in dmenu 4.9 causes the current window to lose focus when dmenu is opened and to not regain focus when it is closed. It can also happen that a newly launched program is does not gain focus. You can fix this by downgrading to dmenu 4.8. See this ticket for a discussion.

See also