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rxvt-unicode is a highly customizable terminal emulator forked from rxvt. Commonly known as urxvt, rxvt-unicode can be daemonized to run clients within a single process in order to minimize the use of system resources. Developed by Marc Lehmann, some of the more outstanding features of rxvt-unicode include international language support through Unicode, the ability to display multiple font types and support for Perl extensions.


rxvt-unicode is available in the official repositories and includes 256 color support.

rxvt-unicode-patchedAUR is available in the AUR and includes a fix for the font width bug.


See the rxvt-unicode reference page for the complete list of available setting and values.

Creating ~/.Xresources

The look, feel, and function of rxvt-unicode is controlled by command-line arguments and/or X resources. X resources can be set using ~/.Xresources and xrdb (xorg-xrdb), see the wiki page for details.

Append commented list of all rxvt resources to your ~/.Xresources file

 urxvt --help 2>&1| sed -n '/:  /s/^ */! URxvt*/gp' >> ~/.Xresources

Or for a commented list + helpful descriptions

TERM=dump command man -Pcat urxvt | sed -n '/depth: b/,/^BA/p'|sed '$d'|sed '/^       [a-z]/s/^ */^/g'|sed -e :a -e 'N;s/\n/@@/g;ta;P;D'|sed 's,\^\([^@]\+\)@*[\t ]*\([^\^]\+\),! \2\n! URxvt*\1\n\n,g'|sed 's,@@\(  \+\),\n\1,g'|sed 's,@*$,,g'|sed '/^[^!]/d'|tr -d "'\`" >> ~/.Xresources
Note: Command-line arguments override, and take precedence over resource settings

True transparency

To use true transparency, you need to be using a window manager that supports compositing or a separate compositor.

From the command-line:

$ urxvt -depth 32 -bg rgba:3f00/3f00/3f00/dddd

Using the configuration file:

URxvt.depth: 32
URxvt.background: rgba:1111/1111/1111/dddd


URxvt.depth: 32
URxvt.background: [95]#000000

where '95' is the opacity level in percentage and '#000000' is the background color.

To use a color i.e. #302351 with the rgba:rrrr/gggg/bbbb/aaaa syntax it would be rgba:3000/2300/5100/ee00. "ee00" (the alpha value) to make it nicely transparent.

Note: To make these settings universal for all forms of URxvt, you may add a wildcard. For example, URxvt.depth would become URxvt*.depth.

Native transparency

If there is no need for true transparency, or if compositing uses too many resources on your system, you can get transparency working in the following way:

! Xresources file

URxvt*.transparent: true
! URxvt*.shading: 0 to 99 darkens, 101 to 200 lightens
URxvt*.shading: 110

Using the URxvt*background setting exemplified above instead of URxvt*.shading will also work.

Note: Avoid using shading if you have a URxvt.tintColor set. Use a different tintColor instead.


The look of the scrollbar can be chosen through this entry in ~/.Xresources:

! scrollbar style - rxvt (default), plain (most compact), next, or xterm
URxvt.scrollstyle: rxvt

The scrollbar can also be completely deactivated like so:

URxvt.scrollBar: false

Scrollback position

By default, when shell output appears the scrollback view will automatically jump to the bottom of the buffer to display new output. If in cases where you want to see previous output (e.g., compiler messages), set the following options in ~/.Xresources:

! do not scroll with output
URxvt*scrollTtyOutput: false

! scroll in relation to buffer (with mouse scroll or Shift+Page Up)
URxvt*scrollWithBuffer: true

! scroll back to the bottom on keypress
URxvt*scrollTtyKeypress: true

Font declaration methods

URxvt.font: 9x15

is the same as:

URxvt.font: -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--15-140-75-75-c-90-iso8859-1

And, for the same font in bold:

URxvt.font: 9x15bold

is the same as:

URxvt.font: -misc-fixed-bold-r-normal--15-140-75-75-c-90-iso8859-1

The complete list of short names for X core fonts can be found in /usr/share/fonts/misc/fonts.alias (there's also some fonts.alias files in some of the other subdirectories of /usr/share/fonts/, but as they are packaged separately from the actual fonts, they may list fonts you do not actually have installed). It is worth noting that these short aliases select for ISO-8859-1 versions of the fonts rather than ISO-10646-1 (Unicode) versions, and 75 DPI rather than 100 DPI versions, so you're probably better off avoiding them and choosing fonts by their full long names instead.

Note: The above paragraph is only for bitmap fonts. Other fonts can be used through Xft using the following format:
URxvt.font: xft:monaco:size=10


URxvt.font: xft:monaco:bold:size=10
Note: If there is a hyphen(-) in an Xft font name, it must be escaped with backslash(\) twice. It's different from the usage of urxvt -fn option and the result that fc-list returns, where backslash present only once

Set icon

Note: Because of a bug report[1] complaining that the rxvt-unicode package had too many dependencies, you must now install the AUR package rxvt-unicode-pixbufAUR in order to use the icon option.

By default URxvt does not feature a taskbar icon. However, this can be easily changed by adding the following line to ~/.Xresources and pointing to the desired icon:

URxvt.iconFile:    /usr/share/icons/Clarity/scalable/apps/terminal.svg

Set as login shell

This will cause the shell to be started as a login shell, like the option -ls.

URxvt*loginShell: true

Use urxvt as application launcher

urxvt can be used as a lightweight alternative to application launchers such as gmrun. Run urxvt with the following configuration to imitate look and behaviour of an application launcher or assign the command to a custom alias:

$ urxvt -geometry 80x3 -name 'bashrun' -e sh -c "/bin/bash -i -t"

Font spacing

By default the distance between characters can feel too wide. It's controlled by this entry:

URxvt.letterSpace: -1

Here -1 decreases the spacing by one pixel, but can be adjusted as needed.

Perl extensions

Clickable URLs

You can make URLs in the terminal clickable using the matcher extension. For example, to open links in Firefox add the following to .Xresources:

URxvt.perl-ext-common: default,matcher
URxvt.url-launcher: /usr/bin/xdg-open
URxvt.matcher.button: 1

Since rxvt-unicode 9.14, it's also possible to use matcher to open and list recent (currently limited to 10) URLs via keyboard:

URxvt.keysym.C-Delete: perl:matcher:last
URxvt.keysym.M-Delete: perl:matcher:list

To color all matching text in a blue color for quickly finding links, use the following setting or any color in the form of #RRGGBB you like instead.

URxvt.colorUL: #4682B4

Yankable URLs (no mouse)

In addition, you can select and open URLs in your web browser without using the mouse.

Install the urxvt-perls package from the official repositories and adjust your .Xresources as necessary. An example is shown below:

URxvt.perl-ext: default,url-select
URxvt.keysym.M-u: perl:url-select:select_next
URxvt.url-select.launcher: /usr/bin/xdg-open
URxvt.url-select.underline: true
Note: This extension replaces the Clickable URLs extension mentioned above, so matcher can be removed from the URxvt.perl-ext list.

Key commands:

Tip: To change Alt+u to a more intuitive Ctrl+i, replace M-u by C-i above.
Key Description
Alt+u Enter selection mode. The last URL on your screen will be selected. You can repeat Alt+u to select the next upward URL.
k Select next upward URL
j Select next downward URL
Return Open selected URL in browser and quit selection mode
o Open selected URL in browser without quitting selection mode
y Copy (yank) selected URL and quit selection mode
Esc Cancel URL selection mode

Simple tabs

To add tabs to urxvt, add the following to your ~/.Xresources:

URxvt.perl-ext-common: ...,tabbed,...

To control tabs use:

Key Description
Shift+Down New tab
Shift+Left Go to left tab
Shift+Right Go to right tab
Ctrl+Left Move tab to the left
Ctrl+Right Move tab to the right
Ctrl+d Close tab

You can change the colors of tabs with the following:

URxvt.tabbed.tabbar-fg: 2
URxvt.tabbed.tabbar-bg: 0
URxvt.tabbed.tab-fg: 3
URxvt.tabbed.tab-bg: 0

Advanced tab management

Install the urxvt-tabbedexAUR package from AUR, then add the tabbedex value to the URxvt.perl-ext-common X resource in your ~/.Xresources:

URxvt.perl-ext-common: ...,tabbedex,...
Note: If you have previously used the tabbed Perl extension and have defined the tabbed value for the URxvt.perl-ext-common X resource, please remove the tabbed value first to avoid conflict with tabbedex.

By default, the "[NEW]" button (which is rarely used and usable only with the mouse) is disabled with tabbedex. You can reenable this feature by setting the new-button to yes.

URxvt.tabbed.new-button: true

Tabs can be named with Shift+ ↑ (Enter to confirm, Escape to cancel).

To automatically hide the tabs bar when only one tab is present, enable the following resource:

URxvt.tabbed.autohide: true

To prevent the last tab from closing Urxvt, enable the following resource:

URXvt.tabbed.reopen-on-close: yes

To start a new tab or cycle through tabs, use the following user commands: tabbedex:(new|next|prev)_tab. Example of mappings:

URxvt.keysym.Control-t: perl:tabbedex:new_tab
URxvt.keysym.Control-Tab: perl:tabbedex:next_tab
URxvt.keysym.Control-Shift-Tab: perl:tabbedex:prev_tab

To define your own key bindings to rename a tab or move a tab to the right or to the left, use the following commands: tabbedex:move_tab_(left|right) and tabbedex:rename_tab. Example of mappings:

URxvt.keysym.Control-Shift-Left: perl:tabbedex:move_tab_left
URxvt.keysym.Control-Shift-Right: perl:tabbedex:move_tab_right
URxvt.keysym.Control-Shift-R: perl:tabbedex:rename_tab
Note: Redefining the keys used for the user commands will not disable the default mappings, you have to set the X resource no-tabbedex-keys for that:
URxvt.tabbed.no-tabbedex-keys: true


You can install the AUR package urxvt-fullscreenAUR, and then set a key binding to put urxvt fullscreen.

URxvt.perl-ext-common: ..., fullscreen, ...
URxvt.keysym.F11: perl:fullscreen:switch

Scrollwheel support

Install urxvt-vtwheelAUR from the AUR and add it to your Perl extensions within ~/.Xresources:

 URxvt.perl-ext-common:  ...,vtwheel,...

Changing font size on the fly

Install urxvt-font-size-gitAUR from the AUR, add it to your Perl extensions within ~/.Xresources

 URxvt.perl-ext-common:  ...,font-size,...

and add some key bindings, for example like this:

 URxvt.keysym.C-Up:     perl:font-size:increase
 URxvt.keysym.C-Down:   perl:font-size:decrease
 URxvt.keysym.C-S-Up:   perl:font-size:incglobal
 URxvt.keysym.C-S-Down: perl:font-size:decglobal

For the suggested Ctrl+Shift bindings to work, a default binding needs to be disabled (see discussion here):

 URxvt.iso14755: false
 URxvt.iso14755_52: false

Disabling Perl extensions

If you do not use the Perl extension features, you can improve the security and speed by disabling Perl extensions completely.



Colors must be specified using color indexes: 0 to 15 correspond with the colors from the rxvt manual "Colors and Graphics" Section.


If graphics support was enabled at compile-time, rxvt can be queried with ANSI escape sequences and can address individual pixels instead of text
characters. Note the graphics support is still considered beta code.

In addition to the default foreground and background colours, rxvt can display up to 16 colours (8 ANSI colours plus high-intensity bold/blink
versions of the same). Here is a list of the colours with their rgb.txt names.

color0 (black) = Black
color1 (red) = Red3
color2 (green) = Green3
color3 (yellow) = Yellow3
color4 (blue) = Blue3
color5 (magenta) = Magenta3
color6 (cyan) = Cyan3
color7 (white) = AntiqueWhite
color8 (bright black) = Grey25
color9 (bright red) = Red
color10 (bright green) = Green
color11 (bright yellow) = Yellow
color12 (bright blue) = Blue
color13 (bright magenta)= Magenta
color14 (bright cyan) = Cyan
color15 (bright white) = White
foreground = Black
background = White

It is also possible to specify the colour values of foreground, background, cursorColor, cursorColor2, colorBD, colorUL as a number 0-15, as a
convenient shorthand to reference the colour name of color0-color15.

Note that -rv ("reverseVideo: True") simulates reverse video by always swapping the foreground/background colours. This is in contrast to xterm(1)
where the colours are only swapped if they have not otherwise been specified. For example,

rxvt -fg Black -bg White -rv
    would yield White on Black, while on xterm(1) it would yield Black on White.

Improving performance

  • Avoid the use of Xft fonts. If Xft fonts must be used, append :antialias=false to the setting value.[2]
  • Build rxvt-unicode with disabled support for unnecessary features, --disable-xft and --disable-unicode3 in particular.[3]
  • Limit the number of saveLines (option -sl) in the scrollback buffer to reduce memory usage. [4]
    • Use tmux for scrollback buffer and set saveLines to 0
  • Disable perl
  • Consider running urxvtd as a daemon accepting connections from urxvtc clients.

Daemon-client setup through systemd

Description=RXVT-Unicode Daemon

ExecStart=/usr/bin/urxvtd -q -f -o


Pass the username when starting the service:


Cut and paste

Note: With the use of a VDT multiplexer, urxvt (or any VDT emulator) CLIPBOARD integration will not be effective, since it will not be possible to select all of the desired text in a straightforward fashion or at all, in some cases (e.g., when the active multiplexed terminal is changed to another one and then back to the original one, and one selects text beyond what is visible, which causes text from the other terminal to be displayed). Obviously this is due to the fact that the VDT emulator lacks the ability to distinguish between multiplexed terminals. Therefore, it would be effectively redundant for one who always uses a VDT multiplexer capable of maintaining a scrollback buffer and integrating with CLIPBOARD (e.g., tmux with customized key bindings) to integrate CLIPBOARD with urxvt.

For users unfamiliar with Xorg data transfer methods, the exchange of information to and from rxvt-unicode can become a burden. Suffice to say that rxvt-unicode uses cut buffers which are typically loaded into the current PRIMARY selection by default. [5] Users are urged to review Wikipedia:X Window selection for additional information.

Default key bindings

Default X key bindings will still work for copying and pasting. After selecting the text Ctrl+Insert can be used to copy and Shift+Insert to paste.

Clipboard management

See Clipboard#List of clipboard managers

Automatic script management

Note: Since version 9.20, rxvt-unicode comes with a new selection-to-clipboard extension that supersedes the scripts below. Enable it like any other extension.

Skottish[6] created a Perl script to automatically copy any selection in rxvt-unicode to the X clipboard. Save the following as /usr/lib/urxvt/perl/clipboard:

#! /usr/bin/perl

sub on_sel_grab {
    my $query=quotemeta $_[0]->selection;
    $query=~ s/\n/\\n/g;
    $query=~ s/\r/\\r/g;
    system( "echo -en " . $query . " | xsel -i -b -p" );

Xyne has also created his own variation of Skottish's script named urxvt-clipboardAUR which is available in the AUR that allows the user to paste the selection with Ctrl+V instead of only with a middle mouse click:

#! /usr/bin/perl

sub on_sel_grab
  my $query = $_[0]->selection;
  open (my $pipe,'|-','xsel -ib') or die;
  print $pipe $query;
  close $pipe;
  open (my $pipe,'|-','xsel -ip') or die;
  print $pipe $query;
  close $pipe;

It also requires xsel and needs to be enabled in the *perl-ext-common or *perl-ext field in ~/.Xresources. For example:

URxvt.perl-ext-common: default,clipboard

The AUR package urxvt-perls-gitAUR is another option one can use. urxvt-perls-gitAUR includes the same functionality as urxvt-clipboardAUR, in addition to the keyboard-select and url-select Perl extensions.

Improved Kuake-like behavior in Openbox

This was originally posted on the forum by Xyne [7], and it relies on the xdotool found in the official repositories.


Save this scriptlet from the urxvtc man page somewhere on your system as urxvtc (e.g., in ~/.config/openbox):

# !/bin/sh

urxvtc "$@"
if [$? -eq 2]; then
   urxvtd -q -o -f
   urxvtc "$@"

and save this one as urxvtq:


wid=$(xdotool search --classname urxvtq)
if [ -z "$wid" ]; then
  /path/to/urxvtc -name urxvtq -geometry 80x28
  wid=$(xdotool search --classname urxvtq | head -1)
  xdotool windowfocus "$wid"
  xdotool key Control_L+l
  if [ -z "$(xdotool search --onlyvisible --classname urxvtq 2>/dev/null)" ]; then
    xdotool windowmap "$wid"
    xdotool windowfocus "$wid"
    xdotool windowunmap "$wid"

A previous version of xdotool introduced a bug which disabled recognition of visible windows and thus led some users to use the following scriptlet in place of the previous one. This is no longer necessary as of xdotool >= 1.20100416.2809, but it has been left here for future reference.'


wid=$(xprop -name urxvtq | grep 'WM_COMMAND' | awk -F ',' '{print $3}' | awk -F '"' '{print $2}')
if [ -z "$wid" ]; then
  /path/to/urxvtc -name urxvtq -geometry 200x28
  wid=$(xprop -name urxvtq | grep 'WM_COMMAND' | awk -F ',' '{print $3}' | awk -F '"' '{print $2}')
  xdotool windowfocus "$wid"
  xdotool key Control_L+l
  if [ -z "$(xprop -id "$wid" | grep 'window state: Normal' 2>/dev/null)" ]; then
    xdotool windowmap "$wid"
    xdotool windowfocus "$wid"
    xdotool windowunmap "$wid"

Make sure that you change /path/to/urxvtc to the actual path to the urxvtc scriptlet that you saved above. We will be using urxvtc to launch both regular instances of urxvt and the kuake-like instance.

urxvtq with tabbing

If you want to have tabs in your kuake-like urxvtc (here called urxvtq) just replace the third line in your urxvtq:

wid=$(xdotool search --name urxvtq)


wid=$(xdotool search --name urxvtq | grep -m 1 "" )

To activate tab support, you can either replace the fifth line of your urxvtq:

/path/to/urxvtc -name urxvtq -geometry 80x28


/path/to/urxvtc -name urxvtq -pe tabbed -geometry 80x28

or replace this line of your ~/.Xresources file:

URxvt.perl-ext-common: default,matcher


URxvt.perl-ext-common: default,matcher,tabbed

Tab control

Key Description
Shift+Left Switch to the tab left of the current one
Shift+Right Switch to the tab right of the current one
Shift+Down Create a new tab

You can also use your mouse to switch the tabs by clicking the wished one and create a new tab by clicking on [NEW].\\

To close a tab just enter exit like you would to normally close a terminal.

Openbox configuration

Now add the following lines to the <applications> section of ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml:

<application name="urxvtq">
   <position force="yes">

and add these lines to the <keyboard> section:

<keybind key="W-t">
  <action name="Execute">
<keybind key="W-grave">
  <action name="Execute">

Here too you need to change the /path/to/* lines to point to the scripts that you saved above. Save the file and then reconfigure Openbox. You should now be able to launch regular instances of urxvt with Super+T, and toggle the kuake-like console with Super+` (the grave key also known as the backtick).

Further configuration

The advantage of this configuration over the urxvt kuake Perl script is that Openbox provides more keybinding options such as modifier keys. The kuake script hijacks an entire physical key regardless of any modifier combination. Review the Openbox bindings documentation for the full range or possibilities.

The Openbox per-app settings can be used to further configure the behavior of the kuake-like console (e.g. screen position, layer, etc.). You may need to change the "geometry" parameter in the urxvtq scriptlet to adjust the height of the console.

Related scripts


~/.Xresources is not being sourced

In some cases where urxvt does not acknowledge ~/.Xresources, you may need to add xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources to your ~/.xinitrc file. See X resources for more information.

Transparency not working after upgrade to v9.09

The rxvt-unicode developers removed compatibility code for a lot of non standard wallpaper setters with this update. Using a non compatible wallpaper setter will break transparency support. Recommended wallpaper setters:

  • feh
  • hsetroot
  • esetroot

To make true transparency work, make sure to comment URxvt.tintColor and URxvt.inheritPixmap.

Remote hosts

If you are logging into a remote host, you may encounter problems when running text-mode programs under rxvt-unicode. This can be fixed by installing rxvt-unicode-terminfo on the remote host or by copying /usr/share/terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode from your local machine to your host at ~/.terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode; same for rxvt-unicode-256color.

Some remote systems do not change title automatically unless you specify TERM=xterm. To fix the issue add this line to .bashrc on the remote machine:

PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;${USER}@${HOSTNAME}:${PWD}\007"'

Using rxvt-unicode as gmrun terminal

Unlike some other terminals, urxvt expects the arguments to -e to be given separately, rather than grouped together with quotes. This causes trouble with gmrun, which assumes the opposite behavior. This can be worked around by putting an "eval" in front of gmrun's "Terminal" variable in .gmrunrc:

Terminal = eval urxvt
TermExec = ${Terminal} -e

(gmrun uses /bin/sh to execute commands, so the "eval" is understood here.) The "eval" has the side-effect of "breaking up" the argument to -e in the same way that $@ does in Bash, making the command intelligible to urxvt.

My numerical keypad acts weird and generates differing output? (e.g. in vim)

Some Debian GNU/Linux users seem to have this problem, although no specific details were reported so far. It is possible that this is caused by the wrong TERM setting, although the details of whether and how this can happen are unknown, as TERM=rxvt should offer a compatible keymap. See the answer to the previous question, and please report if that helped.

However, using the xmodmap program (xorg-xmodmap), you can re-map your number pad keys back.

1. Check the keycode that your numerical keypad (numpad) generates using xev program.

  • Start the xev program
  • Press your number pad keys and look for ... keycode xxx ... in xev's output. For example, numpad 1 in my keyboard is also "End" key, that have a 'keycode 87'.

2. Create or modify your xmodmap file, usually ~/.Xmodmap, with the content representing your keycode.

Example of xmodmap file with number pad keycode:

keycode 63 = KP_Multiply
keycode 79 = Home KP_7
keycode 80 = Up KP_8
keycode 81 = Prior KP_9
keycode 82 = KP_Subtract
keycode 83 = Left KP_4
keycode 84 = KP_5
keycode 85 = Right KP_6
keycode 86 = KP_Add
keycode 87 = End KP_1
keycode 88 = Down KP_2
keycode 89 = Next KP_3
keycode 90 = Insert KP_0
keycode 91 = Delete KP_Decimal
keycode 112 = Prior
keycode 117 = Next

3. Load your xmodmap file at X session start-up.

For example, in ~/.xinitrc file add:

xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap


The following error is likely caused by /dev/pts having been mounted with the wrong options.

urxvt: can't initialize pseudo-tty, aborting.

Remove /dev/pts from /etc/fstab and fix the current mount options with:

sudo mount -o remount,gid=5,mode=620 /dev/pts

See also [8], FS#36548, and [9].

Key combinations do not work

See Get Alt key to work in terminal.

External resources