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Revision as of 09:03, 4 December 2012 by Moetunes (talk | contribs)
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Snapwm is a xinerama aware, very minimal and lightweight dynamic tiling window manager based on dminiwm (same author), which is based on catwm (by pyknite).

Snapwm has an emphasis on easy configurability and choice. It's primarily keyboard driven but has some mouse support also.


Using the AUR

Download snapwm-gitAUR from the AUR. Then, as a non-root user, run:

$ makepkg -i

while in the saved PKGBUILD's directory. The files will be retrieved, built and installed.

The sample configuration files will be installed in /usr/share/snapwm-git/. Create the directory ~/.config/snapwm/:

$ mkdir -p ~/.config/snapwm/

Copy the three sample files to ~/.config/snapwm/{rc.conf, key.conf, apps.conf} and edit to suit.

Using Git

The latest version can be downloaded using Git. Initially, you can do:

git clone 

and then update with git pull. See the Git wiki page or man git for more info.

Note: While the official name of the window manager and executable is snapwm, you will notice that in moetunes' GitHub, the directory is named Nextwm which may cause some confusion.

Xlib is all that is required. To install it, do:

#make install
$make clean

Alternative Method

Instead of actually installing it system-wide as above, you can simply run make and then copy the executable to somewhere in your path, like ~/bin for example. You can then run it the same way(exec snapwm) on a per user basis.


Most users will want this. As the name implies, dmenu is a menu that acts like an auto-complete for typing the name of binaries. It integrates well with tiling window managers like snapwm. See the dmenu wiki page or man dmenu for more info. To install it, do:

pacman -S dmenu

The sample.key.conf file comes with a command to start demenu_run, which will search $PATH for a matching executable as soon as you start typing.

 CMD dmenucmd;dmenu_run;-i;-nb;#666622;-nf;white;NULL;
 KEY Alt;v;spawn;dmenucmd;


All user settings are read from three files in ~/.config/snapwm/ . Each line in these files takes the form of :

 <Option><space><semi colon seperated list>

and if there is more than one item in the list the line must end in a semi colon.

snapwm comes with sample configurations files which make it easy to start configuration.

All options and settings in the three configuration files are changeable in the running window manager by editing and saving the configuration file/s and updating. (default key Alt+u)


<option><space><semi colon seperated list>

Should have the number of desktops as the first option, which is changeable in the running window manager.

Colours, how new windows are handled and options for the bar are set here.


There are two options CMD and KEY . CMD should come before any key using it.

CMD takes the form of :

 CMD<space><label>;<comand>;<command option1>;<command option2>...;NULL;

The line must end in NULL;

The label is passed to a KEY with spawn as the function and the label as the variable

KEY takes the form of :


There are eight modifying keys available :

   Alt  CtrlAlt  ShftAlt  Super  ShftSuper  Control CtrlSuper ALTSuper

An example for setting Alt+x to open xterm. The terminal command would be

xterm -bg black -fg white

To make the command and the keyboard shortcut.

 CMD xtermcmd;xterm;-bg;black;-fg;white;NULL;
 KEY Alt;x;spawn;xtermcmd;


There are two options DESKTOP and POSITION . Order isn't important.

DESKTOP is used to set the desktop that an app will open on and whether to change to that desktop when the app opens.

POSITION is used to set the geometry of an app in stacking mode.

DESKTOP takes the form of :

 DESKTOP<space><window class>;<desktop to open on>;<zero to change to that desktop>;

<window class> is found by using xprop on the app and reading the WM_CLASS value.

POSITION takes the form of :

 POSITION<space><window class>;<x>;<y>;<width>;<height>;

The Bar

Snapwm has an integrated bar that has a clickable desktop switcher, shows the tiling mode, shows the focused window's name and has space to display some external text.

The desktop switcher can optionally show the number of windows open on unfocused desktops and in fullscreen mode. Clicking on the current desktop in the switcher will focus the next window. Clicking elsewhere in the bar will change to the last desktop.

The bar uses the root window's name to display colored external text, which can be changed with xsetroot -name.

For example, with conky, you could use something like:

conky | while read -r; do xsetroot -name "$REPLY"; done &

You can toggle the bars' visibility.

 Default keyboard shortcut : Super+b

There's options in the rc file to have the bar shown at the top or the bottom. The bars' position is changeable in the running wm by editing the rc file.


The colors for the desktop switcher are defined in SWITCHERTHEME in rc.conf.

  • Color 0 : focused desktop in switcher.
  • Color 1 : unfocused desktop in switcher.
  • Color 2 : unfocused desktop in switcher with open windows.
  • Color 3 : the bar's border.

The colors for the rest of the bar and text in the bar are defined in STATUSTHEME in rc.conf.

  • Color 0 : the default background colour for the bar
  • Color 1 : the current desktop font in the switcher and also for external text.
  • Color 2 : the unfocused desktops font in the switcher and also for external text.
  • Color 3 : the unfocused desktops with opened windows font in the switcher and also for external text.
  • Color 4 : the focused window name font and also the for external text.
  • Colors 5 - 9 : are for external text.

The colors for the windows are defined in WINDOWTHEME in rc.conf.

  • Color 0 : focused window border.
  • Color 1 : unfocused window border.

The colors for external text can be displayed by placing & in front of the number of the color in your script. For example, using conky, you could do something like this for displaying the time using the second color for external text:

&1${time %I:%M}

The background colour in the bar can be changed by placing &B in front of the number of the wanted colour in your script. For example, using conky, you could do something like this for displaying the time using the third colour for the background and the second color for external text:

&B2&1${time %I:%M}&B0

The colors in the running wm are changeable by editing the rc file and updating.


The bar does not support icons but you can draw "icons" into a font and use those. You can find more info on that in the dwm hacking thread on the forum. There are a few fonts in the AUR, such as terminusmod, tamsynmod, termsyn, and ohsnap that have some icons. To have them shown in the bar print them in a terminal then copy/paste them in rc.conf or your script/conky. You can also use a font like stlarch_font that just contains icons. You can use it in combination with another font using a comma to seperate them in your rc.conf:

static const char defaultfontlist[] = "-*-stlarch-medium-r-*-*-10-*-*-*-*-*-*-*,-*-terminus-medium-r-*-*-12-*-*-*-*-*-*-*";

Layout Modes

Snapwm has five layout modes: vertical, fullscreen, horizontal, grid and center stacking. The tiling mode for each desktop is set in rc.conf, and can be changed in the running wm.

It allows the "normal" method of tiling window managers, with the new window as the master, or with the new window opened at the top or bottom of the stack(attach aside). The default tiling method for all layout modes is set in rc.conf, and can be changed in the running wm.


   |        | W |
   |        |___|
   | Master |   |
   |        |___|
   |        |   |
 Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+v


Takes up all the screen less the bar.

 Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+f
 There are no borders in fullscreen mode or if there is only one open window.


   |           |
   |  Master   |
   | W |   |   |
 Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+h


   |      |    |
   |Master|    |
   |  w   |    |
 Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+g


   |   ______  |
   | _|__    | |
   ||    |   | |
   ||____|___| |
 Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+c
 Window placement strategy is set in rc.conf
   CENTER_STACK 0  all windows open centered on screen
   CENTER_STACK 1  windows set their preferred position
 Windows can be moved up/down
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+j/k
 Windows can be moved right/left
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+Shift+p/o
 Windows can be made wider/narrower
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+h/l
 Windows can be made taller/shorter
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt+p/o

  • Changing the layout mode or resizing windows on one desktop doesn't affect the other desktops.
  • The Master window can be resized.
  • Windows can be added/removed to/from the master area with keyboard shortcuts Alt+Shift+m/l
  • The window *W* at the top of the stack can be resized with keyboard shortcuts Alt+o/p.
  • In stacking mode the windows can be resized/moved with Alt+right/left mouse button and
  • the size and position is remembered when the mode is changed

Window Manager Functions

The functions available to the user are :

   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + j
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + k
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Shift + j
       move the current window up the stack
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Shift + k
       move the current window down the stack
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Shift + Return
       move the current window to the master area
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + [number]
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Tab
   Default keyboard shortcut : Super + Right/Left
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Shift + [number]
       send the current window to another desktop and open that desktop
   Default keyboard shortcut : Super + Shift + [number]
       send the current window to another desktop
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Shift + v/f/h/g/c
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + a
       order is vertical, fullscreen, horizontal, grid, stacking
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + h/l
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + Shift + m/l
       add/remove window from the master area in vert or horiz mode
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + p/o
       increase/decrease the size of the window at the top of the stack
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + c
   Default keyboard shortcut : Control + Alt + q
   Default keyboard shortcut : User defined for each application
   Default keyboard shortcut : Super + b
   Default keyboard shortcut : Alt + u


Unfocused windows have an alpha value and can be transparent if used with a compositing manager(like cairo-compmgr).

The value is a percent and can be changed in the running wm by editing the rc file, 100 is opaque.

Multi Monitor Support

With X aware of multiple connected monitors, snapwm will place different desktops on each monitor.

Using xrandr, or the appropriate method for the graphics card, set the second monitor to the right of the first, the third monitor to the right of the second, etc.

Using two monitors and four desktops as an example:

 desktops 1 & 3 will show on monitor 1, the last focused one always visible
 desktops 2 & 4 will show on monitor 2, the last focused one always visible

To move an application to the other monitor, send it to the desktop showing on that monitor with the follow_/client_to_desktop functions.

See also

  • The README and ChangeLog for additional info.