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 dmenu2AUR, a dmenu fork with many useful patches applied and additional capabilities added including dimming, specifying a custom opacity, and underlining.
You may run dmenu with:
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.
dmenu can display fonts using XFT. This example will run dmenu using ttf-droid:
$ 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 and run
dmenu-recent-aliases. Your aliases must be in
~/.bash_aliases to be recognized by dmenu-recent-aliases.
Support for history
To sort commands by recency, download dmenu_run_history to your
$PATH and use
dmenu_run_history instead of
Tips and tricks
Inside a script (e.g. launched from a shortcut), getting user input is sometimes required. We can use dmenu for this, by passing it an EOF: the selection field will be empty and dmenu can take user input.
/dev/null will return an EOF, this can simply be done by the following command:
$ dmenu < /dev/null
Embedding in current terminal
Dmenu can be embeded inside any window using the
-w id option.
To embed it inside the currenctly active window (like for example the terminal it is being run from), use xdo to get its id:
$ echo hello | dmenu -w $(xdo id)
No locale support
Running dmenu_run results in the following error message:
no locale support
Make sure that the environment variable
LANG is correctly set. See the following for more information: Locale#Troubleshooting
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 needed for applications should instead be added to
- dmenu – The official dmenu website
- Dmenu Hacking thread – Dmenu hacking thread in Arch Linux forum. An overview of scripts is provided in the dmenu_scripts collection.