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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  CWM (1)


cwm - a lightweight and efficient window manager for X11


Pointer Movement
Window Movement And Resizing
See Also


cwm [-c file] [-d display]


cwm is a window manager for X11 which contains many features that concentrate on the efficiency and transparency of window management. cwm also aims to maintain the simplest and most pleasant aesthetic.

The following notation is used throughout this page:

C Control.
M Meta.
S Shift.
M1 Left mouse button.
M2 Middle mouse button.
M3 Right mouse button.

cwm is very simple in its use. Most of the actions are initiated via key bindings. The default key bindings are described below; their functionality is described in more detail later.

CM-Return Spawn a new terminal.
CM-Delete Lock the screen.
M-Return Hide current window.
M-Down Lower current window.
M-Up Raise current window.
M-/ Search for windows.
C-/ Search for applications.
CM-n Label current window.
M-Tab Cycle through currently visible windows.
MS-Tab Reverse cycle through currently visible windows.
CM-x Delete current window.
CM-[n] Select group n, where n is 1-9.
CM-0 Select all groups.
CM-g Toggle group membership of current window.
M-Right Cycle through active groups.
M-Left Reverse cycle through active groups.
CMS-f Toggle freezing geometry of current window.
CM-s Toggle stickiness of current window.
CM-f Toggle full-screen mode of current window.
CM-m Toggle maximization of current window.
CM-= Toggle vertical maximization of current window.
CMS-= Toggle horizontal maximization of current window.
M-? Spawn "exec program" dialog.
M-. Spawn "ssh to" dialog. This parses $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts to provide host auto-completion. ssh(1) will be executed via the configured terminal emulator.
CM-w Spawn "exec WindowManager" dialog; allows you to switch from cwm to another window manager without restarting the X server.
CMS-r Restart the running cwm(1).
CMS-q Quit cwm.

The default mouse bindings are:

M-M1 Move current window.
CM-M1 Toggle group membership of current window.
M-M2 Resize current window
M-M3 Lower current window.
  Hide current window.

The options for cwm are as follows:
-c file
  Specify an alternative configuration file. By default, cwm loads ~/.cwmrc, if present. Any error messages from lines in the configuration file will be sent to stderr; however, cwm will continue to process the rest of the configuration file.
-d display
  Specify the display to use.


The pointer can be moved with the use of the keyboard through bindings. C-[Up|Down|Left|Right] moves the pointer a small amount, while CS-[Up|Down|Left|Right] moves the pointer a larger amount. For example, to move the pointer to the left by a small amount, press C-Left. To move the pointer down by a larger amount, press CS-Down.


cwm windows can be moved with the use of the keyboard through vi -like bindings. M-[hjkl] moves the current window a small amount, while MS-[hjkl] moves the current window a larger amount. For example, to move the current window to the left a small amount, press M-h. To move the current window down by a larger amount, press MS-j.

Similarly, windows may be resized with the same key bindings with the addition of the Control key. CM-[hjkl] resizes the window a small amount and CMS-[hjkl] resizes by a larger increment.


cwm features the ability to search for windows by their current title, old titles, and by their label. The priority for the search results are: label, current title, old titles in reverse order, and finally window class name. cwm keeps a history of the 5 previous titles of a window.

When searching, the leftmost character of the result list may show a flag:

! The window is the currently focused window.
& The window is hidden.

The following key bindings may be used to navigate the result list:

[Down], C-s or M-j Select the next window in the list.
[Up], C-r or M-k Select the previous window in the list.
[Backspace] or C-h Backspace.
C-u Clear the input.
[Return] Focus the selected window.
[Esc] Cancel.
C-a Whenever there are no matching windows, list every window.


cwm has the ability to group windows together, and use the groups to perform operations on the entire group instead of just one window. Currently, the only operation that is supported is to hide and unhide the grouped windows. Together with the sticky option, this can be used to emulate virtual desktops.

To edit groups, use the group selection commands to toggle membership of a group. A blue border will be shown briefly on windows added to the current group, and a red border will be shown on those just removed.


Menus are recalled by clicking the mouse on the root window:

M1 Show list of currently hidden windows. Clicking on an item will unhide that window.
M2 Show list of currently defined groups. Clicking on an item will hide/unhide that group.
M3 Show list of applications as defined in ~/.cwmrc. Clicking on an item will spawn that application.


DISPLAY cwm starts on this display unless the -d option is given.






cwm was originally inspired by evilwm, but was rewritten from scratch due to limitations in the evilwm codebase. The from-scratch rewrite borrowed some code from 9wm, however that code has since been removed or rewritten.

cwm first appeared in
.Ox 4.2 .


.An -nosplit cwm was developed by
.An Marius Aamodt Eriksen Aq with contributions from
.An Andy Adamson Aq ,
.An Niels Provos Aq , and
.An Antti Nyk\(:anen Aq . Ideas, discussion with many others.
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