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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  MCWM (1)


mcwm - MC’s Window Manager for X11.


See Also


mcwm [ -b width ] [ -i ] [ -t terminal-program ] [ -f colour ] [ -u colour ] [ -x colour ]


mcwm is a window manager for the X Window System.


-b width sets border width to this many pixels.

-i turns on icons/hidden windows. Please note that there is no way from mcwm to get a hidden window back! You have to use an external program such as a panel or the mcicon or 9icon scripts (see below) to get the window mapped again.

-t urxvt will start urxvt when MODKEY + Return is pressed. Change to your prefered terminal program or something else entirely.

-f colour sets border colour for focused window to a named colour, such as "red".

-u colour sets border colour for unfocused windows.

-x colour sets border colour for fixed windows, that is, windows that are visible on all workspaces.


Nota bene: For mcwm to be at all useful you need to know how what keys generate the Mod1 and Mod4 modifier masks (default). If you don’t know, use xmodmap(1) with the -pm option to list them. If you don’t want to use Mod1 and Mod4, you can change the modifiers in the file config.h and recompile.

With the the default configuration, use mcwm like this.

Mod1 + mouse buttons:

o 1 move
o 2 raise or lower
o 3 resize window

Note that the mouse cursor needs to be inside the window you want to move, raise/lower or resize even if it currently has the focus. This is a feature, not a bug.

Mod4 + key on focused window:

o r raise or lower (toggles).
o x maximize (toggles).
o m maximize vertically (toggles).
o H resize left.
o J resize down.
o K resize up.
o L resize right.
o h move left.
o j move down.
o k move up.
o l move right.
o y move to upper left corner of monitor.
o u move to upper right corner of monitor.
o b move to lower left corner of monitor.
o n move to lower right corner of monitor.
o Return start terminal or whatever program you have configured with -t or in the config.h.
o Tab go to next window in the current workspace window ring. If you release MODKEY or press another command key mcwm will change focus to the new window. A new press of MODKEY + Tab will bring you back to the window where you last had focus.
o Shift-Tab go to previous window in the current workspace window ring. This is most useful while you are tabbing: if you accidentally pressed Tab one time too many, you can move back by pressing Shift + TAB (all the while holding down the MODKEY).
o f fix window so it is visible on all workspaces (toggles). Note that this is also used to move windows between workspaces: First fix the window, change to the workspace you want, then unfix the window on the new workspace.
o i iconify (or hide) window from the display. Only usable when mcwm has been started with -i. Currently there is no way to get a hidden window back. You have to use an external program such as a panel or the mcicon or 9icon script in the mcwm distribution.
o 0-9 go to workspace n, 0-9.
o c go to previous workspace.
o v go to next workspace.
o End close window.
o , move window to previous monitor.
o . move window to next monitor.

Note that all functions activated from the keyboard work on the currently focused window regardless of the position of the mouse cursor. Of course, changing workspaces has nothing to do with the focused window.

If you don’t like the default key bindings, border width, et cetera, look in the config.h file, change and recompile. In the config.h file you can also define mouse button actions on the root window. By default button 3 starts the command mcmenu. You can write your own mcmenu by using, for instance, 9menu, dmenu or ratmenu.


mcwm obeys the $DISPLAY variable.


Typically the window manager is started from a script, either run by startx(1) or a login manager such as xdm(1).

If you start from the console, you need an .xinitrc file. Here’s a complete example:

#! /bin/sh

# Set nice background. xsetroot -solid grey20

# Set nice pointer cursor. xsetroot -cursor_name plus -fg white -bg black

# Load resources. xrdb -load ~/.Xresources

# Start window manager in the background. If it dies, X still lives. mcwm &

# If you want to allow windows to be hidden, use this instead: # mcwm -i &

# Start a terminal in the foreground. If this dies, X dies. exec urxvt


You may want to define a menu program for use with mcwm (see config.h). In the source distribution you can find an example as mcmenu (the default menu program in config.h) in the scripts directory.

Christian Neukirchen wrote a little script you can use to get iconified windows mapped again if you are running mcwm in allow icons mode (-i). You need awk, xdotool, xprop and xwininfo installed. You can find the script as scripts/9icon.

Inspired by Christian’s work I wrote a small program, hidden(1), which is included with mcwm. You can use hidden(1) with the -c option together with 9menu. See scripts/mcicon for an example.

You might also be interested in the following shell function that might come in handy to give your terminal emulators good titles before hiding them.

# Set the title and icon name of an xterm or clone.
function title
    # icon name
    echo -e ’\033]1;’$1’\007’
    # title
    echo -e ’\033]2;’$1’\007’

Use it like this:

% title ’really descriptive title’




Michael Cardell Widerkrantz <>.
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MCWM (1) Apr 30, 2012

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