bemenu - dynamic menu inspired by

BEMENU(1) BSD General Commands Manual BEMENU(1)


bemenu — dynamic menu inspired by dmenu(1)


bemenu [−hivwx] [−I index] [−l lines] [−P prefix] [−p prompt] [−-ifne] [−-scrollbar none always autohide] [backend-options]
[−hivwx] [−I index] [−l lines] [−P prefix] [−p prompt] [−-ifne] [−-scrollbar none always autohide] [−-fork] [−-no-exec] [backend-options]


bemenu is a dynamic menu for tty(4) (using ncurses(3)), X11 and Wayland, inspired by dmenu(1). It reads a list of newline-separated items from standard input and then presents them as a list, where the user can select one or more of them. When pressing ⟨carriage-return⟩, the selected items are printed to standard output (one per line) and bemenu exits. Entering text will filter the items to those that match the input. If the number of items exceeds the size of the list, the items will be paginated.

bemenu-run is a special-case invocation of bemenu, where the input is the list of executables under PATH and the selected items are executed.

, −-help

Print a help message to standard output and exit.

−I index, −-index index

Highlight the item at index at the start. Indices start at 0. By default, the first item is highlighted.

−i, −-ignorecase

Filter items case-insensitively.

−l number, −-list number

List items vertically with the given number of lines.

−P prefix, −-prefix prefix

Display prefix before the highlighted item in a vertical list.

−p prompt, −-prompt prompt

Defines the prompt text to be displayed to the left of the input field. Defaults to ‘bemenu’.

−v, −-version

Print the bemenu version number to standard output and exit.

−w, −-wrap

Advancing past the end of the list returns you to the start.

−x, −-password

Hide filter text.


Always fork(2) before executing the selections. Disabled by default when using the terminal backend.


Print the selected items to standard output instead of executing them.

−-scrollbar none | always | autohide

Specify when to show a scrollbar for vertical lists:


Never display a scrollbar (the default).


Always display a scrollbar.


Only display a scrollbar when the number of items exceeds the number of lines.

Backend Options
These options are only available on backends specified in the parentheses:

−b, −-bottom (Wayland, X11)

The list will appear at the bottom of the screen.

−f, −-grab (Wayland, X11)

Show the bemenu window whilst reading the items.

−H height, −-line-height height (Wayland, X11)

Specify the height in point size to make each entry.

−m index, −-monitor index (Wayland, X11)

Specify the monitor index where the list should appear. Monitor indices start at zero. The interpretation of the given argument depends on the utilized backend. With X11 and Wayland, a value of ‘-1’ or focused indicates that the current monitor should be used (the default). With Wayland, the index should be a string specifying a specific monitor name. The value ‘-2’ or all indicates that the list should appear on all monitors.

−n, −-no-overlap (Wayland)

Set the bemenu window to be on top of any other panels.

−-fnname [size]’ (Wayland, X11)

Specify the font family name and size to be used. For more options, consult the Pango Reference Manual for pango_font_description_from_string().

The following options control the colours for various parts of the list for the Wayland and X11 backends. Each takes an argument in the form of:


where R, G, B and A are hexadecimal integers from 00–FF that control the red, green, blue and alpha-transparency channels.

−-tb color

Title background.

−-tf color

Title foreground.

−-fb color

Filter background.

−-ff color

Filter foreground

−-nb color

Normal background.

−-nf color

Normal foreground.

−-hb color

Highlighted background.

−-hf color

Highlighted foreground.

−-sb color

Selected background.

−-sf color

Selected foreground.

−-scb color

Scrollbar background.

−-scf color

Scrollbar foreground.


bemenu supports keyboard commands to move around the list and edit the filter. In the following examples, C-x means ⟨control-x⟩, M-x means ⟨alt-x⟩ and S-x means ⟨shift-x⟩:

cursor-up⟩, S-cursor-left⟩, C-p, M-j, M-l

Highlight the previous item.

cursor-down⟩, ⟨tab⟩, C-n, M-h, M-k

Highlight the next item.

PageUp, M-v, M-u

Show the previous page of items, preserving the offset of the currently highlighted item, if possible.

PageDown, C-v, M-d

Show the next page of items, preserving the offset of the currently highlighted item, if possible.

S-M-<, S-PageUp

Highlight the first item in the list.

S-M->, S-PageDown

Highlight the last item in the list.


Copy the highlighted item to the filter.

escape⟩, C-g

Terminate bemenu without printing items.


Select the highlighted item and continue highlighting.

S-carriage-return⟩, C-m

Print selected items and the currently highlighted one, and exit. Items are printed in the order they were selected, with the currently highlighted item printed last.

S-carriage-return⟩, Insert

Print the filter text to standard output and exit.

C-l, ⟨cursor-left

Move cursor left.

C-f, ⟨cursor-right

Move cursor right.

C-a, Home

Move cursor to the start.

C-e, End

Move cursor to the end.


Remove character before the cursor.


Remove character at the cursor.

C-u, S-delete

Remove all characters before the cursor.


Remove all characters after the cursor.


Clear the filter.


Print selected items and exit with a custom error code. See EXIT STATUS.


An alternative way to pass command line arguments to bemenu.


Force a backend to be used. If empty, one of the GUI backends (Wayland, X11) will be selected automatically. The accepted values are curses, wayland and x11.


Force a backend by loading its shared object from the set value.


Override the backend search path to the set value. Defaults to /usr/lib/bemenu.


Override the rendering scale factor for the GUI backends.


bemenu exits 0 on success, 1 if the user exited without selecting or an error, and if exiting with a custom error code, 10 plus the number specified.


dmenu(1), fork(2), ncurses(3), tty(4)

Pango Reference Manual

, ,
August 20, 2020 ,
Fonts — pango_font_description_from_string() .


bemenu is written and maintained by Jari Vetoniemi <[email protected]>.

BSD March 29, 2021 BSD |