jgmenu - A simple X11 menu

NAME  SYNOPSIS  DESCRIPTION  Fields  Special Characters at beginning of line  Special Characters in fields  Markup  Icons  OPTIONS  USER INTERFACE  WIDGETS  CONFIGURATION FILE  Syntax  Values  Variables  CSV generator variables  Inter-Process Communication (IPC)  DIAGRAMS  General Notes  Vertical Menu  Horizontal Menu  External to menu  HOOKS  STARTUP SCRIPT  SEE ALSO  AUTHORS 


jgmenu - A simple X11 menu


jgmenu [--no-spawn] [--checkout=<tag>] [--config-file=<file>]        
[--icon-size=<size>] [--at-pointer] [--hide-on-startup]        
[--simple] [--vsimple] [--csv-file=<file>]        
[--csv-cmd=<command>] [--die-when-loaded]        
[--center] [--persistent]

Use these commands to get started

Launch menu

jgmenu_run init

Create config file ~/.config/jgmenu/jgmenurc

jgmenu_run init -i

Interactive setup

man jgmenututorial

Step-by-step tutorial


jgmenu is a simple menu for Linux/BSD. It reads CSV menu data from a file and generates a graphical menu on an X11 window.


Each line of CSV menu data is parsed into the following fields using comma as a field separator:








working directory




execute without “sh -c” wrapper

For example:

printf "Terminal,xterm\\nWeb Browser,firefox" | jgmenu --vsimple

Special Characters at beginning of line


Ignore line


A line beginning with a dot followed by a space, will source the file specified by the string following the dot


Treat as widget

Special Characters in fields


As commas are used as field separators, individual fields can only contain commas if they are triple quoted. For example:

foo,""“^pipe(find . -printf ‘%f,display %p,%p\n’)”""

< > &

The description field is parsed as pango markup, so <, >, and & need to be escaped as &lt;, &gt;, and &amp; respectively.


The syntax ^foo(bar) is used to carry out action foo with argument bar. We refer to bar as the inner value.

The following markup is supported in the description field


Define a separator. If an inner value is provided, the separator will appear as a title. If no inner value is provided, the separator will simply be a horizontal line

The following markup is supported in the command field


Define the beginning of a new menu structure node.

The lines following ^tag(whatever) will not show in the top level menu, but can be opened by using ^checkout() or ^root().





Open the tag specified by the inner value as a submenu in a new window


Open the tag specified by the inner value in the root window, replacing the current menu


Draw a submenu arrow. This can be useful for creating submenus with stay_alive=0. For example:

submenu1,^sub(echo "item1.0" | jgmenu --simple)


Check-out parent menu


Run program in terminal


Execute sub-process and checkout a menu based on its stdout.


Invoke search




Icons will be displayed if the third field is populated, for example:




Redirect command to stdout rather than execute it.


Checkout submenu on startup.


Read config file.


Specify icon size (22 by default). If set to 0, icons will not be loaded.


Launch menu at mouse pointer.


Start menu is hidden state.


Ignore tint2 settings; Run in short-lived mode (i.e. exit after mouse click or enter/escape); read menu items from stdin.


Same as --simple, but also disables icons and ignores jgmenurc.


Specify menu file (in jgmenu flavoured CSV format). If file cannot be opened, input is reverted to stdin.


Specify command to produce menu data, for example jgmenu_run pmenu


Open menu and then exit(0). Useful for debugging and testing.


Center align menu horizontally and vertically.


Same as the persistent config option. See config option section below for details.


Up, Down

Select previous/next item

Left. Right

Move to parent/sub menu

PgUp, PgDn

Scroll up/down

Home, End

Select first/last item


Select an item or open a submenu




Print node tree to stderr






Return to parent menu

Type any string to invoke a search. Words separated by space will be searched for using OR logic (i.e. the match of either word is sufficient to display an item).


Lines beginning with ‘@’ in jgmenu flavoured CSV files are parsed in accordance with the following syntax:



The widget type, which can be one of the following:


Rectangle with a 1px thick border drawn using fgcol


Search box showing the current filter (what the user has typed) or the specified text if no filter has been invoked.




The action to take when selected. This can either be a shell command or a menu action such ^root().

x, y

Horizontal and vertical margin of widget

w, h

Width and height of widget


Corner radius

fgcol, bgcol

Foreground and background colours using syntax rrggbb #aa fgcol accepts auto to use the jgmenurc’s color_norm_fg


icon_path for icon widgets text for all other widget types

halign, valign

Horizontal and vertical alignment of widget. This has not yet been implemented, but defaults to top and left


If no file is specified using the –config-file= option, the XDG Base Directory Specification is adhered to. I.e:

Global config in ${XDG_CONFIG_DIRS:-/etc/xdg}

User config override in ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME:-$HOME/.config}

For most users ~/.config/jgmenu/jgmenurc is appropriate.

Global config variables are set in the following order (i.e. bottom of list has higher precedence):

built-in defaults (config.c)

tint2rc config file (can be specified by TINT2_CONFIG environment variable)

jgmenurc config file (can be specified by –config-file=)

command line arguments


Lines beginning with # are ignored.

All other lines are recognised as setting variables in the format

key = value

White spaces are mostly ignored.


Unless otherwise specified, values as treated as simple strings.

Here follow some specific types:

When a variable takes a boolean value, only 0 and 1 are accepted. 0 means false; 1 means true.


When a variable takes an integer value, only numerical values are accepted. The only valid characters are digits (0-9) and minus-sign. All integer variables relating to geometry and position are interpreted as pixel values unless otherwise specified.


When a variable takes a color value, only the syntax #rrggbb aaa is recognised, where rr, gg and bb represent hexadecimal values (00-ff) for the colours red, green and blue respectively; and aaa stands for the alpha channel value expressed as a percentage (0-100) (i.e. 100 means no transparency and 0 means fully transparent.) For example #ff0000 100 represents red with no transparency, whereas #000088 50 means dark blue with 50% transparency.


When a variable takes a pathname value, it is evaluated as a string. If the first character is tilde (~), it will be replaced by the the environment variable $HOME just as a shell would expand it.


verbosity = integer (default 0)

General verbosity: (0) warnings only; (1) basic info; (2) more info; (3) max info

Additional specific topics: (4) IPC

Note: Some IPC messages need environment variable JGMENU_VERBOSITY=4 too

stay_alive = boolean (default 1)

If set to 1, the menu will “hide” rather than “exit” when the following events occur: clicking on menu item; clicking outside the menu; pressing escape. When in the hidden mode, a USR1 signal will “un-hide” the menu.

persistent = boolean (default 0)

If set to 1, the menu will not exit nor hide when the following events occur: clicking on menu item; clicking outside the menu; pressing escape. Use in conjunction with the ^quit() markup.

hide_on_startup = boolean (default 0)

If set to 1, jgmenu start in “hidden” mode. This is useful for starting jgmenu during the boot process and then sending a killall -SIGUSR1 jgmenu to show the menu.

csv_cmd = string (default apps)

Defines the command to produce the jgmenu flavoured CSV for jgmenu. Accpetable keyword include apps, pmenu, lx, and ob. If a value is given other than these keywords, it will be executed in a shell (so be careful!). If left blank, jgmenu will read from stdin. Examples:

csv_cmd = lx
csv_cmd = jgmenu_run lx --no-dirs
csv_cmd = cat ~/mymenu.csv

tint2_look = boolean (default 0)

Read tint2rc and parse config options for colours, dimensions and alignment.

position_mode = (fixed | ipc | pointer | center) (default fixed)

Define menu positioning mode.


Align to margin_{x,y} and respect _NET_WORKAREA.


Use IPC to read environment variables set by panel. See Inter-Process Communication for further info.


Launch at pointer whilst respecting both _NET_WORKAREA and edge_snap_x.


Launch at center of screen and ignore _NET_WORKAREA. Take precedence over menu_{v,h}align.

edge_snap_x = integer (default 30)

Specify the distance (in pixels) from the left hand edge, within which the menu will snap to the edge. Note that this only applies in at_pointer mode.

terminal_exec = string (default x-terminal-emulator)

Define terminal to use for commands with ^term() markup

terminal_args = string (default -e)

The values of these two variables are used to build a string to launch programs requiring a terminal to run. With the default values, the string would become: x-terminal-emulator -e 'some_command with arguments'. terminal_args must finish with -e or equivalent, where -e refers to the meaning of -e in xterm -e.

monitor = integer (default 0)

Specify a particular monitor as an index starting from 1. If 0, the menu will be launched on the monitor where the mouse is.

hover_delay = integer (default 100)

Time (in milliseconds) from hovering over an item until a submenu is opened.

hide_back_items = boolean (default 1)

If enabled, all ^back() items will be suppressed. As a general rule, it should be set to 1 for a multi-window menu, and 0 when in single-window mode.

columns = integer (default 1)

Number of columns in which to show menu items

tabs = integer (default 120)

Specify the position is pixels of the first tab

menu_margin_x = integer (default 0)

Distance between the menu (=X11 window) and the edge of the screen. See note on _NET_WORKAREA under menu_{v,h}align variables.

menu_margin_y = integer (default 0)

Vertical equilvalent of menu_margin_x

menu_width = integer (default 200)

Minimum menu width of the menu. The menu width will adjust to the longest item in the current (sub)menu. If a filter is applied (e.g. by the user typing) the menu width will not adjust.

menu_height_min = integer (default 0)

Set the minimum height of the root menu. If menu_height_min and menu_height_max these are set to the same value, the menu height will be fixed at that value. If set to zero, they will be ignored.

menu_height_max = integer (default 0)

Minimum height of the root menu. See menu_height_min

menu_height_mode = (static | dynamic) (default static)

Mode of menu height


Height of the initial root menu will be used for any subsequent ^root() action


Root menu height will be re-calculated every time a new tag is opened using ^root().

menu_padding_top = integer (default 5)

Distance between top border and item/widget

menu_padding_right = integer (default 5)

Distance between right border and item/widget

menu_padding_bottom = integer (default 5)

Distance between bottom border and item/widget

menu_padding_left = integer (default 5)

Distance between left border and item/widget

menu_radius = integer (default 1)

Radius of rounded corners of menu

menu_border = integer (default 0)

Thickness of menu border

menu_halign = (left | right | center) (default left)

Horizontal alignment of menu. If not set, jgmenu will try to guess the alignment reading _NET_WORKAREA, which is a freedesktop EWMH root window property. Not all Window Managers and Panels respect _NET_WORKAREA. The following do: openbox, xfwm4, tint2 and polybar. The following do NOT: awesome, i3, bspwm and plank

menu_valign = (top | bottom | center) (default bottom)

Vertical alignment of menu. See menu_halign.

menu_gradient_pos = (none | top | right | bottom | left | top_left |
top_right | bottom_left | bottom_right ) (default none)

Start position of menu window gradient. The end position is at the opposite side or corner. Colors color_menu_bg and color_menu_bg_to specify the start (from) and finish (to).

sub_spacing = integer (default 1)

Horizontal space between windows. A negative value results in each submenu window overlapping its parent window.

sub_padding_top = integer (default auto)

Same as menu_padding_top but applies to submenu windows only. It understands the keyword auto which means that the smallest of the four menu_padding_* variables will be used.

sub_padding_right = integer (default auto)

See sub_padding_top

sub_padding_bottom = integer (default auto)

See sub_padding_top

sub_padding_left = integer (default auto)

See sub_padding_top

sub_hover_action = integer (default 1)

Open submenu when hovering over item (only works in multi-window mode).

item_margin_x = integer (default 3)

Horizontal distance between items and the edge of the menu.

item_margin_y = integer (default 3)

Vertical distance between items and the edge of the menu.

item_height = integer (default 25)

Height of menu items.

item_padding_x = integer (default 4)

Horizontal distance between item edge and its content (e.g. text or icon)

item_radius = integer (default 1)

Radius of rounded corners of items

item_border = integer (default 0)

Thickness of item border

item_halign = (left | right) (default left)

Horizontal alignment of menu items. If set to right, the option arrow_string should be changed too.

sep_height = integer (default 5)

Height of separator without text (defined by ^sep()). Separators with text use item_height

sep_halign = (left | center | right) (default left)

Horizontal alignment of separator text

sep_markup = string (unset by default)

If specified, <span $sep_markup>foo</span> will be passed to pango for ^sep(foo).

See the following link for pango attributes: <https://developer.gnome.org/pango/stable/pango-Markup.html>

Keywords include (but are not limited to):


size (x-small, small, medium, large, x-large) - style (normal, oblique, italic)

weight (ultralight, light, normal, bold, ultrabold, heavy

foreground (using format #rrggbb or a colour name)

underline (none, single, double)


sep_markup = font="Sans Italic 12" foreground="blue"

font = string (unset by default)

Font description for menu items. font accepts a string such as Cantarell 10 or UbuntuCondensed 11. The font description without a specified size unit is interpreted as points. If px is added, it will be read as pixels. Using “points” enables consistency with other applications.

font_fallback = string (default xtg)

Same as icon_theme_fallback, except that the xsettings variable Gtk/FontName is read.

icon_size = integer (default 22)

Size of icons in pixels. If set to 0, icons will be disabled.

icon_text_spacing = integer (default 10)

Distance between icon and text within a menu item

icon_norm_alpha = integer (default 100)

Opacity of menu item icons, expressed as a percentage (0-100).

icon_sel_alpha = integer (default 100)

Opacity of the currently selected menu item’s icon, expressed as a percentage (0-100).

icon_theme = string (unset by default)

Name of icon theme. E.g. Adwaita, breeze, Paper, Papirus and Numix. See ls /usr/share/icons/ (or similar) for available icon themes on your system.

icon_theme_fallback = string (default xtg)

Fallback sources of the icon theme in order of precedence, where the left-most letter designates the source with highest precedence. The following characters are acceptable: x=xsettings Net/IconThemeName; t=tint2; g=gtk3.0. icon_theme takes priority if set. In order to increase consistency with tint2, xsettings variables will only be read if the tint2rc variable launcher_icon_theme_override is 0.

arrow_string = string (default ▸)

String to be used to indicate that an item will open submenu. See jgmenuunicode(7) for examples

arrow_width = integer (default 15)

Width allowed for arrow_string. Set to 0 to hide arrow.

color_menu_bg = color (default #000000 100)

Background colour of menu window. If gradients are enabled, this will be the ‘from’ color.

color_menu_bg_to = color (default #000000 100)

Background ‘to’ colour of menu window - for use with gradients

color_menu_border = color (default #eeeeee 8)

Border colour of menu window

color_norm_bg = color (default #000000 0)

Background colour of menu items, except the one currently selected.

color_norm_fg = color (default #eeeeee 100)

Font (foreground) colour of menu items, except the one currently selected.

color_sel_bg = color (default #ffffff 20)

Background color of the currently selected menu item.

color_sel_fg = color (default #eeeeee 100)

Font (foreground) color of the currently selected menu item.

color_sel_border = color (default #eeeeee 8)

Border color of the currently selected menu item.

color_sep_fg = color (default #ffffff 20)

Font (foreground) colour of separators without text

color_title_fg = color (default #eeeeee 50)

Font (foreground) colour of separators with text. The font colour can be overridden by sep_markup

color_title_bg = color (default #000000 0)

Background colour of separators with text.

color_title_border = color (default #000000 0)

Border colour of separators with text.

color_scroll_ind = color (default #eeeeee 40)

Colour of scroll indicator lines (which show if there are menu items above or below those which are visible).

CSV generator variables

The following variables begin with csv_ which denotes that they set environment variables which are used by the CSV generators.
= string (default %n (%g))

Defines the format of the name field for CSV generators. Supported by apps and lx. It understands the following two fields:


Application name


Application generic name. If a generic name does not exist or is the same as the name, %n will be used without any formatting.

csv_single_window = boolean (default 0)

If set, csv-generators will output ^root() instead of ^checkout(). This results in a single window menu, where submenus appear in the same window. This is supported by apps and pmenu.

csv_no_dirs = boolean (default 0)

If set, csv-generators will output applications without any directory structure. This is supported by apps, pmenu and lx.

csv_i18n = string (no default)

Look for a translation file in the specified file or directory. See `jgmenu-i18n(1) for further details. Supported by apps and ob.

csv_no_duplicates = boolean (default 0)

Restrict applications to appear in one directory only. Supported by apps.

Inter-Process Communication (IPC)

IPC can be used to align jgmenu to a panel launcher in real-time. This is currently supported by tint2 and xfce-panel. It works as follows:

jgmenu_run reads the environment variables listed below and passes them via a unix socket to the long-running instance of jgmenu.

If position_mode=ipc, jgmenu aligns to these variables every times it is launched.

The following four environment variables define the extremities of the panel: TINT2_BUTTON_PANEL_X1, TINT2_BUTTON_PANEL_X2, TINT2_BUTTON_PANEL_Y1, TINT2_BUTTON_PANEL_Y2.

║ panel                ║

The following environment variables define the position of the launcher. These are interpreted differently depending on panel alignment.

In the case of a horizontal panel:

TINT2_BUTTON_ALIGNED_X1 and TINT2_BUTTON_ALIGNED_X2 define the launcher button’s horizontal extremities to align to.

TINT2_BUTTON_ALIGNED_Y1 and TINT2_BUTTON_ALIGNED_Y2 define the edge of the panel to align to. These shall be the same.

In the case or a vertical panel, the same rules apply with X and Y reversed.

If the above variables are not set, menu_margin_x and menu_margin_y are used.


General Notes


Refers to space outside an object


Refers to space inside an object (between border and content)

Vertical Menu

║            1           ║
║            2           ║
║          item          ║
║            2           ║
║          item          ║
║            2           ║
║            3           ║

1. menu_padding_top
2. item_margin_y
3. menu_padding_bottom

Horizontal Menu

║ │ │                │ │ ║
║ │ ├────────────────┤ │ ║
║ │ │icon   text    >│ │ ║
║ │ ├────────────────┤ │ ║
║2│1│                │1│3║
║ │ ├────┬─┬───────┬─┤ │ ║
║ │ │ 4  │5│       │6│ │ ║
║ │ ├────┴─┴───────┴─┤ │ ║
║ │ │                │ │ ║
║ │ │                │ │ ║

1. item_margin_x
2. padding_left
3. padding_right
4. icon_size
5. icon_to_text_spacing
6. arrow_width

External to menu

║    2                   ║
║ ┌──────┐               ║
║ │ root │ ┌──────┐      ║
║1│ menu │ │ sub  │      ║
║ │      │3│ menu │      ║
║ └──────┘ │      │      ║
║          └──────┘      ║
║                        ║
║                        ║
║                        ║

1. menu_margin_x
2. menu_margin_y
3. sub_spacing


A hook in jgmenu is a rule which optionally triggers a command and then performs a restart if a file or directory has has changed since the last time the instance of jgmenu was mapped (=made visible - normally by running jgmenu_run).

Hooks are specified in the file $HOME/.config/jgmenu/hooks are take the format


For example, to synchronise with the GTK theme, use this hook:

~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini,jgmenu_run gtktheme

Leave the <command> empty to just restart.

A number of restart-hooks are built-in by default, for example ~/.config/jgmenu/{jgmenurc,append.csv,prepend.csv} and /usr/share/applications.

To list all the built-in hooks, use the keyword print in the hook file (on a line on its own). In order to remove all the built-in hooks, use the keyword clear.


Unless the --vsimple argument is used, the file ~/.config/jgmenu/startup is executed on initial startup.





The jgmenu source code and documentation can be downloaded from <https://github.com/johanmalm/jgmenu/>


Johan Malm.

Updated 2024-01-29 - jenkler.se | uex.se