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CWM(1) General Commands Manual CWM(1)

cwma lightweight and efficient window manager for X11

cwm [-nv] [-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, while maintaining the simplest and most pleasant aesthetic.

The options are as follows:

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 ; however, cwm will continue to process the rest of the configuration file.
Specify the display to use.
Configtest mode. Only check the configuration file for validity.
Verbose mode. Multiple -v options increase the verbosity.

cwm actions are initiated either via key or mouse bindings. The following notations are used throughout this page:

Control key.
Meta key.
Shift key.
Mod4 (windows) key.
Left mouse button.
Middle mouse button.
Right mouse button.

The default key bindings are:

Spawn a new terminal.
Lock the screen.
Hide current window.
Lower current window.
Raise current window.
Search for windows.
Search for applications.
Label current window.
Cycle through currently visible windows.
Reverse cycle through currently visible windows.
Cycle through currently visible windows of the same window class.
Reverse cycle through currently visible windows of the same window class.
Close current window.
Toggle visibility of group n, where n is 1-9.
Toggle visibility of all groups.
Toggle group membership of current window.
Cycle through active groups.
Reverse cycle through active groups.
Toggle freezing geometry of current window.
Toggle stickiness of current window.
Toggle full-screen mode of current window.
Toggle maximization of current window.
Toggle vertical maximization of current window.
Toggle horizontal maximization of current window.
Move window by a small amount.
Move window by a large amount; see cwmrc(5).
Resize window by a small amount.
Resize window by a large amount; see cwmrc(5).
Spawn “exec program” dialog.
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.
Spawn “exec WindowManager” menu, allowing a switch to another window manager.

The default mouse bindings are:

Move current window.
Toggle group membership of current window.
Resize current window
Lower current window.
Hide current window.

The following key bindings may be used to navigate search and exec dialogs:

Select item.
or M-j
Next item.
or M-k
Previous item.
or C-h
Clear input.
List all available items.

cwm rereads its configuration file when it receives a hangup signal, SIGHUP, by executing itself with the name and arguments with which it was started. This is equivalent to the restart function.

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:

Window is currently focused.
Window is hidden.

cwm manages a list of applications defined with the command configuration option.

cwm has the ability to group windows together, and use the groups to perform operations on the entire group instead of just one window. 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:

Show list of currently defined windows. Selecting an item will warp to that window, unhiding it if necessary.
Show list of currently defined groups. Selecting an item will hide/unhide that group.
Show list of applications as defined in the configuration file. Selecting an item will spawn that application.

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

Default cwm configuration file.


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 OpenBSD 4.2.

cwm was developed by Marius Aamodt Eriksen ⟨⟩ with contributions from Andy Adamson ⟨⟩, Niels Provos ⟨⟩, and Antti Nykänen ⟨⟩. Ideas, discussion with many others.

July 20, 2023 OpenBSD-current