Default configuration file documentation

This document explains the default rc.lua file provided by Awesome.

awesome_mode: api-level=4:screen=on If LuaRocks is installed, make sure that packages installed through it are found (e.g. lgi). If LuaRocks is not installed, do nothing.

pcall(require, "luarocks.loader")

The Awesome API is distributed across many libraries (also called modules).

Here are the modules that we import:

gearsUtilities such as color parsing and objects
wiboxAwesome own generic widget framework
awfulEverything related to window managment
menubarXDG (application) menu implementation
beautifulAwesome theme module

Standard awesome library

local gears = require("gears")
local awful = require("awful")

Widget and layout library

local wibox = require("wibox")

Theme handling library

local beautiful = require("beautiful")

Notification library

local naughty = require("naughty")

Declarative object management

local ruled = require("ruled")
local menubar = require("menubar")
local hotkeys_popup = require("awful.hotkeys_popup")

Enable hotkeys help widget for VIM and other apps when client with a matching name is opened:


Error handling

Check if awesome encountered an error during startup and fell back to another config (This code will only ever execute for the fallback config)

Awesome is a window managing framework. It allows its users great (ultimate?) flexibility. However, it also allows the user to write invalid code. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of possible errors:

  • Syntax: There is an awesome -k option available in the command line to check the configuration file. Awesome cannot start with an invalid rc.lua
  • Invalid APIs and type errors: Lua is a dynamic language. It doesn’t have much support for static/compile time checks. There is the luacheck utility to help find some categories of errors. Those errors will cause Awesome to “drop” the current call stack and start over. Note that if it cannot reach the end of the rc.lua without errors, it will fall back to the original file.
  • Invalid logic: It is possible to write fully valid code that will render Awesome unusable (like an infinite loop or blocking commands). In that case, the best way to debug this is either using print() or using gdb. For this, see the Debugging tips Readme section
  • Deprecated APIs: The Awesome API is not frozen for eternity. After a decade of development and recent changes to enforce consistency, it hasn’t changed much. This doesn’t mean it won’t change in the future. Whenever possible, changes won’t cause errors but will instead print a deprecation message in the Awesome logs. These logs are placed in various places depending on the distribution. By default, Awesome will print errors on stderr and stdout.
naughty.connect_signal("request::display_error", function(message, startup)
    naughty.notification {
        urgency = "critical",
        title   = "Oops, an error happened"..(startup and " during startup!" or "!"),
        message = message

Variable definitions

To create custom themes, the easiest way is to copy the default theme folder from /usr/share/awesome/themes/ into ~/.config/awesome and modify it.

Awesome currently doesn’t behave well without a theme containing all the “basic” variables such as bg_normal. To get a list of all official variables, see the appearance guide. Themes define colours, icons, font and wallpapers.

beautiful.init(gears.filesystem.get_themes_dir() .. "default/theme.lua")

  This is used later as the default terminal and editor to run.

terminal = "xterm"
editor = os.getenv("EDITOR") or "nano"
editor_cmd = terminal .. " -e " .. editor

Default modkey. Usually, Mod4 is the key with a logo between Control and Alt. If you do not like this or do not have such a key, I suggest you to remap Mod4 to another key using xmodmap or other tools. However, you can use another modifier like Mod1, but it may interact with others.

modkey = "Mod4"


  Create a launcher widget and a main menu

myawesomemenu = {
   { "hotkeys", function() hotkeys_popup.show_help(nil, awful.screen.focused()) end },
   { "manual", terminal .. " -e man awesome" },
   { "edit config", editor_cmd .. " " .. awesome.conffile },
   { "restart", awesome.restart },
   { "quit", function() awesome.quit() end },

mymainmenu ={ items = { { "awesome", myawesomemenu, beautiful.awesome_icon },
                                    { "open terminal", terminal }

mylauncher = awful.widget.launcher({ image = beautiful.awesome_icon,
                                     menu = mymainmenu })

Menubar configuration

menubar.utils.terminal = terminal -- Set the terminal for applications that require it


  Table of layouts to cover with, order matters.

tag.connect_signal("request::default_layouts", function()


Keyboard map indicator and switcher

mykeyboardlayout = awful.widget.keyboardlayout()

Create a textclock widget

mytextclock = wibox.widget.textclock()

screen.connect_signal("request::wallpaper", function(s)
    -- Wallpaper
    if beautiful.wallpaper then
        local wallpaper = beautiful.wallpaper
        -- If wallpaper is a function, call it with the screen
        if type(wallpaper) == "function" then
            wallpaper = wallpaper(s)
        gears.wallpaper.maximized(wallpaper, s, true)


screen.connect_signal("request::desktop_decoration", function(s)
    -- Each screen has its own tag table.
    awful.tag({ "1", "2", "3", "4", "5", "6", "7", "8", "9" }, s, awful.layout.layouts[1])

    -- Create a promptbox for each screen
    s.mypromptbox = awful.widget.prompt()

    -- Create an imagebox widget which will contain an icon indicating which layout we're using.
    -- We need one layoutbox per screen.
    s.mylayoutbox = awful.widget.layoutbox {
        screen  = s,
        buttons = {
            awful.button({ }, 1, function () 1) end),
            awful.button({ }, 3, function () end),
            awful.button({ }, 4, function () 1) end),
            awful.button({ }, 5, function () end),

    -- Create a taglist widget
    s.mytaglist = awful.widget.taglist {
        screen  = s,
        filter  = awful.widget.taglist.filter.all,
        buttons = {
            awful.button({ }, 1, function(t) t:view_only() end),
            awful.button({ modkey }, 1, function(t)
                                            if client.focus then
            awful.button({ }, 3, awful.tag.viewtoggle),
            awful.button({ modkey }, 3, function(t)
                                            if client.focus then
            awful.button({ }, 4, function(t) awful.tag.viewnext(t.screen) end),
            awful.button({ }, 5, function(t) awful.tag.viewprev(t.screen) end),


-- Create a tasklist widget
s.mytasklist = awful.widget.tasklist {
    screen  = s,
    filter  = awful.widget.tasklist.filter.currenttags,
    buttons = {
        awful.button({ }, 1, function (c)
            c:activate { context = "tasklist", action = "toggle_minimization" }
        awful.button({ }, 3, function() { theme = { width = 250 } } end),
        awful.button({ }, 4, function() awful.client.focus.byidx( 1) end),
        awful.button({ }, 5, function() awful.client.focus.byidx(-1) end),


-- Create the wibox
s.mywibox = awful.wibar({ position = "top", screen = s })


-- Add widgets to the wibox
s.mywibox.widget = {
    layout = wibox.layout.align.horizontal,
    { -- Left widgets
        layout = wibox.layout.fixed.horizontal,
    s.mytasklist, -- Middle widget
    { -- Right widgets
        layout = wibox.layout.fixed.horizontal,

Mouse bindings


    awful.button({ }, 3, function () mymainmenu:toggle() end),
    awful.button({ }, 4, awful.tag.viewnext),
    awful.button({ }, 5, awful.tag.viewprev),

Key bindings

This section stores the global keybindings. A global keybinding is a shortcut that will be executed when the key is pressed. It is different from client keybindings. A client keybinding only works when a client is focused while a global one works all the time.

Each keybinding is stored in an awful.key object. When creating such an object, you need to provide a list of modifiers, a key or keycode, a callback function and extra metadata used for the awful.hotkeys_popup widget.

Common modifiers are:

Name Description
Mod4Also called Super, Windows and Command ⌘
Mod1Usually called Alt on PCs and Option on Macs
ShiftBoth left and right shift keys
ControlAlso called CTRL on some keyboards

Note that both Mod2 and Lock are ignored by default. If you wish to use them, add awful.key.ignore_modifiers = {} to your rc.lua. Mod3, Mod5 are usually not bound in most keyboard layouts. There is an X11 utility called xmodmap to bind them. See the ARCH Linux Wiki for more information.

The key or keycode is usually the same as the keyboard key, for example:

  • “a”
  • “Return”
  • “Shift_R”

Each key also has a code. This code depends on the exact keyboard layout. It can be obtained by reading the terminal output of the xev command. A keycode based keybinding will look like #123 where 123 is the keycode.

The callback has to be a function. Note that a function isn’t the same as a function call. If you use, for example, awful.tag.viewtoggle() as the callback, you store the result of the function. If you wish to use that function as a callback, just use awful.tag.viewtoggle. The same applies to methods. If you have to add parameters to the callback, wrap them in another function. For the toggle example, this would be function() awful.tag.viewtoggle(mouse.screen.tags[1]) end.

Note that global keybinding callbacks have no argument. If you wish to act on the current client, use the client keybindings table.

General Awesome keys

    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "s",      hotkeys_popup.show_help,
              {description="show help", group="awesome"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "w", function () mymainmenu:show() end,
              {description = "show main menu", group = "awesome"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "r", awesome.restart,
              {description = "reload awesome", group = "awesome"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "q", awesome.quit,
              {description = "quit awesome", group = "awesome"}),
    awful.key({ modkey }, "x",
              function ()
                    prompt       = "Run Lua code: ",
                    textbox      = awful.screen.focused().mypromptbox.widget,
                    exe_callback = awful.util.eval,
                    history_path = awful.util.get_cache_dir() .. "/history_eval"
              {description = "lua execute prompt", group = "awesome"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "Return", function () awful.spawn(terminal) end,
              {description = "open a terminal", group = "launcher"}),
    awful.key({ modkey },            "r",     function () awful.screen.focused().mypromptbox:run() end,
              {description = "run prompt", group = "launcher"}),
    awful.key({ modkey }, "p", function() end,
              {description = "show the menubar", group = "launcher"}),

Tags related keybindings

    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "Left",   awful.tag.viewprev,
              {description = "view previous", group = "tag"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "Right",  awful.tag.viewnext,
              {description = "view next", group = "tag"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "Escape", awful.tag.history.restore,
              {description = "go back", group = "tag"}),

Focus related keybindings

    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "j",
        function ()
            awful.client.focus.byidx( 1)
        {description = "focus next by index", group = "client"}
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "k",
        function ()
        {description = "focus previous by index", group = "client"}
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "Tab",
        function ()
            if client.focus then
        {description = "go back", group = "client"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "j", function () awful.screen.focus_relative( 1) end,
              {description = "focus the next screen", group = "screen"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "k", function () awful.screen.focus_relative(-1) end,
              {description = "focus the previous screen", group = "screen"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "n",
              function ()
                  local c = awful.client.restore()
                  -- Focus restored client
                  if c then
                    c:activate { raise = true, context = "key.unminimize" }
              {description = "restore minimized", group = "client"}),

Layout related keybindings

    awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "j", function () awful.client.swap.byidx(  1)    end,
              {description = "swap with next client by index", group = "client"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "k", function () awful.client.swap.byidx( -1)    end,
              {description = "swap with previous client by index", group = "client"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "u", awful.client.urgent.jumpto,
              {description = "jump to urgent client", group = "client"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "l",     function () awful.tag.incmwfact( 0.05)          end,
              {description = "increase master width factor", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "h",     function () awful.tag.incmwfact(-0.05)          end,
              {description = "decrease master width factor", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "h",     function () awful.tag.incnmaster( 1, nil, true) end,
              {description = "increase the number of master clients", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "l",     function () awful.tag.incnmaster(-1, nil, true) end,
              {description = "decrease the number of master clients", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "h",     function () awful.tag.incncol( 1, nil, true)    end,
              {description = "increase the number of columns", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "l",     function () awful.tag.incncol(-1, nil, true)    end,
              {description = "decrease the number of columns", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "space", function () 1)                end,
              {description = "select next", group = "layout"}),
    awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "space", function ()                end,
              {description = "select previous", group = "layout"}),


    awful.key {
        modifiers   = { modkey },
        keygroup    = "numrow",
        description = "only view tag",
        group       = "tag",
        on_press    = function (index)
            local screen = awful.screen.focused()
            local tag = screen.tags[index]
            if tag then
    awful.key {
        modifiers   = { modkey, "Control" },
        keygroup    = "numrow",
        description = "toggle tag",
        group       = "tag",
        on_press    = function (index)
            local screen = awful.screen.focused()
            local tag = screen.tags[index]
            if tag then
    awful.key {
        modifiers = { modkey, "Shift" },
        keygroup    = "numrow",
        description = "move focused client to tag",
        group       = "tag",
        on_press    = function (index)
            if client.focus then
                local tag = client.focus.screen.tags[index]
                if tag then
    awful.key {
        modifiers   = { modkey, "Control", "Shift" },
        keygroup    = "numrow",
        description = "toggle focused client on tag",
        group       = "tag",
        on_press    = function (index)
            if client.focus then
                local tag = client.focus.screen.tags[index]
                if tag then


client.connect_signal("request::default_mousebindings", function()
        awful.button({ }, 1, function (c)
            c:activate { context = "mouse_click" }
        awful.button({ modkey }, 1, function (c)
            c:activate { context = "mouse_click", action = "mouse_move"  }
        awful.button({ modkey }, 3, function (c)
            c:activate { context = "mouse_click", action = "mouse_resize"}

A client keybinding is a shortcut that will get the currently focused client as its first callback argument. For example, to toggle a property, the callback will look like function© c.sticky = not c.sticky end. For more information about the keybinding syntax, see the global keybindings section.

client.connect_signal("request::default_keybindings", function()
        awful.key({ modkey,           }, "f",
            function (c)
                c.fullscreen = not c.fullscreen
            {description = "toggle fullscreen", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "c",      function (c) c:kill()                         end,
                {description = "close", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "space",  awful.client.floating.toggle                     ,
                {description = "toggle floating", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "Return", function (c) c:swap(awful.client.getmaster()) end,
                {description = "move to master", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey,           }, "o",      function (c) c:move_to_screen()               end,
                {description = "move to screen", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey,           }, "t",      function (c) c.ontop = not c.ontop            end,
                {description = "toggle keep on top", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey,           }, "n",
            function (c)
                -- The client currently has the input focus, so it cannot be
                -- minimized, since minimized clients can't have the focus.
                c.minimized = true
            end ,
            {description = "minimize", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey,           }, "m",
            function (c)
                c.maximized = not c.maximized
            end ,
            {description = "(un)maximize", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey, "Control" }, "m",
            function (c)
                c.maximized_vertical = not c.maximized_vertical
            end ,
            {description = "(un)maximize vertically", group = "client"}),
        awful.key({ modkey, "Shift"   }, "m",
            function (c)
                c.maximized_horizontal = not c.maximized_horizontal
            end ,
            {description = "(un)maximize horizontally", group = "client"}),


Rules to apply to new clients.  

ruled.client.connect_signal("request::rules", function()


-- All clients will match this rule.
ruled.client.append_rule {
    id         = "global",
    rule       = { },
    properties = {
        focus     = awful.client.focus.filter,
        raise     = true,
        screen    = awful.screen.preferred,
        placement = awful.placement.no_overlap+awful.placement.no_offscreen


-- Floating clients.
ruled.client.append_rule {
    id       = "floating",
    rule_any = {
        instance = { "copyq", "pinentry" },
        class    = {
            "Arandr", "Blueman-manager", "Gpick", "Kruler", "Sxiv",
            "Tor Browser", "Wpa_gui", "veromix", "xtightvncviewer"
        -- Note that the name property shown in xprop might be set slightly after creation of the client
        -- and the name shown there might not match defined rules here.
        name    = {
            "Event Tester",  -- xev.
        role    = {
            "AlarmWindow",    -- Thunderbird's calendar.
            "ConfigManager",  -- Thunderbird's about:config.
            "pop-up",         -- e.g. Google Chrome's (detached) Developer Tools.
    properties = { floating = true }


-- Add titlebars to normal clients and dialogs
ruled.client.append_rule {

For client side decorations, clients might request no titlebars via Motif WM hints. To honor these hints, use: titlebars_enabled = function© return not c.requests_no_titlebar end

See client.requests_no_titlebar for more details.

id         = "titlebars",
rule_any   = { type = { "normal", "dialog" } },
properties = { titlebars_enabled = true      }

et Firefox to always map on the tag named "2" on screen 1.
uled.client.append_rule {
   rule       = { class = "Firefox"     },
   properties = { screen = 1, tag = "2" }


  Add a titlebar if titlebars_enabled is set to true in the rules.

client.connect_signal("request::titlebars", function(c)
    -- buttons for the titlebar
    local buttons = {
        awful.button({ }, 1, function()
            c:activate { context = "titlebar", action = "mouse_move"  }
        awful.button({ }, 3, function()
            c:activate { context = "titlebar", action = "mouse_resize"}

    awful.titlebar(c).widget = {
        { -- Left
            buttons = buttons,
            layout  = wibox.layout.fixed.horizontal
        { -- Middle
            { -- Title
                align  = "center",
                widget = awful.titlebar.widget.titlewidget(c)
            buttons = buttons,
            layout  = wibox.layout.flex.horizontal
        { -- Right
            awful.titlebar.widget.floatingbutton (c),
            awful.titlebar.widget.stickybutton   (c),
            awful.titlebar.widget.ontopbutton    (c),
            awful.titlebar.widget.closebutton    (c),
            layout = wibox.layout.fixed.horizontal()
        layout = wibox.layout.align.horizontal

Enable sloppy focus, so that focus follows mouse.

client.connect_signal("mouse::enter", function(c)
    c:activate { context = "mouse_enter", raise = false }
generated by LDoc 1.4.6 Last updated 2030-01-01 00:00:00