man pages section 1: User Commands

Exit Print View

Updated: July 2014

xset (1)


xset - user preference utility for X


/usr/bin/xset [-display display]
[-b] [b {on|off}] [b [volume [pitch [duration]]]]
[-bc] [bc]
[-c] [c {on|off}] [c [volume]]
[+dpms] [-dpms]
[dpms  standby  [  suspend  [  off]]]       [dpms force
[+fbpm] [-fbpm]
[fbpm force {standby|suspend|off|on}]
[fp=pathlist]  [-fp=pathlist]  [+fp=pathlist]  [fp-pathlist]
[fp default] [fp rehash]
[-led [integer|named indicator]] [led [integer|named indica-
[led {on|off}]
[mouse [accel_mult[/accel_div] [threshold]]] [mouse default]
[p pixel color]
[-r  [keycode]]   [r  [keycode]]  [r {on|off}] [r rate delay
[s [length [period]]] [s {blank|noblank}]  [s  {expose|noex-
pose}] [s {on|off}] [s default] [s activate] [s reset]


User Commands                                             XSET(1)

     xset - user preference utility for X

     /usr/bin/xset [-display display]
     [-b] [b {on|off}] [b [volume [pitch [duration]]]]
     [-bc] [bc]
     [-c] [c {on|off}] [c [volume]]
     [+dpms] [-dpms]
          [dpms  standby  [  suspend  [  off]]]       [dpms force
     [+fbpm] [-fbpm]
          [fbpm force {standby|suspend|off|on}]
     [fp=pathlist]  [-fp=pathlist]  [+fp=pathlist]  [fp-pathlist]
     [fp default] [fp rehash]
     [-led [integer|named indicator]] [led [integer|named indica-
     [led {on|off}]
     [mouse [accel_mult[/accel_div] [threshold]]] [mouse default]
     [p pixel color]
     [-r  [keycode]]   [r  [keycode]]  [r {on|off}] [r rate delay
     [s [length [period]]] [s {blank|noblank}]  [s  {expose|noex-
     pose}] [s {on|off}] [s default] [s activate] [s reset]

     This  program is used to set various user preference options
     of the display.

     -display display
             This option specifies the server to use; see X(5).

     b       The b option controls bell volume, pitch  and  dura-
             tion.   This  option  accepts  up to three numerical
             parameters, a preceding dash(-), or a 'on/off' flag.
             If  no  parameters  are  given,  or the 'on' flag is
             used, the system defaults will be used.  If the dash
             or 'off' are given, the bell will be turned off.  If
             only one numerical parameter is given, the bell vol-
             ume  will  be  set to that value, as a percentage of
             its maximum.  Likewise, the second numerical parame-
             ter  specifies  the  bell  pitch,  in hertz, and the
             third numerical parameter specifies the duration  in
             milliseconds.   Note  that not all hardware can vary
             the bell characteristics.  The X server will set the
             characteristics  of the bell as closely as it can to
             the user's specifications.

X Version 11         Last change: xset 1.2.3                    1

User Commands                                             XSET(1)

     bc      The bc option controls bug compatibility mode in the
             server,  if  possible;  a preceding dash(-) disables
             the mode, otherwise the mode  is  enabled.   Various
             pre-R4  clients pass illegal values in some protocol
             requests, and pre-R4 servers did not correctly  gen-
             erate errors in these cases.  Such clients, when run
             against an R4 server, will terminate  abnormally  or
             otherwise  fail  to operate correctly.  Bug compati-
             bility mode  explicitly  reintroduces  certain  bugs
             into  the  X  server,  so that many such clients can
             still be run.  This mode should be used  with  care;
             new application development should be done with this
             mode disabled.  The server  must  support  the  MIT-
             SUNDRY-NONSTANDARD  protocol  extension in order for
             this option to work.

     c       The c option controls key click.   This  option  can
             take  an  optional value, a preceding dash(-), or an
             'on/off' flag.  If no parameter or the 'on' flag  is
             given, the system defaults will be used. If the dash
             or 'off' flag is used, keyclick  will  be  disabled.
             If  a  value  from  0 to 100 is given, it is used to
             indicate volume, as a  percentage  of  the  maximum.
             The  X  server  will  set  the volume to the nearest
             value that the hardware can support.

     -dpms   The -dpms option disables DPMS  (Energy  Star)  fea-

     +dpms   The  +dpms  option  enables  DPMS (Energy Star) fea-

     dpms flags...
             The dpms option allows the DPMS (Energy Star) param-
             eters  to  be  set.  The option can take up to three
             numerical values, or the `force' flag followed by  a
             DPMS  state.  The `force' flags forces the server to
             immediately switch to the DPMS state specified.  The
             DPMS  state  can  be  one  of  `standby', `suspend',
             `off', or `on'.  When numerical  values  are  given,
             they set the inactivity period (in units of seconds)
             before the three modes  are  activated.   The  first
             value given is for the `standby' mode, the second is
             for the `suspend' mode, and the  third  is  for  the
             `off' mode.  Setting these values implicitly enables
             the DPMS features.  A value of zero disables a  par-
             ticular  mode.   Note that standby is less than sus-
             pend is less than off, if this condition is not met,
             an error is produced.

     +fbpm   Enable  frame  buffer  power  management. NOTE: FBPM
             timing is linked  to  DPMS,  See  DPMS  for  default

X Version 11         Last change: xset 1.2.3                    2

User Commands                                             XSET(1)

             timeout values.

     -fbpm   Disable  frame  buffer  power management. NOTE: Does
             not affect DPMS timeouts.

     fbpm force standby
             Force to standby power level.

     fbpm force suspend
             Force to suspend power level.

     fbpm force off
             Force power to off.

     fbpm force on
             Force power to on.

     fp= path,...
             The fp= sets the font path to the entries  given  in
             the  path  argument.  The entries are interpreted by
             the server, not by the client.  Typically  they  are
             directory names or font server names, but the inter-
             pretation is server-dependent.

     fp default
             The default argument causes  the  font  path  to  be
             reset to the server's default.

     fp rehash
             The rehash argument resets the font path to its cur-
             rent value, causing the server to  reread  the  font
             databases  in the current font path.  This is gener-
             ally only used when  adding  new  fonts  to  a  font
             directory  (after  running mkfontdir to recreate the
             font database).

     -fp or fp-
             The -fp and fp- options  remove  elements  from  the
             current  font  path.   They  must  be  followed by a
             comma-separated list of entries.

     +fp or fp+
             This +fp and fp+ options prepend and append elements
             to  the  current font path, respectively.  They must
             be followed by a comma-separated list of entries.

     led     The led option controls  the  keyboard  LEDs.   This
             controls  the turning on or off of one or all of the
             LEDs.  It accepts an optional integer,  a  preceding
             dash(-) or an 'on/off' flag.  If no parameter or the
             'on' flag is given, all LEDs are turned  on.   If  a
             preceding  dash or the flag 'off' is given, all LEDs

X Version 11         Last change: xset 1.2.3                    3

User Commands                                             XSET(1)

             are turned off.  If a value  between  1  and  32  is
             given,  that  LED will be turned on or off depending
             on the existence of a preceding  dash.   ``xset  led
             3''  would  turn  led  #3 on.  ``xset -led 3'' would
             turn it off.  The particular LED values may refer to
             different  LEDs  on  different  hardware.   If the X
             server supports the XKEYBOARD (XKB) extension,  leds
             may be referenced by the XKB indicator name by spec-
             ifying the `named' keyword and the  indicator  name.
             For example, to turn on the Scroll Lock LED:

             xset led named "Scroll Lock"

     mouse   The  m  option controls the mouse parameters; it may
             be abbreviated to 'm'. Of course, it applies to most
             pointing  devices, not just mice. The parameters for
             the pointing device are `acceleration' and  `thresh-
             old'.  The acceleration can be specified as an inte-
             ger, or as a simple fraction. Threshold is  just  an
             integer.  The  setting  is  applied to all connected
             pointing devices. xinput(1) should be  used  if  you
             need device-specific settings.

     By  default the pointer (the on-screen representation of the
     pointing device) will go `acceleration' times as  fast  when
     the  device  travels  more  than  `threshold'  mickeys (i.e.
     would-be pixels) in 10  ms,  including  a  small  transition
     range. This way, the pointing device can be used for precise
     alignment when it is moved slowly, yet  it  can  be  set  to
     travel  across  the  screen  in  a  flick  of the wrist when
     desired.  One or both parameters for the  m  option  can  be
     omitted, but if only one is given, it will be interpreted as
     the acceleration.  If no parameters or the flag 'default' is
     used, the system defaults will be set.

     If  the `threshold' parameter is provided and 0, the `accel-
     eration' parameter will be used in the exponent  of  a  more
     natural  and  continuous formula, giving precise control for
     slow motion but big reach for fast motion, and a progressive
     transition  for  motions in between.  Recommended `accelera-
     tion' value in this case is 3/2 to 3,  but  not  limited  to
     that range.

     In the X Server 1.6 and above, the behaviour described
     so far is linked to the default  profile.  There  are  other
     profiles  (i.e.  functions  determining pointer acceleration
     from device velocity) and additional settings, so the  above
     description may not apply to non-default cases. In the
     Server 1.7, these are available as input  device  properties
     (see xinput).

X Version 11         Last change: xset 1.2.3                    4

User Commands                                             XSET(1)

     p       The  p  option  controls  pixel  color  values.  The
             parameters are the color map entry number  in  deci-
             mal, and a color specification.  The root background
             colors may be changed on some  servers  by  altering
             the entries for BlackPixel and WhitePixel.  Although
             these are often 0 and 1, they need not be.  Also,  a
             server  may  choose  to  allocate  those colors pri-
             vately, in which case an error  will  be  generated.
             The  map  entry must not be a read-only color, or an
             error will result.

     r       The r option controls the autorepeat.  Invoking with
             "-r",  or  "r off", will disable autorepeat, whereas
             "r", or "r on" will  enable  autorepeat.   Following
             the  "-r"  or  "r"  option  with  an integer keycode
             between 0 and 255 will disable or enable  autorepeat
             on that key respectively, but only if it makes sense
             for the particular keycode.  Keycodes  below  8  are
             not  typically  valid  for  this  command.  Example:
             "xset -r 10" will disable autorepeat for the "1" key
             on the top row of an IBM PC keyboard.

             If  the  server supports the XFree86-Misc extension,
             or the XKB extension, then a parameter of 'rate'  is
             accepted  and should be followed by zero, one or two
             numeric values. The first specifies the delay before
             autorepeat  starts  and  the  second  specifies  the
             repeat rate.  In the case that the  server  supports
             the  XKB  extension, the delay is the number of mil-
             liseconds before autorepeat starts, and the rate  is
             the  number  of  repeats per second.  If the rate or
             delay is not given, it will be set  to  the  default

     s       The  s  option lets you set the screen saver parame-
             ters.  This  option  accepts  up  to  two  numerical
             parameters, a 'blank/noblank' flag, an 'expose/noex-
             pose' flag, an 'on/off'  flag,  an  'activate/reset'
             flag,  or  the  'default' flag.  If no parameters or
             the 'default' flag is used, the system will  be  set
             to  its  default  screen saver characteristics.  The
             'on/off' flags simply turn the  screen  saver  func-
             tions on or off.  The 'activate' flag forces activa-
             tion of screen saver even if the  screen  saver  had
             been  turned off.  The 'reset' flag forces deactiva-
             tion of screen saver if it is active.   The  'blank'
             flag  sets the preference to blank the video (if the
             hardware can do so) rather than display a background
             pattern, while 'noblank' sets the preference to dis-
             play a pattern rather than  blank  the  video.   The
             'expose'  flag  sets  the preference to allow window
             exposures (the  server  can  freely  discard  window

X Version 11         Last change: xset 1.2.3                    5

User Commands                                             XSET(1)

             contents),  while  'noexpose' sets the preference to
             disable screen saver unless the server can  regener-
             ate  the  screens  without  causing exposure events.
             The length and  period  parameters  for  the  screen
             saver  function  determines how long the server must
             be inactive for screen saving to activate,  and  the
             period  to  change  the  background pattern to avoid
             burn in.  The arguments are  specified  in  seconds.
             If only one numerical parameter is given, it will be
             used for the length.

     q       The q option gives you information  on  the  current

             The  -version  option prints the program version and
             exits without doing anything else.

     These settings will be reset to default values when you  log

     Note  that not all X implementations are guaranteed to honor
     all of these options.

     X(5), Xserver(1),  xmodmap(1),  xrdb(1),  xsetroot(1),  xin-

     Bob Scheifler, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
     David Krikorian, MIT Project Athena (X11 version)
     XFree86-Misc support added by David Dawes and Joe Moss
     Manpage updates added by Mike A. Harris <>

     See  attributes(5)  for  descriptions   of   the   following

     |      ATTRIBUTE TYPE         |      ATTRIBUTE VALUE        |
     |Availability                 |x11/x11-server-utilities     |
     |Interface Stability          |Uncommitted                  |

X Version 11         Last change: xset 1.2.3                    6