xmessage Man page

XMESSAGE(1) General Commands Manual XMESSAGE(1)


xmessage – display a message or query in a window (X-based /bin/echo)


xmessage [ -buttons label1[:value1],label2[:value2], … ] [ options ] -file filename
xmessage [ -buttons label1[:value1],label2[:value2], … ] [ options ] message …


The xmessage program displays a window containing a message from the
command line, a file, or standard input. Along the lower edge of the
message is row of buttons; clicking the left mouse button on any of
these buttons will cause xmessage to exit. Which button was pressed is
returned in the exit status and, optionally, by writing the label of
the button to standard output.

The program is typically used by shell scripts to display information
to the user or to ask the user to make a choice.

Unless a size is specified, xmessage sizes itself to fit the message,
up to a maximum size. If the message is too big for the window, xmes‐
sage will display scroll bars.


These are the command line options that xmessage understands, in addi‐
tion to the standard ones listed in X(7).

-buttons button,button,…
This option will cause xmessage to create one button for each
comma-separated button argument. The corresponding resource is
buttons. Each button consists of a label optionally followed
by a colon and an exit value. The label is the name of the
Command button widget created and will be the default text dis‐
played to the user. Since this is the name of the widget it
may be used to change any of the resources associated with that
button. The exit value will be returned by xmessage if that
button is selected. The default exit value is 100 plus the
button number. Buttons are numbered from the left starting
with one. The default string if no -buttons option is given is

-default label
Defines the button with a matching label to be the default. If
not specified there is no default. The corresponding resource
is defaultButton. Pressing Return anywhere in the xmessage
window will activate the default button. The default button
has a wider border than the others.

-file filename
File to display. The corresponding resource is file. A file‐
name of `-‘ reads from standard input. If this option is not
supplied, xmessage will display all non-option arguments in the
style of echo. Either -file or a message on the command line
should be provided, but not both.

-print This will cause the program to write the label of the button
pressed to standard output. Equivalent to setting the print‐
Value resource to TRUE. This is one way to get feedback as to
which button was pressed.

-center Pop up the window at the center of the screen. Equivalent to
setting the center resource to TRUE.

Pop up the window near the mouse cursor. Equivalent to setting
the nearMouse resource to TRUE.

-timeout secs
Exit with status 0 after secs seconds if the user has not
clicked on a button yet. The corresponding resource is time‐

Knowing the name and position in the hierarchy of each widget is useful
when specifying resources for them. In the following chart, the class
and name of each widget is given.

Xmessage (xmessage)
Form form
Text message
Command (label1)
Command (label2)

The program has a few top-level application resources that allow cus‐
tomizations that are specific to xmessage.

file A String specifying the file to display.

buttons A String specifying the buttons to display. See the -buttons
command-line option.

A String specifying a default button by label.

A Boolean value specifying whether the label of the button
pressed to exit the program is written to standard output. The
default is FALSE.

center A Boolean value specifying whether to pop up the window at the
center of the screen. The default is FALSE.

A Boolean value specifying whether to pop up the window near
the mouse cursor. The default is FALSE.

timeout The number of seconds after which to exit with status 0. The
default is 0, which means never time out.

maxHeight (class Maximum)
The maximum height of the text part of the window in pixels,
used if no size was specified in the geometry. The default is
0, which means use 70% of the height of the screen.

maxWidth (class Maximum)
The maximum width of the text part of the window in pixels,
used if no size was specified in the geometry. The default is
0, which means use 70% of the width of the screen.

exit immediately with an exit status of value (default 0).
This action can be used with translations to provide alternate
ways of exiting xmessage.

exit immediately with the exit status specified by the default
button. If there is no default button, this action has no

If it detects an error, xmessage returns 1, so this value should not be
used with a button.


X(7), echo, cat

Chris Peterson, MIT Project Athena
Stephen Gildea, X Consortium

X Version 11 xmessage 1.0.4 XMESSAGE(1)

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