top Man page

TOP(1) User Commands TOP(1)

NAME

top – display Linux processes

SYNOPSIS

top -hv|-bcHiOSs -d secs -n max -u|U user -p pid -o fld -w [cols]

The traditional switches `-‘ and whitespace are optional.

DESCRIPTION

The top program provides a dynamic real-time view of a running
system. It can display system summary information as well as a
list of processes or threads currently being managed by the Linux
kernel. The types of system summary information shown and the
types, order and size of information displayed for processes are
all user configurable and that configuration can be made persis‐
tent across restarts.

The program provides a limited interactive interface for process
manipulation as well as a much more extensive interface for per‐
sonal configuration — encompassing every aspect of its opera‐
tion. And while top is referred to throughout this document, you
are free to name the program anything you wish. That new name,
possibly an alias, will then be reflected on top’s display and
used when reading and writing a configuration file.

OVERVIEW
Documentation
The remaining Table of Contents

1. COMMAND-LINE Options
2. SUMMARY Display
a. UPTIME and LOAD Averages
b. TASK and CPU States
c. MEMORY Usage
3. FIELDS / Columns Display
a. DESCRIPTIONS of Fields
b. MANAGING Fields
4. INTERACTIVE Commands
a. GLOBAL Commands
b. SUMMARY AREA Commands
c. TASK AREA Commands
1. Appearance
2. Content
3. Size
4. Sorting
d. COLOR Mapping
5. ALTERNATE-DISPLAY Provisions
a. WINDOWS Overview
b. COMMANDS for Windows
c. SCROLLING a Window
d. SEARCHING in a Window
e. FILTERING in a Window
6. FILES
a. SYSTEM Configuration File
b. PERSONAL Configuration File
c. ADDING INSPECT Entries
7. STUPID TRICKS Sampler
a. Kernel Magic
b. Bouncing Windows
c. The Big Bird Window
d. The Ol’ Switcheroo
8. BUGS, 9. HISTORY Former top, 10. AUTHOR, 11. SEE Also

Operation
When operating top, the two most important keys are the help (h or
?) key and quit (‘q’) key. Alternatively, you could simply use
the traditional interrupt key (^C) when you’re done.

When started for the first time, you’ll be presented with these
traditional elements on the main top screen: 1) Summary Area; 2)
Fields/Columns Header; 3) Task Area. Each of these will be
explored in the sections that follow. There is also an Input/Mes‐
sage line between the Summary Area and Columns Header which needs
no further explanation.

The main top screen is generally quite adaptive to changes in ter‐
minal dimensions under X-Windows. Other top screens may be less
so, especially those with static text. It ultimately depends,
however, on your particular window manager and terminal emulator.
There may be occasions when their view of terminal size and cur‐
rent contents differs from top’s view, which is always based on
operating system calls.

Following any re-size operation, if a top screen is corrupted,
appears incomplete or disordered, simply typing something innocu‐
ous like a punctuation character or cursor motion key will usually
restore it. In extreme cases, the following sequence almost cer‐
tainly will:
key/cmd objective
^Z suspend top
fg resume top
force a screen redraw (if necessary)

But if the display is still corrupted, there is one more step you
could try. Insert this command after top has been suspended but
before resuming it.
key/cmd objective
reset restore your terminal settings

Note: the width of top’s display will be limited to 512 positions.
Displaying all fields requires approximately 250 characters.
Remaining screen width is usually allocated to any variable width
columns currently visible. The variable width columns, such as
COMMAND, are noted in topic 3a. DESCRIPTIONS of Fields. Actual
output width may also be influenced by the -w switch, which is
discussed in topic 1. COMMAND-LINE Options.

Lastly, some of top’s screens or functions require the use of cur‐
sor motion keys like the standard arrow keys plus the Home, End,
PgUp and PgDn keys. If your terminal or emulator does not provide
those keys, the following combinations are accepted as alterna‐
tives:
key equivalent-key-combinations
Up alt + \ or alt + k
Down alt + / or alt + j
Left alt + < or alt + h Right alt + > or alt + l (lower case L)
PgUp alt + Up or alt + ctrl + k
PgDn alt + Down or alt + ctrl + j
Home alt + Left or alt + ctrl + h
End alt + Right or alt + ctrl + l

The Up and Down arrow keys have special significance when prompted
for line input terminated with the key. Those keys, or
their aliases, can be used to retrieve previous input lines which
can then be edited and re-input. And there are four additional
keys available with line oriented input.
key special-significance
Up recall older strings for re-editing
Down recall newer strings or erase entire line
Insert toggle between insert and overtype modes
Delete character removed at cursor, moving others left
Home jump to beginning of input line
End jump to end of input line

Startup Defaults
The following startup defaults assume no configuration file, thus
no user customizations. Even so, items shown with an asterisk
(`*’) could be overridden through the command-line. All are
explained in detail in the sections that follow.

Global-defaults
A – Alt display Off (full-screen)
* d – Delay time 1.5 seconds
* H – Threads mode Off (summarize as tasks)
I – Irix mode On (no, `solaris’ smp)
* p – PID monitoring Off (show all processes)
* s – Secure mode Off (unsecured)
B – Bold enable On (yes, bold globally)
Summary-Area-defaults
l – Load Avg/Uptime On (thus program name)
t – Task/Cpu states On (1+1 lines, see `1′)
m – Mem/Swap usage On (2 lines worth)
1 – Single Cpu Off (thus multiple cpus)
Task-Area-defaults
b – Bold hilite Off (use `reverse’)
* c – Command line Off (name, not cmdline)
* i – Idle tasks On (show all tasks)
J – Num align right On (not left justify)
j – Str align right Off (not right justify)
R – Reverse sort On (pids high-to-low)
* S – Cumulative time Off (no, dead children)
* u – User filter Off (show euid only)
* U – User filter Off (show any uid)
V – Forest view On (show as branches)
x – Column hilite Off (no, sort field)
y – Row hilite On (yes, running tasks)
z – color/mono On (show colors)

1. COMMAND-LINE Options
The command-line syntax for top consists of:

-hv|-bcHiOSs -d secs -n max -u|U user -p pid -o fld -w [cols]

The typically mandatory switch (‘-‘) and even whitespace are com‐
pletely optional.

-h | -v :Help/Version
Show library version and the usage prompt, then quit.

-b :Batch-mode operation
Starts top in Batch mode, which could be useful for sending
output from top to other programs or to a file. In this
mode, top will not accept input and runs until the iterations
limit you’ve set with the `-n’ command-line option or until
killed.

-c :Command-line/Program-name toggle
Starts top with the last remembered `c’ state reversed.
Thus, if top was displaying command lines, now that field
will show program names, and visa versa. See the `c’ inter‐
active command for additional information.

-d :Delay-time interval as: -d ss.t (secs.tenths)
Specifies the delay between screen updates, and overrides the
corresponding value in one’s personal configuration file or
the startup default. Later this can be changed with the `d’
or `s’ interactive commands.

Fractional seconds are honored, but a negative number is not
allowed. In all cases, however, such changes are prohibited
if top is running in Secure mode, except for root (unless the
`s’ command-line option was used). For additional informa‐
tion on Secure mode see topic 6a. SYSTEM Configuration File.

-H :Threads-mode operation
Instructs top to display individual threads. Without this
command-line option a summation of all threads in each
process is shown. Later this can be changed with the `H’
interactive command.

-i :Idle-process toggle
Starts top with the last remembered `i’ state reversed. When
this toggle is Off, tasks that have not used any CPU since
the last update will not be displayed. For additional infor‐
mation regarding this toggle see topic 4c. TASK AREA Com‐
mands, SIZE.

-n :Number-of-iterations limit as: -n number
Specifies the maximum number of iterations, or frames, top
should produce before ending.

-o :Override-sort-field as: -o fieldname
Specifies the name of the field on which tasks will be
sorted, independent of what is reflected in the configuration
file. You can prepend a `+’ or `-‘ to the field name to also
override the sort direction. A leading `+’ will force sort‐
ing high to low, whereas a `-‘ will ensure a low to high
ordering.

This option exists primarily to support automated/scripted
batch mode operation.

-O :Output-field-names
This option acts as a form of help for the above -o option.
It will cause top to print each of the available field names
on a separate line, then quit. Such names are subject to nls
translation.

-p :Monitor-PIDs mode as: -pN1 -pN2 … or -pN1,N2,N3 …
Monitor only processes with specified process IDs. This
option can be given up to 20 times, or you can provide a
comma delimited list with up to 20 pids. Co-mingling both
approaches is permitted.

A pid value of zero will be treated as the process id of the
top program itself once it is running.

This is a command-line option only and should you wish to
return to normal operation, it is not necessary to quit and
restart top — just issue any of these interactive com‐
mands: `=’, `u’ or `U’.

The `p’, `u’ and `U’ command-line options are mutually exclu‐
sive.

-s :Secure-mode operation
Starts top with secure mode forced, even for root. This mode
is far better controlled through the system configuration
file (see topic 6. FILES).

-S :Cumulative-time toggle
Starts top with the last remembered `S’ state reversed. When
Cumulative time mode is On, each process is listed with the
cpu time that it and its dead children have used. See the
`S’ interactive command for additional information regarding
this mode.

-u | -U :User-filter-mode as: -u | -U number or name
Display only processes with a user id or user name matching
that given. The `-u’ option matches on effective user
whereas the `-U’ option matches on any user (real, effective,
saved, or filesystem).

Prepending an exclamation point (‘!’) to the user id or name
instructs top to display only processes with users not match‐
ing the one provided.

The `p’, `u’ and `U’ command-line options are mutually exclu‐
sive.

-w :Output-width-override as: -w [ number ] In Batch mode, when used without an argument top will format
output using the COLUMNS= and LINES= environment variables,
if set. Otherwise, width will be fixed at the maximum 512
columns. With an argument, output width can be decreased or
increased (up to 512) but the number of rows is considered
unlimited.

In normal display mode, when used without an argument top
will attempt to format output using the COLUMNS= and LINES=
environment variables, if set. With an argument, output
width can only be decreased, not increased. Whether using
environment variables or an argument with -w, when not in
Batch mode actual terminal dimensions can never be exceeded.

Note: Without the use of this command-line option, output
width is always based on the terminal at which top was
invoked whether or not in Batch mode.

2. SUMMARY Display
Each of the following three areas are individually controlled
through one or more interactive commands. See topic 4b. SUMMARY
AREA Commands for additional information regarding these provi‐
sions.

2a. UPTIME and LOAD Averages
This portion consists of a single line containing:
program or window name, depending on display mode
current time and length of time since last boot
total number of users
system load avg over the last 1, 5 and 15 minutes

2b. TASK and CPU States
This portion consists of a minimum of two lines. In an SMP envi‐
ronment, additional lines can reflect individual CPU state per‐
centages.

Line 1 shows total tasks or threads, depending on the state of the
Threads-mode toggle. That total is further classified as:
running; sleeping; stopped; zombie

Line 2 shows CPU state percentages based on the interval since the
last refresh.

As a default, percentages for these individual categories are dis‐
played. Where two labels are shown below, those for more recent
kernel versions are shown first.
us, user : time running un-niced user processes
sy, system : time running kernel processes
ni, nice : time running niced user processes
id, idle : time spent in the kernel idle handler
wa, IO-wait : time waiting for I/O completion
hi : time spent servicing hardware interrupts
si : time spent servicing software interrupts
st : time stolen from this vm by the hypervisor

In the alternate cpu states display modes, beyond the first
tasks/threads line, an abbreviated summary is shown consisting of
these elements:
a b c d
%Cpu(s): 75.0/25.0 100[ …

Where: a) is the combined us and ni percentage; b) is the sy per‐
centage; c) is the total; and d) is one of two visual graphs of
those representations. See topic 4b. SUMMARY AREA Commands and
the `t’ command for additional information on that special 4-way
toggle.

2c. MEMORY Usage
This portion consists of two lines which may express values in
kibibytes (KiB) through exbibytes (EiB) depending on the scaling
factor enforced with the `E’ interactive command.

As a default, Line 1 reflects physical memory, classified as:
total, free, used and buff/cache

Line 2 reflects mostly virtual memory, classified as:
total, free, used and avail (which is physical memory)

The avail number on line 2 is an estimation of physical memory
available for starting new applications, without swapping. Unlike
the free field, it attempts to account for readily reclaimable
page cache and memory slabs. It is available on kernels 3.14,
emulated on kernels 2.6.27+, otherwise the same as free.

In the alternate memory display modes, two abbreviated summary
lines are shown consisting of these elements:
a b c
GiB Mem : 18.7/15.738 [ …
GiB Swap: 0.0/7.999 [ …

Where: a) is the percentage used; b) is the total available; and
c) is one of two visual graphs of those representations.

In the case of physical memory, the percentage represents the
total minus the estimated avail noted above. The `Mem’ graph
itself is divided between used and any remaining memory not other‐
wise accounted for by avail. See topic 4b. SUMMARY AREA Commands
and the `m’ command for additional information on that special
4-way toggle.

This table may help in interpreting the scaled values displayed:
KiB = kibibyte = 1024 bytes
MiB = mebibyte = 1024 KiB = 1,048,576 bytes
GiB = gibibyte = 1024 MiB = 1,073,741,824 bytes
TiB = tebibyte = 1024 GiB = 1,099,511,627,776 bytes
PiB = pebibyte = 1024 TiB = 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes
EiB = exbibyte = 1024 PiB = 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes

3. FIELDS / Columns
3a. DESCRIPTIONS of Fields
Listed below are top’s available process fields (columns). They
are shown in strict ascii alphabetical order. You may customize
their position and whether or not they are displayable with the
`f’ or `F’ (Fields Management) interactive commands.

Any field is selectable as the sort field, and you control whether
they are sorted high-to-low or low-to-high. For additional infor‐
mation on sort provisions see topic 4c. TASK AREA Commands, SORT‐
ING.

The fields related to physical memory or virtual memory reference
`(KiB)’ which is the unsuffixed display mode. Such fields may,
however, be scaled from KiB through PiB. That scaling is influ‐
enced via the `e’ interactive command or established for startup
through a build option.

1. %CPU — CPU Usage
The task’s share of the elapsed CPU time since the last screen
update, expressed as a percentage of total CPU time.

In a true SMP environment, if a process is multi-threaded and
top is not operating in Threads mode, amounts greater than
100% may be reported. You toggle Threads mode with the `H’
interactive command.

Also for multi-processor environments, if Irix mode is Off,
top will operate in Solaris mode where a task’s cpu usage will
be divided by the total number of CPUs. You toggle
Irix/Solaris modes with the `I’ interactive command.

2. %MEM — Memory Usage (RES)
A task’s currently used share of available physical memory.

3. CGROUPS — Control Groups
The names of the control group(s) to which a process belongs,
or `-‘ if not applicable for that process.

Control Groups provide for allocating resources (cpu, memory,
network bandwidth, etc.) among installation-defined groups of
processes. They enable fine-grained control over allocating,
denying, prioritizing, managing and monitoring those
resources.

Many different hierarchies of cgroups can exist simultaneously
on a system and each hierarchy is attached to one or more sub‐
systems. A subsystem represents a single resource.

Note: The CGROUPS field, unlike most columns, is not fixed-
width. When displayed, it plus any other variable width col‐
umns will be allocated all remaining screen width (up to the
maximum 512 characters). Even so, such variable width fields
could still suffer truncation. See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Win‐
dow for additional information on accessing any truncated
data.

4. CODE — Code Size (KiB)
The amount of physical memory devoted to executable code, also
known as the Text Resident Set size or TRS.

5. COMMAND — Command Name or Command Line
Display the command line used to start a task or the name of
the associated program. You toggle between command line and
name with `c’, which is both a command-line option and an
interactive command.

When you’ve chosen to display command lines, processes without
a command line (like kernel threads) will be shown with only
the program name in brackets, as in this example:
[kthreadd]

This field may also be impacted by the forest view display
mode. See the `V’ interactive command for additional informa‐
tion regarding that mode.

Note: The COMMAND field, unlike most columns, is not fixed-
width. When displayed, it plus any other variable width col‐
umns will be allocated all remaining screen width (up to the
maximum 512 characters). Even so, such variable width fields
could still suffer truncation. This is especially true for
this field when command lines are being displayed (the `c’
interactive command.) See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window for
additional information on accessing any truncated data.

6. DATA — Data + Stack Size (KiB)
The amount of physical memory devoted to other than executable
code, also known as the Data Resident Set size or DRS.

7. ENVIRON — Environment variables
Display all of the environment variables, if any, as seen by
the respective processes. These variables will be displayed
in their raw native order, not the sorted order you are accus‐
tomed to seeing with an unqualified `set’.

Note: The ENVIRON field, unlike most columns, is not fixed-
width. When displayed, it plus any other variable width col‐
umns will be allocated all remaining screen width (up to the
maximum 512 characters). Even so, such variable width fields
could still suffer truncation. This is especially true for
this field. See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window for additional
information on accessing any truncated data.

8. Flags — Task Flags
This column represents the task’s current scheduling flags
which are expressed in hexadecimal notation and with zeros
suppressed. These flags are officially documented in .

9. GID — Group Id
The effective group ID.

10. GROUP — Group Name
The effective group name.

11. NI — Nice Value
The nice value of the task. A negative nice value means
higher priority, whereas a positive nice value means lower
priority. Zero in this field simply means priority will not
be adjusted in determining a task’s dispatch-ability.

12. P — Last used CPU (SMP)
A number representing the last used processor. In a true SMP
environment this will likely change frequently since the ker‐
nel intentionally uses weak affinity. Also, the very act of
running top may break this weak affinity and cause more pro‐
cesses to change CPUs more often (because of the extra demand
for cpu time).

13. PGRP — Process Group Id
Every process is member of a unique process group which is
used for distribution of signals and by terminals to arbitrate
requests for their input and output. When a process is cre‐
ated (forked), it becomes a member of the process group of its
parent. By convention, this value equals the process ID (see
PID) of the first member of a process group, called the
process group leader.

14. PID — Process Id
The task’s unique process ID, which periodically wraps, though
never restarting at zero. In kernel terms, it is a dispatch‐
able entity defined by a task_struct.

This value may also be used as: a process group ID (see PGRP);
a session ID for the session leader (see SID); a thread group
ID for the thread group leader (see TGID); and a TTY process
group ID for the process group leader (see TPGID).

15. PPID — Parent Process Id
The process ID (pid) of a task’s parent.

16. PR — Priority
The scheduling priority of the task. If you see `rt’ in this
field, it means the task is running under real time scheduling
priority.

Under linux, real time priority is somewhat misleading since
traditionally the operating itself was not preemptible. And
while the 2.6 kernel can be made mostly preemptible, it is not
always so.

17. RES — Resident Memory Size (KiB)
The non-swapped physical memory a task is using.

18. RUID — Real User Id
The real user ID.

19. RUSER — Real User Name
The real user name.

20. S — Process Status
The status of the task which can be one of:
D = uninterruptible sleep
R = running
S = sleeping
T = stopped by job control signal
t = stopped by debugger during trace
Z = zombie

Tasks shown as running should be more properly thought of as
ready to run — their task_struct is simply represented on
the Linux run-queue. Even without a true SMP machine, you may
see numerous tasks in this state depending on top’s delay
interval and nice value.

21. SHR — Shared Memory Size (KiB)
The amount of shared memory available to a task, not all of
which is typically resident. It simply reflects memory that
could be potentially shared with other processes.

22. SID — Session Id
A session is a collection of process groups (see PGRP), usu‐
ally established by the login shell. A newly forked process
joins the session of its creator. By convention, this value
equals the process ID (see PID) of the first member of the
session, called the session leader, which is usually the login
shell.

23. SUID — Saved User Id
The saved user ID.

24. SUPGIDS — Supplementary Group IDs
The IDs of any supplementary group(s) established at login or
inherited from a task’s parent. They are displayed in a comma
delimited list.

Note: The SUPGIDS field, unlike most columns, is not fixed-
width. When displayed, it plus any other variable width col‐
umns will be allocated all remaining screen width (up to the
maximum 512 characters). Even so, such variable width fields
could still suffer truncation. See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Win‐
dow for additional information on accessing any truncated
data.

25. SUPGRPS — Supplementary Group Names
The names of any supplementary group(s) established at login
or inherited from a task’s parent. They are displayed in a
comma delimited list.

Note: The SUPGRPS field, unlike most columns, is not fixed-
width. When displayed, it plus any other variable width col‐
umns will be allocated all remaining screen width (up to the
maximum 512 characters). Even so, such variable width fields
could still suffer truncation. See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Win‐
dow for additional information on accessing any truncated
data.

26. SUSER — Saved User Name
The saved user name.

27. SWAP — Swapped Size (KiB)
The non-resident portion of a task’s address space.

28. TGID — Thread Group Id
The ID of the thread group to which a task belongs. It is the
PID of the thread group leader. In kernel terms, it repre‐
sents those tasks that share an mm_struct.

29. TIME — CPU Time
Total CPU time the task has used since it started. When Cumu‐
lative mode is On, each process is listed with the cpu time
that it and its dead children have used. You toggle Cumula‐
tive mode with `S’, which is both a command-line option and an
interactive command. See the `S’ interactive command for
additional information regarding this mode.

30. TIME+ — CPU Time, hundredths
The same as TIME, but reflecting more granularity through hun‐
dredths of a second.

31. TPGID — Tty Process Group Id
The process group ID of the foreground process for the con‐
nected tty, or -1 if a process is not connected to a terminal.
By convention, this value equals the process ID (see PID) of
the process group leader (see PGRP).

32. TTY — Controlling Tty
The name of the controlling terminal. This is usually the
device (serial port, pty, etc.) from which the process was
started, and which it uses for input or output. However, a
task need not be associated with a terminal, in which case
you’ll see `?’ displayed.

33. UID — User Id
The effective user ID of the task’s owner.

34. USED — Memory in Use (KiB)
This field represents the non-swapped physical memory a task
has used (RES) plus the non-resident portion of its address
space (SWAP).

35. USER — User Name
The effective user name of the task’s owner.

36. VIRT — Virtual Memory Size (KiB)
The total amount of virtual memory used by the task. It
includes all code, data and shared libraries plus pages that
have been swapped out and pages that have been mapped but not
used.

37. WCHAN — Sleeping in Function
Depending on the availability of the kernel link map (Sys‐
tem.map), this field will show the name or the address of the
kernel function in which the task is currently sleeping. Run‐
ning tasks will display a dash (‘-‘) in this column.

By displaying this field, top’s own working set could be
increased by over 700Kb, depending on the kernel version.
Should that occur, your only means of reducing that overhead
will be to stop and restart top.

38. nDRT — Dirty Pages Count
The number of pages that have been modified since they were
last written to auxiliary storage. Dirty pages must be writ‐
ten to auxiliary storage before the corresponding physical
memory location can be used for some other virtual page.

39. nMaj — Major Page Fault Count
The number of major page faults that have occurred for a task.
A page fault occurs when a process attempts to read from or
write to a virtual page that is not currently present in its
address space. A major page fault is when auxiliary storage
access is involved in making that page available.

40. nMin — Minor Page Fault count
The number of minor page faults that have occurred for a task.
A page fault occurs when a process attempts to read from or
write to a virtual page that is not currently present in its
address space. A minor page fault does not involve auxiliary
storage access in making that page available.

41. nTH — Number of Threads
The number of threads associated with a process.

42. nsIPC — IPC namespace
The Inode of the namespace used to isolate interprocess commu‐
nication (IPC) resources such as System V IPC objects and
POSIX message queues.

43. nsMNT — MNT namespace
The Inode of the namespace used to isolate filesystem mount
points thus offering different views of the filesystem hierar‐
chy.

44. nsNET — NET namespace
The Inode of the namespace used to isolate resources such as
network devices, IP addresses, IP routing, port numbers, etc.

45. nsPID — PID namespace
The Inode of the namespace used to isolate process ID numbers
meaning they need not remain unique. Thus, each such names‐
pace could have its own `init’ (PID #1) to manage various ini‐
tialization tasks and reap orphaned child processes.

46. nsUSER — USER namespace
The Inode of the namespace used to isolate the user and group
ID numbers. Thus, a process could have a normal unprivileged
user ID outside a user namespace while having a user ID of 0,
with full root privileges, inside that namespace.

47. nsUTS — UTS namespace
The Inode of the namespace used to isolate hostname and NIS
domain name. UTS simply means “UNIX Time-sharing System”.

48. vMj — Major Page Fault Count Delta
The number of major page faults that have occurred since the
last update (see nMaj).

49. vMn — Minor Page Fault Count Delta
The number of minor page faults that have occurred since the
last update (see nMin).

3b. MANAGING Fields
After pressing the interactive command `f’ or `F’ (Fields Manage‐
ment) you will be presented with a screen showing: 1) the `cur‐
rent’ window name; 2) the designated sort field; 3) all fields in
their current order along with descriptions. Entries marked with
an asterisk are the currently displayed fields, screen width per‐
mitting.

· As the on screen instructions indicate, you navigate among
the fields with the Up and Down arrow keys. The PgUp,
PgDn, Home and End keys can also be used to quickly reach
the first or last available field.

· The Right arrow key selects a field for repositioning and
the Left arrow key or the key commits that field’s
placement.

· The `d’ key or the bar toggles a field’s display
status, and thus the presence or absence of the asterisk.

· The `s’ key designates a field as the sort field. See
topic 4c. TASK AREA Commands, SORTING for additional infor‐
mation regarding your selection of a sort field.

· The `a’ and `w’ keys can be used to cycle through all
available windows and the `q’ or keys exit Fields
Management.

The Fields Management screen can also be used to change the `cur‐
rent’ window/field group in either full-screen mode or alter‐
nate-display mode. Whatever was targeted when `q’ or was
pressed will be made current as you return to the top display.
See topic 5. ALTERNATE-DISPLAY Provisions and the `g’ interactive
command for insight into `current’ windows and field groups.

Note: Any window that has been scrolled horizontally will be reset
if any field changes are made via the Fields Management screen.
Any vertical scrolled position, however, will not be affected.
See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window for additional information
regarding vertical and horizontal scrolling.

4. INTERACTIVE Commands
Listed below is a brief index of commands within categories. Some
commands appear more than once — their meaning or scope may
vary depending on the context in which they are issued.

4a. Global-Commands
?, =, 0,
A, B, d, E, e, g, h, H, I, k, q, r, s, W, X, Y, Z
4b. Summary-Area-Commands
C, l, t, m, 1, 2, 3
4c. Task-Area-Commands
Appearance: b, J, j, x, y, z
Content: c, f, F, o, O, S, u, U, V
Size: #, i, n
Sorting: <, >, f, F, R
4d. Color-Mapping
, a, B, b, H, M, q, S, T, w, z, 0 – 7
5b. Commands-for-Windows
-, _, =, +, A, a, g, G, w
5c. Scrolling-a-Window
C, Up, Dn, Left, Right, PgUp, PgDn, Home, End
5d. Searching-in-a-Window
L, &

4a. GLOBAL Commands
The global interactive commands are always available in both
full-screen mode and alternate-display mode. However, some of
these interactive commands are not available when running in
Secure mode.

If you wish to know in advance whether or not your top has been
secured, simply ask for help and view the system summary on the
second line.

or :Refresh-Display
These commands awaken top and following receipt of any
input the entire display will be repainted. They also
force an update of any hotplugged cpu or physical memory
changes.

Use either of these keys if you have a large delay interval
and wish to see current status,

? | h :Help
There are two help levels available. The first will pro‐
vide a reminder of all the basic interactive commands. If
top is secured, that screen will be abbreviated.

Typing `h’ or `?’ on that help screen will take you to help
for those interactive commands applicable to alternate-dis‐
play mode.

= :Exit-Task-Limits
Removes restrictions on which tasks are shown. This com‐
mand will reverse any `i’ (idle tasks) and `n’ (max tasks)
commands that might be active. It also provides for an
exit from PID monitoring, User filtering and Other filter‐
ing. See the `-p’ command-line option for a discussion of
PID monitoring, the `U’ or `u’ interactive commands for
User filtering and the `O’ or `o’ interactive commands for
Other filtering.

Additionally, any window that has been scrolled will be
reset with this command. See topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window
for additional information regarding vertical and horizon‐
tal scrolling.

When operating in alternate-display mode this command has a
broader meaning.

0 :Zero-Suppress toggle
This command determines whether zeros are shown or sup‐
pressed for many of the fields in a task window. Fields
like UID, GID, NI, PR or P are not affected by this toggle.

A :Alternate-Display-Mode toggle
This command will switch between full-screen mode and
alternate-display mode. See topic 5. ALTERNATE-DISPLAY
Provisions and the `g’ interactive command for insight into
`current’ windows and field groups.

B :Bold-Disable/Enable toggle
This command will influence use of the bold terminfo capa‐
bility and alters both the summary area and task area for
the `current’ window. While it is intended primarily for
use with dumb terminals, it can be applied anytime.

Note: When this toggle is On and top is operating in mono‐
chrome mode, the entire display will appear as normal text.
Thus, unless the `x’ and/or `y’ toggles are using reverse
for emphasis, there will be no visual confirmation that
they are even on.

* d | s :Change-Delay-Time-interval
You will be prompted to enter the delay time, in seconds,
between display updates.

Fractional seconds are honored, but a negative number is
not allowed. Entering 0 causes (nearly) continuous
updates, with an unsatisfactory display as the system and
tty driver try to keep up with top’s demands. The delay
value is inversely proportional to system loading, so set
it with care.

If at any time you wish to know the current delay time,
simply ask for help and view the system summary on the sec‐
ond line.

E :Extend-Memory-Scale in Summary Area
With this command you can cycle through the available sum‐
mary area memory scaling which ranges from KiB (kibibytes
or 1,024 bytes) through EiB (exbibytes or
1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes).

If you see a `+’ between a displayed number and the follow‐
ing label, it means that top was forced to truncate some
portion of that number. By raising the scaling factor,
such truncation can be avoided.

e :Extend-Memory-Scale in Task Windows
With this command you can cycle through the available task
window memory scaling which ranges from KiB (kibibytes or
1,024 bytes) through PiB (pebibytes or
1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes).

While top will try to honor the selected target range,
additional scaling might still be necessary in order to
accommodate current values. If you wish to see a more
homogeneous result in the memory columns, raising the scal‐
ing range will usually accomplish that goal. Raising it
too high, however, is likely to produce an all zero result
which cannot be suppressed with the `0′ interactive com‐
mand.

g :Choose-Another-Window/Field-Group
You will be prompted to enter a number between 1 and 4 des‐
ignating the field group which should be made the `current’
window. You will soon grow comfortable with these 4 win‐
dows, especially after experimenting with alternate-display
mode.

H :Threads-mode toggle
When this toggle is On, individual threads will be dis‐
played for all processes in all visible task windows. Oth‐
erwise, top displays a summation of all threads in each
process.

I :Irix/Solaris-Mode toggle
When operating in Solaris mode (`I’ toggled Off), a task’s
cpu usage will be divided by the total number of CPUs.
After issuing this command, you’ll be told the new state of
this toggle.

* k :Kill-a-task
You will be prompted for a PID and then the signal to send.

Entering no PID or a negative number will be interpreted as
the default shown in the prompt (the first task displayed).
A PID value of zero means the top program itself.

The default signal, as reflected in the prompt, is SIGTERM.
However, you can send any signal, via number or name.

If you wish to abort the kill process, do one of the fol‐
lowing depending on your progress:
1) at the pid prompt, type an invalid number
2) at the signal prompt, type 0 (or any invalid signal)
3) at any prompt, type

q :Quit

* r :Renice-a-Task
You will be prompted for a PID and then the value to nice
it to.

Entering no PID or a negative number will be interpreted as
the default shown in the prompt (the first task displayed).
A PID value of zero means the top program itself.

A positive nice value will cause a process to lose prior‐
ity. Conversely, a negative nice value will cause a
process to be viewed more favorably by the kernel. As a
general rule, ordinary users can only increase the nice
value and are prevented from lowering it.

If you wish to abort the renice process, do one of the fol‐
lowing depending on your progress:
1) at the pid prompt, type an invalid number
2) at the nice prompt, type with no input
3) at any prompt, type

W :Write-the-Configuration-File
This will save all of your options and toggles plus the
current display mode and delay time. By issuing this com‐
mand just before quitting top, you will be able restart
later in exactly that same state.

X :Extra-Fixed-Width
Some fields are fixed width and not scalable. As such,
they are subject to truncation which would be indicated by
a `+’ in the last position.

This interactive command can be used to alter the widths of
the following fields:

field default field default field default
GID 5 GROUP 8 WCHAN 10
RUID 5 RUSER 8 nsIPC 10
SUID 5 SUSER 8 nsMNT 10
UID 5 USER 8 nsNET 10
TTY 8 nsPID 10
nsUSER 10
nsUTS 10

You will be prompted for the amount to be added to the
default widths shown above. Entering zero forces a return
to those defaults.

If you enter a negative number, top will automatically
increase the column size as needed until there is no more
truncated data. You can accelerate this process by reduc‐
ing the delay interval or holding down the bar.

Note: Whether explicitly or automatically increased, the
widths for these fields are never decreased by top. To
narrow them you must specify a smaller number or restore
the defaults.

Y :Inspect-Other-Output
After issuing the `Y’ interactive command, you will be
prompted for a target PID. Typing a value or accepting the
default results in a separate screen. That screen can be
used to view a variety of files or piped command output
while the normal top iterative display is paused.

Note: This interactive command is only fully realized when
supporting entries have been manually added to the end of
the top configuration file. For details on creating those
entries, see topic 6c. ADDING INSPECT Entries.

Most of the keys used to navigate the Inspect feature are
reflected in its header prologue. There are, however,
additional keys available once you have selected a particu‐
lar file or command. They are familiar to anyone who has
used the pager `less’ and are summarized here for future
reference.

key function
= alternate status-line, file or pipeline
/ find, equivalent to `L’ locate
n find next, equivalent to `&’ locate next
scroll down, equivalent to
b scroll up, equivalent to
g first line, equivalent to
G last line, equivalent to

Z :Change-Color-Mapping
This key will take you to a separate screen where you can
change the colors for the `current’ window, or for all win‐
dows. For details regarding this interactive command see
topic 4d. COLOR Mapping.

* The commands shown with an asterisk (`*’) are not available in
Secure mode, nor will they be shown on the level-1 help screen.

4b. SUMMARY AREA Commands
The summary area interactive commands are always available in both
full-screen mode and alternate-display mode. They affect the
beginning lines of your display and will determine the position of
messages and prompts.

These commands always impact just the `current’ window/field
group. See topic 5. ALTERNATE-DISPLAY Provisions and the `g’
interactive command for insight into `current’ windows and field
groups.

C :Show-scroll-coordinates toggle
Toggle an informational message which is displayed whenever
the message line is not otherwise being used. For addi‐
tional information see topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window.

l :Load-Average/Uptime toggle
This is also the line containing the program name (possibly
an alias) when operating in full-screen mode or the `cur‐
rent’ window name when operating in alternate-display mode.

t :Task/Cpu-States toggle
This command affects from 2 to many summary area lines,
depending on the state of the `1′, `2′ or `3′ command tog‐
gles and whether or not top is running under true SMP.

This portion of the summary area is also influenced by the
`H’ interactive command toggle, as reflected in the total
label which shows either Tasks or Threads.

This command serves as a 4-way toggle, cycling through
these modes:
1. detailed percentages by category (default)
2. abbreviated user/system and total % + bar graph
3. abbreviated user/system and total % + block graph
4. turn off task and cpu states display

When operating in either of the graphic modes, the display
becomes much more meaningful when individual CPUs or NUMA
nodes are also displayed. See the the `1′, `2′ and `3′
commands below for additional information.

m :Memory/Swap-Usage toggle
This command affects the two summary area lines dealing
with physical and virtual memory.

This command serves as a 4-way toggle, cycling through
these modes:
1. detailed percentages by memory type (default)
2. abbreviated % used/total available + bar graph
3. abbreviated % used/total available + block graph
4. turn off memory display

1 :Single/Separate-Cpu-States toggle
This command affects how the `t’ command’s Cpu States por‐
tion is shown. Although this toggle exists primarily to
serve massively-parallel SMP machines, it is not restricted
to solely SMP environments.

When you see `%Cpu(s):’ in the summary area, the `1′ toggle
is On and all cpu information is gathered in a single line.
Otherwise, each cpu is displayed separately as: `%Cpu0,
%Cpu1, …’ up to available screen height.

2 :NUMA-Nodes/Cpu-Summary toggle
This command toggles between the `1′ command cpu summary
display (only) or a summary display plus the cpu usage sta‐
tistics for each NUMA Node. It is only available if a sys‐
tem has the requisite NUMA support.

3 :Expand-NUMA-Node
You will be invited to enter a number representing a NUMA
Node. Thereafter, a node summary plus the statistics for
each cpu in that node will be shown until either the `1′ or
`2′ command toggle is pressed. This interactive command is
only available if a system has the requisite NUMA support.

Note: If the entire summary area has been toggled Off for any win‐
dow, you would be left with just the message line. In that way,
you will have maximized available task rows but (temporarily) sac‐
rificed the program name in full-screen mode or the `current’ win‐
dow name when in alternate-display mode.

4c. TASK AREA Commands
The task area interactive commands are always available in
full-screen mode.

The task area interactive commands are never available in alter‐
nate-display mode if the `current’ window’s task display has been
toggled Off (see topic 5. ALTERNATE-DISPLAY Provisions).

APPEARANCE of task window

J :Justify-Numeric-Columns toggle
Alternates between right-justified (the default) and left-
justified numeric data. If the numeric data completely
fills the available column, this command toggle may impact
the column header only.

j :Justify-Character-Columns toggle
Alternates between left-justified (the default) and right-
justified character data. If the character data completely
fills the available column, this command toggle may impact
the column header only.

The following commands will also be influenced by the state of
the global `B’ (bold enable) toggle.

b :Bold/Reverse toggle
This command will impact how the `x’ and `y’ toggles are
displayed. It may also impact the summary area when a bar
graph has been selected for cpu states or memory usage via
the ‘t’ or ‘m’ toggles.

x :Column-Highlight toggle
Changes highlighting for the current sort field. If you
forget which field is being sorted this command can serve
as a quick visual reminder, providing the sort field is
being displayed. The sort field might not be visible
because:
1) there is insufficient Screen Width
2) the `f’ interactive command turned it Off

Note: Whenever Searching and/or Other Filtering is active
in a window, column highlighting is temporarily disabled.
See the notes at the end of topics 5d. SEARCHING and 5e.
FILTERING for an explanation why.

y :Row-Highlight toggle
Changes highlighting for “running” tasks. For additional
insight into this task state, see topic 3a. DESCRIPTIONS of
Fields, the `S’ field (Process Status).

Use of this provision provides important insight into your
system’s health. The only costs will be a few additional
tty escape sequences.

z :Color/Monochrome toggle
Switches the `current’ window between your last used color
scheme and the older form of black-on-white or white-on-
black. This command will alter both the summary area and
task area but does not affect the state of the `x’, `y’ or
`b’ toggles.

CONTENT of task window

c :Command-Line/Program-Name toggle
This command will be honored whether or not the COMMAND
column is currently visible. Later, should that field come
into view, the change you applied will be seen.

f | F :Fields-Management
These keys display a separate screen where you can change
which fields are displayed, their order and also designate
the sort field. For additional information on these inter‐
active commands see topic 3b. MANAGING Fields.

o | O :Other-Filtering
You will be prompted for the selection criteria which then
determines which tasks will be shown in the `current’ win‐
dow. Your criteria can be made case sensitive or case can
be ignored. And you determine if top should include or
exclude matching tasks.

See topic 5e. FILTERING in a window for details on these
and additional related interactive commands.

S :Cumulative-Time-Mode toggle
When Cumulative mode is On, each process is listed with the
cpu time that it and its dead children have used.

When Off, programs that fork into many separate tasks will
appear less demanding. For programs like `init’ or a shell
this is appropriate but for others, like compilers, perhaps
not. Experiment with two task windows sharing the same
sort field but with different `S’ states and see which rep‐
resentation you prefer.

After issuing this command, you’ll be informed of the new
state of this toggle. If you wish to know in advance
whether or not Cumulative mode is in effect, simply ask for
help and view the window summary on the second line.

u | U :Show-Specific-User-Only
You will be prompted for the uid or name of the user to
display. The -u option matches on effective user whereas
the -U option matches on any user (real, effective, saved,
or filesystem).

Thereafter, in that task window only matching users will be
shown, or possibly no processes will be shown. Prepending
an exclamation point (‘!’) to the user id or name instructs
top to display only processes with users not matching the
one provided.

Different task windows can be used to filter different
users. Later, if you wish to monitor all users again in
the `current’ window, re-issue this command but just press
at the prompt.

V :Forest-View-Mode toggle
In this mode, processes are reordered according to their
parents and the layout of the COMMAND column resembles that
of a tree. In forest view mode it is still possible to
toggle between program name and command line (see the `c’
interactive command) or between processes and threads (see
the `H’ interactive command).

Note: Typing any key affecting the sort order will exit
forest view mode in the `current’ window. See topic 4c.
TASK AREA Commands, SORTING for information on those keys.

SIZE of task window

i :Idle-Process toggle
Displays all tasks or just active tasks. When this toggle
is Off, tasks that have not used any CPU since the last
update will not be displayed. However, due to the granu‐
larity of the %CPU and TIME+ fields, some processes may
still be displayed that appear to have used no CPU.

If this command is applied to the last task display when in
alternate-display mode, then it will not affect the win‐
dow’s size, as all prior task displays will have already
been painted.

n | # :Set-Maximum-Tasks
You will be prompted to enter the number of tasks to dis‐
play. The lessor of your number and available screen rows
will be used.

When used in alternate-display mode, this is the command
that gives you precise control over the size of each cur‐
rently visible task display, except for the very last. It
will not affect the last window’s size, as all prior task
displays will have already been painted.

Note: If you wish to increase the size of the last visible
task display when in alternate-display mode, simply
decrease the size of the task display(s) above it.

SORTING of task window

For compatibility, this top supports most of the former top
sort keys. Since this is primarily a service to former top
users, these commands do not appear on any help screen.
command sorted-field supported
A start time (non-display) No
M %MEM Yes
N PID Yes
P %CPU Yes
T TIME+ Yes

Before using any of the following sort provisions, top suggests
that you temporarily turn on column highlighting using the `x’
interactive command. That will help ensure that the actual
sort environment matches your intent.

The following interactive commands will only be honored when
the current sort field is visible. The sort field might not be
visible because:
1) there is insufficient Screen Width
2) the `f’ interactive command turned it Off

< :Move-Sort-Field-Left Moves the sort column to the left unless the current sort field is the first field being displayed. > :Move-Sort-Field-Right
Moves the sort column to the right unless the current
sort field is the last field being displayed.

The following interactive commands will always be honored
whether or not the current sort field is visible.

f | F :Fields-Management
These keys display a separate screen where you can
change which field is used as the sort column, among
other functions. This can be a convenient way to simply
verify the current sort field, when running top with
column highlighting turned Off.

R :Reverse/Normal-Sort-Field toggle
Using this interactive command you can alternate between
high-to-low and low-to-high sorts.

Note: Field sorting uses internal values, not those in column
display. Thus, the TTY and WCHAN fields will violate strict
ASCII collating sequence.

4d. COLOR Mapping
When you issue the `Z’ interactive command, you will be presented
with a separate screen. That screen can be used to change the
colors in just the `current’ window or in all four windows before
returning to the top display.

The following interactive commands are available.
4 upper case letters to select a target
8 numbers to select a color
normal toggles available
B :bold disable/enable
b :running tasks “bold”/reverse
z :color/mono
other commands available
a/w :apply, then go to next/prior
:apply and exit
q :abandon current changes and exit

If you use `a’ or `w’ to cycle the targeted window, you will have
applied the color scheme that was displayed when you left that
window. You can, of course, easily return to any window and reap‐
ply different colors or turn colors Off completely with the `z’
toggle.

The Color Mapping screen can also be used to change the `current’
window/field group in either full-screen mode or alternate-display
mode. Whatever was targeted when `q’ or was pressed will
be made current as you return to the top display.

5. ALTERNATE-DISPLAY Provisions
5a. WINDOWS Overview
Field Groups/Windows:
In full-screen mode there is a single window represented by the
entire screen. That single window can still be changed to dis‐
play 1 of 4 different field groups (see the `g’ interactive
command, repeated below). Each of the 4 field groups has a
unique separately configurable summary area and its own config‐
urable task area.

In alternate-display mode, those 4 underlying field groups can
now be made visible simultaneously, or can be turned Off indi‐
vidually at your command.

The summary area will always exist, even if it’s only the mes‐
sage line. At any given time only one summary area can be dis‐
played. However, depending on your commands, there could be
from zero to four separate task displays currently showing on
the screen.

Current Window:
The `current’ window is the window associated with the summary
area and the window to which task related commands are always
directed. Since in alternate-display mode you can toggle the
task display Off, some commands might be restricted for the
`current’ window.

A further complication arises when you have toggled the first
summary area line Off. With the loss of the window name (the
`l’ toggled line), you’ll not easily know what window is the
`current’ window.

5b. COMMANDS for Windows
– | _ :Show/Hide-Window(s) toggles
The `-‘ key turns the `current’ window’s task display On
and Off. When On, that task area will show a minimum of
the columns header you’ve established with the `f’ interac‐
tive command. It will also reflect any other task area
options/toggles you’ve applied yielding zero or more tasks.

The `_’ key does the same for all task displays. In other
words, it switches between the currently visible task dis‐
play(s) and any task display(s) you had toggled Off. If
all 4 task displays are currently visible, this interactive
command will leave the summary area as the only display
element.

* = | + :Equalize-(reinitialize)-Window(s)
The `=’ key forces the `current’ window’s task display to
be visible. It also reverses any `i’ (idle tasks), `n’
(max tasks), `u/U’ (user filter) and `o/O’ (other filter)
commands that might be active. Also, if the window had
been scrolled, it will be reset with this command. See
topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window for additional information
regarding vertical and horizontal scrolling.

The `+’ key does the same for all windows. The four task
displays will reappear, evenly balanced. They will also
have retained any customizations you had previously
applied, except for the `i’ (idle tasks), `n’ (max tasks),
`u/U’ (user filter), `o/O’ (other filter) and scrolling
interactive commands.

* A :Alternate-Display-Mode toggle
This command will switch between full-screen mode and
alternate-display mode.

The first time you issue this command, all four task dis‐
plays will be shown. Thereafter when you switch modes, you
will see only the task display(s) you’ve chosen to make
visible.

* a | w :Next-Window-Forward/Backward
This will change the `current’ window, which in turn
changes the window to which commands are directed. These
keys act in a circular fashion so you can reach any desired
window using either key.

Assuming the window name is visible (you have not toggled
`l’ Off), whenever the `current’ window name loses its
emphasis/color, that’s a reminder the task display is Off
and many commands will be restricted.

* g :Choose-Another-Window/Field-Group
You will be prompted to enter a number between 1 and 4 des‐
ignating the field group which should be made the `current’
window.

In full-screen mode, this command is necessary to alter the
`current’ window. In alternate-display mode, it is simply
a less convenient alternative to the `a’ and `w’ commands.

G :Change-Window/Field-Group-Name
You will be prompted for a new name to be applied to the
`current’ window. It does not require that the window name
be visible (the `l’ toggle to be On).

* The interactive commands shown with an asterisk (`*’) have use
beyond alternate-display mode.
=, A, g are always available
a, w act the same with color mapping
and fields management

5c. SCROLLING a Window
Typically a task window is a partial view into a systems’s total
tasks/threads which shows only some of the available fields/col‐
umns. With these scrolling keys, you can move that view verti‐
cally or horizontally to reveal any desired task or column.

Up,PgUp :Scroll-Tasks
Move the view up toward the first task row, until the first
task is displayed at the top of the `current’ window. The Up
arrow key moves a single line while PgUp scrolls the entire
window.

Down,PgDn :Scroll-Tasks
Move the view down toward the last task row, until the last
task is the only task displayed at the top of the `current’
window. The Down arrow key moves a single line while PgDn
scrolls the entire window.

Left,Right :Scroll-Columns
Move the view of displayable fields horizontally one column at
a time.

Note: As a reminder, some fields/columns are not fixed-width
but allocated all remaining screen width when visible. When
scrolling right or left, that feature may produce some unex‐
pected results initially.

Additionally, there are special provisions for any variable
width field when positioned as the last displayed field. Once
that field is reached via the right arrow key, and is thus the
only column shown, you can continue scrolling horizontally
within such a field. See the `C’ interactive command below
for additional information.

Home :Jump-to-Home-Position
Reposition the display to the un-scrolled coordinates.

End :Jump-to-End-Position
Reposition the display so that the rightmost column reflects
the last displayable field and the bottom task row represents
the last task.

Note: From this position it is still possible to scroll down
and right using the arrow keys. This is true until a single
column and a single task is left as the only display element.

C :Show-scroll-coordinates toggle
Toggle an informational message which is displayed whenever
the message line is not otherwise being used. That message
will take one of two forms depending on whether or not a vari‐
able width column has also been scrolled.

scroll coordinates: y = n/n (tasks), x = n/n (fields)
scroll coordinates: y = n/n (tasks), x = n/n (fields) + nn

The coordinates shown as n/n are relative to the upper left
corner of the `current’ window. The additional `+ nn’ repre‐
sents the displacement into a variable width column when it
has been scrolled horizontally. Such displacement occurs in
normal 8 character tab stop amounts via the right and left
arrow keys.

y = n/n (tasks)
The first n represents the topmost visible task and is
controlled by scrolling keys. The second n is updated
automatically to reflect total tasks.

x = n/n (fields)
The first n represents the leftmost displayed column and
is controlled by scrolling keys. The second n is the
total number of displayable fields and is established with
the `f’ interactive command.

The above interactive commands are always available in full-screen
mode but never available in alternate-display mode if the `cur‐
rent’ window’s task display has been toggled Off.

Note: When any form of filtering is active, you can expect some
slight aberrations when scrolling since not all tasks will be vis‐
ible. This is particularly apparent when using the Up/Down arrow
keys.

5d. SEARCHING in a Window
You can use these interactive commands to locate a task row con‐
taining a particular value.

L :Locate-a-string
You will be prompted for the case-sensitive string to locate
starting from the current window coordinates. There are no
restrictions on search string content.

Searches are not limited to values from a single field or col‐
umn. All of the values displayed in a task row are allowed in
a search string. You may include spaces, numbers, symbols and
even forest view artwork.

Keying with no input will effectively disable the `&’
key until a new search string is entered.

& :Locate-next
Assuming a search string has been established, top will
attempt to locate the next occurrence.

When a match is found, the current window is repositioned verti‐
cally so the task row containing that string is first. The scroll
coordinates message can provide confirmation of such vertical
repositioning (see the `C’ interactive command). Horizontal
scrolling, however, is never altered via searching.

The availability of a matching string will be influenced by the
following factors.

a. Which fields are displayable from the total available,
see topic 3b. MANAGING Fields.

b. Scrolling a window vertically and/or horizontally,
see topic 5c. SCROLLING a Window.

c. The state of the command/command-line toggle,
see the `c’ interactive command.

d. The stability of the chosen sort column,
for example PID is good but %CPU bad.

If a search fails, restoring the `current’ window home
(unscrolled) position, scrolling horizontally, displaying command-
lines or choosing a more stable sort field could yet produce a
successful `&’ search.

The above interactive commands are always available in full-screen
mode but never available in alternate-display mode if the `cur‐
rent’ window’s task display has been toggled Off.

Note: Whenever a Search is active in a window, top will turn col‐
umn highlighting Off to prevent false matches on internal non-dis‐
play escape sequences. Such highlighting will be restored when a
window’s search string is empty. See the `x’ interactive command
for additional information on sort column highlighting.

5e. FILTERING in a Window
You can use this Other Filter feature to establish selection cri‐
teria which will then determine which tasks are shown in the `cur‐
rent’ window.

Establishing a filter requires: 1) a field name; 2) an operator;
and 3) a selection value, as a minimum. This is the most complex
of top’s user input requirements so, when you make a mistake, com‐
mand recall will be your friend. Remember the Up/Down arrow keys
or their aliases when prompted for input.

Filter Basics

1. field names are case sensitive and spelled as in the header

2. selection values need not comprise the full displayed field

3. a selection is either case insensitive or sensitive to case

4. the default is inclusion, prepending `!’ denotes exclusions

5. multiple selection criteria can be applied to a task window

6. inclusion and exclusion criteria can be used simultaneously

7. the 1 equality and 2 relational filters can be freely mixed

8. separate unique filters are maintained for each task window

If a field is not turned on or is not currently in view, then
your selection criteria will not affect the display. Later,
should a filtered field become visible, the selection criteria
will then be applied.

Keyboard Summary

o :Other-Filter (lower case)
You will be prompted to establish a filter that ignores case
when matching.

O :Other-Filter (upper case)
You will be prompted to establish a case sensitive filter.

^O :Show-Active-Filters (Ctrl key + `o’)
This can serve as a reminder of which filters are active in
the `current’ window. A summary will be shown on the mes‐
sage line until you press the key.

= :Reset-Filtering in current window
This clears all of your selection criteria in the `current’
window. It also has additional impact so please see topic
4a. GLOBAL Commands.

+ :Reset-Filtering in all windows
This clears the selection criteria in all windows, assuming
you are in alternate-display mode. As with the `=’ interac‐
tive command, it too has additional consequences so you
might wish to see topic 5b. COMMANDS for Windows.

Input Requirements

When prompted for selection criteria, the data you provide must
take one of two forms. There are 3 required pieces of informa‐
tion, with a 4th as optional. These examples use spaces for
clarity but your input generally would not.
#1 #2 #3 ( required )
Field-Name ? include-if-value
! Field-Name ? exclude-if-value
#4 ( optional )

Items #1, #3 and #4 should be self-explanatory. Item #2 repre‐
sents both a required delimiter and the operator which must be
one of either equality (`=’) or relation (`<' or `>‘).

The `=’ equality operator requires only a partial match and
that can reduce your `if-value’ input requirements. The `>’ or
`<' relational operators always employ string comparisons, even with numeric fields. They are designed to work with a field's default justification and with homogeneous data. When some field's numeric amounts have been subjected to scaling while others have not, that data is no longer homogeneous. If you establish a relational filter and you have changed the default Numeric or Character justification, that filter is likely to fail. When a relational filter is applied to a mem‐ ory field and you have not changed the scaling, it may produce misleading results. This happens, for example, because `100.0m' (MiB) would appear greater than `1.000g' (GiB) when compared as strings. If your filtered results appear suspect, simply altering justi‐ fication or scaling may yet achieve the desired objective. See the `j', `J' and `e' interactive commands for additional infor‐ mation. Potential Problems These GROUP filters could produce the exact same results or the second one might not display anything at all, just a blank task window. GROUP=root ( only the same results when ) GROUP=ROOT ( invoked via lower case `o' ) Either of these RES filters might yield inconsistent and/or misleading results, depending on the current memory scaling factor. Or both filters could produce the exact same results. RES>9999 ( only the same results when )
!RES<10000 ( memory scaling is at `KiB' ) This nMin filter illustrates a problem unique to scalable fields. This particular field can display a maximum of 4 dig‐ its, beyond which values are automatically scaled to KiB or above. So while amounts greater than 9999 exist, they will appear as 2.6m, 197k, etc. nMin>9999 ( always a blank task window )

Potential Solutions

These examples illustrate how Other Filtering can be creatively
applied to achieve almost any desired result. Single quotes
are sometimes shown to delimit the spaces which are part of a
filter or to represent a request for status (^O) accurately.
But if you used them with if-values in real life, no matches
would be found.

Assuming field nTH is displayed, the first filter will result
in only multi-threaded processes being shown. It also reminds
us that a trailing space is part of every displayed field. The
second filter achieves the exact same results with less typing.
!nTH=` 1 ‘ ( ‘ for clarity only )
nTH>1 ( same with less i/p )

With Forest View mode active and the COMMAND column in view,
this filter effectively collapses child processes so that just
3 levels are shown.
!COMMAND=` `- ‘ ( ‘ for clarity only )

The final two filters appear as in response to the status
request key (^O). In reality, each filter would have required
separate input. The PR example shows the two concurrent fil‐
ters necessary to display tasks with priorities of 20 or more,
since some might be negative. Then by exploiting trailing spa‐
ces, the nMin series of filters could achieve the failed `9999′
objective discussed above.
`PR>20’ + `!PR=-‘ ( 2 for right result )
`!nMin=0 ‘ + `!nMin=1 ‘ + `!nMin=2 ‘ + `!nMin=3 ‘ …

Note: Whenever Other Filtering is active in a window, top will
turn column highlighting Off to prevent false matches on internal
non-display escape sequences. Such highlighting will be restored
when a window is no longer subject to filtering. See the `x’
interactive command for additional information on sort column
highlighting.

6. FILES
6a. SYSTEM Configuration File
The presence of this file will influence which version of the help
screen is shown to an ordinary user. More importantly, it will
limit what ordinary users are allowed to do when top is running.
They will not be able to issue the following commands.
k Kill a task
r Renice a task
d or s Change delay/sleep interval

The system configuration file is not created by top. Rather, you
create this file manually and place it in the /etc directory. Its
name must be `toprc’ and must have no leading `.’ (period). It
must have only two lines.

Here is an example of the contents of /etc/toprc:
s # line 1: secure mode switch
5.0 # line 2: delay interval in seconds

6b. PERSONAL Configuration File
This file is written as `$HOME/.your-name-4-top’ + `rc’. Use the
`W’ interactive command to create it or update it.

Here is the general layout:
global # line 1: the program name/alias notation
” # line 2: id,altscr,irixps,delay,curwin
per ea # line a: winname,fieldscur
window # line b: winflags,sortindx,maxtasks,graph modes
” # line c: summclr,msgsclr,headclr,taskclr
global # line 15: additional miscellaneous settings
” # any remaining lines are devoted to the
” # generalized inspect provisions
” # discussed below

If the $HOME variable is not present, top will try to write the
personal configuration file to the current directory, subject to
permissions.

6c. ADDING INSPECT Entries
To exploit the `Y’ interactive command, you must add entries at
the end of the top personal configuration file. Such entries sim‐
ply reflect a file to be read or command/pipeline to be executed
whose results will then be displayed in a separate scrollable,
searchable window.

If you don’t know the location or name of your top rcfile, use the
`W’ interactive command to rewrite it and note those details.

Inspect entries can be added with a redirected echo or by editing
the configuration file. Redirecting an echo risks overwriting the
rcfile should it replace (>) rather than append (>>) to that file.
Conversely, when using an editor care must be taken not to corrupt
existing lines, some of which will contain unprintable data or
unusual characters.

Those Inspect entries beginning with a `#’ character are ignored,
regardless of content. Otherwise they consist of the following 3
elements, each of which must be separated by a tab character (thus
2 `\t’ total):

.type: literal `file’ or `pipe’
.name: selection shown on the Inspect screen
.fmts: string representing a path or command

The two types of Inspect entries are not interchangeable. Those
designated `file’ will be accessed using fopen and must reference
a single file in the `.fmts’ element. Entries specifying `pipe’
will employ popen, their `.fmts’ element could contain many
pipelined commands and, none can be interactive.

If the file or pipeline represented in your `.fmts’ deals with the
specific PID input or accepted when prompted, then the format
string must also contain the `%d’ specifier, as these examples
illustrate.

.fmts= /proc/%d/numa_maps
.fmts= lsof -P -p %d

For `pipe’ type entries only, you may also wish to redirect stderr
to stdout for a more comprehensive result. Thus the format string
becomes:

.fmts= pmap -x %d 2>&1

Here are examples of both types of Inspect entries as they might
appear in the rcfile. The first entry will be ignored due to the
initial `#’ character. For clarity, the pseudo tab depictions
(^I) are surrounded by an extra space but the actual tabs would
not be.

# pipe ^I Sockets ^I lsof -n -P -i 2>&1
pipe ^I Open Files ^I lsof -P -p %d 2>&1
file ^I NUMA Info ^I /proc/%d/numa_maps
pipe ^I Log ^I tail -n100 /var/log/syslog | sort -Mr

Except for the commented entry above, these next examples show
what could be echoed to achieve similar results, assuming the
rcfile name was `.toprc’. However, due to the embedded tab char‐
acters, each of these lines should be preceded by `/bin/echo -e’,
not just a simple an `echo’, to enable backslash interpretation
regardless of which shell you use.

“pipe\tOpen Files\tlsof -P -p %d 2>&1” >> ~/.toprc
“file\tNUMA Info\t/proc/%d/numa_maps” >> ~/.toprc
“pipe\tLog\ttail -n200 /var/log/syslog | sort -Mr” >> ~/.toprc

Caution: If any inspect entry you create produces output with
unprintable characters they will be displayed in either the ^C
notation or hexadecimal form, depending on their value. This
applies to tab characters as well, which will show as `^I’. If
you want a truer representation, any embedded tabs should be
expanded.

# next would have contained `\t’ …
# file ^I ^I /proc/%d/status
# but this will eliminate embedded `\t’ …
pipe ^I ^I cat /proc/%d/status | expand –

The above example takes what could have been a `file’ entry but
employs a `pipe’ instead so as to expand the embedded tabs.

Note: While `pipe’ type entries have been discussed in terms of
pipelines and commands, there is nothing to prevent you from
including shell scripts as well. Perhaps even newly created
scripts designed specifically for the `Y’ interactive command.

Lastly, as the number of your Inspect entries grows over time, the
`Options:’ row will be truncated when screen width is exceeded.
That does not affect operation other than to make some selections
invisible.

However, if some choices are lost to truncation but you want to
see more options, there is an easy solution hinted at below.

Inspection Pause at pid …
Use: left/right then
Options: help 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 …

The entries in the top rcfile would have a number for the `.name’
element and the `help’ entry would identify a shell script you’ve
written explaining what those numbered selections actually mean.
In that way, many more choices can be made visible.

7. STUPID TRICKS Sampler
Many of these tricks work best when you give top a scheduling
boost. So plan on starting him with a nice value of -10, assuming
you’ve got the authority.

7a. Kernel Magic
For these stupid tricks, top needs full-screen mode.

· The user interface, through prompts and help, intentionally
implies that the delay interval is limited to tenths of a sec‐
ond. However, you’re free to set any desired delay. If you
want to see Linux at his scheduling best, try a delay of .09
seconds or less.

For this experiment, under x-windows open an xterm and maximize
it. Then do the following:
. provide a scheduling boost and tiny delay via:
nice -n -10 top -d.09
. keep sorted column highlighting Off so as to
minimize path length
. turn On reverse row highlighting for emphasis
. try various sort columns (TIME/MEM work well),
and normal or reverse sorts to bring the most
active processes into view

What you’ll see is a very busy Linux doing what he’s always
done for you, but there was no program available to illustrate
this.

· Under an xterm using `white-on-black’ colors, on top’s Color
Mapping screen set the task color to black and be sure that
task highlighting is set to bold, not reverse. Then set the
delay interval to around .3 seconds.

After bringing the most active processes into view, what you’ll
see are the ghostly images of just the currently running tasks.

· Delete the existing rcfile, or create a new symlink. Start
this new version then type `T’ (a secret key, see topic 4c.
Task Area Commands, SORTING) followed by `W’ and `q’. Finally,
restart the program with -d0 (zero delay).

Your display will be refreshed at three times the rate of the
former top, a 300% speed advantage. As top climbs the TIME
ladder, be as patient as you can while speculating on whether
or not top will ever reach the top.

7b. Bouncing Windows
For these stupid tricks, top needs alternate-display mode.

· With 3 or 4 task displays visible, pick any window other than
the last and turn idle processes Off using the `i’ command tog‐
gle. Depending on where you applied `i’, sometimes several
task displays are bouncing and sometimes it’s like an accor‐
dion, as top tries his best to allocate space.

· Set each window’s summary lines differently: one with no memory
(‘m’); another with no states (‘t’); maybe one with nothing at
all, just the message line. Then hold down `a’ or `w’ and
watch a variation on bouncing windows — hopping windows.

· Display all 4 windows and for each, in turn, set idle processes
to Off using the `i’ command toggle. You’ve just entered the
“extreme bounce” zone.

7c. The Big Bird Window
This stupid trick also requires alternate-display mode.

· Display all 4 windows and make sure that 1:Def is the `current’
window. Then, keep increasing window size with the `n’ inter‐
active command until all the other task displays are “pushed
out of the nest”.

When they’ve all been displaced, toggle between all visi‐
ble/invisible windows using the `_’ command toggle. Then pon‐
der this:
is top fibbing or telling honestly your imposed truth?

7d. The Ol’ Switcheroo
This stupid trick works best without alternate-display mode, since
justification is active on a per window basis.

· Start top and make COMMAND the last (rightmost) column dis‐
played. If necessary, use the `c’ command toggle to display
command lines and ensure that forest view mode is active with
the `V’ command toggle.

Then use the up/down arrow keys to position the display so that
some truncated command lines are shown (`+’ in last position).
You may have to resize your xterm to produce truncation.

Lastly, use the `j’ command toggle to make the COMMAND column
right justified.

Now use the right arrow key to reach the COMMAND column. Con‐
tinuing with the right arrow key, watch closely the direction
of travel for the command lines being shown.

some lines travel left, while others travel right

eventually all lines will Switcheroo, and move right

8.

BUGS

To report bugs, follow the instructions at:
http://www.debian.org/Bugs/Reporting

9. HISTORY Former top
The original top was written by Roger Binns, based on Branko
Lankester’s ps program.

Robert Nation adapted it for
the proc file system.

Helmut Geyer added support
for configurable fields.

Plus many other individuals contributed over the years.

10.

AUTHOR

This entirely new and enhanced replacement was written by:
Jim Warner,

With invaluable help from:
Craig Small,
Albert Cahalan,

11. SEE Also
free, ps, uptime, atop, slabtop, vmstat(8), w.

procps-ng July 2014 TOP(1)