whiptail Man page

WHIPTAIL(1) General Commands Manual WHIPTAIL(1)


whiptail – display dialog boxes from shell scripts


whiptail [ –title title ] [ –backtitle backtitle ] [ –clear ] [
–default-item string ] [ –defaultno ] [ –fb ] [ –nocancel ] [
–yes-button text ] [ –no-button text ] [ –ok-button text ] [ –can‐
cel-button text ] [ –noitem [ ] –output-fd fd ] [ –separate-output ] [ –scrolltext ] [ –topleft ] box-options


whiptail is a program that will let you present a variety of questions
or display messages using dialog boxes from a shell script. Currently,
these types of dialog boxes are implemented:

yes/no box, menu box, input box, message box, text box, info box,
checklist box, radiolist box, gauge box, and password box.


The screen will be cleared to the screen attribute on exit.
This doesn’t work in an xterm (and descendants) if alternate
screen switching is enabled, because in that case slang writes
to (and clears) an alternate screen.

The dialog box will open with the cursor over the No button.

–default-item string
Set the default item in a menu box. Normally the first item in
the box is the default.

–fb, –fullbuttons
Use full buttons. (By default, whiptail uses compact buttons).

The dialog box won’t have a Cancel button.

–yes-button text
Set the text of the Yes button.

–no-button text
Set the text of the No button.

–ok-button text
Set the text of the Ok button.

–cancel-button text
Set the text of the Cancel button.

The menu, checklist and radiolist widgets will display tags
only, not the item strings. The menu widget still needs some
items specified, but checklist and radiolist expect only tag and

Don’t display tags in the menu, checklist and radiolist widgets.

For checklist widgets, output result one line at a time, with no
quoting. This facilitates parsing by another program.

–output-fd fd
Direct output to the given file descriptor. Most whiptail
scripts write to standard error, but error messages may also
be written there, depending on your script.

–title title
Specifies a title string to be displayed at the top of the dia‐
log box.

–backtitle backtitle
Specifies a backtitle string to be displayed on the backdrop, at
the top of the screen.

Force the display of a vertical scrollbar.

Put window in top-left corner.

-h, –help
Print a help message and exit.

-v, –version
Print version information and exit.

Box Options

–yesno text height width
A yes/no dialog box of size height rows by width columns will be
displayed. The string specified by text is displayed inside the
dialog box. If this string is too long to be fit in one line, it
will be automatically divided into multiple lines at appropriate
places. The text string may also contain the sub-string “\n” or
newline characters `\n’ to control line breaking explicitly.
This dialog box is useful for asking questions that require the
user to answer either yes or no. The dialog box has a Yes but‐
ton and a No button, in which the user can switch between by
pressing the TAB key.

–msgbox text height width
A message box is very similar to a yes/no box. The only differ‐
ence between a message box and a yes/no box is that a message
box has only a single OK button. You can use this dialog box to
display any message you like. After reading the message, the
user can press the ENTER key so that whiptail will exit and the
calling shell script can continue its operation.

–infobox text height width
An info box is basically a message box. However, in this case,
whiptail will exit immediately after displaying the message to
the user. The screen is not cleared when whiptail exits, so that
the message will remain on the screen until the calling shell
script clears it later. This is useful when you want to inform
the user that some operations are carrying on that may require
some time to finish.

–inputbox text height width [init] An input box is useful when you want to ask questions that
require the user to input a string as the answer. If init is
supplied it is used to initialize the input string. When input‐
ing the string, the BACKSPACE key can be used to correct typing
errors. If the input string is longer than the width of the dia‐
log box, the input field will be scrolled. On exit, the input
string will be printed on stderr.

–passwordbox text height width [init] A password box is similar to an input box, except the text the
user enters is not displayed. This is useful when prompting for
passwords or other sensitive information. Be aware that if any‐
thing is passed in “init”, it will be visible in the system’s
process table to casual snoopers. Also, it is very confusing to
the user to provide them with a default password they cannot
see. For these reasons, using “init” is highly discouraged.

–textbox file height width
A text box lets you display the contents of a text file in a
dialog box. It is like a simple text file viewer. The user can
move through the file by using the UP/DOWN, PGUP/PGDN and
HOME/END keys available on most keyboards. If the lines are too
long to be displayed in the box, the LEFT/RIGHT keys can be used
to scroll the text region horizontally. For more convenience,
forward and backward searching functions are also provided.

–menu text height width menu-height [ tag item ] …
As its name suggests, a menu box is a dialog box that can be
used to present a list of choices in the form of a menu for the
user to choose. Each menu entry consists of a tag string and an
item string. The tag gives the entry a name to distinguish it
from the other entries in the menu. The item is a short descrip‐
tion of the option that the entry represents. The user can move
between the menu entries by pressing the UP/DOWN keys, the first
letter of the tag as a hot-key. There are menu-height entries
displayed in the menu at one time, but the menu will be scrolled
if there are more entries than that. When whiptail exits, the
tag of the chosen menu entry will be printed on stderr.

–checklist text height width list-height [ tag item status ] …
A checklist box is similar to a menu box in that there are mul‐
tiple entries presented in the form of a menu. You can select
and deselect items using the SPACE key. The initial on/off
state of each entry is specified by status. On exit, a list of
the tag strings of those entries that are turned on will be
printed on stderr.

–radiolist text height width list-height [ tag item status ] …
A radiolist box is similar to a menu box. The only difference
is that you can indicate which entry is currently selected, by
setting its status to on.

–gauge text height width percent
A gauge box displays a meter along the bottom of the box. The
meter indicates a percentage. New percentages are read from
standard input, one integer per line. The meter is updated to
reflect each new percentage. If stdin is XXX, the first follow‐
ing line is a percentage and subsequent lines up to another XXX
are used for a new prompt. The gauge exits when EOF is reached
on stdin.

whiptail interprets arguments starting with a dash “-” as being argu‐
ments. To avoid this, and start some text in, for example, a menubox
item, with a dash, whiptail honours the getopt convention of accepting
the special argument “–” which means that all following arguments with
dashes are to be treated verbatim and not parsed as options.

Exit status is 0 if whiptail is exited by pressing the Yes or OK but‐
ton, and 1 if the No or Cancel button is pressed. Otherwise, if errors
occur inside whiptail or whiptail is exited by pressing the ESC key,
the exit status is 255.


Based on the man page for dialog by:

Savio Lam (lam836@cs.cuhk.hk) – version 0.3

Stuart Herbert (S.Herbert@sheffield.ac.uk) – patch for version 0.4

Modifications for whiptail by:

Enrique Zanardi (ezanard@debian.org)

Alastair McKinstry (mckinstry@debian.org)

Whiptail Version 0.52.5 31 January 2007 WHIPTAIL(1)

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