xset Man page

XSET(1) General Commands Manual XSET(1)


xset – user preference utility for X


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 {standby|sus‐
pend|off|on}] [fp=pathlist] [-fp=pathlist] [+fp=pathlist] [fp-pathlist] [fp+pathlist] [fp default] [fp rehash] [-led [integer|named indicator]] [led [integer|named indicator]] [led {on|off}] [mouse [accel_mult[/accel_div] [threshold]]] [mouse default] [p pixel color] [-r [keycode]] [r [keycode]] [r {on|off}] [r rate delay [rate]] [s [length [period]]] [s {blank|noblank}] [s {expose|noexpose}] [s
{on|off}] [s default] [s activate] [s reset] [q] [-version]


This program is used to set various user preference options of the dis‐


-display display
This option specifies the server to use; see X(7).

b The b option controls bell volume, pitch and duration. 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 volume will be
set to that value, as a percentage of its maximum. Likewise,
the second numerical parameter 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.

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
generate errors in these cases. Such clients, when run against
an R4 server, will terminate abnormally or otherwise fail to
operate correctly. Bug compatibility mode explicitly reintro‐
duces 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

-dpms The -dpms option disables DPMS (Energy Star) features.

+dpms The +dpms option enables DPMS (Energy Star) features.

dpms flags…
The dpms option allows the DPMS (Energy Star) parameters 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 spec‐
ified. 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 particular mode.

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 interpretation 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 current value,
causing the server to reread the font databases in the current
font path. This is generally 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

+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 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 pre‐
ceding 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 specifying 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 abbrevi‐
ated to ‘m’. Of course, it applies to most pointing devices,
not just mice. The parameters for the pointing device are
`acceleration’ and `threshold’. The acceleration can be speci‐
fied as an integer, 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

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, includ‐
ing 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 `acceleration’
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. Recom‐
mended `acceleration’ value in this case is 3/2 to 3, but not limited
to that range.

In the X.org 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 X.org Server 1.7, these are available as input device properties
(see xinput).

p The p option controls pixel color values. The parameters are
the color map entry number in decimal, and a color specifica‐
tion. 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 privately, 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 key‐

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 speci‐
fies the delay before autorepeat starts and the second speci‐
fies the repeat rate. In the case that the server supports the
XKB extension, the delay is the number of milliseconds 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 value.

s The s option lets you set the screen saver parameters. This
option accepts up to two numerical parameters, a
‘blank/noblank’ flag, an ‘expose/noexpose’ 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 functions on or off. The
‘activate’ flag forces activation of screen saver even if the
screen saver had been turned off. The ‘reset’ flag forces
deactivation 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 display a pattern rather than blank the
video. The ‘expose’ flag sets the preference to allow window
exposures (the server can freely discard window contents),
while ‘noexpose’ sets the preference to disable screen saver
unless the server can regenerate 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 settings.

The -version option prints the program version and exits with‐
out doing anything else.

These settings will be reset to default values when you log out.

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


X(7), Xserver(1), xmodmap(1), xrdb(1), xsetroot(1), xinput(1)


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

X Version 11 xset 1.2.3 XSET(1)