kitty - the fast, featureful, GPU based terminal emulator

  • Offloads rendering to the GPU for lower system load and buttery smooth scrolling. Uses threaded rendering to minimize input latency.

  • Supports all modern terminal features: graphics (images), unicode, true-color, OpenType ligatures, mouse protocol, focus tracking, bracketed paste and several new terminal protocol extensions.

  • Supports tiling multiple terminal windows side by side in different layouts without needing to use an extra program like tmux

  • Can be controlled from scripts or the shell prompt, even over SSH.

  • Has a framework for Kittens, small terminal programs that can be used to extend kitty's functionality. For example, they are used for Unicode input, Hints and Side-by-side diff.

  • Supports startup sessions which allow you to specify the window/tab layout, working directories and programs to run on startup.

  • Cross-platform: kitty works on Linux and macOS, but because it uses only OpenGL for rendering, it should be trivial to port to other Unix-like platforms.

  • Allows you to open the scrollback buffer in a separate window using arbitrary programs of your choice. This is useful for browsing the history comfortably in a pager or editor.

  • Has multiple copy/paste buffers, like vim.

Screenshot, showing three programs in the 'Tall' layout

Screenshot, showing vim, tig and git running in kitty with the 'Tall' layout

Design philosophy

kitty is designed for power keyboard users. To that end all its controls work with the keyboard (although it fully supports mouse interactions as well). Its configuration is a simple, human editable, single file for easy reproducibility (I like to store configuration in source control).

The code in kitty is designed to be simple, modular and hackable. It is written in a mix of C (for performance sensitive parts) and Python (for easy hackability of the UI). It does not depend on any large and complex UI toolkit, using only OpenGL for rendering everything.

Finally, kitty is designed from the ground up to support all modern terminal features, such as unicode, true color, bold/italic fonts, text formatting, etc. It even extends existing text formatting escape codes, to add support for features not available elsewhere, such as colored and styled (curly) underlines. One of the design goals of kitty is to be easily extensible so that new features can be added in the future with relatively little effort.

Tabs and Windows

kitty is capable of running multiple programs organized into tabs and windows. The top level of organization is the Tab. Each tab consists of one or more windows. The windows can be arranged in multiple different layouts, like windows are organized in a tiling window manager. The keyboard controls (which are all customizable) for tabs and windows are:

Scrolling

Action

Shortcut

Scroll line up

ctrl+shift+up (also ⌥+⌘+⇞ and ⌘+↑ on macOS)

Scroll line down

ctrl+shift+down (also ⌥+⌘+⇟ and ⌘+↓ on macOS)

Scroll page up

ctrl+shift+page_up (also ⌘+⇞ on macOS)

Scroll page down

ctrl+shift+page_down (also ⌘+⇟ on macOS)

Scroll to top

ctrl+shift+home (also ⌘+↖ on macOS)

Scroll to bottom

ctrl+shift+end (also ⌘+↘ on macOS)

Tabs

Action

Shortcut

New tab

ctrl+shift+t (also ⌘+t on macOS)

Close tab

ctrl+shift+q (also ⌘+w on macOS)

Next tab

ctrl+shift+right (also ^+⇥ and ⇧+⌘+] on macOS)

Previous tab

ctrl+shift+left (also ⇧+^+⇥ and ⇧+⌘+[ on macOS)

Next layout

ctrl+shift+l

Move tab forward

ctrl+shift+.

Move tab backward

ctrl+shift+,

Set tab title

ctrl+shift+alt+t (also ⇧+⌘+i on macOS)

Windows

Action

Shortcut

New window

ctrl+shift+enter (also ⌘+↩ on macOS)

New OS window

ctrl+shift+n (also ⌘+n on macOS)

Close window

ctrl+shift+w (also ⇧+⌘+d on macOS)

Next window

ctrl+shift+]

Previous window

ctrl+shift+[

Move window forward

ctrl+shift+f

Move window backward

ctrl+shift+b

Move window to top

ctrl+shift+`

Focus specific window

ctrl+shift+1, ctrl+shift+2 ... ctrl+shift+0 (also ⌘+1, ⌘+2 ... ⌘+9 on macOS) (clockwise from the top-left)

Additionally, you can define shortcuts in kitty.conf to focus neighboring windows and move windows around (similar to window movement in vim):

map ctrl+left neighboring_window left
map shift+left move_window right
map ctrl+down neighboring_window down
map shift+down move_window up
...

You can also define a shortcut to switch to the previously active window:

map ctrl+p nth_window -1

nth_window will focus the nth window for positive numbers and the previously active windows for negative numbers.

You can define shortcuts to detach the current window and move it to another tab or another OS window:

map ctrl+f2 detach_window         # moves the window into a new OS window
map ctrl+f3 detach_window new-tab # moves the window into a new Tab
map ctrl+f4 detach_window ask     # asks which tab to move the window into

Similarly, you can detach the current tab, with:

map ctrl+f2 detach_tab         # moves the tab into a new OS window
map ctrl+f4 detach_tab ask     # asks which OS Window to move the tab into

Other keyboard shortcuts

Action

Shortcut

Copy to clipboard

ctrl+shift+c (also ⌘+c on macOS)

Paste from clipboard

ctrl+shift+v (also ⌘+v on macOS)

Paste from selection

ctrl+shift+s

Increase font size

ctrl+shift+equal (also ⌘++ on macOS)

Decrease font size

ctrl+shift+minus (also ⌘+- on macOS)

Restore font size

ctrl+shift+backspace (also ⌘+0 on macOS)

Toggle fullscreen

ctrl+shift+f11 (also ^+⌘+f on macOS)

Toggle maximized

ctrl+shift+f10

Input unicode character

ctrl+shift+u

Click URL using the keyboard

ctrl+shift+e

Reset the terminal

ctrl+shift+delete

Pass current selection to program

ctrl+shift+o

Edit kitty config file

ctrl+shift+f2

Open a kitty shell

ctrl+shift+escape

Increase background opacity

ctrl+shift+a>m

Decrease background opacity

ctrl+shift+a>l

Full background opacity

ctrl+shift+a>1

Reset background opacity

ctrl+shift+a>d

Layouts

A layout is an arrangement of multiple windows. You can create a new window using the ctrl+shift+enter key combination.

Currently, there are five layouts available,

  • Stack -- Only a single maximized window is shown at a time

  • Tall -- One window is shown full height on the left, the rest of the windows are shown one below the other on the right

  • Fat -- One window is shown full width on the top, the rest of the windows are shown side-by-side on the bottom

  • Grid -- All windows are shown in a grid

  • Horizontal -- All windows are shown side-by-side

  • Vertical -- All windows are shown one below the other

You can switch between layouts using the ctrl+shift+l key combination. You can also create shortcuts to select particular layouts, and choose which layouts you want to enable/disable, see Layout management for examples.

You can resize windows inside layouts. Press ctrl+shift+r (also ⌘+r on macOS) to enter resizing mode and follow the on-screen instructions. In a given window layout only some operations may be possible for a particular window. For example, in the Tall layout you can make the first window wider/narrower, but not taller/shorter. Note that what you are resizing is actually not a window, but a row/column in the layout, all windows in that row/column will be resized.

You can also define shortcuts in kitty.conf to make the active window wider, narrower, taller, or shorter by mapping to the resize_window action, for example:

map ctrl+left resize_window narrower
map ctrl+right resize_window wider
map ctrl+up resize_window taller
map ctrl+down resize_window shorter 3

The resize_window action has a second, optional argument to control the resizing increment (a positive integer that defaults to 1).

Some layouts take options to control their behavior. For example, the fat and tall layouts accept the bias option to control how the available space is split up. To specify the option, in kitty.conf use:

enabled_layouts tall:bias=70

This will make the tall window occupy 70% of available width. bias can be any number between 10 and 90.

Writing a new layout only requires about a hundred lines of code, so if there is some layout you want, take a look at layout.py and submit a pull request!

Kittens

kitty has a framework for easily creating terminal programs that make use of its advanced features. These programs are called kittens. They are used both to add features to kitty itself and to create useful standalone programs. Some prominent kittens:

icat

Display images in the terminal

diff

A fast, side-by-side diff for the terminal with syntax highlighting and images

Unicode Input

Easily input arbitrary unicode characters in kitty by name or hex code.

Hints

Select and open/paste/insert arbitrary text snippets such as URLs, filenames, words, lines, etc from the terminal screen.

Panel

Draw a GPU accelerated dock panel on your desktop showing the output from an arbitrary terminal program.

Clipboard

Copy/paste to the clipboard from shell scripts, even over SSH.

You can also Learn to create your own kittens.

Configuring kitty

kitty is highly configurable, everything from keyboard shortcuts to painting frames-per-second. For details and a sample kitty.conf, see the configuration docs.

Remote control

kitty has a very powerful system that allows you to control it from the shell prompt, even over SSH. You can change colors, fonts, open new windows, tabs, set their titles, change window layout, get text from one window and send text to another, etc, etc. The possibilities are endless. See the tutorial to get started.

Startup Sessions

You can control the tabs, window layout, working directory, startup programs, etc. by creating a "session" file and using the kitty --session command line flag or the startup_session option in kitty.conf. For example:

# Set the window layout for the current tab
layout tall
# Set the working directory for windows in the current tab
cd ~
# Create a window and run the specified command in it
launch zsh
# Create a window with some environment variables set and run
# vim in it
launch env FOO=BAR vim
# Set the title for the next window
title Chat with x
launch irssi --profile x

# Create a new tab (the part after new_tab is the optional tab
# name which will be displayed in the tab bar, if omitted, the
# title of the active window will be used instead)
new_tab my tab
cd ~/somewhere
# Set the layouts allowed in this tab
enabled_layouts tall, stack
# Set the current layout
layout stack
launch zsh

# Create a new OS window
new_os_window
# set new window size to 80x25 cells
os_window_size 80c 25c
launch sh
# Make the current window the active (focused) window
focus
launch emacs

Mouse features

  • You can hold down ctrl+shift and click on a URL to open it in a browser.

  • You can double click to select a word and then drag to select more words.

  • You can triple click to select a line and then drag to select more lines.

  • You can right click to extend a previous selection.

  • You can hold down ctrl+alt and drag with the mouse to select in columns.

  • Selecting text automatically copies it to the primary clipboard (on platforms with a primary clipboard).

  • You can select text with kitty even when a terminal program has grabbed the mouse by holding down the shift key.

Font control

kitty has extremely flexible and powerful font selection features. You can specify individual families for the regular, bold, italic and bold+italic fonts. You can even specify specific font families for specific ranges of unicode characters. This allows precise control over text rendering. It can come in handy for applications like powerline, without the need to use patched fonts. See the various font related configuration directives in Fonts.

The scrollback buffer

kitty supports scrolling back to view history, just like most terminals. You can use either keyboard shortcuts or the mouse scroll wheel to do so. However, kitty has an extra, neat feature. Sometimes you need to explore the scrollback buffer in more detail, maybe search for some text or refer to it side-by-side while typing in a follow-up command. kitty allows you to do this by pressing the ctrl+shift+h key-combination, which will open the scrollback buffer in your favorite pager program (which is less by default). Colors and text formatting are preserved. You can explore the scrollback buffer comfortably within the pager.

Additionally, you can pipe the contents of the scrollback buffer to an arbitrary, command running in a new window, tab or overlay, for example:

map f1 launch --stdin-source=@screen_scrollback --stdin-add-formatting less +G -R

Would open the scrollback buffer in a new window when you press the F1 key. See ctrl+shift+h for details.

If you wish to store very large amounts of scrollback to view using the piping or ctrl+shift+h features, you can use the scrollback_pager_history_size option.

Multiple copy/paste buffers

In addition to being able to copy/paste from the system clipboard, in kitty you can also setup an arbitrary number of copy paste buffers. To do so, simply add something like the following to your kitty.conf:

map f1 copy_to_buffer a
map f2 paste_from_buffer a

This will allow you to press F1 to copy the current selection to an internal buffer named a and F2 to paste from that buffer. The buffer names are arbitrary strings, so you can define as many such buffers as you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

The list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is available here.

Completion for kitty

kitty comes with completion for the kitty command for popular shells.

bash

Add the following to your ~/.bashrc

source <(kitty + complete setup bash)

Older versions of bash (for example, v3.2) do not support process substitution with the source command, in which case you can try an alternative:

source /dev/stdin <<<"$(kitty + complete setup bash)"

zsh

Add the following to your ~/.zshrc

autoload -Uz compinit
compinit
# Completion for kitty
kitty + complete setup zsh | source /dev/stdin

The important thing above is to make sure the call to kitty to load the zsh completions happens after the call to compinit.

fish

For versions of fish earlier than 3.0.0, add the following to your ~/.config/fish/config.fish. Later versions source completions by default.

kitty + complete setup fish | source