Configuring kitty

kitty is highly customizable, everything from keyboard shortcuts, to painting frames-per-second. See below for an overview of all customization possibilities.

You can open the config file within kitty by pressing ctrl+shift+f2. You can also display the current configuration by running kitty --debug-config.

kitty looks for a config file in the OS config directories (usually ~/.config/kitty/kitty.conf) but you can pass a specific path via the kitty --config option or use the KITTY_CONFIG_DIRECTORY environment variable. See the kitty --config option for full details.

You can include secondary config files via the include directive. If you use a relative path for include, it is resolved with respect to the location of the current config file. Note that environment variables are expanded, so ${USER}.conf becomes name.conf if USER=name. For example:

include other.conf


kitty has very powerful font management. You can configure individual font faces and even specify special fonts for particular characters.

font_family, bold_font, italic_font, bold_italic_font
font_family      monospace
bold_font        auto
italic_font      auto
bold_italic_font auto

You can specify different fonts for the bold/italic/bold-italic variants. By default they are derived automatically, by the OSes font system. Setting them manually is useful for font families that have many weight variants like Book, Medium, Thick, etc. For example:

font_family      Operator Mono Book
bold_font        Operator Mono Medium
italic_font      Operator Mono Book Italic
bold_italic_font Operator Mono Medium Italic
font_size 11.0

Font size (in pts)

adjust_line_height, adjust_column_width
adjust_line_height  0
adjust_column_width 0

Change the size of each character cell kitty renders. You can use either numbers, which are interpreted as pixels or percentages (number followed by %), which are interpreted as percentages of the unmodified values. You can use negative pixels or percentages less than 100% to reduce sizes (but this might cause rendering artifacts).

symbol_map U+E0A0-U+E0A2,U+E0B0-U+E0B3 PowerlineSymbols

Map the specified unicode codepoints to a particular font. Useful if you need special rendering for some symbols, such as for Powerline. Avoids the need for patched fonts. Each unicode code point is specified in the form U+<code point in hexadecimal>. You can specify multiple code points, separated by commas and ranges separated by hyphens. symbol_map itself can be specified multiple times. Syntax is:

symbol_map codepoints Font Family Name
box_drawing_scale 0.001, 1, 1.5, 2

Change the sizes of the lines used for the box drawing unicode characters These values are in pts. They will be scaled by the monitor DPI to arrive at a pixel value. There must be four values corresponding to thin, normal, thick, and very thick lines.

Cursor customization

cursor #cccccc

Default cursor color

cursor_text_color #111111

Choose the color of text under the cursor. If you want it rendered with the background color of the cell underneath instead, use the special keyword: background

cursor_shape block

The cursor shape can be one of (block, beam, underline)

cursor_blink_interval      0.5
cursor_stop_blinking_after 15.0

The interval (in seconds) at which to blink the cursor. Set to zero to disable blinking. Note that numbers smaller than repaint_delay will be limited to repaint_delay. Stop blinking cursor after the specified number of seconds of keyboard inactivity. Set to zero to never stop blinking.


scrollback_lines 2000

Number of lines of history to keep in memory for scrolling back. Memory is allocated on demand. Negative numbers are (effectively) infinite scrollback. Note that using very large scrollback is not recommended a it can slow down resizing of the terminal and also use large amounts of RAM.

scrollback_pager less --chop-long-lines --RAW-CONTROL-CHARS +INPUT_LINE_NUMBER

Program with which to view scrollback in a new window. The scrollback buffer is passed as STDIN to this program. If you change it, make sure the program you use can handle ANSI escape sequences for colors and text formatting. INPUT_LINE_NUMBER in the command line above will be replaced by an integer representing which line should be at the top of the screen.

wheel_scroll_multiplier 5.0

Modify the amount scrolled by the mouse wheel. Note this is only used for low precision scrolling devices, not for high precision scrolling on platforms such as macOS and Wayland. Use negative numbers to change scroll direction.


url_color, url_style
url_color #0087BD
url_style curly

The color and style for highlighting URLs on mouse-over. url_style can be one of: none, single, double, curly

open_url_modifiers kitty_mod

The modifier keys to press when clicking with the mouse on URLs to open the URL

open_url_with default

The program with which to open URLs that are clicked on. The special value default means to use the operating system’s default URL handler.

copy_on_select no

Copy to clipboard on select. With this enabled, simply selecting text with the mouse will cause the text to be copied to clipboard. Useful on platforms such as macOS/Wayland that do not have the concept of primary selections. Note that this is a security risk, as all programs, including websites open in your browser can read the contents of the clipboard.

rectangle_select_modifiers ctrl+alt

The modifiers to use rectangular selection (i.e. to select text in a rectangular block with the mouse)

select_by_word_characters :@-./_~?&=%+#

Characters considered part of a word when double clicking. In addition to these characters any character that is marked as an alpha-numeric character in the unicode database will be matched.

click_interval 0.5

The interval between successive clicks to detect double/triple clicks (in seconds)

mouse_hide_wait 3.0

Hide mouse cursor after the specified number of seconds of the mouse not being used. Set to zero to disable mouse cursor hiding.

focus_follows_mouse no

Set the active window to the window under the mouse when moving the mouse around

Performance tuning

repaint_delay 10

Delay (in milliseconds) between screen updates. Decreasing it, increases frames-per-second (FPS) at the cost of more CPU usage. The default value yields ~100 FPS which is more than sufficient for most uses. Note that to actually achieve 100 FPS you have to either set sync_to_monitor to no or use a monitor with a high refresh rate.

input_delay 3

Delay (in milliseconds) before input from the program running in the terminal is processed. Note that decreasing it will increase responsiveness, but also increase CPU usage and might cause flicker in full screen programs that redraw the entire screen on each loop, because kitty is so fast that partial screen updates will be drawn.

sync_to_monitor yes

Sync screen updates to the refresh rate of the monitor. This prevents tearing ( when scrolling. However, it limits the rendering speed to the refresh rate of your monitor. With a very high speed mouse/high keyboard repeat rate, you may notice some slight input latency. If so, set this to no.

Terminal bell

enable_audio_bell yes

Enable/disable the audio bell. Useful in environments that require silence.

visual_bell_duration 0.0

Visual bell duration. Flash the screen when a bell occurs for the specified number of seconds. Set to zero to disable.

window_alert_on_bell yes

Request window attention on bell. Makes the dock icon bounce on macOS or the taskbar flash on linux.

bell_on_tab yes

Show a bell symbol on the tab if a bell occurs in one of the windows in the tab and the window is not the currently focused window

Window layout

remember_window_size, initial_window_width, initial_window_height
remember_window_size  yes
initial_window_width  640
initial_window_height 400

If enabled, the window size will be remembered so that new instances of kitty will have the same size as the previous instance. If disabled, the window will initially have size configured by initial_window_width/height, in pixels. You can use a suffix of “c” on the width/height values to have them interpreted as number of cells instead of pixels.

enabled_layouts *

The enabled window layouts. A comma separated list of layout names. The special value all means all layouts. The first listed layout will be used as the startup layout. For a list of available layouts, see the Layouts.

window_resize_step_cells, window_resize_step_lines
window_resize_step_cells 2
window_resize_step_lines 2

The step size (in units of cell width/cell height) to use when resizing windows. The cells value is used for horizontal resizing and the lines value for vertical resizing.

window_border_width 1.0

The width (in pts) of window borders. Will be rounded to the nearest number of pixels based on screen resolution. Note that borders are displayed only when more than one window is visible. They are meant to separate multiple windows.

draw_minimal_borders yes

Draw only the minimum borders needed. This means that only the minimum needed borders for inactive windows are drawn. That is only the borders that separate the inactive window from a neighbor. Note that setting a non-zero window margin overrides this and causes all borders to be drawn.

window_margin_width 0.0

The window margin (in pts) (blank area outside the border)

single_window_margin_width -1000.0

The window margin (in pts) to use when only a single window is visible. Negative values will cause the value of window_margin_width to be used instead.

window_padding_width 0.0

The window padding (in pts) (blank area between the text and the window border)

active_border_color #00ff00

The color for the border of the active window

inactive_border_color #cccccc

The color for the border of inactive windows

bell_border_color #ff5a00

The color for the border of inactive windows in which a bell has occurred

inactive_text_alpha 1.0

Fade the text in inactive windows by the specified amount (a number between zero and one, with zero being fully faded).

Tab bar

tab_bar_edge bottom

Which edge to show the tab bar on, top or bottom

tab_bar_margin_width 0.0

The margin to the left and right of the tab bar (in pts)

tab_bar_style fade

The tab bar style, can be one of: fade or separator. In the fade style, each tab’s edges fade into the background color, in the separator style, tabs are separated by a configurable separator.

tab_fade 0.25 0.5 0.75 1

Control how each tab fades into the background when using fade for the tab_bar_style. Each number is an alpha (between zero and one) that controls how much the corresponding cell fades into the background, with zero being no fade and one being full fade. You can change the number of cells used by adding/removing entries to this list.

tab_separator " ┇"

The separator between tabs in the tab bar when using separator as the tab_bar_style.

active_tab_foreground, active_tab_background, active_tab_font_style, inactive_tab_foreground, inactive_tab_background, inactive_tab_font_style
active_tab_foreground   #000
active_tab_background   #eee
active_tab_font_style   bold-italic
inactive_tab_foreground #444
inactive_tab_background #999
inactive_tab_font_style normal

Tab bar colors and styles

Color scheme

foreground, background
foreground #dddddd
background #000000

The foreground and background colors

background_opacity, dynamic_background_opacity
background_opacity         1.0
dynamic_background_opacity no

The opacity of the background. A number between 0 and 1, where 1 is opaque and 0 is fully transparent. This will only work if supported by the OS (for instance, when using a compositor under X11). Note that it only sets the default background color’s opacity. This is so that things like the status bar in vim, powerline prompts, etc. still look good. But it means that if you use a color theme with a background color in your editor, it will not be rendered as transparent. Instead you should change the default background color in your kitty config and not use a background color in the editor color scheme. Or use the escape codes to set the terminals default colors in a shell script to launch your editor. Be aware that using a value less than 1.0 is a (possibly significant) performance hit. If you want to dynamically change transparency of windows set dynamic_background_opacity to yes (this is off by default as it has a performance cost)

dim_opacity 0.75

How much to dim text that has the DIM/FAINT attribute set. One means no dimming and zero means fully dimmed (i.e. invisible).

selection_foreground, selection_background
selection_foreground #000000
selection_background #FFFACD

The foreground and background for text selected with the mouse

The color table

The 16 terminal colors. There are 8 basic colors, each color has a dull and bright version. You can also set the remaining colors from the 256 color table as color16 to color255.

color0, color8
color0 #000000
color8 #767676


color1, color9
color1 #cc0403
color9 #f2201f


color2, color10
color2  #19cb00
color10 #23fd00


color3, color11
color3  #cecb00
color11 #fffd00


color4, color12
color4  #0d73cc
color12 #1a8fff


color5, color13
color5  #cb1ed1
color13 #fd28ff


color6, color14
color6  #0dcdcd
color14 #14ffff


color7, color15
color7  #dddddd
color15 #ffffff



shell .

The shell program to execute. The default value of . means to use whatever shell is set as the default shell for the current user. Note that on macOS if you change this, you might need to add --login to ensure that the shell starts in interactive mode and reads its startup rc files.

editor .

The console editor to use when editing the kitty config file or similar tasks. A value of . means to use the environment variable EDITOR. Note that this environment variable has to be set not just in your shell startup scripts but system-wide, otherwise kitty will not see it.

close_on_child_death no

Close the window when the child process (shell) exits. If no (the default), the terminal will remain open when the child exits as long as there are still processes outputting to the terminal (for example disowned or backgrounded processes). If yes, the window will close as soon as the child process exits. Note that setting it to yes means that any background processes still using the terminal can fail silently because their stdout/stderr/stdin no longer work.

allow_remote_control no

Allow other programs to control kitty. If you turn this on other programs can control all aspects of kitty, including sending text to kitty windows, opening new windows, closing windows, reading the content of windows, etc. Note that this even works over ssh connections.


Specify environment variables to set in all child processes. Note that environment variables are expanded recursively, so if you use:

env MYVAR1=a
env MYVAR2=${MYVAR}/${HOME}/b

The value of MYVAR2 will be a/<path to home directory>/b.

startup_session none

Path to a session file to use for all kitty instances. Can be overridden by using the kitty --session command line option for individual instances. See Startup Sessions in the kitty documentation for details. Note that relative paths are interpreted with respect to the kitty config directory. Environment variables in the path are expanded.

clipboard_control write-clipboard write-primary

Allow programs running in kitty to read and write from the clipboard. You can control exactly which actions are allowed. The set of possible actions is: write-clipboard read-clipboard write-primary read-primary The default is to allow writing to the clipboard and primary selection. Note that enabling the read functionality is a security risk as it means that any program, even one running on a remote server via SSH can read your clipboard.

term xterm-kitty

The value of the TERM environment variable to set. Changing this can break many terminal programs, only change it if you know what you are doing, not because you read some advice on Stack Overflow to change it. The TERM variable if used by various programs to get information about the capabilities and behavior of the terminal. If you change it, depending on what programs you run, and how different the terminal you are changing it to is, various things from key-presses, to colors, to various advanced features may not work.

OS specific tweaks

macos_titlebar_color system

Change the color of the kitty window’s titlebar on macOS. A value of system means to use the default system color, a value of background means to use the background color of the currently active window and finally you can use an arbitrary color, such as #12af59 or red. WARNING: This option works by using a hack, as there is no proper Cocoa API for it. It sets the background color of the entire window and makes the titlebar transparent. As such it is incompatible with background_opacity. If you want to use both, you are probably better off just hiding the titlebar with macos_hide_titlebar.

macos_hide_titlebar no

Hide the kitty window’s title bar on macOS.

x11_hide_window_decorations no

Hide the window decorations (title bar and window borders) on X11 and Wayland. Whether this works and exactly what effect it has depends on the window manager, as it is the job of the window manager/compositor to draw window decorations.

macos_option_as_alt yes

Use the option key as an alt key. With this set to no, kitty will use the macOS native Option+Key = unicode character behavior. This will break any Alt+key keyboard shortcuts in your terminal programs, but you can use the macOS unicode input technique.

macos_hide_from_tasks no

Hide the kitty window from running tasks (Option+Tab) on macOS.

macos_quit_when_last_window_closed no

Have kitty quit when all the top-level windows are closed. By default, kitty will stay running, even with no open windows, as is the expected behavior on macOS.

macos_window_resizable yes

Disable this if you want kitty top-level (OS) windows to not be resizable on macOS.

macos_thicken_font 0

Draw an extra border around the font with the given width, to increase legibility at small font sizes. For example, a value of 0.75 will result in rendering that looks similar to sub-pixel antialiasing at common font sizes.

macos_traditional_fullscreen no

Use the traditional full-screen transition, that is faster, but less pretty.

macos_custom_beam_cursor no

Enable/disable custom mouse cursor for macOS that is easier to see on both light and dark backgrounds. WARNING: this might make your mouse cursor invisible on dual GPU machines.

Keyboard shortcuts

For a list of key names, see: GLFW keys. The name to use is the part after the GLFW_KEY_ prefix. For a list of modifier names, see: GLFW mods

On Linux you can also use XKB key names to bind keys that are not supported by GLFW. See XKB keys for a list of key names. The name to use is the part after the XKB_KEY_ prefix. Note that you should only use an XKB key name for keys that are not present in the list of GLFW keys.

Finally, you can use raw system key codes to map keys. To see the system key code for a key, start kitty with the kitty --debug-keyboard option. Then kitty will output some debug text for every key event. In that text look for native_code the value of that becomes the key name in the shortcut. For example:

on_key_input: glfw key: 65 native_code: 0x61 action: PRESS mods: 0x0 text: 'a'

Here, the key name for the A key is 0x61 and you can use it with:

map ctrl+0x61 something

to map ctrl+a to something.

You can use the special action no_op to unmap a keyboard shortcut that is assigned in the default configuration.

You can combine multiple actions to be triggered by a single shortcut, using the syntax below:

map key combine <separator> action1 <separator> action2 <separator> action3 ...

For example:

map kitty_mod+e combine : new_window : next_layout

this will create a new window and switch to the next available layout

You can use multi-key shortcuts using the syntax shown below:

map key1>key2>key3 action

For example:

map ctrl+f>2 set_font_size 20
kitty_mod ctrl+shift

The value of kitty_mod is used as the modifier for all default shortcuts, you can change it in your kitty.conf to change the modifiers for all the default shortcuts.

clear_all_shortcuts no

You can have kitty remove all shortcut definition seen up to this point. Useful, for instance, to remove the default shortcuts.


Copy to clipboard
map ctrl+shift+c copy_to_clipboard
Paste from clipboard
map ctrl+shift+v paste_from_clipboard
Paste from selection
map ctrl+shift+s paste_from_selection
map shift+insert paste_from_selection
Pass selection to program
map ctrl+shift+o pass_selection_to_program

You can also pass the contents of the current selection to any program using pass_selection_to_program. By default, the system’s open program is used, but you can specify your own, for example:

map kitty_mod+o pass_selection_to_program firefox

You can pass the current selection to a terminal program running in a new kitty window, by using the @selection placeholder:

map kitty_mod+y new_window less @selection


Scroll line up
map ctrl+shift+up scroll_line_up
map ctrl+shift+k scroll_line_up
Scroll line down
map ctrl+shift+down scroll_line_down
map ctrl+shift+j scroll_line_down
Scroll page up
map ctrl+shift+page_up scroll_page_up
Scroll page down
map ctrl+shift+page_down scroll_page_down
Scroll to top
map ctrl+shift+home scroll_home
Scroll to bottom
map ctrl+shift+end scroll_end
Browse scrollback buffer in less
map ctrl+shift+h show_scrollback

You can pipe the contents of the current screen + history buffer as STDIN to an arbitrary program using the pipe function. For example, the following opens the scrollback buffer in less in an overlay window:

map f1 pipe @ansi overlay less +G -R

Placeholders available are: @text (which is plain text) and @ansi (which includes text styling escape codes). For only the current screen, use @screen or @ansi_screen. For the secondary screen, use @alternate and @ansi_alternate. The secondary screen is the screen not currently displayed. For example if you run a fullscreen terminal application, the secondary screen will be the screen you return to when quitting the application. You can also use none for no STDIN input.

To open in a new window, tab or new OS window, use window, tab, or os_window respectively. You can also use none in which case the data will be piped into the program without creating any windows, useful if the program is a GUI program that creates its own windows.

Window management

map ctrl+shift+enter new_window

You can open a new window running an arbitrary program, for example:

map kitty_mod+y      new_window mutt

You can open a new window with the current working directory set to the working directory of the current window using:

map ctrl+alt+enter    new_window_with_cwd

You can open a new window that is allowed to control kitty via the kitty remote control facility by prefixing the command line with @. Any programs running in that window will be allowed to control kitty. For example:

map ctrl+enter new_window @ some_program
New OS window
map ctrl+shift+n new_os_window
Close window
map ctrl+shift+w close_window
Next window
map ctrl+shift+] next_window
Previous window
map ctrl+shift+[ previous_window
Move window forward
map ctrl+shift+f move_window_forward
Move window backward
map ctrl+shift+b move_window_backward
Move window to top
map ctrl+shift+` move_window_to_top
Start resizing window
map ctrl+shift+r start_resizing_window
First window
map ctrl+shift+1 first_window
Second window
map ctrl+shift+2 second_window
Third window
map ctrl+shift+3 third_window
Fourth window
map ctrl+shift+4 fourth_window
Fifth window
map ctrl+shift+5 fifth_window
Sixth window
map ctrl+shift+6 sixth_window
Seventh window
map ctrl+shift+7 seventh_window
Eight window
map ctrl+shift+8 eighth_window
Ninth window
map ctrl+shift+9 ninth_window
Tenth window
map ctrl+shift+0 tenth_window

Tab management

Next tab
map ctrl+shift+right next_tab
Previous tab
map ctrl+shift+left previous_tab
New tab
map ctrl+shift+t new_tab
Close tab
map ctrl+shift+q close_tab
Move tab forward
map ctrl+shift+. move_tab_forward
Move tab backward
map ctrl+shift+, move_tab_backward
Set tab title
map ctrl+shift+alt+t set_tab_title

You can also create shortcuts to go to specific tabs, with 1 being the first tab:

map ctrl+alt+1 goto_tab 1
map ctrl+alt+2 goto_tab 2

Just as with new_window above, you can also pass the name of arbitrary commands to run when using new_tab and use new_tab_with_cwd. Finally, if you want the new tab to open next to the current tab rather than at the end of the tabs list, use:

map ctrl+t new_tab !neighbor [optional cmd to run]

Layout management

Next layout
map ctrl+shift+l next_layout

You can also create shortcuts to switch to specific layouts:

map ctrl+alt+t goto_layout tall
map ctrl+alt+s goto_layout stack

Similarly, to switch back to the previous layout:

map ctrl+alt+p last_used_layout

Font sizes

You can change the font size for all top-level kitty windows at a time or only the current one.

Increase font size
map ctrl+shift+equal change_font_size all +2.0
Decrease font size
map ctrl+shift+minus change_font_size all -2.0
Reset font size
map ctrl+shift+backspace change_font_size all 0

To setup shortcuts for specific font sizes:

map kitty_mod+f6 change_font_size all 10.0

To setup shortcuts to change only the current window’s font size:

map kitty_mod+f6 change_font_size current 10.0

Select and act on visible text

Use the hints kitten to select text and either pass it to an external program or insert it into the terminal or copy it to the clipboard.

Open URL
map ctrl+shift+e kitten hints

Open a currently visible URL using the keyboard. The program used to open the URL is specified in open_url_with.

Insert selected path
map ctrl+shift+p>f kitten hints --type path --program -

Select a path/filename and insert it into the terminal. Useful, for instance to run git commands on a filename output from a previous git command.

Open selected path
map ctrl+shift+p>shift+f kitten hints --type path

Select a path/filename and open it with the default open program.

Insert selected line
map ctrl+shift+p>l kitten hints --type line --program -

Select a line of text and insert it into the terminal. Use for the output of things like: ls -1

Insert selected word
map ctrl+shift+p>w kitten hints --type word --program -

Select words and insert into terminal.

Insert selected hash
map ctrl+shift+p>h kitten hints --type hash --program -

Select something that looks like a hash and insert it into the terminal. Useful with git, which uses sha1 hashes to identify commits

The hints kitten has many more modes of operation that you can map to different shortcuts. For a full description see Hints.


Toggle fullscreen
map ctrl+shift+f11 toggle_fullscreen
Unicode input
map ctrl+shift+u kitten unicode_input
Edit config file
map ctrl+shift+f2 edit_config_file
Open the kitty command shell
map ctrl+shift+escape kitty_shell window

Open the kitty shell in a new window/tab/overlay/os_window to control kitty using commands.

Increase background opacity
map ctrl+shift+a>m set_background_opacity +0.1
Decrease background opacity
map ctrl+shift+a>l set_background_opacity -0.1
Make background fully opaque
map ctrl+shift+a>1 set_background_opacity 1
Reset background opacity
map ctrl+shift+a>d set_background_opacity default
Reset the terminal
map ctrl+shift+delete clear_terminal reset active

You can create shortcuts to clear/reset the terminal. For example:

map kitty_mod+f9 clear_terminal reset active
map kitty_mod+f10 clear_terminal clear active
map kitty_mod+f11 clear_terminal scrollback active

These will reset screen/clear screen/clear screen+scrollback respectively. If you want to operate on all windows instead of just the current one, use all instead of :italic`active`.

Send arbitrary text on key presses

You can tell kitty to send arbitrary (UTF-8) encoded text to the client program when pressing specified shortcut keys. For example:

map ctrl+alt+a send_text all Special text

This will send “Special text” when you press the ctrl+alt+a key combination. The text to be sent is a python string literal so you can use escapes like \x1b to send control codes or \u21fb to send unicode characters (or you can just input the unicode characters directly as UTF-8 text). The first argument to send_text is the keyboard modes in which to activate the shortcut. The possible values are normal or application or kitty or a comma separated combination of them. The special keyword all means all modes. The modes normal and application refer to the DECCKM cursor key mode for terminals, and kitty refers to the special kitty extended keyboard protocol.

Another example, that outputs a word and then moves the cursor to the start of the line (same as pressing the Home key):

map ctrl+alt+a send_text normal Word\x1b[H
map ctrl+alt+a send_text application Word\x1bOH

Sample kitty.conf

You can download a sample kitty.conf file with all default settings and comments describing each setting by clicking: sample kitty.conf.