The kitty command line interface

kitty [options] [program-to-run ...]

Run the kitty terminal emulator. You can also specify the program to run inside kitty as normal arguments following the options. For example: kitty sh -c “echo hello, world. Press ENTER to quit; read”

For comprehensive documentation for kitty, please see:


--class <CLS>

Set the class part of the WM_CLASS window property. On Wayland, it sets the app id. Default: kitty

--name <NAME>

Set the name part of the WM_CLASS property (defaults to using the value from kitty --class)

--title <TITLE>, -T <TITLE>

Set the OS window title. This will override any title set by the program running inside kitty, permanently fixing the OS Window’s title. So only use this if you are running a program that does not set titles.

--config <CONFIG>, -c <CONFIG>

Specify a path to the configuration file(s) to use. All configuration files are merged onto the builtin kitty.conf, overriding the builtin values. This option can be specified multiple times to read multiple configuration files in sequence, which are merged. Use the special value NONE to not load a config file.

If this option is not specified, config files are searched for in the order: $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/kitty/kitty.conf, ~/.config/kitty/kitty.conf, $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS/kitty/kitty.conf. The first one that exists is used as the config file.

If the environment variable KITTY_CONFIG_DIRECTORY is specified, that directory is always used and the above searching does not happen.

If /etc/xdg/kitty/kitty.conf exists it is merged before (i.e. with lower priority) than any user config files. It can be used to specify system-wide defaults for all users.

--override <OVERRIDE>, -o <OVERRIDE>

Override individual configuration options, can be specified multiple times. Syntax: name=value. For example: kitty -o font_size=20

--directory <DIRECTORY>, --working-directory <DIRECTORY>, -d <DIRECTORY>

Change to the specified directory when launching Default: .


Detach from the controlling terminal, if any

--session <SESSION>

Path to a file containing the startup session (tabs, windows, layout, programs). Use - to read from STDIN. See the README file for details and an example.

--watcher <WATCHER>, -w <WATCHER>

Path to a python file. Appropriately named functions in this file will be called for various events, such as when the window is resized, focused or closed. See the section on watchers in the launch command documentation The launch command. Relative paths are resolved relative to the kitty config directory. Note that this watcher will be added only to all initially created windows, not new windows created after startup.


Remain open after child process exits. Note that this only affects the first window. You can quit by either using the close window shortcut or pressing any key.

--single-instance, -1

If specified only a single instance of kitty will run. New invocations will instead create a new top-level window in the existing kitty instance. This allows kitty to share a single sprite cache on the GPU and also reduces startup time. You can also have separate groups of kitty instances by using the kitty --instance-group option

--instance-group <INSTANCE_GROUP>

Used in combination with the kitty --single-instance option. All kitty invocations with the same kitty --instance-group will result in new windows being created in the first kitty instance within that group


Normally, when using --single-instance, kitty will open a new window in an existing instance and quit immediately. With this option, it will not quit till the newly opened window is closed. Note that if no previous instance is found, then kitty will wait anyway, regardless of this option.

--listen-on <LISTEN_ON>

Tell kitty to listen on the specified address for control messages. For example, kitty --listen-on=unix:/tmp/mykitty or kitty --listen-on=tcp:localhost:12345. On Linux systems, you can also use abstract UNIX sockets, not associated with a file, like this: kitty --listen-on=unix:@mykitty. Environment variables in the setting are expanded and relative paths are resolved with respect to the temporary directory. To control kitty, you can send it commands with kitty @ using the kitty @ --to option to specify this address. This option will be ignored, unless you set allow_remote_control to yes in kitty.conf. Note that if you run kitty @ within a kitty window, there is no need to specify the –to option as it is read automatically from the environment. For UNIX sockets, this can also be specified in kitty.conf.

--start-as <START_AS>

Control how the initial kitty window is created. Default: normal Choices: fullscreen, maximized, minimized, normal

Debugging options

--version, -v

The current kitty version


Output commands received from child process to stdout

--replay-commands <REPLAY_COMMANDS>

Replay previously dumped commands. Specify the path to a dump file previously created by –dump-commands. You can open a new kitty window to replay the commands with:

kitty sh -c "kitty --replay-commands /path/to/dump/file; read"
--dump-bytes <DUMP_BYTES>

Path to file in which to store the raw bytes received from the child process

--debug-gl, --debug-rendering

Debug rendering commands. This will cause all OpenGL calls to check for errors instead of ignoring them. Also prints out miscellaneous debug information. Useful when debugging rendering problems

--debug-input, --debug-keyboard

This option will cause kitty to print out key and mouse events as they are received


Print out information about the selection of fallback fonts for characters not present in the main font.

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:




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)




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


Move tab forward


Move tab backward


Set tab title

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




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


Previous window


Move window forward


Move window backward


Move window to top


Focus specific window

ctrl+shift+1, ctrl+shift+2ctrl+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:

# moves the window into a new OS window
map ctrl+f2 detach_window
# moves the window into a new Tab
map ctrl+f3 detach_window new-tab
# moves the window into the previously active tab
map ctrl+f3 detach_window tab-prev
# moves the window into the tab at the left of the active tab
map ctrl+f3 detach_window tab-left
# asks which tab to move the window into
map ctrl+f4 detach_window ask

Similarly, you can detach the current tab, with:

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

Finally, you can define a shortcut to close all windows in a tab other than the currently active window:

map f9 close_other_windows_in_tab

Other keyboard shortcuts

The full list of actions that can be mapped to key presses is available here.



Copy to clipboard

ctrl+shift+c (also ⌘+c on macOS)

Paste from clipboard

ctrl+shift+v (also ⌘+v on macOS)

Paste from selection


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


Input unicode character

ctrl+shift+u (also ^+⌘+space on macOS)

Click URL using the keyboard


Reset the terminal


Reload kitty.conf

ctrl+shift+f5 (also ^+⌘+f5 on macOS)

Debug kitty.conf

ctrl+shift+f6 (also ⌘+option+f6 on macOS)

Pass current selection to program


Edit kitty config file


Open a kitty shell


Increase background opacity


Decrease background opacity


Full background opacity


Reset background opacity


See also

See kitty.conf(5)