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Dynamic menu library and client program inspired by dmenu
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Dynamic menu library and client program inspired by dmenu



Releases are signed with 29317348D687B86B and published on GitHub.


# Build everything

# To build only certain features, pass the targets which you are interested into
# You can also use the following meta-targets for common features:
# - clients (bemenu, bemenu-run)
# - x11
# - wayland
# - curses
# For example this would build the bemenu and bemenu-run binaries and the x11 backend:
make clients x11

# To install the built features, simply run:
make install

# NOTE: You may get errors during install when not building all the features.
#       These errors are free to ignore if `Install OK!` is printed.

# By default that will install to /usr/local, but you can change this with PREFIX
make install PREFIX=/usr

# Other usual variables are available for modifying such as DESTDIR, bindir, libdir and mandir
# Note that if you want a custom PREFIX or libdir, you should pass those during build as well,
# since they will be used compile-time to figure out where to load backends from!

# HTML API documentation (requires doxygen installed):
make doxygen

# To test from source, you have to point the LD_LIBRARY_PATH and BEMENU_RENDERERS variables:



# Make sure you have GNU Make and pkg-config installed
brew install make pkg-config

# You may need to setup your pkg-config to point to the brew version of the libraries
# For example to build curses backend, you'd do:
PKG_CONFIG_PATH="/usr/local/opt/ncurses/lib/pkgconfig" sh build-osx.sh curses

# Other than that, follow the normal build steps, but use `build-osx.sh` instead of make


There is default.nix provided in this repo, you can install bemenu with it by running

nix-env -i -f default.nix

This installs only the curses backend.


  • C compiler
  • scdoc to generate manpage


All dependencies below are searched with pkg-config

Backend Dependencies
curses ncursesw
x11 x11, xinerama, cairo, pango, pangocairo
Wayland wayland-client, wayland-protocols, cairo, pango, pangocairo, xkbcommon

Currently, pasting from clipboard is done at runtime with wl-paste -t text/plain and xclip -t text/plain -out, attempted in that order.

Installing the dependencies

Ubuntu 20.04

sudo apt install scdoc wayland-protocols libcairo-dev libpango1.0-dev libxkbcommon-dev libwayland-dev

Environment variables

Variable Description Value
BEMENU_OPTS Options for bemenu, bemenu-run from env Any cli argument
BEMENU_BACKEND Force backend by name x11, wayland, curses
BEMENU_RENDERER Force backend by loading a .so file Path to the .so file
BEMENU_RENDERERS Override the backend search path Path to a directory
BEMENU_SCALE Override the rendering scale factor Float value

About Wayland support

Wayland is only supported by compositors that implement the wlr-layer-shell protocol. Typically wlroots-based compositors.


Default Bindings

Key Binding
Left Arrow Move cursor left
Right Arrow Move cursor right
Up Arrow Move to previous item
Down Arrow Move to next item
Shift + Left Arrow Select previous item
Shift + Right Arrow Select next item
Shift + Alt + < Select first item in actual list
Shift + Alt + > Select last item in actual list
Shift + Page Up Select first item in actual list
Shift + Page Down Select last item in actual list
Page Up Select first item in displayed list
Page Down Select last item in displayed list
Tab Move to next item
Shift + Tab Select item and place it in filter
Esc Exit bemenu
Insert Return filter text or selected items if multi selection
Shift + Return Return filter text or selected items if multi selection
Return Execute selected item
Home Curses cursor set to 0
End Cursor set to end of filter text
Backspace Delete character at cursor
Delete Delete character at cursor
Delete Left Delete text before cursor
Delete Right Delete text after cursor
Word Delete Delete all text in filter
Alt + v Select last item in displayed list
Alt + j Select next item
Alt + d Select last item in display list
Alt + l Select previous item
Alt + f Select next item
Alt + 0-9 Execute selected item with custom exit code
Ctrl + Return Select item but don't quit to select multiple items
Ctrl + g Exit bemenu
Ctrl + n Select next item
Ctrl + p Select previous item
Ctrl + a Move cursor to beginning of text in filter
Ctrl + e Move cursor to end of text in filter
Ctrl + h Delete character at cursor
Ctrl + u Kill text behind cursor
Ctrl + k Kill text after cursor
Ctrl + w Kill all text in filter
Ctrl + m Execute selected item
Ctrl + y Paste clipboard

Vim Bindings

Vim bindings can be activated via the --binding vim option. All bindings are in vim normal mode. When bemenu is started with vim bindings it will be in insert mode. By pressing escape, normal mode can be activated.

Note: The default bindings can still be used for actions that do not have a separate vim binding such as launching a program or pasting.

Key Binding
j/n Goto next item
k/p Goto previous item
h Move cursor left
l Move cursor right
q Quit bemenu
v Toggle item selection
i Enter insert mode
I Move to line start and enter insert mode
a Move to the right and enter insert mode
A Move to line end and enter insert mode
w Move a word
b Move a word backwards
e Move to end of word
x Delete a character
X Delete a character before the cursor
0 Move to line start
$ Move to line end
gg Goto first item
G Goto last item
H Goto first item in view
M Goto middle item in view
L Goto last item in view
F Scroll one page of items down
B Scroll one page of items up
dd Delete the whole line
dw Delete a word
db Delete a word backwards
d0 Delete to start of line
d$ Delete to end of line
cc Change the whole line
cw Change a word
cb Change a word backwards
c0 Change to start of line
c$ Change to end of line

Projects using bemenu