An urgent-first/LRU window switcher for sway

#11 Feature: Option to do 'kill -9' on 'quit-window' like commands

~tsdh commented on swayr todo

5 days ago

3685f06 Release swayr v0.12.0

~tsdh pushed to ~tsdh/swayr git

5 days ago

#Swayr is a window switcher (and more) for sway

builds.sr.ht status latest release License GPL 3 or later dependency status Hits-of-Code

Swayr consists of a demon, and a client. The demon swayrd records window/workspace creations, deletions, and focus changes using sway's JSON IPC interface. The client swayr offers subcommands, see swayr --help, and sends them to the demon which executes them.

Right now, there are these subcommands:

  • switch-to-urgent-or-lru-window switches to the next window with urgency hint (if any) or to the last recently used window.
  • switch-window displays all windows in the order urgent first, then last-recently-used, focused last and focuses the selected.
  • switch-workspace displays all workspaces in LRU order and switches to the selected one.
  • switch-output shows all outputs in the menu and focuses the selected one.
  • switch-workspace-or-window displays all workspaces and their windows and switches to the selected workspace or window.
  • switch-workspace-container-or-window shows workspaces, containers, and their windows in the menu program and switches to the selected one.
  • switch-to shows outputs, workspaces, containers, and their windows in the menu program and switches to the selected one.
  • quit-window displays all windows and quits the selected one. An optional --kill / -k flag may be specified in which case the window's process will be killed using kill -9 <pid> rather than only sending a kill IPC message to sway.
  • quit-workspace-or-window displays all workspaces and their windows and allows to quit either the selected workspace (all its windows) or the selected window.
  • quit-workspace-container-or-window shows workspaces, containers, and their windows and quits all windows of the selected workspace/container or the selected window.
  • move-focused-to-workspace moves the currently focused window or container to another workspace selected with the menu program. Non-matching input of the form #w:<workspace> where the hash and w: shortcut are optional can be used to move it to a new workspace.
  • move-focused-to moves the currently focused container or window to the selected output, workspace, container, window. Non-matching input is handled like with move-focused-to-workspace.
  • swap-focused-with swaps the currently focused window or container with the one selected from the menu program.
  • next-window (all-workspaces|current-workspace) & prev-window (all-workspaces|current-workspace) focus the next/previous window in depth-first iteration order of the tree. The argument all-workspaces or current-workspace define if all windows of all workspaces or only those of the current workspace are considered.
  • next-tiled-window & prev-tiled-window do the same as next-window & prev-window but switch only between windows contained in a tiled container.
  • next-tabbed-or-stacked-window & prev-tabbed-or-stacked-window do the same as next-window & prev-window but switch only between windows contained in a tabbed or stacked container.
  • next-floating-window & prev-floating-window do the same as next-window & prev-window but switch only between floating windows.
  • next-window-of-same-layout & prev-window-of-same-layout is like next-floating-window / prev-floating-window if the current window is floating, it is like next-tabbed-or-stacked-window / prev-tabbed-or-stacked-window if the current window is in a tabbed or stacked container, it is like next-tiled-window / prev-tiled-window if the current windows is in a tiled container, and is like next-window / prev-window otherwise.
  • tile-workspace exclude-floating|include-floating tiles all windows on the current workspace (excluding or including floating ones). That's done by moving all windows away to some special workspace, setting the current workspace to splith layout, and then moving the windows back. If the auto_tile feature is used, see the Configuration section below, it'll change from splitting horizontally to vertically during re-insertion.
  • shuffle-tile-workspace exclude-floating|include-floating shuffles & tiles all windows on the current workspace. The shuffle part means that (a) the windows are shuffled before re-insertion, and (b) a randomly chosen already re-inserted window is focused before re-inserting another window. So while tile-workspace on a typical horizontally oriented screen and 5 windows will usually result in a layout with one window on the left and all four others tiled vertially on the right, shuffle-tile-workspace in combination with auto_tile usually results in a more balanced layout, i.e., 2 windows tiled vertically on the right and the other 4 tiled vertially on the left. If you have less than a handful of windows, just repeat shuffle-tile-workspace a few times until happenstance creates the layout you wanted.
  • tab-workspace exclude-floating|include-floating puts all windows of the current workspace into a tabbed container.
  • toggle-tab-shuffle-tile-workspace exclude-floating|include-floating toggles between a tabbed and tiled layout, i.e., it calls shuffle-tile-workspace if it is currently tabbed, and calls shuffle-tile-workspace if it is currently tiled.
  • configure-outputs lets you repeatedly issue output configuration commands until you abort the menu program.
  • execute-swaymsg-command displays most swaymsg which don't require additional input and executes the selected one. That's handy especially for less often used commands not bound to a key. Non-matching input will be executed executed as-is with swaymsg.
  • execute-swayr-command displays all commands above and executes the selected one. (This is useful for accessing swayr commands which are not bound to a key.)

All menu switching commands (switch-window, switch-workspace, and switch-workspace-or-window) now handle non-matching input instead of doing nothing. The input should start with any number of # (in order to be able to force a non-match), a shortcut followed by a colon, and some string as required by the shortcut. The following shortcuts are supported.

  • w:<workspace>: Switches to a possibly non-existing workspace. <workspace> must be a digit, a name or <digit>:<name>. The <digit>:<name> format is explained in man 5 sway. If that format is given, swayr will create the workspace using workspace number <digit>:<name>. If just a digit or name is given, the number argument is not used.
  • s:<cmd>: Executes the sway command <cmd> using swaymsg.
  • Any other input is assumed to be a workspace name and thus handled as w:<input> would do.


A screenshot of swayr switch-window

A screenshot of swayrswitch-workspace-or-window


Some distros have packaged swayr so that you can install it using your distro's package manager. Alternatively, it's easy to build and install it yourself using cargo.

#Distro packages

The following GNU/Linux and BSD distros package swayr. Thanks a lot to the respective package maintainers! Refer to the repology site for details.

Packaging status AUR swayr-git package status

#Building with cargo

You'll need to install the current stable rust toolchain using the one-liner shown at the official rust installation page.

Then you can install swayr like so:

cargo install swayr

For getting updates easily, I recommend the cargo install-update plugin.

# Install it once.
cargo install install-update

# Then you can update all installed rust binary crates including swayr using:
cargo install-update --all

# If you only want to update swayr, you can do so using:
cargo install-update -- swayr


You need to start the swayr demon swayrd in your sway config (~/.config/sway/config) like so:

exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 swayrd > /tmp/swayrd.log 2>&1

The setting of RUST_BACKTRACE=1 and the redirection of the output to some logfile is optional but helps a lot when something doesn't work. Especially, if you encounter a crash in certain situations and you want to report a bug, it would be utmost helpful if you could reproduce the issue with backtrace and logging and attach that to your bug report.

Next to starting the demon, you want to bind swayr commands to some keys like so:

bindsym $mod+Space exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr switch-window >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&1

bindsym $mod+Delete exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr quit-window > /tmp/swayr.log 2>&1

bindsym $mod+Tab exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr switch-to-urgent-or-lru-window >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&1

bindsym $mod+Next exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr next-window all-workspaces >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&2

bindsym $mod+Prior exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr prev-window all-workspaces >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&2

bindsym $mod+Shift+Space exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr switch-workspace-or-window >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&1

bindsym $mod+c exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr execute-swaymsg-command >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&1

bindsym $mod+Shift+c exec env RUST_BACKTRACE=1 \
    swayr execute-swayr-command >> /tmp/swayr.log 2>&1

Of course, configure the keys to your liking. Again, enabling rust backtraces and logging are optional.


Swayr can be configured using the ~/.config/swayr/config.toml or /etc/xdg/swayr/config.toml config file.

If no config files exists, a simple default configuration will be created on the first invocation for use with the wofi menu program.

It should be easy to adapt that default config for usage with other menu programs such as dmenu, bemenu, rofi, a script spawning a terminal with fzf, or whatever. The only requirement is that the launcher needs to be able to read the items to choose from from stdin and spit out the selected item to stdout.

The default config looks like this:

executable = 'wofi'
args = [

output_format = '{indent}<b>Output {name}</b>    <span alpha=\"20000\">({id})</span>'
workspace_format = '{indent}<b>Workspace {name} [{layout}]</b>    <span alpha="20000">({id})</span>'
container_format = '{indent}<b>Container [{layout}]</b> on workspace {workspace_name} <i>{marks}</i>    <span alpha="20000">({id})</span>'
window_format = 'img:{app_icon}:text:{indent}<i>{app_name}</i> — {urgency_start}<b>“{title}”</b>{urgency_end} on workspace {workspace_name} <i>{marks}</i>    <span alpha="20000">({id})</span>'
indent = '    '
urgency_start = '<span background="darkred" foreground="yellow">'
urgency_end = '</span>'
html_escape = true
icon_dirs = [

auto_tile = false
auto_tile_min_window_width_per_output_width = [
    [1024, 500],
    [1280, 600],
    [1400, 680],
    [1440, 700],
    [1600, 780],
    [1920, 920],
    [2560, 1000],
    [3440, 1000],
    [4096, 1200],

In the following, all sections are explained.

#The menu section

In the [menu] section, you can specify the menu program using the executable name or full path and the args (flags and options) it should get passed. If some argument contains the placeholder {prompt}, it is replaced with a prompt such as "Switch to window" depending on context.

#The format section

In the [format] section, format strings are specified defining how selection choices are to be layed out. wofi supports pango markup which makes it possible to style the text using HTML and CSS. The following formats are supported right now.

  • output_format defines how outputs (monitors) are displayed in the menu program, workspace_format defines how workspaces are displayed, container_format defines how non-workspace containers are displayed, and window_format defines how application windows are displayed.
  • In these formats, the following placeholders can be used:
    • {name} gets replaced by the output name, the workspace number or name or a window's title. The placeholder {title} is an obsolete synonym which will be removed in a later version.
    • {layout} shows the workspace or container's layout.
    • {id} gets replaced by the sway-internal con id.
    • {indent} gets replaced with N times the new format.indent value where N is the depth in the shown menu input.
    • {app_name} gets replaced with a window's application name.
    • {marks} shows a comma-separated list of the container's or window's marks.
    • {app_icon} shows the application's icon (a path to a PNG or SVG file).
    • {workspace_name} gets replaced with the name or number of the workspace the container or window belongs to.
    • The placeholders {urgency_start} and {urgency_end} get replaced by the empty string if the window has no urgency flag and with the values of the same-named formats if the window has the urgency flag set. That makes it possible to highlight urgent windows as shown in the default config.
  • indent is a string which is repeatedly inserted at the {indent} placeholder in formats.
  • html_escape defines if the strings replacing the placeholders above (except for {urgency_start} and {urgency_end}) should be HTML-escaped.
  • urgency_start is a string which replaces the {urgency_start} placeholder in window_format.
  • urgency_end is a string which replaces the {urgency_end} placeholder in window_format.
  • icon_dirs is a vector of directories in which to look for application icons in order to compute the {app_icon} replacement.
  • fallback_icon is a path to some PNG/SVG icon which will be used as {app_icon} if no application-specific icon can be determined.

It is crucial that during selection (using wofi or some other menu program) each window has a different display string. Therefore, it is highly recommended to include the {id} placeholder at least in container_format and window_format. Otherwise, e.g., two vertical splits on the same workspace or two terminals (of the same terminal app) with the same working directory (and therefore, the same title) wouldn't be distinguishable.

Hint for wofi: wofi supports icons with the syntax 'img:<image-file>:text:<text>', so a suitable window_format with application icon should start with img:{app_icon}:text:.

Hint for rofi: rofi supports icons with the syntax "<text>\u0000icon\u00001f<image-file>", so a suitable window_format with application icon should end with "\u0000icon\u001f<image-file>". Also note that you must enclose your window_format value with double-quotes and not with single-quotes. Singe-quote strings are literal strings in TOML where no escape-sequences are processed whereas for double-quoted strings (so-called basic strings) escape-sequences are processed. rofi requires a null character and a PARAGRAPH SEPARATOR for image sequences.

#The layout section

In the [layout] section, you can enable auto-tiling by setting auto_tile to true (the default is false). The option auto_tile_min_window_width_per_output_width defines the minimum width in pixels which your windows should have per output width. For example, the example setting above says that on an output which is 1600 pixels wide, each window should have at least a width of 780 pixels, thus there may be at most two side-by-side windows (Caution, include your borders and gaps in your calculation!). There will be no auto-tiling doesn't include your output's exact width.

If auto_tile is enabled, swayr will automatically split either vertically or horizontally according to this algorithm:

  • For all outputs:
    • For all (nested) containers on that output (except the scratchpad):
      • For all child windows of that container:
        • If the container is split horizontally and creating another window would make the current child window smaller than the minimum width, execute split vertical (the swaymsg command over IPC) on the child.
        • Else if the container is split vertically and now there is enough space so that creating another window would still leave the current child window above or equal to the minimum width, call split horizontal on the child.
        • Otherwise, do nothing for this container. This means that stacked or tabbed containers will never be affected by auto-tiling.

There is one caveat: it would be nice to also trigger auto-tiling when windows or containers are resized but unfortunately, resizing doesn't issue any events over IPC. Therefore, auto-tiling is triggered by new-window events, close-events, move-events, floating-events, and also focus-events. The latter are a workaround and wouldn't be required if there were resize-events.

#Version Changes

Since version 0.8.0, I've started writing a NEWS file listing the news, and changes to swayr commands or configuration options. If something doesn't seem to work as expected after an update, please consult this file to check if there has been some (possibly incompatible) change requiring an update of your config.

#Questions & Patches

For asking questions, sending feedback, or patches, refer to my public inbox (mailinglist). Please mention the project you are referring to in the subject.


Bugs and requests can be reported here.

#Build status

builds.sr.ht status


Swayr is licensed under the GPLv3 (or later).