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compton - a compositor for X11


compton [OPTIONS]


This man page may be less up-to-date than the usage text in compton (compton -h).


compton is a compositor based on Dana Jansens' version of xcompmgr (which itself was
written by Keith Packard). It includes some improvements over the original xcompmgr, like
window frame opacity and inactive window transparency.


-h, --help
Get the usage text embedded in program code, which may be more up-to-date than this
man page.

Display to be managed.

The blur radius for shadows, in pixels. (defaults to 12)

The opacity of shadows. (0.0 - 1.0, defaults to 0.75)

The left offset for shadows, in pixels. (defaults to -15)

The top offset for shadows, in pixels. (defaults to -15)

Opacity change between steps while fading in. (0.01 - 1.0, defaults to 0.028)

Opacity change between steps while fading out. (0.01 - 1.0, defaults to 0.03)

The time between steps in fade step, in milliseconds. (> 0, defaults to 10)

Default opacity for dropdown menus and popup menus. (0.0 - 1.0, defaults to 1.0)

Enabled client-side shadows on windows. Note desktop windows (windows with
_NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE_DESKTOP) never get shadow.

Avoid drawing shadows on dock/panel windows.

Zero the part of the shadow’s mask behind the window. Note this may not work properly
on ARGB windows with fully transparent areas.

Fade windows in/out when opening/closing and when opacity changes, unless
--no-fading-openclose is used.

Equals -f. Deprecated.

Opacity of inactive windows. (0.1 - 1.0, disabled by default)

Opacity of window titlebars and borders. (0.1 - 1.0, disabled by default)

Don’t draw shadows on drag-and-drop windows.

Daemonize process. Fork to background after initialization.

Enable synchronous X operation (for debugging).

--config PATH
Look for configuration file at the path. See CONFIGURATION FILES section below for
where compton looks for a configuration file by default.

--shadow-red VALUE
Red color value of shadow (0.0 - 1.0, defaults to 0).

--shadow-green VALUE
Green color value of shadow (0.0 - 1.0, defaults to 0).

--shadow-blue VALUE
Blue color value of shadow (0.0 - 1.0, defaults to 0).

Let inactive opacity set by -i overrides the windows' _NET_WM_OPACITY values.

--active-opacity OPACITY
Default opacity for active windows. (0.0 - 1.0)

--inactive-dim VALUE
Dim inactive windows. (0.0 - 1.0, defaults to 0.0)

Try to detect WM windows (a non-override-redirect window with no child that has
WM_STATE) and mark them as active.

Mark override-redirect windows that doesn’t have a child window with WM_STATE focused.

Do not fade on window open/close.

Do not paint shadows on shaped windows. Note shaped windows here means windows setting
its shape through X Shape extension. Those using ARGB background is beyond our

Try to detect windows with rounded corners and don’t consider them shaped windows. The
accuracy is not very high, unfortunately.

Detect _NET_WM_OPACITY on client windows, useful for window managers not passing
_NET_WM_OPACITY of client windows to frame windows.

--refresh-rate REFRESH_RATE
Specify refresh rate of the screen. If not specified or 0, compton will try detecting
this with X RandR extension.

Set VSync method. VSync methods currently available:

· none: No VSync

· drm: VSync with DRM_IOCTL_WAIT_VBLANK. May only work on some drivers.

· opengl: Try to VSync with SGI_video_sync OpenGL extension. Only work on some

· opengl-oml: Try to VSync with OML_sync_control OpenGL extension. Only work on some

· opengl-swc: Try to VSync with SGI_swap_control OpenGL extension. Only work on some
drivers. Works only with GLX backend. Known to be most effective on many drivers.
Does not actually control paint timing, only buffer swap is affected, so it
doesn’t have the effect of --sw-opti unlike other methods. Experimental.

· opengl-mswc: Try to VSync with MESA_swap_control OpenGL extension. Basically the
same as opengl-swc above, except the extension we use.

(Note some VSync methods may not be enabled at compile time.)

Attempt to send painting request before VBlank and do XFlush() during VBlank. Reported
to work pretty terribly. This switch may be lifted out at any moment.

--alpha-step VALUE
X Render backend: Step for pregenerating alpha pictures. (0.01 - 1.0, defaults to

Enable DBE painting mode, intended to use with VSync to (hopefully) eliminate tearing.
Reported to have no effect, though.

Painting on X Composite overlay window instead of on root window.

Limit compton to repaint at most once every 1 / refresh_rate second to boost
performance. This should not be used with --vsync drm/opengl/opengl-oml as they
essentially does --sw-opti's job already, unless you wish to specify a lower refresh
rate than the actual value.

Use EWMH _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW to determine currently focused window, rather than
listening to FocusIn/FocusOut event. Might have more accuracy, provided that the WM
supports it.

Respect _COMPTON_SHADOW. This a prototype-level feature, which you must not rely on.

Unredirect all windows if a full-screen opaque window is detected, to maximize
performance for full-screen windows. Known to cause flickering when
redirecting/unredirecting windows. --paint-on-overlay may make the flickering less

--unredir-if-possible-delay MILLISECONDS
Delay before unredirecting the window, in milliseconds. Defaults to 0.

--unredir-if-possible-exclude CONDITION
Conditions of windows that shouldn’t be considered full-screen for unredirecting

--shadow-exclude CONDITION
Specify a list of conditions of windows that should have no shadow.

--fade-exclude CONDITION
Specify a list of conditions of windows that should not be faded.

--focus-exclude CONDITION
Specify a list of conditions of windows that should always be considered focused.

Use fixed inactive dim value, instead of adjusting according to window opacity.

Use WM_TRANSIENT_FOR to group windows, and consider windows in the same group focused
at the same time.

Use WM_CLIENT_LEADER to group windows, and consider windows in the same group focused
at the same time. WM_TRANSIENT_FOR has higher priority if --detect-transient is
enabled, too.

Blur background of semi-transparent / ARGB windows. Bad in performance, with
driver-dependent behavior. The name of the switch may change without prior

Blur background of windows when the window frame is not opaque. Implies
--blur-background. Bad in performance, with driver-dependent behavior. The name may

Use fixed blur strength rather than adjusting according to window opacity.

--blur-kern MATRIX
Specify the blur convolution kernel, with the following format:


The element in the center must not be included, it will be forever 1.0 or changing
based on opacity, depending on whether you have --blur-background-fixed. Yet the
automatic adjustment of blur factor may not work well with a custom blur kernel.

A 7x7 Guassian blur kernel (sigma = 0.84089642) looks like:

--blur-kern '7,7,0.000003,0.000102,0.000849,0.001723,0.000849,0.000102,0.000003,0.000102,0.003494,0.029143,0.059106,0.029143,0.003494,0.000102,0.000849,0.029143,0.243117,0.493069,0.243117,0.029143,0.000849,0.001723,0.059106,0.493069,0.493069,0.059106,0.001723,0.000849,0.029143,0.243117,0.493069,0.243117,0.029143,0.000849,0.000102,0.003494,0.029143,0.059106,0.029143,0.003494,0.000102,0.000003,0.000102,0.000849,0.001723,0.000849,0.000102,0.000003'

May also be one of the predefined kernels: 3x3box (default), 5x5box, 7x7box,
3x3gaussian, 5x5gaussian, 7x7gaussian, 9x9gaussian, 11x11gaussian. All Guassian
kernels are generated with sigma = 0.84089642 . You may use the accompanied
compton-convgen.py to generate blur kernels.

--blur-background-exclude CONDITION
Exclude conditions for background blur.

--resize-damage INTEGER
Resize damaged region by a specific number of pixels. A positive value enlarges it
while a negative one shrinks it. If the value is positive, those additional pixels
will not be actually painted to screen, only used in blur calculation, and such. (Due
to technical limitations, with --dbe or --glx-swap-method, those pixels will still be
incorrectly painted to screen.) Primarily used to fix the line corruption issues of
blur, in which case you should use the blur radius value here (e.g. with a 3x3 kernel,
you should use --resize-damage 1, with a 5x5 one you use --resize-damage 2, and so
on). May or may not work with --glx-no-stencil. Shrinking doesn’t function correctly.

--invert-color-include CONDITION
Specify a list of conditions of windows that should be painted with inverted color.
Resource-hogging, and is not well tested.

--opacity-rule OPACITY:'CONDITION'
Specify a list of opacity rules, in the format PERCENT:PATTERN, like 50:name *=
"Firefox". compton-trans is recommended over this. Note we do not distinguish 100% and
unset, and we don’t make any guarantee about possible conflicts with other programs
that set _NET_WM_WINDOW_OPACITY on frame or client windows.

--shadow-exclude-reg GEOMETRY
Specify a X geometry that describes the region in which shadow should not be painted
in, such as a dock window region. Use --shadow-exclude-reg x10+0-0, for example, if
the 10 pixels on the bottom of the screen should not have shadows painted on.

Crop shadow of a window fully on a particular Xinerama screen to the screen.

--backend BACKEND
Specify the backend to use: xrender or glx. GLX (OpenGL) backend generally has much
superior performance as far as you have a graphic card/chip and driver.

GLX backend: Avoid using stencil buffer, useful if you don’t have a stencil buffer.
Might cause incorrect opacity when rendering transparent content (but never
practically happened) and may not work with --blur-background. My tests show a 15%
performance boost. Recommended.

GLX backend: Copy unmodified regions from front buffer instead of redrawing them all.
My tests with nvidia-drivers show a 10% decrease in performance when the whole screen
is modified, but a 20% increase when only 1/4 is. My tests on nouveau show terrible
slowdown. Useful with --glx-swap-method, as well.

GLX backend: Use MESA_copy_sub_buffer to do partial screen update. My tests on nouveau
shows a 200% performance boost when only 1/4 of the screen is updated. May break VSync
and is not available on some drivers. Overrides --glx-copy-from-front.

GLX backend: Avoid rebinding pixmap on window damage. Probably could improve
performance on rapid window content changes, but is known to break things on some
drivers (LLVMpipe). Recommended if it works.

--glx-swap-method undefined/exchange/copy/3/4/5/6/buffer-age
GLX backend: GLX buffer swap method we assume. Could be undefined (0), copy (1),
exchange (2), 3-6, or buffer-age (-1). undefined is the slowest and the safest, and
the default value. copy is fastest, but may fail on some drivers, 2-6 are gradually
slower but safer (6 is still faster than 0). Usually, double buffer means 2, triple
buffer means 3. buffer-age means auto-detect using GLX_EXT_buffer_age, supported by
some drivers. Useless with --glx-use-copysubbuffermesa. Partially breaks
--resize-damage. Defaults to undefined.

GLX backend: Use GL_EXT_gpu_shader4 for some optimization on blur GLSL code. My tests
on GTX 670 show no noticeable effect.

Enable remote control via D-Bus. See the D-BUS API section below for more details.

--benchmark CYCLES
Benchmark mode. Repeatedly paint until reaching the specified cycles.

--benchmark-wid WINDOW_ID
Specify window ID to repaint in benchmark mode. If omitted or is 0, the whole screen
is repainted.


Some options accept a condition string to match certain windows. A condition string is
formed by one or more conditions, joined by logical operators.

A condition with "exists" operator looks like this:


With equals operator it looks like:


With greater-than/less-than operators it looks like:


NEGATION (optional) is one or more exclamation marks;

TARGET is either a predefined target name, or the name of a window property to match.
Supported predefined targets are id, x, y, x2 (x + widthb), y2, width, height, widthb
(width + 2 * border), heightb, override_redirect, argb (whether the window has an ARGB
visual), focused, wmwin (whether the window looks like a WM window, i.e. has no child
window with WM_STATE and is not override-redirected), client (ID of client window),
window_type (window type in string), leader (ID of window leader), name, class_g (=
WM_CLASS[1]), class_i (= WM_CLASS[0]), and role.

CLIENT/FRAME is a single @ if the window attribute should be be looked up on client
window, nothing if on frame window;

INDEX (optional) is the index number of the property to look up. For example, [2] means
look at the third value in the property. Do not specify it for predefined targets.

FORMAT (optional) specifies the format of the property, 8, 16, or 32. On absence we use
format X reports. Do not specify it for predefined or string targets.

TYPE is a single character representing the type of the property to match for: c for
CARDINAL, a for ATOM, w for WINDOW, d for DRAWABLE, s for STRING (and any other string
types, such as UTF8_STRING). Do not specify it for predefined targets.

OP QUALIFIER (optional), applicable only for equals operator, could be ? (ignore-case).

MATCH TYPE (optional), applicable only for equals operator, could be nothing (exact
match), * (match anywhere), ^ (match from start), % (wildcard), or ~ (PCRE regular

OPERATOR is one of = (equals), <, >, <=, =>, or nothing (exists). Exists operator checks
whether a property exists on a window (but for predefined targets, exists means != 0

PATTERN is either an integer or a string enclosed by single or double quotes.
Python-3-style escape sequences and raw string are supported in the string format.

Supported logical operators are && (and) and || (or). && has higher precedence than ||,
left-to-right associativity. Use parentheses to change precedence.


# If the window is focused
focused = 1
# If the window is not override-redirected
override_redirect = false
override_redirect != true
override_redirect != 1
# If the window is a menu
window_type *= "menu"
# If the window name contains "Firefox", ignore case
name *?= "Firefox"
_NET_WM_NAME@:s *?= "Firefox"
# If the window name ends with "Firefox"
name %= "*Firefox"
name ~= "Firefox$"
# If the window has a property _COMPTON_SHADOW with value 0, type CARDINAL,
# format 32, value 0, on its frame window
# If the third value of _NET_FRAME_EXTENTS is less than 20, or there's no
# _NET_FRAME_EXTENTS property on client window
# The pattern here will be parsed as "dd4"
name = "\x64\x64\o64"
# The pattern here will be parsed as "\x64\x64\x64"
name = r"\x64\x64\o64"


This is the old condition format we once used. Support of this format might be removed in
the future.


TARGET is one of "n" (window name), "i" (window class instance), "g" (window general
class), and "r" (window role).

TYPE is one of "e" (exact match), "a" (match anywhere), "s" (match from start), "w"
(wildcard), and "p" (PCRE regular expressions, if compiled with the support).

FLAGS could be a series of flags. Currently the only defined flag is "i" (ignore case).

PATTERN is the actual pattern string.


compton could read from a configuration file if libconfig support is compiled in. If
--config is not used, compton will seek for a configuration file in
$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/compton.conf (~/.config/compton.conf, usually), then ~/.compton.conf,
then compton.conf under $XDG_DATA_DIRS (often /etc/xdg/compton.conf).

compton uses general libconfig configurtion file format. A sample configuration file is
available as compton.sample.conf in the source tree. Most commandline switches each could
be replaced with an option in configuration file, thus documented above.
Window-type-specific settings are exposed only in configuration file and has the following

WINDOW_TYPE = { fade = BOOL; shadow = BOOL; opacity = FLOAT; focus = BOOL; };

WINDOW_TYPE is one of the 15 window types defined in EWMH standard: "unknown", "desktop",
"dock", "toolbar", "menu", "utility", "splash", "dialog", "normal", "dropdown_menu",
"popup_menu", "tooltip", "notify", "combo", and "dnd". "fade" and "shadow" controls
window-type-specific shadow and fade settings. "opacity" controls default opacity of the
window type. "focus" controls whether the window of this type is to be always considered
focused. (By default, all window types except "normal" and "dialog" has this on.)


· compton reinitializes itself upon receiving SIGUSR1.


It’s possible to control compton via D-Bus messages, by running compton with --dbus and
send messages to com.github.chjj.compton.<DISPLAY>. <DISPLAY> is the display used by
compton, with all non-alphanumeric characters transformed to underscores. For DISPLAY=:0.0
you should use com.github.chjj.compton._0_0, for example.

The D-Bus methods and signals are not yet stable, thus undocumented right now.


· Disable configuration file parsing:

$ compton --config /dev/null

· Run compton with client-side shadow and fading, disable shadow on dock windows and
drag-and-drop windows:

$ compton -cCGf

· Same thing as above, plus making inactive windows 80% transparent, making frame 80%
transparent, don’t fade on window open/close, enable software optimization, and fork
to background:

$ compton -bcCGf -i 0.8 -e 0.8 --no-fading-openclose --sw-opti

· Draw white shadows:

$ compton -c --shadow-red 1 --shadow-green 1 --shadow-blue 1

· Avoid drawing shadows on wbar window:

$ compton -c --shadow-exclude 'class_g = "wbar"'

· Enable OpenGL SGI_swap_control VSync with GLX backend:

$ compton --backend glx --vsync opengl-swc

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