SETTERM(1)                      User Commands                     SETTERM(1)

NAME         top

       setterm - set terminal attributes

SYNOPSIS         top

       setterm [options]

DESCRIPTION         top

       setterm writes to standard output a character string that will invoke
       the specified terminal capabilities.  Where possible terminfo is
       consulted to find the string to use.  Some options however (marked
       "virtual consoles only" below) do not correspond to a terminfo(5)
       capability.  In this case, if the terminal type is "con" or "linux"
       the string that invokes the specified capabilities on the PC Minix
       virtual console driver is output.  Options that are not implemented
       by the terminal are ignored.

OPTIONS         top

       For boolean options (on or off), the default is on.

       Below, an 8-color can be black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta,
       cyan, or white.

       A 16-color can be an 8-color, or grey, or bright followed by red,
       green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, or white.

       The various color options may be set independently, at least on
       virtual consoles, though the results of setting multiple modes (for
       example, --underline and --half-bright) are hardware-dependent.

       --appcursorkeys [on|off]  (virtual consoles only)
              Sets Cursor Key Application Mode on or off.  When on, ESC O A,
              ESC O B, etc.  will be sent for the cursor keys instead of ESC
              [ A, ESC [ B, etc.  See the vi and Cursor-Keys section of the
              Text-Terminal-HOWTO for how this can cause problems for vi

       --append [console_number]
              Like --dump, but appends to the snapshot file instead of
              overwriting it.  Only works if no --dump options are given.

       --background 8-color|default
              Sets the background text color.

       --blank [0-60|force|poke]  (virtual consoles only)
              Sets the interval of inactivity, in minutes, after which the
              screen will be automatically blanked (using APM if available).
              Without an argument, it gets the blank status (returns which
              vt was blanked, or zero for an unblanked vt).

              The force option keeps the screen blank even if a key is

              The poke option unblanks the screen.

       --bfreq [number]  (virtual consoles only)
              Sets the bell frequency in Hertz.  Without an argument, it
              defaults to 0.

       --blength [0-2000]  (virtual consoles only)
              Sets the bell duration in milliseconds.  Without an argument,
              it defaults to 0.

       --blink [on|off]
              Turns blink mode on or off.  Except on a virtual console,
              --blink off turns off all attributes (bold, half-brightness,
              blink, reverse).

       --bold [on|off]
              Turns bold (extra bright) mode on or off.  Except on a virtual
              console, --bold off turns off all attributes (bold, half-
              brightness, blink, reverse).

       --clear [all|rest]
              Without an argument or with the argument all, the entire
              screen is cleared and the cursor is set to the home position,
              just like clear(1) does.  With the argument rest, the screen
              is cleared from the current cursor position to the end.

       --clrtabs [tab1 tab2 tab3 ...]  (virtual consoles only)
              Clears tab stops from the given horizontal cursor positions,
              in the range 1-160.  Without arguments, it clears all tab

       --cursor [on|off]
              Turns the terminal's cursor on or off.

              Sets the terminal's rendering options to the default values.

       --dump [console_number]
              Writes a snapshot of the virtual console with the given number
              to the file specified with the --file option, overwriting its
              contents; the default is screen.dump.  Without an argument, it
              dumps the current virtual console.  This overrides --append.

       --file filename
              Sets the snapshot file name for any --dump or --append options
              on the same command line.  If this option is not present, the
              default is screen.dump in the current directory.  A path name
              that exceeds the system maximum will be truncated, see
              PATH_MAX from linux/limits.h for the value.

       --foreground 8-color|default
              Sets the foreground text color.

       --half-bright [on|off]
              Turns dim (half-brightness) mode on or off.  Except on a
              virtual console, --half-bright off turns off all attributes
              (bold, half-brightness, blink, reverse).

       --hbcolor 16-color
              Sets the color for bold characters.

              Displays the terminal initialization string, which typically
              sets the terminal's rendering options, and other attributes to
              the default values.

       --inversescreen [on|off]
              Swaps foreground and background colors for the whole screen.

       --linewrap [on|off]
              Makes the terminal continue on a new line when a line is full.

       --msg [on|off]  (virtual consoles only)
              Enables or disables the sending of kernel printk() messages to
              the console.

       --msglevel 0-8  (virtual consoles only)
              Sets the console logging level for kernel printk() messages.
              All messages strictly more important than this will be
              printed, so a logging level of 0 has the same effect as --msg
              on and a logging level of 8 will print all kernel messages.
              klogd(8) may be a more convenient interface to the logging of
              kernel messages.

       --powerdown [0-60]
              Sets the VESA powerdown interval in minutes.  Without an
              argument, it defaults to 0 (disable powerdown).  If the
              console is blanked or the monitor is in suspend mode, then the
              monitor will go into vsync suspend mode or powerdown mode
              respectively after this period of time has elapsed.

       --powersave off
              Turns off monitor VESA powersaving features.

       --powersave on|vsync
              Puts the monitor into VESA vsync suspend mode.

       --powersave powerdown
              Puts the monitor into VESA powerdown mode.

       --powersave hsync
              Puts the monitor into VESA hsync suspend mode.

       --regtabs [1-160]  (virtual consoles only)
              Clears all tab stops, then sets a regular tab stop pattern,
              with one tab every specified number of positions.  Without an
              argument, it defaults to 8.

       --repeat [on|off]  (virtual consoles only)
              Turns keyboard repeat on or off.

              Displays the terminal reset string, which typically resets the
              terminal to its power-on state.

              Reset terminal size by assessing maximum row and column.  This
              is useful when actual geometry and kernel terminal driver are
              not in sync.  Most notable use case is with serial consoles,
              that do not use ioctl(3) but just byte streams and breaks.

       --reverse [on|off]
              Turns reverse video mode on or off.  Except on a virtual
              console, --reverse off turns off all attributes (bold, half-
              brightness, blink, reverse).

       --store  (virtual consoles only)
              Stores the terminal's current rendering options (foreground
              and background colors) as the values to be used at reset-to-

       --tabs [tab1 tab2 tab3 ...]
              Sets tab stops at the given horizontal cursor positions, in
              the range 1-160.  Without arguments, it shows the current tab
              stop settings.

       --term terminal_name
              Overrides the TERM environment variable.

       --ulcolor 16-color  (virtual consoles only)
              Sets the color for underlined characters.

       --underline [on|off]
              Turns underline mode on or off.

              Displays version information and exits.

       --help Displays a help text and exits.


       Since version 2.25 setterm has support for long options with two
       hyphens, for example --help, beside the historical long options with
       a single hyphen, for example -help.  In scripts it is better to use
       the backward-compatible single hyphen rather than the double hyphen.
       Currently there are no plans nor good reasons to discontinue single-
       hyphen compatibility.

SEE ALSO         top

       stty(1), tput(1), tty(4), terminfo(5)

BUGS         top

       Differences between the Minix and Linux versions are not documented.

AVAILABILITY         top

       The setterm command is part of the util-linux package and is
       available from Linux Kernel Archive 

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the util-linux (a random collection of Linux
       utilities) project.  Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a
       bug report for this manual page, send it to  This page was obtained from the
       project's upstream Git repository 
       ⟨git://⟩ on
       2017-03-13.  If you discover any rendering problems in this HTML ver‐
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       ual page), send a mail to

util-linux                        May 2014                        SETTERM(1)