Kitty – the fast, featureful, GPU based terminal emulator

  • Offloads rendering to the GPU for lower system load and
    buttery smooth scrolling. Uses threaded rendering to minimize input latency.

  • Supports all modern terminal features: graphics (images), unicode, true-color, OpenType ligatures, mouse
    protocol, focus tracking, bracketed paste and several new terminal
    protocol extensions

  • Supports tiling multiple terminal windows side by side in different
    layouts without needing to use an extra program like tmux

  • Can be controlled from scripts or the shell prompt,
    even over SSH.

  • Has a framework for Kittens, small terminal programs that can be used to
    extend kitty‘s functionality. For example, they are used for
    Unicode input, Hints and
    Side-by-side diff.

  • Supports startup sessions which allow you to specify
    the window/tab layout, working directories and programs to run on startup.

  • Cross-platform: kitty works on Linux and macOS, but because it uses only
    OpenGL for rendering, it should be trivial to port to other Unix-like platforms.

  • Allows you to open the scrollback buffer in a
    separate window using arbitrary programs of your choice. This is useful for
    browsing the history comfortably in a pager or editor.

  • Has multiple copy/paste buffers, like vim.

Screenshot, showing three programs in the 'Tall' layout

Screenshot, showing vim, tig and git running in kitty with the ‘Tall’ layout

Design philosophy

kitty is designed for power keyboard users. To that end all its controls
work with the keyboard (although it fully supports mouse interactions as
well). Its configuration is a simple, human editable, single file for
easy reproducibility (I like to store configuration in source control).

The code in kitty is designed to be simple, modular and hackable. It is
written in a mix of C (for performance sensitive parts) and Python (for
easy hackability of the UI). It does not depend on any large and complex
UI toolkit, using only OpenGL for rendering everything.

Finally, kitty is designed from the ground up to support all modern
terminal features, such as unicode, true color, bold/italic fonts, text
formatting, etc. It even extends existing text formatting escape codes,
to add support for features not available elsewhere, such as colored and
styled (curly) underlines. One of the design goals of kitty is to be
easily extensible so that new features can be added in the future with
relatively little effort.

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:


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:

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
# 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


A layout is an arrangement of multiple kitty windows inside a top-level OS window. You can create a new window
using the ctrl+shift+enter key combination.

Currently, there are six layouts available:

  • Fat — One (or optionally more) windows are shown full width on the top, the rest of the windows are shown side-by-side on the bottom

  • Grid — All windows are shown in a grid

  • Horizontal — All windows are shown side-by-side

  • Splits — Windows arranged in arbitrary patterns created using horizontal and vertical splits

  • Stack — Only a single maximized window is shown at a time

  • Tall — One (or optionally more) windows are shown full height on the left, the rest of the windows are shown one below the other on the right

  • Vertical — All windows are shown one below the other

By default, all layouts are enabled and you can switch between layouts using
the ctrl+shift+l key combination. You can also create shortcuts to select
particular layouts, and choose which layouts you want to enable/disable, see
Layout management for examples. The first layout listed in
enabled_layouts becomes the default layout.

For more details on the layouts and how to use them see Layouts.


kitty has a framework for easily creating terminal programs that make use of
its advanced features. These programs are called kittens. They are used both
to add features to kitty itself and to create useful standalone programs.
Some prominent kittens:


Display images in the terminal


A fast, side-by-side diff for the terminal with syntax highlighting and

Unicode Input

Easily input arbitrary unicode characters in kitty by name or hex code.


Select and open/paste/insert arbitrary text snippets such as URLs,
filenames, words, lines, etc from the terminal screen.


Draw a GPU accelerated dock panel on your desktop showing the output
from an arbitrary terminal program.


Copy/paste to the clipboard from shell scripts, even over SSH.

You can also Learn to create your own kittens.

Remote control

kitty has a very powerful system that allows you to control it from the
shell prompt, even over SSH. You can change colors,
fonts, open new windows, tabs, set their titles, change window layout, get text
from one window and send text to another, etc, etc. The possibilities are
endless. See the tutorial to get started.

Startup Sessions

You can control the tabs, window layout, working directory, startup programs,
etc. by creating a “session” file and using the kitty --session
command line flag or the startup_session option in kitty.conf.
For example:

# Set the window layout for the current tab
layout tall
# Set the working directory for windows in the current tab
cd ~
# Create a window and run the specified command in it
launch zsh
# Create a window with some environment variables set and run
# vim in it
launch env FOO=BAR vim
# Set the title for the next window
title Chat with x
launch irssi --profile x

# Create a new tab (the part after new_tab is the optional tab
# name which will be displayed in the tab bar, if omitted, the
# title of the active window will be used instead)
new_tab my tab
cd ~/somewhere
# Set the layouts allowed in this tab
enabled_layouts tall, stack
# Set the current layout
layout stack
launch zsh

# Create a new OS window
# set new window size to 80x25 cells
os_window_size 80c 25c
# set the --class for the new OS window
os_window_class mywindow
launch sh
# Make the current window the active (focused) window
launch emacs

Mouse features

  • You can hold down ctrl+shift and click on a URL to open it in a browser.

  • You can double click to select a word and then drag to select more words.

  • You can triple click to select a line and then drag to select more lines.

  • You can right click to extend a previous selection.

  • You can hold down ctrl+alt and drag with the mouse to select in
    columns (see also rectangle_select_modifiers).

  • Selecting text automatically copies it to the primary clipboard (on
    platforms with a primary clipboard).

  • You can select text with kitty even when a terminal program has grabbed
    the mouse by holding down the shift key (see also

Font control

kitty has extremely flexible and powerful font selection features. You can
specify individual families for the regular, bold, italic and bold+italic
fonts. You can even specify specific font families for specific ranges of
unicode characters. This allows precise control over text rendering. It can
come in handy for applications like powerline, without the need to use patched
fonts. See the various font related configuration directives in

Multiple copy/paste buffers

In addition to being able to copy/paste from the system clipboard, in kitty you
can also setup an arbitrary number of copy paste buffers. To do so, simply add
something like the following to your kitty.conf:

map f1 copy_to_buffer a
map f2 paste_from_buffer a

This will allow you to press F1 to copy the current selection to an
internal buffer named a and F2 to paste from that buffer. The buffer
names are arbitrary strings, so you can define as many such buffers as you


kitty has the ability to mark text on the screen based on regular expressions.
This can be useful to highlight words or phrases when browsing output from long
running programs or similar. To learn how this feature works, see Marks.

Completion for kitty

kitty comes with completion for the kitty command for popular shells.


Add the following to your ~/.bashrc

source (kitty + complete setup bash)

Older versions of bash (for example, v3.2) do not support
process substitution with the source command, in which
case you can try an alternative:

source /dev/stdin "$(kitty + complete setup bash)"


Add the following to your ~/.zshrc

autoload -Uz compinit
# Completion for kitty
kitty + complete setup zsh | source /dev/stdin

The important thing above is to make sure the call to kitty to load the zsh
completions happens after the call to compinit.


For versions of fish earlier than 3.0.0, add the following to your
~/.config/fish/ Later versions source completions by default.

kitty + complete setup fish | source

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.