gspl-pmenu(1) prompt user for selection from list


gspl-pmenu [ -h header ] [ -d delim ] [ -s start ] [ -f file ] [ -N num ] [ -F ] [ -n ] [ -m ]


gspl-pmenu is a simple curses-based program to select one (or more) of a list of options from within a shell script.

The options are supplied on standard input, typically in the form:


in multiple columns if possible, with one of the items (often the first) highlighted and the user is invited to move the highlight to a selected item if appropriate using the cursor keys and then press ENTER.

The selected row is then output on standard output.

When the options are displayed on the screen, the cursor keys, together with h, l, k and <j> may be used to move left, right, up and down respectively. The numeric keypad in numeric mode may also be used.

If available, Next page, Previous page or N and P may be used to select the next column or screenful. Any other character may be used to select the next row starting with that character.

When the correct entry has been selected, press ENTER to select it. Alternatively press q to quit with no output.

The behaviour of gspl-pmenu may be modified by means of various options.


-h text
Display a heading to be centred at the top of the screen. The heading may consist of more than one line, each of which is centred separately. When gspl-pmenu is invoked from the shell, the heading should be enclosed in quotes.

As an alternative, the header may be provided in the standard input. To signify this, the text should be a single = sign thus:

 -h =

The standard input will be read up to the first blank line to constitute the header, and thereafter the selection rows.

-d char
Use the specified char as a delimiter rather than tab.
-s num
Initialise the display to select the given item rather than the first on entry.
-f file
Take input from the specified file rather than standard input.
-N num
Enables multiple selection menus to be provided for in one file. The standard input is read up to the first line consisting of the given number (possibly negative) and a colon. Input is terminated by a blank line. Thus the input file might look like:

 optiona1       description1
 optiona2       description2
 options3       description3
 optionb1       description4
 optionb2       description5
 optionb3       description6

With the appropriate set of options and descriptions selected by

 -N 1


 -N 2

If headers are to be supplied in the file using "-h =", then these should follow the numbers with a blank line, thus:

 Header for first group
 of selections
 optiona1       description1
 optiona2       description2
 options3       description3
 Header for second group
 optionb1       description4
 optionb2       description5
 optionb3       description6
Just return the first field of the selection ``the option'' on exit, not the whole line.
Return the number (starting at 1) of the row selected on exit, rather than the text of the line.
Enable multi-selection mode. In this mode several lines may be selected, by moving to each line and pressing space. Pressing space again deselects the line. A plus sign appears against each choice to indicate selection.

When all have been selected, press q to quit.

The ENTER key behaves slightly differently. If the last action was to select or deselect an entry, then the program exits as if q had been pressed. If the last character was not a space, then the current line is selected or deselected.

Help files

Help files may be provided for each item in a list by providing text files in the directory from which gspl-pmenu is run with names:


where "item1" etc are the first field in each choice.

To provide a ``catch all'' for items without help files, a help file named


may be provided.


Copyright (c) 2009 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software. You may redistribute copies of it under the terms of the GNU General Public License <>. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


John M Collins, Xi Software Ltd.