reset(1) initialize a terminal or query terminfo database

Other Alias



tput [-Ttype] capname [parameters]
tput [-Ttype] init
tput [-Ttype] reset
tput [-Ttype] longname
tput -S <<
tput -V


The tput utility uses the terminfo database to make the values of terminal-dependent capabilities and information available to the shell (see sh(1)), to initialize or reset the terminal, or return the long name of the requested terminal type. The result depends upon the capability's type:
tput writes the string to the standard output. No trailing newline is supplied.
tput writes the decimal value to the standard output, with a trailing newline.
tput simply sets the exit code (0 for TRUE if the terminal has the capability, 1 for FALSE if it does not), and writes nothing to the standard output.

Before using a value returned on the standard output, the application should test the exit code (e.g., $?, see sh(1)) to be sure it is 0. (See the EXIT CODES and DIAGNOSTICS sections.) For a complete list of capabilities and the capname associated with each, see terminfo(5).


indicates the type of terminal. Normally this option is unnecessary, because the default is taken from the environment variable TERM. If -T is specified, then the shell variables LINES and COLUMNS will also be ignored.
allows more than one capability per invocation of tput. The capabilities must be passed to tput from the standard input instead of from the command line (see example). Only one capname is allowed per line. The -S option changes the meaning of the 0 and 1 boolean and string exit codes (see the EXIT CODES section).
Again, tput uses a table and the presence of parameters in its input to decide whether to use tparm(3X), and how to interpret the parameters.
reports the version of ncurses which was used in this program, and exits.


indicates the capability from the terminfo database. When termcap support is compiled in, the termcap name for the capability is also accepted.
If the capability is a string that takes parameters, the arguments following the capability will be used as parameters for the string.
Most parameters are numbers. Only a few terminfo capabilities require string parameters; tput uses a table to decide which to pass as strings. Normally tput uses tparm(3X) to perform the substitution. If no parameters are given for the capability, tput writes the string without performing the substitution.
If the terminfo database is present and an entry for the user's terminal exists (see -Ttype, above), the following will occur:
if present, the terminal's initialization strings will be output as detailed in the terminfo(5) section on Tabs and Initialization,
any delays (e.g., newline) specified in the entry will be set in the tty driver,
tabs expansion will be turned on or off according to the specification in the entry, and
if tabs are not expanded, standard tabs will be set (every 8 spaces).
If an entry does not contain the information needed for any of these activities, that activity will silently be skipped.
Instead of putting out initialization strings, the terminal's reset strings will be output if present (rs1, rs2, rs3, rf). If the reset strings are not present, but initialization strings are, the initialization strings will be output. Otherwise, reset acts identically to init.
If the terminfo database is present and an entry for the user's terminal exists (see -Ttype above), then the long name of the terminal will be put out. The long name is the last name in the first line of the terminal's description in the terminfo database [see term(5)].


tput handles the init and reset commands specially: it allows for the possibility that it is invoked by a link with those names.

If tput is invoked by a link named reset, this has the same effect as tput reset. The tset(1) utility also treats a link named reset specially:

  • That utility resets the terminal modes and special characters (not done here).
  • On the other hand, tset's repertoire of terminal capabilities for resetting the terminal is more limited, i.e., only reset_1string, reset_2string and reset_file in contrast to the tab-stops and margins which are set by this utility.
  • The reset program is usually an alias for tset, due to the resetting of terminal modes and special characters.

If tput is invoked by a link named init, this has the same effect as tput init. Again, you are less likely to use that link because another program named init has a more well-established use.


tput init
Initialize the terminal according to the type of terminal in the environmental variable TERM. This command should be included in everyone's .profile after the environmental variable TERM has been exported, as illustrated on the profile(5) manual page.
tput -T5620 reset
Reset an AT&T 5620 terminal, overriding the type of terminal in the environmental variable TERM.
tput cup 0 0
Send the sequence to move the cursor to row 0, column 0 (the upper left corner of the screen, usually known as the "home" cursor position).
tput clear
Echo the clear-screen sequence for the current terminal.
tput cols
Print the number of columns for the current terminal.
tput -T450 cols
Print the number of columns for the 450 terminal.
bold=`tput smso` offbold=`tput rmso`
Set the shell variables bold, to begin stand-out mode sequence, and offbold, to end standout mode sequence, for the current terminal. This might be followed by a prompt: echo "${bold}Please type in your name: ${offbold}\c"
tput hc
Set exit code to indicate if the current terminal is a hard copy terminal.
tput cup 23 4
Send the sequence to move the cursor to row 23, column 4.
tput cup
Send the terminfo string for cursor-movement, with no parameters substituted.
tput longname
Print the long name from the terminfo database for the type of terminal specified in the environmental variable TERM.

tput -S <<!
> clear
> cup 10 10
> bold
> !
This example shows tput processing several capabilities in one invocation. It clears the screen, moves the cursor to position 10, 10 and turns on bold (extra bright) mode. The list is terminated by an exclamation mark (!) on a line by itself.


compiled terminal description database
tab settings for some terminals, in a format appropriate to be output to the terminal (escape sequences that set margins and tabs); for more information, see the "Tabs and Initialization" section of terminfo(5)


If the -S option is used, tput checks for errors from each line, and if any errors are found, will set the exit code to 4 plus the number of lines with errors. If no errors are found, the exit code is 0. No indication of which line failed can be given so exit code 1 will never appear. Exit codes 2, 3, and 4 retain their usual interpretation. If the -S option is not used, the exit code depends on the type of capname:
a value of 0 is set for TRUE and 1 for FALSE.
a value of 0 is set if the capname is defined for this terminal type (the value of capname is returned on standard output); a value of 1 is set if capname is not defined for this terminal type (nothing is written to standard output).
a value of 0 is always set, whether or not capname is defined for this terminal type. To determine if capname is defined for this terminal type, the user must test the value written to standard output. A value of -1 means that capname is not defined for this terminal type.
reset or init may fail to find their respective files. In that case, the exit code is set to 4 + errno.

Any other exit code indicates an error; see the DIAGNOSTICS section.


tput prints the following error messages and sets the corresponding exit codes.

exit codeerror message

0 (capname is a numeric variable that is not specified in the terminfo(5) database for this terminal type, e.g. tput -T450 lines and tput -T2621 xmc)
1no error message is printed, see the EXIT CODES section.
2usage error
3unknown terminal type or no terminfo database
4unknown terminfo capability capname
>4error occurred in -S


The longname and -S options, and the parameter-substitution features used in the cup example, are not supported in BSD curses or in AT&T/USL curses before SVr4.

IEEE Std 1003.1/The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7 (POSIX.1-2008) documents only the operands for clear, init and reset. There are a few interesting observations to make regarding that:

  • In this implementation, clear is part of the capname support. The others (init and longname) do not correspond to terminal capabilities.
  • Other implementations of tput on SVr4-based systems such as Solaris, IRIX64 and HPUX as well as others such as AIX and Tru64 provide support for capname operands.
  • A few platforms such as FreeBSD recognize termcap names rather than terminfo capability names in their respective tput commands. Since 2010, NetBSD's tput uses terminfo names. Before that, it (like FreeBSD) recognized termcap names.

Because (apparently) all of the certified Unix systems support the full set of capability names, the reasoning for documenting only a few may not be apparent.

  • X/Open Curses Issue 7 documents tput differently, with capname and the other features used in this implementation.
  • That is, there are two standards for tput: POSIX (a subset) and X/Open Curses (the full implementation). POSIX documents a subset to avoid the complication of including X/Open Curses and the terminal capabilities database.
  • While it is certainly possible to write a tput program without using curses, none of the systems which have a curses implementation provide a tput utility which does not provide the capname feature.

Most implementations which provide support for capname operands use the tparm function to expand parameters in it. That function expects a mixture of numeric and string parameters, requiring tput to know which type to use. This implementation uses a table to determine that for the standard capname operands, and an internal library function to analyze nonstandard capname operands. Other implementations may simply guess that an operand containing only digits is intended to be a number.