Content-type: text/html Man page of curses


Section: Curses Library Functions (3CURSES)
Updated: 23 Oct 2001
Index Return to Main Contents


curses - CRT screen handling and optimization package  


cc [ flag... ] file.. .-lcurses [ library... ]
#include <curses.h>


The curses library routines give the user a terminal-independent method of updating character screens with reasonable optimization.

The curses package allows: overall screen, window and pad manipulation; output to windows and pads; reading terminal input; control over terminal and curses input and output options; environment query routines; color manipulation; use of soft label keys; terminfo access; and access to low-level curses routines.

To initialize the routines, the routine initscr() or newterm() must be called before any of the other routines that deal with windows and screens are used. The routine endwin() must be called before exiting. To get character-at-a-time input without echoing (most interactive, screen oriented programs want this), the following sequence should be used:


Most programs would additionally use the sequence:


Before a curses program is run, the tab stops of the terminal should be set and its initialization strings, if defined, must be output. This can be done by executing the tput init command after the shell environment variable TERM has been exported. (See terminfo(4) for further details.)

The curses library permits manipulation of data structures, called windows, which can be thought of as two-dimensional arrays of characters representing all or part of a CRT screen. A default window called stdscr, which is the size of the terminal screen, is supplied. Others may be created with newwin(3CURSES).

Windows are referred to by variables declared as WINDOW *. These data structures are manipulated with routines described on 3CURSES pages (whose names begin "curs_"). Among which the most basic routines are move(3CURSES) and addch(3CURSES). More general versions of these routines are included with names beginning with w, allowing the user to specify a window. The routines not beginning with w affect stdscr.

After using routines to manipulate a window, refresh(3CURSES) is called, telling curses to make the user's CRT screen look like stdscr. The characters in a window are actually of type chtype, (character and attribute data) so that other information about the character may also be stored with each character.

Special windows called pads may also be manipulated. These are windows which are not constrained to the size of the screen and whose contents need not be completely displayed. See curs_pad(3CURSES) for more information.

In addition to drawing characters on the screen, video attributes and colors may be included, causing the characters to show up in such modes as underlined, in reverse video, or in color on terminals that support such display enhancements. Line drawing characters may be specified to be output. On input, curses is also able to translate arrow and function keys that transmit escape sequences into single values. The video attributes, line drawing characters, and input values use names, defined in <curses.h>, such as A_REVERSE, ACS_HLINE, and KEY_LEFT.

If the environment variables LINES and COLUMNS are set, or if the program is executing in a window environment, line and column information in the environment will override information read by terminfo. This would effect a program running in an AT&T 630 layer, for example, where the size of a screen is changeable.

If the environment variable TERMINFO is defined, any program using curses checks for a local terminal definition before checking in the standard place. For example, if TERM is set to att4424, then the compiled terminal definition is found in


(The `a' is copied from the first letter of att4424 to avoid creation of huge directories.) However, if TERMINFO is set to $HOME/myterms, curses first checks


and if that fails, it then checks


This is useful for developing experimental definitions or when write permission in /usr/share/lib/terminfo is not available.

The integer variables LINES and COLS are defined in <curses.h> and will be filled in by initscr with the size of the screen. The constants TRUE and FALSE have the values 1 and 0, respectively.

The curses routines also define the WINDOW * variable curscr which is used for certain low-level operations like clearing and redrawing a screen containing garbage. The curscr can be used in only a few routines.  

International Functions

The number of bytes and the number of columns to hold a character from the supplementary character set is locale-specific (locale category LC_CTYPE) and can be specified in the character class table.

For editing, operating at the character level is entirely appropriate. For screen formatting, arbitrary movement of characters on screen is not desirable.

Overwriting characters (addch, for example) operates on a screen level. Overwriting a character by a character that requires a different number of columns may produce orphaned columns. These orphaned columns are filled with background characters.

Inserting characters (insch, for example) operates on a character level (that is, at the character boundaries). The specified character is inserted right before the character, regardless of which column of a character the cursor points to. Before insertion, the cursor position is adjusted to the first column of the character.

As with inserting characters, deleting characters (delch, for example) operates on a character level (that is, at the character boundaries). The character at the cursor is deleted whichever column of the character the cursor points to. Before deletion, the cursor position is adjusted to the first column of the character.

A multi-column character cannot be put on the last column of a line. When such attempts are made, the last column is set to the background character. In addition, when such an operation creates orphaned columns, the orphaned columns are filled with background characters.

Overlapping and overwriting a window follows the operation of overwriting characters around its edge. The orphaned columns, if any, are handled as in the character operations.

The cursor is allowed to be placed anywhere in a window. If the insertion or deletion is made when the cursor points to the second or later column position of a character that holds multiple columns, the cursor is adjusted to the first column of the character before the insertion or deletion.  

Routine and Argument Names

Many curses routines have two or more versions. The routines prefixed with w require a window argument. The routines prefixed with p require a pad argument. Those without a prefix generally use stdscr.

The routines prefixed with mv require an x and y coordinate to move to before performing the appropriate action. The mv routines imply a call to move(3CURSES) before the call to the other routine. The coordinate y always refers to the row (of the window), and x always refers to the column. The upper left-hand corner is always (0,0), not (1,1).

The routines prefixed with mvw take both a window argument and x and y coordinates. The window argument is always specified before the coordinates.

In each case, win is the window affected, and pad is the pad affected; win and pad are always pointers to type WINDOW

Option setting routines require a Boolean flag bf with the value TRUE or FALSE; bf is always of type bool. The variables ch and attrs below are always of type chtype. The types WINDOW, SCREEN, bool, and chtype are defined in <curses.h>. The type TERMINAL is defined in <term.h>. All other arguments are integers.  

Routine Name Index

The following table lists each curses routine and the name of the manual page on which it is described.

curses Routine Name Manual Page Name

addch curs_addch(3CURSES)

addchnstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

addchstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

addnstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

addnwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

addstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

addwch curs_addwch(3CURSES)

addwchnstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

addwchstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

addwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

adjcurspos curs_alecompat(3CURSES)

attroff curs_attr(3CURSES)

attron curs_attr(3CURSES)

attrset curs_attr(3CURSES)

baudrate curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

beep curs_beep(3CURSES)

bkgd curs_bkgd(3CURSES)

bkgdset curs_bkgd(3CURSES)

border curs_border(3CURSES)

box curs_border(3CURSES)

can_change_color curs_color(3CURSES)

cbreak curs_inopts(3CURSES)

clear curs_clear(3CURSES)

clearok curs_outopts(3CURSES)

clrtobot curs_clear(3CURSES)

clrtoeol curs_clear(3CURSES)

color_content curs_color(3CURSES)

copywin curs_overlay(3CURSES)

curs_set curs_kernel(3CURSES)

def_prog_mode curs_kernel(3CURSES)

def_shell_mode curs_kernel(3CURSES)

del_curterm curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

delay_output curs_util(3CURSES)

delch curs_delch(3CURSES)

deleteln curs_deleteln(3CURSES)

delscreen curs_initscr(3CURSES)

delwin curs_window(3CURSES)

derwin curs_window(3CURSES)

doupdate curs_refresh(3CURSES)

dupwin curs_window(3CURSES)

echo curs_inopts(3CURSES)

echochar curs_addch(3CURSES)

echowchar curs_addwch(3CURSES)

endwin curs_initscr(3CURSES)

erase curs_clear(3CURSES)

erasechar curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

filter curs_util(3CURSES)

flash curs_beep(3CURSES)

flushinp curs_util(3CURSES)

getbegyx curs_getyx(3CURSES)

getch curs_getch(3CURSES)

getmaxyx curs_getyx(3CURSES)

getnwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

getparyx curs_getyx(3CURSES)

getstr curs_getstr(3CURSES)

getsyx curs_kernel(3CURSES)

getwch curs_getwch(3CURSES)

getwin curs_util(3CURSES)

getwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

getyx curs_getyx(3CURSES)

halfdelay curs_inopts(3CURSES)

has_colors curs_color(3CURSES)

has_ic curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

has_il curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

idcok curs_outopts(3CURSES)

idlok curs_outopts(3CURSES)

immedok curs_outopts(3CURSES)

inch curs_inch(3CURSES)

inchnstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

inchstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

init_color curs_color(3CURSES)

init_pair curs_color(3CURSES)

initscr curs_initscr(3CURSES)

innstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

innwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

insch curs_insch(3CURSES)

insdelln curs_deleteln(3CURSES)

insertln curs_deleteln(3CURSES)

insnstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

insnwstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

insstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

instr curs_instr(3CURSES)

inswch curs_inswch(3CURSES)

inswstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

intrflush curs_inopts(3CURSES)

inwch curs_inwch(3CURSES)

inwchnstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

inwchstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

inwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

is_linetouched curs_touch(3CURSES)

is_wintouched curs_touch(3CURSES)

isendwin curs_initscr(3CURSES)

keyname curs_util(3CURSES)

keypad curs_inopts(3CURSES)

killchar curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

leaveok curs_outopts(3CURSES)

longname curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

meta curs_inopts(3CURSES)

move curs_move(3CURSES)

movenextch curs_alecompat(3CURSES)

moveprevch curs_alecompat(3CURSES)

mvaddch curs_addch(3CURSES)

mvaddchnstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

mvaddchstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

mvaddnstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

mvaddnwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

mvaddstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

mvaddwch curs_addwch(3CURSES)

mvaddwchnstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

mvaddwchstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

mvaddwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

mvcur curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

mvdelch curs_delch(3CURSES)

mvderwin curs_window(3CURSES)

mvgetch curs_getch(3CURSES)

mvgetnwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

mvgetstr curs_getstr(3CURSES)

mvgetwch curs_getwch(3CURSES)

mvgetwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

mvinch curs_inch(3CURSES)

mvinchnstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

mvinchstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

mvinnstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

mvinnwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

mvinsch curs_insch(3CURSES)

mvinsnstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

mvinsnwstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

mvinsstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

mvinstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

mvinswch curs_inswch(3CURSES)

mvinswstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

mvinwch curs_inwch(3CURSES)

mvinwchnstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

mvinwchstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

mvinwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

mvprintw curs_printw(3CURSES)

mvscanw curs_scanw(3CURSES)

mvwaddch curs_addch(3CURSES)

mvwaddchnstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddchstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddnstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddnwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddwch curs_addwch(3CURSES)

mvwaddwchnstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddwchstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

mvwaddwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

mvwdelch curs_delch(3CURSES)

mvwgetch curs_getch(3CURSES)

mvwgetnwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

mvwgetstr curs_getstr(3CURSES)

mvwgetwch curs_getwch(3CURSES)

mvwgetwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

mvwin curs_window(3CURSES)

mvwinch curs_inch(3CURSES)

mvwinchnstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

mvwinchstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

mvwinnstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

mvwinnwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

mvwinsch curs_insch(3CURSES)

mvwinsnstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

mvwinsstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

mvwinstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

mvwinswch curs_inswch(3CURSES)

mvwinswstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

mvwinwch curs_inwch(3CURSES)

mvwinwchnstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

mvwinwchstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

mvwinwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

mvwprintw curs_printw(3CURSES)

mvwscanw curs_scanw(3CURSES)

napms curs_kernel(3CURSES)

newpad curs_pad(3CURSES)

newterm curs_initscr(3CURSES)

newwin curs_window(3CURSES)

nl curs_outopts(3CURSES)

nocbreak curs_inopts(3CURSES)

nodelay curs_inopts(3CURSES)

noecho curs_inopts(3CURSES)

nonl curs_outopts(3CURSES)

noqiflush curs_inopts(3CURSES)

noraw curs_inopts(3CURSES)

notimeout curs_inopts(3CURSES)

overlay curs_overlay(3CURSES)

overwrite curs_overlay(3CURSES)

pair_content curs_color(3CURSES)

pechochar curs_pad(3CURSES)

pechowchar curs_pad(3CURSES)

pnoutrefresh curs_pad(3CURSES)

prefresh curs_pad(3CURSES)

printw curs_printw(3CURSES)

putp curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

putwin curs_util(3CURSES)

qiflush curs_inopts(3CURSES)

raw curs_inopts(3CURSES)

redrawwin curs_refresh(3CURSES)

refresh curs_refresh(3CURSES)

reset_prog_mode curs_kernel(3CURSES)

reset_shell_mode curs_kernel(3CURSES)

resetty curs_kernel(3CURSES)

restartterm curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

ripoffline curs_kernel(3CURSES)

savetty curs_kernel(3CURSES)

scanw curs_scanw(3CURSES)

scr_dump curs_scr_dump(3CURSES)

scr_init curs_scr_dump(3CURSES)

scr_restore curs_scr_dump(3CURSES)

scr_set curs_scr_dump(3CURSES)

scroll curs_scroll(3CURSES)

scrollok curs_outopts(3CURSES)

set_curterm curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

set_term curs_initscr(3CURSES)

setscrreg curs_outopts(3CURSES)

setsyx curs_kernel(3CURSES)

setterm curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

setupterm curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

slk_attroff curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_attron curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_attrset curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_clear curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_init curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_label curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_noutrefresh curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_refresh curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_restore curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_set curs_slk(3CURSES)

slk_touch curs_slk(3CURSES)

srcl curs_scroll(3CURSES)

standend curs_attr(3CURSES)

standout curs_attr(3CURSES)

start_color curs_color(3CURSES)

subpad curs_pad(3CURSES)

subwin curs_window(3CURSES)

syncok curs_window(3CURSES)

termattrs curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

termname curs_termattrs(3CURSES)

tgetent curs_termcap(3CURSES)

tgetflag curs_termcap(3CURSES)

tgetnum curs_termcap(3CURSES)

tgetstr curs_termcap(3CURSES)

tgoto curs_termcap(3CURSES)

tigetflag curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

tigetnum curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

tigetstr curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

timeout curs_inopts(3CURSES)

touchline curs_touch(3CURSES)

touchwin curs_touch(3CURSES)

tparm curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

tputs curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

typeahead curs_inopts(3CURSES)

unctrl curs_util(3CURSES)

ungetch curs_getch(3CURSES)

ungetwch curs_getwch(3CURSES)

untouchwin curs_touch(3CURSES)

use_env curs_util(3CURSES)

vidattr curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

vidputs curs_terminfo(3CURSES)

vwprintw curs_printw(3CURSES)

vwscanw curs_scanw(3CURSES)

waddch curs_addch(3CURSES)

waddchnstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

waddchstr curs_addchstr(3CURSES)

waddnstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

waddnwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

waddstr curs_addstr(3CURSES)

waddwch curs_addwch(3CURSES)

waddwchnstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

waddwchstr curs_addwchstr(3CURSES)

waddwstr curs_addwstr(3CURSES)

wadjcurspos curs_alecompat(3CURSES)

wattroff curs_attr(3CURSES)

wattron curs_attr(3CURSES)

wattrset curs_attr(3CURSES)

wbkgd curs_bkgd(3CURSES)

wbkgdset curs_bkgd(3CURSES)

wborder curs_border(3CURSES)

wclear curs_clear(3CURSES)

wclrtobot curs_clear(3CURSES)

wclrtoeol curs_clear(3CURSES)

wcursyncup curs_window(3CURSES)

wdelch curs_delch(3CURSES)

wdeleteln curs_deleteln(3CURSES)

wechochar curs_addch(3CURSES)

wechowchar curs_addwch(3CURSES)

werase curs_clear(3CURSES)

wgetch curs_getch(3CURSES)

wgetnstr curs_getstr(3CURSES)

wgetnwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

wgetstr curs_getstr(3CURSES)

wgetwch curs_getwch(3CURSES)

wgetwstr curs_getwstr(3CURSES)

whline curs_border(3CURSES)

winch curs_inch(3CURSES)

winchnstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

winchstr curs_inchstr(3CURSES)

winnstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

winnwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

winsch curs_insch(3CURSES)

winsdelln curs_deleteln(3CURSES)

winsertln curs_deleteln(3CURSES)

winsnstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

winsnwstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

winsstr curs_insstr(3CURSES)

winstr curs_instr(3CURSES)

winswch curs_inswch(3CURSES)

winswstr curs_inswstr(3CURSES)

winwch curs_inwch(3CURSES)

winwchnstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

winwchstr curs_inwchstr(3CURSES)

winwstr curs_inwstr(3CURSES)

wmove curs_move(3CURSES)

wmovenextch curs_alecompat(3CURSES)

wmoveprevch curs_alecompat(3CURSES)

wnoutrefresh curs_refresh(3CURSES)

wprintw curs_printw(3CURSES)

wredrawln curs_refresh(3CURSES)

wrefresh curs_refresh(3CURSES)

wscanw curs_scanw(3CURSES)

wscrl curs_scroll(3CURSES)

wsetscrreg curs_outopts(3CURSES)

wstandend curs_attr(3CURSES)

wstandout curs_attr(3CURSES)

wsyncdown curs_window(3CURSES)

wsyncup curs_window(3CURSES)

wtimeout curs_inopts(3CURSES)

wtouchln curs_touch(3CURSES)

wvline curs_border(3CURSES)



Routines that return an integer return ERR upon failure and an integer value other than ERR upon successful completion, unless otherwise noted in the routine descriptions.

All macros return the value of the w version, except setscrreg(), wsetscrreg(), getyx(), getbegyx(), and getmaxyx(). The return values of setscrreg(), wsetscrreg(), getyx(), getbegyx(), and getmaxyx() are undefined (that is, these should not be used as the right-hand side of assignment statements).

Routines that return pointers return NULL on error.  


See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following attributes:




curses(3XCURSES), libcurses(3LIB), libcurses(3XCURSES), terminfo(4), attributes(5)  


The header <curses.h> automatically includes the headers <stdio.h> and <unctrl.h>.



International Functions
Routine and Argument Names
Routine Name Index

This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 02:38:37 GMT, October 02, 2010