Content-type: text/html Man page of curs_getch


Section: C Library Functions (3)
Index Return to Main Contents


curs_getch, getch, wgetch, mvgetch, mvwgetch, ungetch - Get (or push back) characters from a Curses terminal keyboard  


#include <curses.h>

int getch( void ); int wgetch( WINDOW *win ); int mvgetch( int y, int x ); int mvwgetch( WINDOW *win, int y, int x ); int ungetch( int ch );


Curses Library (libcurses)


Interfaces documented on this reference page conform to industry standards as follows:

getch, wgetch, mvgetch, mvwgetch:  XPG4, XPG4-UNIX

ungetch:  XPG4-UNIX

Refer to the standards(5) reference page for more information about industry standards and associated tags.


The getch, wgetch, mvgetch, and mvwgetch routines read a character from the terminal associated with the Curses window. In no-delay mode, if no input is waiting, these routines return the value ERR. In delay mode, the program waits until the system passes text through to the program. In cbreak mode, the program waits until after one character. In nocbreak mode, the program waits until after the first newline. In half-delay mode, the program waits until a character is typed or the specified timeout has been reached. Unless noecho has been set, the character is also be echoed into the designated window.

If the window is not a pad and has been moved or modified since the last call to wrefresh, wrefresh is called before another character is read.

If keypad is TRUE and the user presses a function key, Curses returns the token for that function key is returned instead of the raw characters. The <curses.h> file defines possible function keys with integers beginning with 0401 and names beginning with KEY_. If these routines receive a character (such as escape) that could be the beginning of a function key, Curses sets a timer. If the remainder of the sequence does not come in within the designated time, the routines pass the character to the application; otherwise, they return the value for the function key. For this reason, many terminals experience a delay between the time a user presses the escape key and the time the escape is returned to the program. Since tokens returned by these routines are outside the ASCII range, the tokens are not printable.

The ungetch routine places ch back onto the input queue to be returned by the next call to wgetch.

Function Keys

The following function keys, defined in <curses.h>, might be returned by the *getch functions if keypad has been enabled. All of these keys may not be supported on a particular terminal. In other words, the routines do not return a function key if the terminal does not transmit a unique code when the key is pressed or if the definition for the key is not present in the terminfo database.

NameKey name

KEY_BREAKBreak key


The four arrow keys
KEY_HOMEHome key (upward+left arrow)
KEY_F0Function keys; space for 64 keys is reserved.
KEY_F(n)For 0 <= n <= 63
KEY_DLDelete line
KEY_ILInsert line
KEY_DCDelete character
KEY_ICInsert char or enter insert mode
KEY_EICExit insert char mode
KEY_CLEARClear screen
KEY_EOSClear to end-of-screen
KEY_EOLClear to end-of-line
KEY_SFScroll one line forward
KEY_SRScroll one line backward (in reverse)
KEY_NPAGENext page
KEY_PPAGEPrevious page
KEY_CTABClear tab
KEY_CATABClear all tabs
KEY_ENTEREnter or send
KEY_SRESETSoft (partial) reset
KEY_RESETReset or hard reset
KEY_PRINTPrint or copy
KEY_LL Home down or bottom (lower left). The keypad is arranged like this:

A1    up    A3
left  B2    right
C1    down  C3

KEY_A1Upper left of keypad
KEY_A3Upper right of keypad
KEY_B2Center of keypad
KEY_C1Lower left of keypad
KEY_C3Lower right of keypad
KEY_BTABBack tab key
KEY_BEGBeg(inning) key
KEY_CANCELCancel key
KEY_CLOSEClose key
KEY_COMMANDCmd (command) key
KEY_COPYCopy key
KEY_CREATECreate key
KEY_ENDEnd key
KEY_EXITExit key
KEY_FINDFind key
KEY_HELPHelp key
KEY_MARKMark key
KEY_MESSAGEMessage key
KEY_MOVEMove key
KEY_NEXTNext object key
KEY_OPENOpen key
KEY_OPTIONSOptions key
KEY_PREVIOUSPrevious object key
KEY_REDORedo key
KEY_REFERENCERef(erence) key
KEY_REFRESHRefresh key
KEY_REPLACEReplace key
KEY_RESTARTRestart key
KEY_RESUMEResume key
KEY_SAVESave key
KEY_SBEGShifted beginning key
KEY_SCANCELShifted cancel key
KEY_SCOMMANDShifted command key
KEY_SCOPYShifted copy key
KEY_SCREATEShifted create key
KEY_SDCShifted delete character key
KEY_SDLShifted delete line key
KEY_SELECTSelect key
KEY_SENDShifted end key
KEY_SEOLShifted clear line key
KEY_SEXITShifted exit key
KEY_SFINDShifted find key
KEY_SHELPShifted help key
KEY_SHOMEShifted home key
KEY_SICShifted input key
KEY_SLEFTShifted left-arrow key
KEY_SMESSAGEShifted message key
KEY_SMOVEShifted move key
KEY_SNEXTShifted next key
KEY_SOPTIONSShifted options key
KEY_SPREVIOUSShifted previous key
KEY_SPRINTShifted print key
KEY_SREDOShifted redo key
KEY_SREPLACEShifted replace key
KEY_SRIGHTShifted right-arrow key
KEY_SRSUMEShifted resume key
KEY_SSAVEShifted save key
KEY_SSUSPENDShifted suspend key
KEY_SUNDOShifted undo key
KEY_SUSPENDSuspend key
KEY_UNDOUndo key



The header file <curses.h> automatically includes the header file <stdio.h>.

Programmers should not use the escape key for a single-character function.

When using getch, wgetch, mvgetch, or mvwgetch, applications should not use nocbreak mode and echo mode at the same time. Depending on the state of the tty driver when each character is typed, the program may produce undesirable results.

[Compaq]  If the ESCDELAY environment variable is set, these functions wait for the specified time period between the escape and following key sequence that indicate a function key. Setting this delay time is useful when function-key sequences are being transferred over a slow network. However, the ESCDELAY environment variable is non-standard, so portable applications should not depend on its availability.

Note that getch, mvgetch, and mvwgetch may be macros.


All routines return the integer ERR upon failure and OK upon successful completion.


Functions: curses(3), curs_inopts(3), curs_move(3), curs_refresh(3)

Others: standards(5)



Function Keys

This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 02:41:33 GMT, October 02, 2010