The config file

Qtile is configured in Python. A script (~/.config/qtile/ by default) is evaluated, and a small set of configuration variables are pulled from its global namespace.

Configuration lookup order

Qtile looks in the following places for a configuration file, in order:

  • The location specified by the -c argument.

  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/qtile/, if it is set

  • ~/.config/qtile/

  • first qtile/ found in $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS (defaults to /etc/xdg)

  • It reads the module libqtile.resources.default_config, included by default with every Qtile installation.

Qtile will try to create the configuration file as a copy of the default config, if it doesn't exist yet, this one will be placed inside of $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/qtile/ (if set) or ~/.config/qtile/

Default Configuration

The default configuration is invoked when qtile cannot find a configuration file. In addition, if qtile is restarted or the config is reloaded, qtile will load the default configuration if the config file it finds has some kind of error in it. The documentation below describes the configuration lookup process, as well as what the key bindings are in the default config.

The default config is not intended to be suitable for all users; it's mostly just there so qtile does /something/ when fired up, and so that it doesn't crash and cause you to lose all your work if you reload a bad config.

Configuration variables

A Qtile configuration consists of a file with a bunch of variables in it, which qtile imports and then runs as a Python file to derive its final configuration. The documentation below describes the most common configuration variables; more advanced configuration can be found in the qtile-examples repository, which includes a number of real-world configurations that demonstrate how you can tune Qtile to your liking. (Feel free to issue a pull request to add your own configuration to the mix!)

In addition to the above variables, there are several other boolean configuration variables that control specific aspects of Qtile's behavior:






If a window requests to be fullscreen, it is automatically fullscreened. Set this to false if you only want windows to be fullscreen if you ask them to be.



When clicked, should the window be brought to the front or not. If this is set to "floating_only", only floating windows will get affected (This sets the X Stack Mode to Above.). This will ignore the layering rules and will therefore bring windows above other windows, even if they have been set as "kept_above". This may cause issues with docks and other similar apps as these may end up hidden behind other windows. Setting this to False or "floating_only" may therefore be required when using these apps.



If true, the cursor follows the focus as directed by the keyboard, warping to the center of the focused window. When switching focus between screens, If there are no windows in the screen, the cursor will warp to the center of the screen.



A function which generates group binding hotkeys. It takes a single argument, the DGroups object, and can use that to set up dynamic key bindings.

A sample implementation is available in libqtile/ called simple_key_binder(), which will bind groups to mod+shift+0-10 by default.



A list of Rule objects which can send windows to various groups based on matching criteria.


same as widget_defaults

Default settings for extensions.



The default floating layout to use. This allows you to set custom floating rules among other things if you wish.

See the configuration file for the default float_rules.



Floating windows are kept above tiled windows (Currently x11 only. Wayland support coming soon.)



Behavior of the _NET_ACTIVATE_WINDOW message sent by applications

  • urgent: urgent flag is set for the window

  • focus: automatically focus the window

  • smart: automatically focus if the window is in the current group

  • never: never automatically focus any window that requests it



Controls whether or not focus follows the mouse around as it moves across windows in a layout.


dict(font='sans', fontsize=12, padding=3)

Default settings for bar widgets.



Controls whether or not to automatically reconfigure screens when there are changes in randr output configuration.



Gasp! We're lying here. In fact, nobody really uses or cares about this string besides java UI toolkits; you can see several discussions on the mailing lists, GitHub issues, and other WM documentation that suggest setting this string if your java app doesn't work correctly. We may as well just lie and say that we're a working one by default. We choose LG3D to maximize irony: it is a 3D non-reparenting WM written in java that happens to be on java's whitelist.



If things like steam games want to auto-minimize themselves when losing focus, should we respect this or not?

Testing your configuration

The best way to test changes to your configuration is with the provided scripts at ./scripts/xephyr (X11) or ./scripts/wephyr (Wayland). This will run Qtile with your inside a nested window and prevent your running instance of Qtile from crashing if something goes wrong.

See Hacking Qtile for more information on using Xephyr.