cmus - Man Page

C* Music Player

Examples (TL;DR)


cmus [options]


cmus is a lightweight ncurses music player. It supports various output methods by using dynamically-loaded output plugins. cmus has configurable keybindings and can be controlled externally using cmus-remote(1).


--listen ADDR

Listen on ADDR (UNIX socket) instead of $CMUS_SOCKET or $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR/cmus-socket. ADDR must be a UNIX socket or host[:port].

WARNING: Using host[:port] is insecure even with a password! It may be on a LAN if you want multiple users to able to control cmus. Never expose cmus to the internet.

NOTE: Don't use this option to run multiple instances as same user. Doing so would corrupt the track metadata cache.

--passwd PASSWD

Set the password for TCP/IP connections. Required if listening on host[:port]. Used in conjunction with --listen.


List available plugins and exit.


Always display the cursor. This is useful for screen readers.


Display usage information and exit.


Display version information and exit.


There are 7 views in cmus. Press keys 1-7 to change active view.

Library view (1)

Displays all tracks in the library. Tracks are sorted and displayed in a tree grouped by artist/album. Artist sorting is done alphabetically. Albums are sorted by year.

Sorted library view (2)

Displays the same content as view 1, but as a simple list automatically sorted by user criteria.

Playlist view (3)

Displays editable playlists with optional sorting.

Play Queue view (4)

Displays upcoming tracks. These tracks are played before anything else (i.e. the playlist or library). Once the queue is empty, playback will resume from the last position in the library.

Browser (5)

Displays the directory browser. In this view, music from the filesystem can be added to the library, active playlist, or queue.

Filters view (6)

Lists user-defined filters.

Settings view (7)

Lists keybindings, unbound commands and options. Remove bindings with D or del, change bindings and variables with enter, and toggle variables with space.

Command Line

Everything in cmus is implemented as commands which can be typed at command line or bound to a key. To enter command mode type :. To execute a command, press ENTER, and to cancel, press ESC or CTRL-C. Use up/down arrows to browse the command history. Use TAB to complete commands and parameters. You don't need to type full command name if it is unambiguous (no other commands starting with the same characters).


# add files, short for ':add ~/music'
:a ~/music

# change output plugin
:set output_plugin=oss

# start playing
# you could just press 'x' which is the default
# binding for this command

# clear current view (library, playlist or play queue)


Search mode works like the command mode. To enter search mode, press / and type the query then press ENTER. Press n to move to the next result or N for the previous one. Type ? to search backwards.

In views 1-4 the query is matched against the artist, album and title tags. Type //WORDS or ??WORDS to search only artists/albums in view 1 and only titles in views 2-4. If the file doesn't have tags, words are compared to the filename excluding the path.

Searching also works in views 5-7.

Playlist Editing

Selecting Tracks

Editing commands affect the currently marked tracks. If there are no marked tracks, the currently selected track (or selected artist/album in view 1) is used.

To mark the selected track, press SPACE. Marked tracks appear with a gray background. You can only mark tracks in the list views (2-4).

Copying Tracks Between Views

You can copy marked or selected tracks in views 1-5.


copy tracks to the library (1-2)


copy tracks to the marked playlist (3)


append tracks to the play queue (4)


prepend tracks to the play queue (4)

Moving Tracks

In views 2-4, tracks can be moved within the list. Note that moving is disabled if the view is auto-sorted (see lib_sort and pl_sort options).

Pressing p moves marked tracks to the position immediately after the selected track. P moves them to the position immediately before the selected track. If there are no marked tracks, the selected track is moved down (p) or up (P).

Note that changing active filters in view 2 reloads it, losing any changes made to the track order.

Removing Tracks

Press D or delete to remove the marked or selected tracks in the current view (1-4). The tracks will be removed immediately from the view without asking for confirmation. In the browser and filters views, the same keys are used to remove a file or filter after asking for confirmation.

Status Line

The right hand side of the status line (second row from the bottom, black text on a grey background) consists of the following fields:

aaa_mode & play_sorted & play_library | continue follow repeat shuffle

NOTE: aaa_mode and play_sorted will be only displayed if play_library is true because these are meaningless when playing the playlists (view 3).

Pressing m, o, M, C, r and s should make it easier to understand what these fields mean.

See Configuration Options section for more information about these options.


Here's list of default keybindings. To change them, see the unbind and bind commands in the Commands section.

Common: Playback

b                       player-next
c                       player-pause
x                       player-play
z                       player-prev
v                       player-stop

]                       vol +0 +1%
[                       vol +1% +0
+                       vol +10%
=                       vol +10%
}                       vol -0 -1%
{                       vol -1% -0
-                       vol -10%

,                       seek -1m
.                       seek +1m

h                       seek -5
l                       seek +5

left                    seek -5
right                   seek +5

mlb_click_bar           player-pause
mouse_scroll_up_bar     seek +5
mouse_scroll_down_bar   seek -5

Common: Setting Toggles

m                       toggle aaa_mode
C                       toggle continue
M                       toggle play_library
o                       toggle play_sorted
r                       toggle repeat
^R                      toggle repeat_current
t                       toggle show_remaining_time
s                       toggle shuffle
f                       toggle follow

Common: Commands

q                       quit -i
^C                      echo Type :quit<enter> to exit cmus.
I                       echo {}

!                       push shell<space>

Common: View/Window Navigation

1                       view tree
2                       view sorted
3                       view playlist
4                       view queue
5                       view browser
6                       view filters
7                       view settings

mouse_scroll_up_title   left-view
mouse_scroll_down_title right-view

tab                     win-next

^L                      refresh

Common: Navigation

^Y                      win-scroll-up
^E                      win-scroll-down
^B                      win-page-up
^F                      win-page-down
^U                      win-half-page-up
^D                      win-half-page-down

k                       win-up
j                       win-down
g                       win-top
G                       win-bottom

up                      win-up
down                    win-down
home                    win-top
end                     win-bottom
page_up                 win-page-up
page_down               win-page-down

mouse_scroll_up         win-up
mouse_scroll_down       win-down

Common: Selection

i                       win-sel-cur
enter                   win-activate
mlb_click_selected      win-activate

space                   win-toggle
D                       win-remove
delete                  win-remove
p                       win-mv-after
P                       win-mv-before

E                       win-add-Q
a                       win-add-l
y                       win-add-p
e                       win-add-q

u                       update-cache
U                       win-update-cache

Common: Filters

/                       search-start
?                       search-b-start
n                       search-next
N                       search-prev

F                       push filter<space>
L                       push live-filter<space>

File Browser

space                   win-activate
backspace               browser-up
i                       toggle show_hidden
u                       win-update

Library View Sorting

The library view (the tree-like one; not the sorted library view, which is configured with lib_sort - see Configuration Options), is sorted automatically using tags from the audio files.

Note: Albums which feature various artists (e.g. samplers or compilations) are treated specially. If an album artist tag or the ID3v2 TPE2 frame is set, it will be used instead of the real artist name. Otherwise, cmus determines if the album is a compilation (if albumartist or artist are set to Various Artists, Various, VA, or V/A; or if compilation or partofacompilation are set to a truthy value; or if the ID3v2 TCMP frame is set). If so, the artist is named <Various Artists>.

Note: If the filename is a URL, the artist/album tags are set to <Stream>. If it is a file, cmus sets the artist and/or album tags to <No Name> if they are not already set. These names will be treated the same way as other names for sorting.

In general, three levels of sorting are used in the library view: the artist name, then the album, and finally the track itself.

First, cmus sorts alphanumerically by the value of the artist tag. If a special sorting tag is available, its value will be used instead.

Next, cmus sorts by the album. Tracks are grouped by the album name, and the groups are sorted by the date of the first track, then alphanumerically by the name of the album. If the date header is not set, the album will be placed on top of the list.

Finally, each album is sorted by the track discnumber, tracknumber, then filename (not the track name).


This section describes cmus' commands, which can be bound to keys and mouse events, put in configuration files, executed in command mode, or passed to cmus-remote.

Optional parameters are in [brackets], required parameters in <angle brackets> and default key bindings are (parenthesized).

add [-l] [-p] [-q] [-Q] <file|dir|url|playlist>

Adds file/dir/url/playlist to the specified view or the current view.


add to library


add to playlist


add play queue


prepend to play queue

Supported files are based on the loaded input plugins.

Supported URLs: Shoutcast (http://...), CDDA (cdda://...).

Supported playlist types: plain, .m3u, .pls.

bind [-f] <context> <key> <command>

Adds a key binding.


overwrite existing binding

Valid contexts: common (i.e. all views), library (1-2), playlist (3), queue (4), browser (5), filters (6)

There's one context for each view. Common is a special context on which bound keys work in every view.

You can override specific keys in common context for a view. For example i selects the current track in views 1-3 but in browser it is overridden to toggle showing of hidden files.

When setting custom bindings in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/cmus/rc, it is recommended to use the -f option, or else bind may fail due to an existing binding in the autosave or system-level config files.

Hint: You can press tab from command mode to expand contexts, keys, and commands.

browser-up (backspace)

Navigates the browser view to the parent directory (5). This command only makes sense to be bound to the browser key context although it's possible to use this even if browser view is not active.

cd [directory]

Changes the current working directory. Also changes the directory displayed in the browser view.

clear [-l] [-p] [-q]

Removes all tracks from a single view.


clear library


clear playlist


clear play queue

If a view is not specified, the current view is used.

colorscheme <name>

Changes the color scheme. Color schemes are found in /usr/share/cmus/ or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/cmus/ and have the extension .theme.

echo <arg>...

Displays the arguments on the command line.

{} it is replaced with file name of the first selected track.

factivate <user-defined-filter>...

Selects and activates the given user defined filters (displayed in the filters view). Filter names are separated by spaces. This command is mostly useful when bound to a key to change active filters quickly. If no arguments are provided, all filters are deactivated.

Prefix a filter name with ! to negate it.

filter <filter-expression>

Temporarily filters a library view. The filter is not saved (use fset and factivate for that).

fset <name>=<filter-expression>

Defines or replaces an existing filter and adds it to the filters view (6).


Shows information about help files.


Inverts the marking of tracks in playlist and queue views. See mark and unmark.

live-filter <simple-filter-expression|short-filter-expression>

Like filter, but uses simple filters and shows a preview as you type. It persists even after leaving command mode.

load [-l] [-p] <playlist>

Loads a playlist to a view.


load to library views


load to playlist view

If a view is not specified, the current view is used.

lqueue [NUM]

Queues NUM (default 1) random albums from the library. Also see tqueue.

mark <filter-expression>

Marks tracks in playlist and queue view using a filter expression.


Toggles mute for the sound output.

pl-create <name>

Creates a new playlist.

pl-export <filename>

Exports the currently selected playlist. The file will be overwritten if it exists.

pl-import [filename]

Imports a playlist into the playlist view. The argument can be omitted in the file browser view.

pl-rename <name>

Renames the selected playlist.

player-next (b)

Skips to the next track.

player-pause (c)

Toggles pause.


Pauses if currently playing.

player-play [filename] (x)

Plays the given track, or, if none is specified, [re]plays the current track from the beginning.

player-prev (z)

Skips to the previous track.

player-stop (v)

Stops playback.


Goes to the previously used view.


Goes to the to view to the left of current one (e.g. view 4 -> view 3)


Goes to view to the right of current one (e.g. view 3 -> view 4).

push [text]

Enters command mode with the command line pre-set to text. Example:

bind common w push filter artist=

Text can contain spaces, which will be used as-is (e.g. trailing spaces will be preserved). If no text is given, it defaults to a blank command line.

This command can only be used from a keybinding.


Prints the current working directory.

quit [-i] (q, :wq)

Exits cmus.


ask before exiting


Raises the virtual terminal emulator window. Only works within a X session.


Randomizes (shuffles) the tracks in the library, playlist or queue view.

refresh (^L)

Redraws the terminal window.

run <command>

Runs a command for the marked tracks OR the selected one if none marked.

By default file names are appended to the command. If the command contains {} it is replaced with list of filenames.

Note: In view 1 you can run a command for all files in the selected album or artist.

save [-e]  [-l] [-L] [-p] [-q]  [file]  (:w)

Saves the contents of a view to a playlist file. In extended mode (-e), also saves track metadata.


save library views


save filtered library views


save playlist view


save queue view

If no view is specified, the current one is used.

If no filename given the old filename is used. "-" outputs to stdout (works only remotely).


Enters backwards search mode. Cannot be used directly from command mode.

See search-start.

search-next (n)

If there is an active search, goes to the next match in the current view. See Searching above.

search-prev (N)

If there is an active search, goes to the previous match in the current view. See Searching above.


Enters search mode. Cannot be used directly from command mode.

This is similar to live-filter, except it is temporary and only selects the current match rather than filtering the entire view.

seek [+-](<num>[mh] | [HH:]MM:SS)

Seeks to an absolute or relative position, which can be given in seconds, minutes (m), hours (h) or HH:MM:SS format where HH: is optional.

Seek 1 minute backward

:seek -1m

Seek 5 seconds forward

:seek +5

Seek to absolute position 1h

:seek 1h

Seek 90 seconds forward

:seek +1:30

set <option>=<value>

Sets the value of an option. See Options.

set <option>

Display option value. Vim compatible set <option>? is also supported.

shell <command>

Executes a command via /bin/sh -c.

showbind <context> <key>

Shows a key binding.


Reshuffles the shuffle lists for both library and playlist views.

source <filename>

Reads and executes commands from <filename>.

toggle <option>

Toggles the value of a toggle-able option (all booleans and tristate aaa_mode).

tqueue [NUM]

Queues NUM (default 1) random tracks from the library. See also lqueue.

unbind [-f] <context> <key>

Removes a key binding. Use tab to cycle through bound keys.


Don't throw an error if the binding is not known


Unmarks all tracks (see mark).

update-cache [-f]

Updates the track metadata cache ($XDG_CONFIG_HOME/cmus/cache). By default, only deletions or files with a changed modification time are updated.


Update all files. Same as quit, rm -f $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/cmus/cache, start cmus.


Prints the version information.

view <name or 1-7>

Changes the active view.

vol [+-]NUM[%] [[+-]NUM[%]]

Changes the volume.

If a single argument is provided, both channels are changed. Otherwise, the first/second values are for the left/right channels respectively.

To increase or decrease volume prefix the value with - or +, otherwise value is treated as absolute volume.

Both absolute and relative values can be given as percentage units (suffixed with %) or as internal values (hardware may have volume in range 0-31 for example).


See quit. Intended for use while in command mode.

win-activate (enter)

In views, 1-3 plays the selected track. In view 5 starts, the selected file or changes to the selected directory. In view 6, activates the selected filters. In settings view (7), changes a binding or variable.

win-add-l [-n] (a)

Adds the currently marked or selected track(s) (views 3-4), or the currently selected file/directory (view 5), to the library.

Analogous to :add -l


Don't move the selection to the next item.

win-add-p [-n] (y)

Adds the currently marked or selected track(s) (views 1-2, 4), or the currently selected file or directory (view 5), to the marked playlist.

Analogous to :add -p


Don't move the selection to the next item.

win-add-Q [-n] (E)

Prepends the currently marked or selected track(s) (views 1-3), or the currently selected file or directory (view 5), to the play queue.

Analogous to :add -Q


Don't move the selection to the next item.

win-add-q [-n] (e)

Adds the currently marked or selected track(s) (views 1-3), or the currently selected file or directory (view 5), to the play queue.

Analogous to :add -q


Don't move the selection to the next item.

win-bottom (G, end)

Goes to bottom of the current window.

win-down [NUM] (j, down)

Goes down NUM (default 1) rows in the current window.

win-half-page-down (^D)

Goes down half a page in the current window.

win-half-page-up (^U)

Goes up half a page in the current window.

win-mv-after (p)

Moves the marked tracks below the selected track. If no tracks are selected, selects the previous track. If no tracks are marked, moves the selected track up by one. This command works in the playlist and queue views.

win-mv-before (P)

Moves the marked tracks above the selected track. If no tracks are selected, selects the previous track. If no tracks are marked, moves the selected track down by one. This command works in the playlist and queue views.

win-next (tab)

Activates the next window (i.e. tree/list). Only relevant in view 1.


Goes to the bottom of the visible part of the current window.

win-page-down (^F, page_down)

Goes to down one page in the current window.


Goes to the middle of the visible part of the current window.


Goes to the top of the visible part of the current window.

win-page-up (^B, page_up)

Goes up one page in the current window.

win-remove (D, delete)

Removes the selected entry. For tracks, no confirmation is required. For playlists (view 3), files (view 5), filters (view 6) and bindings (view 7) user must confirm the action.

win-scroll-down (^E)

Scrolls the current window one row downwards.

win-scroll-up (^Y)

Scrolls the current window one row upwards.

win-sel-cur (i)

Selects the current track (position in library or playlist, not necessarily same as the currently playing track). Works only in views 1-3, does nothing in other views.

win-toggle (space)

Expands albums in library view (1), marks tracks in views 2-4, sets the marked playlist in view 3, toggles selection of a filter in view 6, or toggles a variable's value in view 7.

win-top (g, home)

Goes to top of the current window.

win-up [NUM] (k, up)

Goes up NUM (default 1) rows in the current window.

win-update (u)

Checks the modification time of the files in the library, and updates metadata for changed files. Removes non-existent files from the library.

Reloads contents of directory in the browser view.

Only works in views 1-2 and 5, does nothing in other views.

win-update-cache [-f]

Same as update-cache, but only for marked / selected tracks. Only works in views 1-2, does nothing in other views.


See quit. Intended for use from command mode.

Configuration Options

This section describes configuration options used by cmus.

These options can be changed using the set and toggle commands. Default values are (parenthesized), and the possible values are in [brackets].

auto_expand_albums_follow, auto_expand_albums_search, auto_expand_albums_selcur (true)

Always expand an artist and select the album when following the currently played track or performing actions such as "search" or "go to current track". This option is tightly coupled to the show_all_tracks option. Any "auto_expand_albums_* = false" implies "show_all_tracks = true".

auto_reshuffle (true)

Reshuffle a playlist when the end of a shuffled list is reached.

aaa_mode (all) [all, artist, album]

Defines what tracks should be played in the library view. Not used in the other views.

For example, if set to artist, the player behaves like there were only the files of the currently playing artist in the library.

altformat_current [Format String]

Alternative format string for the line displaying currently playing track.

Note: If empty, format_current is used instead.

altformat_playlist [Format String]

Alternative format string for the list views (2-4).

Note: if empty, format_playlist is used instead.

altformat_title [Format String]

Alternative format string the for terminal title.

Note: not all terminals support changing window title.

Note: if empty, format_title is used instead.

altformat_trackwin [Format String]

Alternative format string for the tree view's (1) track window.

Note: if empty, format_trackwin is used instead.

buffer_seconds (10) [1-300]

Size of the player buffer in seconds.

color_cmdline_bg (default) [Color]

Command line background color.

color_cmdline_fg (default) [Color]

Command line foreground color.

color_cmdline_attr (default) [Attributes]

Command line attributes.

color_error (lightred) [Color]

Color of error messages displayed on the command line.

color_info (lightyellow) [Color]

Color of informational messages displayed on the command line.

color_separator (blue) [Color]

Color of the separator line between windows in view (1).

color_statusline_bg (gray) [Color]

Status line background color.

color_statusline_fg (black) [Color]

Status line foreground color.

color_statusline_attr (default) [Attributes]

Status line attributes.

color_titleline_bg (blue) [Color]

Background color of the line displaying currently playing track.

color_titleline_fg (white) [Color]

Foreground color of the line displaying currently playing track.

color_titleline_attr (default) [Attributes]

Attributes of the line displaying currently playing track.

color_win_bg (default) [Color]

Window background color.

color_win_cur (lightyellow) [Color]

Color of currently playing track.

color_win_cur_attr (default) [Attributes]

Currently playing track attributes.

color_win_cur_sel_bg (blue) [Color]

Background color of the selected row which is also the currently playing track in active window.

color_win_cur_sel_fg (lightyellow) [Color]

Foreground color of the selected row which is also the currently playing track in active window.

color_win_cur_sel_attr (default) [Attributes]

Attributes of the selected row which is also the currently playing track in active window.

color_win_dir (lightblue) [Color]

Color of directories in browser.

color_win_fg (default) [Color]

Window foreground color.

color_win_attr (default) [Attributes]

Window attributes.

color_win_inactive_cur_sel_bg (gray) [Color]

Background color of the selected row which is also the currently playing track in inactive window.

color_win_inactive_cur_sel_fg (lightyellow) [Color]

Foreground color of the selected row which is also the currently playing track in inactive window.

color_win_inactive_cur_sel_attr (default) [Attributes]

Attributes of the selected row which is also the currently playing track in inactive window.

color_win_inactive_sel_bg (gray) [Color]

Background color of selected row in inactive window.

color_win_inactive_sel_fg (black) [Color]

Foreground color of selected row in inactive window.

color_win_inactive_sel_attr (default) [Attributes]

Attributes of selected row in inactive window.

color_win_sel_bg (blue) [Color]

Background color of selected row in active window.

color_win_sel_fg (white) [Color]

Foreground color of selected row in active window.

color_win_sel_attr (default) [Attributes]

Attributes of selected row in active window.

color_win_title_bg (blue) [Color]

Background color of window titles (topmost line of the screen).

color_win_title_fg (white) [Color]

Foreground color of window titles (topmost line of the screen).

color_win_title_attr (default) [Attributes]

Attributes of window titles (topmost line of the screen).

color_trackwin_album_bg (default) [Color]

Background color of the album row shown in the track window.

color_trackwin_album_fg (default) [Color]

Foreground color of the album row shown in the track window.

color_trackwin_album_attr (bold) [Attributes]

Attributes of the album row shown in the track window.

confirm_run (true)

Ask for confirmation before executing :run

continue (true)

Continue playing after current track finishes.

continue_album (true)

Continue playing next album after current album finishes.

device (/dev/cdrom)

CDDA device file.

display_artist_sort_name (false)

If enabled, always displays artist names used for sorting instead of regular ones in tree view (e.g. "Artist, The" instead of "The Artist"), so that artists column looks alphabetically sorted.

follow (false)

If enabled, always select the currently playing track on track change.

format_current [Format String]

Format string for the line displaying currently playing track.

format_playlist [Format String]

Format string for the list views (2-4).

format_playlist_va [Format String]

Format string for the list views (2-4), if a track is assumed to be a part of compilation (see Library View Sorting for details).

Note: If empty, format_playlist is used instead.

format_statusline [Format String]

Format string for status line.

format_title [Format String]

Format string for terminal title.

Note: Not all terminals support changing window title.

format_trackwin [Format String]

Format string for the tree view's (1) track window.

format_trackwin_album [Format String]

Format string for albums in tree view's (1) track window.

format_trackwin_va [Format String]

Format string for the tree view's (1) track window, if a track is assumed to be a part of compilation (see Library View Sorting for details).

Note: If empty, format_trackwin is used instead.

format_treewin [Format String]

Format string for the tree view's (1) tree window.

format_treewin_artist [Format String]

Format string for artists in tree view's (1) tree window.

smart_artist_sort (true)

If enabled, makes the tree view sorting ignore "The" in front of artist names, preventing artists starting with "The" from clumping together. Real artistsort tags override this option, if present.

id3_default_charset (ISO-8859-1)

Default character set to use for ID3v1 and broken ID3v2 tags.

Note: This is used only if the tag is not valid UTF-8.

icecast_default_charset (ISO-8859-1)

Default character set to use for non-UTF-8 icecast stream metadata.

Note: This is used only if the metadata is not valid UTF-8.

lib_add_filter [Filter]

Apply filter when adding files to the library. See Filters.

lib_sort (artist album discnumber tracknumber title filename) [Sort Keys]

Sort keys for the sorted library view (2).

mouse (false)

Enable mouse support.

Note: Mouse wheel scrolling can lag if cmus is compiled with old version of ncurses.

mpris (true)

Enable MPRIS support. See D-Bus Interface (MPRIS)

Note: This flag has no effect if cmus was compiled without MPRIS support.

output_plugin [roar, pulse, alsa, arts, oss, sndio, sun, coreaudio]

Name of output plugin.

pl_sort () [Sort Keys]

Sort keys for the playlist view (3). Empty value disables sorting and enables manually moving tracks.

play_library (true)

Play tracks from the library instead of playlist.

play_sorted (false)

Play tracks from the library in the sorted view (2) order instead of tree view (1) order. Used only when play_library is true.

repeat (false)

Repeat after all tracks played.

repeat_current (false)

Repeat current track forever.

replaygain (disabled) [track, album, track-preferred, album-preferred]

Enable Replay Gain.

replaygain_limit (true)

Use replay gain limiting when clipping.

replaygain_preamp (0.0)

Replay gain preamplification in decibels.

resume (false)

Resume playback on startup.

rewind_offset (5) [-1-9999]

If the position of the current track is smaller than rewind_offset, player_prev jumps to the previous track. Otherwise, player_prev jumps to the beginning of the current track. If rewind_offset=-1, player_prev always jumps to the previous track.

scroll_offset (2) [0-9999]

Minimal number of screen lines to keep above and below the cursor.

show_all_tracks (true)

Display all tracks of the artist when the artist is selected in the tree view. This option is tightly coupled to the auto_expand_albums_\ options. "show_all_tracks = false" implies "auto_expand_albums_* = true".

show_hidden (false)

Display hidden files in browser.

show_current_bitrate (false)

Display current bitrate in the status lines.

show_playback_position (true)

Display elapsed (or remaining) time in the status line. Can be disabled to e.g. not trigger tmux's activity monitor.

show_remaining_time (false)

Display remaining time instead of elapsed time.

shuffle (false)

Play in shuffled order. Shuffle works in the library views (1-2) and playlist view (3).

skip_track_info (false)

Don't load metadata when adding tracks. Useful when using network file system and having huge amount of files. Tags can be loaded using 'update-cache' or 'win-update-cache' commands.

softvol (false)

Use software volume control.

Note: You should probably set this to false when using ao as output_plugin to output to wav files.

softvol_state (100 100)

Used to save left and right channel values for software volume control. Two integers in range 0..100 separated by a space. This option is not usually changed directly since vol command does same thing if softvol is true.

start_view (tree) [tree, sorted, playlist, queue, browser, filters, settings]

Specify the view that gets shown when cmus starts.

status_display_program () [command]

This command, if set, is run for every status change. It can be used to display currently playing track on desktop background or panel for example. See /usr/share/doc/cmus/examples/cmus-status-display.

stop_after_queue (false)

Stop playback when end of play queue is reached.

time_show_leading_zero (true)

Pad durations of less than 10 minutes with a leading 0.

tree_width_percent (33) [1-100]

Percentage of the window width to use for left pane.

tree_width_max (0) [0-9999]

Restrict the size calculated from tree_width_percent. 0 disables this option.

This affects the tree in the library view and the playlist list in the playlist view.

Note that this value will be further constrained by the window width and/or the minimum tree size.

For example, to set a fixed size of 60 columns:

set tree_width_percent=100
set tree_width_max=60

Or, to be 33% wide, but at most 60 columns

set tree_width_percent=33
set tree_width_max=60

Or, to always be 33% wide where possible (the default behavior):

set tree_width_percent=33
set tree_width_max=0
wrap_search (true)

Controls whether the search wraps around the end.


Color is an integer in range -1..255.

The following color names are recognized:

Terminal's default color, -1


Fg & bg, 0..7

black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, gray

Fg, 8..15

darkgray, lightred, lightgreen, lightyellow, lightblue, lightmagenta, lightcyan, white


Attributes is a set of names "standout|bold":

default does nothing, if you put it with other attributes the other attributes will be used.

standout makes the text standout.

bold makes the text bold.

reverse reverses the text colors.

underline underlines the text.

blink makes the text blink.

Format Strings

Format strings control display of tracks in library, playlist and play queue views.

Note: altformat_* options are used when there are no tags available.

Special Keys:

%a  %{artist}  
%A  %{albumartist}
%l  %{album}  
%D  %{discnumber}
%n  %{tracknumber}
%X  %{play_count}
%t  %{title}  
%g  %{genre}  
%c  %{comment}  
%y  %{date}  
%d  %{duration}  
%f  %{path}  
%F  %{filename}  

start align right (use at most once)


literal %


literal ?

You can use printf style formatting (width, alignment, padding). As an extension, the width can have a %-suffix, to specify a percentage of the terminal width.
To see current value of an option type :set option=<TAB>.

Note: With %{bitrate}, you'll have to append the unit yourself, as mentioned in the example below.

You can use conditional operator %{?CONDITION?A[?B]}. CONDITION has the same syntax as filters, except for unsupported short and simple expressions and supported keys comparison (e.g. artist=albumartist). Its keys are:

format strings' special keys
configuration options
keyword stream [boolean] (returns true if track is a stream)
keyword va [boolean] (returns true if track's album is compilation)

Else part can be skipped. A and B can contain string literals in " or '. A and B can be empty.


:set format_trackwin= %02n. %t %{?y?(%y)}%= %d
:set format_current= %n. %-30t %40F (%y)%= %d
:set format_current= %a - %l - %02n. %t%= %{bitrate}Kbps %g %y
:set format_playlist= %f%= %6{rg_track_gain} dB  %8{rg_track_peak}
:set format_playlist= %-25%a %-15%l %3n. %t%= %y %d

Sort Keys

Sort option (lib_sort, pl_sort) value is space separated list of the following sort keys:

artist, album, title, tracknumber, play_count, discnumber, date, originaldate, genre, comment, albumartist, filename, filemtime, bpm, bitrate, codec, media, codec_profile, rg_track_gain, rg_track_peak, rg_album_gain, rg_album_peak

Note: Adding a '-' in front of the key will reverse the sort order.

Plugin Options


PCM device for ALSA plugin, usually "default".

Mixer channel for ALSA Plugin, usually "pcm", "master" or "headphone". To see all possible values run "alsamixer" or "amixer".


Mixer device for ALSA plugin, usually "default".


Restore the volume at startup using PulseAudio. Otherwise, cmus sets the volume to 100%, which does not mix well with "flat volumes" feature of PA. Defaults to "1"; set to "0" to turn off.

The audio buffer size; defaults to 16kB, but you may want to try bigger values if you experience buffer under-runs.

Device interface for libao plugin to request a specific playback device/sink/output. This name will be in a format determined by the specific driver backend.

Output driver for libao plugin. Example values: "alsa09", "esd", "irix", "oss", "sun", "aixs", "wav".

Note: of the file output drivers only "wav" is supported.

Counter used for making filename. Used only if is "wav". For example if this is 1 and is "/home/user" then PCM data is outputted to "/home/user/01.wav". This counter is incremented every time playback is stopped.

Note: You probably want to set continue to false (press C), otherwise playback is not stopped between tracks and all PCM data is outputted to one wav file (useful if you want to join files).c Also unsetting shuffle and repeat might be good idea.

Output directory for libao plugin; default to the home directory. Used only if is "wav".


Device for Core Audio output. Leave empty for default.


Set hog mode for the device. The default value is false.


Synchronize the device sample rate with the player, so no interpolation will be applied to the stream.


Connect to jackd with this name. Leave empty for default.


The re-sampling quality. 0 is low quality but fast, 1 is medium quality, 2 (default) is high quality but more CPU intensive. This option is only available if cmus was compiled with libsamplerate support.


CDDB URL (default: Uses HTTP if prefixed with "http://" (e.g.: Set to an empty string to disable CDDB lookup completely.


Sets the priority of the input plugin. If multiple plugins can play a file, the plugin with the higher priority is chosen. If the priority is 0, the plugin is disabled.


PCM device for OSS plugin, usually /dev/dsp.

Mixer channel for OSS Plugin, "pcm" or "master".


Mixer device for OSS plugin, usually /dev/mixer.


Address of RoarAudio server. Defaults to internal defaults. Can be UNIX, TCP/IP or DECnet address.

dsp.roar.role [music, background_music, ...]

Role for stream. May be used by the server to apply additional defaults.


PCM device for Sun plugin, usually /dev/audio.

Mixer channel for Sun Plugin, usually "master".


Mixer device for Sun plugin, usually /dev/mixer.

Playing Audio Discs

If the cdio input plugin is enabled, CDs and CD images can be played by setting the device option to a device file (e.g. /dev/cdrom) or an image file (e.g. ~/cd.cue). Then, add a new track using the CDDA URL scheme:

:add cdda://2

To add the entire disc, use cdda:// (without track number). This only works for audio discs, not images. Adding track ranges is also possible (cdda://1-3).

To add images without changing the device option, include the image path in the URL:

:add cdda:///path/to/cd.cue/2-5

The metadata will be read from CD-Text, and if not available, looked up from a CDDB server (see input.cdio.cddb_url).


Filters are used mostly for filtering contents of library views (1 & 2). Filters do not change the actual library content, i.e. the :save command will still save all tracks to playlist file whether they are visible or not.


There are three types of filter expressions, each offering more expressiveness:


e.g. beatles


e.g. ~a beatles (!~y1960-1965 | ~d>600)


e.g. artist="*beatles*"&album="R*"

Simple expressions are only available using live-filter. For other filter commands the type is auto-detected, so both short and long expressions can be used.

Long expressions are lists of built-in filters or user defined filters separated with & (and) or | (or). Parenthesises can be used group subexpressions and ! negates result of the expression following it. The same is true for short expressions, but they can only consist of built-in filters. Also, (and)-grouping is done implicitly.



filename, artist, albumartist, album, title, genre, comment, codec, codec_profile, media
Comparators: = and != (not equal)


~f, ~a, ~A, ~l, ~t, ~g, ~c
Comparators: none



discnumber, tracknumber, date (year), originaldate (year), duration (seconds), bitrate
Comparators: <, <=, =, >=, >, !=


~D, ~n, ~y, ~d
Comparators: <, >
Ranges: a-b (>=a&<=b), -b (<=b), a- (>=a)


tag (true if track has tags), stream (true if track is a stream)
For short expressions: ~T and ~s

Defining Filters

Filters can be defined with the fset command. User defined filters appear in the filters view (6).

Create a new filter which name is ogg and value filename="*.ogg"

:fset ogg=filename="*.ogg"

Filter ogg and mp3 files from the 90s. Note the use of user defined filter ogg.

:fset 90s-ogg-mp3=date>=1990&date<2000&(ogg|filename="*.mp3")

Activating Filters

factivate changes the visible contents of the library (views 1-2).

Activate user defined filters ogg and missing-tags

:factivate ogg missing-tags

Like above but negate value of ogg filter.

:factivate !ogg missing-tags

Alternatively, you can filters by pressing space in view 6, then activate them by pressing enter.

Throw-away Filters

The live-filter and filter commands are useful when you want to use a filter without saving it. It changes the visible contents of the library (views 1-2). filter unactivates all filters in the filters view, while live-filter is applied in addition to all currently activated filters. It persists even after leaving command mode.

Filter all rock (anything with rock in genre tag) music from 80s-

:filter date>=1980&genre="*rock*"
:filter ~y1980-~grock

Filter all artists/albums/titles containing "sleepwalking"

:live-filter sleepwalking

Selecting Tracks Matching a Filter

Mark (select) all tracks with duration less than 2 minutes

:mark duration<120

Mark (select) all tracks which have been played at least once

:mark play_count>=1

These commands work in views 2-4.


cmus reads its configuration from 3 different places in the following order:


This file is automatically created and overwritten by cmus on exit, so it should not be modified by hand.


This file contains the default configuration.

If the autosave file did exist, this file is read instead.


This file is the static configuration file.

This file is read immediately after the autosave file, and is never modified by cmus. You can override auto-saved settings in this file. This file is not limited to options; it can contain other commands too.

Color Schemes

Color schemes (*.theme) are located in /usr/share/cmus or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/cmus. You can switch them using the :colorscheme command with the basename of the theme file.

Note: Colors are not automatically updated when the theme file changes since they are saved in the autosave file.


Example status display scripts (see status_display_program) can be found in /usr/share/doc/cmus/examples.



Override the character set used by cmus (default: `locale charmap`).


Override the config directory (default: $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/cmus).


Override the socket path (default: $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR/cmus-socket).


Full path of the user's home directory.


URI of the proxy to use for HTTP requests.


Name of the user running cmus.


Fallback for USER.

D-Bus Interface (MPRIS)

cmus provides a D-Bus interface following the Media Player Remote Interfacing Specification (MPRIS) v2:

It exposes the /org/mpris/MediaPlayer2 object path with the interfaces org.mpris.MediaPlayer2 and org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.Player. The unique bus name is org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.cmus.

Metadata fields follow the naming convention of the specification:

Additionally, the cmus:stream_title field is exposed if appropriate.


The file exists only if you configured cmus with the maximum debug level (./configure DEBUG=2).

After a crash, the last lines of ~/cmus-debug.txt may contain useful information.  

Feature requests and bug reports should go to the GitHub issue tracker:

See Also

cmus-tutorial(7), cmus-remote(1)


cmus was mainly written by Timo Hirvonen <>. Other contributors are listed in the AUTHORS file.

This man page was written by Frank Terbeck <>, Timo Hirvonen <>, Clay Barnes <>, and Patrick Gaskin <>.

Referenced By

cmus-remote(1), playerctl(1).