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playerctl - Man Page

control media players via MPRIS

Examples (TL;DR)


playerctl[-aFhlV] [-f FORMAT] [-i NAME] [-p NAME] command


The playerctl utility controls MPRIS-enabled media players. In addition to offering play, pause and stop control, playerctl also offers previous and next track support, the ability to seek backwards and forwards in a track, and volume control. playerctl also supports displaying metadata (e.g., artist, title, album) for the current track, and showing the status of the player.

Players that can be controlled using playerctl include audacious(1), cmus(1), mopidy(1), mpd(1), quodlibet(1), rhythmbox(1), vlc(1) and xmms2(1). However, any player that implements the MPRIS interface specification can be controlled using playerctl including web browsers.

Playerctl also comes with a daemon called playerctld which keeps track of media player activity. When playerctld is running, playerctl commands will act on the media player with the most recent activity. Run the command playerctld daemon to start the daemon.

The options are as follows:

-a, --all-players

Apply command to all available players.

-F, --follow

Block and output the updated query when it changes.

-f FORMAT, --format FORMAT

Set the output of the current command to FORMAT. See Format Strings.

-h, --help

Print this help, then exit.

-i NAME, --ignore-player NAME

Ignore the specific player NAME. Multiple players can be specified in a comma-separated list.

-l, --list-all

List the names of running players that can be controlled.

-p NAME, --player NAME

Control the specific player NAME. Multiple players can be specified in a comma-separated list. Defaults to the first available player. The name "name" matches both "name" and "name.{INSTANCE}". Additionally, the name "%any" matches any player.

-s, --no-messages

Silence some diagnostic and error messages.

-V, --version

Print version number, then exit.

The commands are as follows:


Get the current status of the player.


Command the player to play.


Command the player to pause.


Command the player to toggle between play and pause.


Command the player to stop.

Command the player to skip to the next track.

Command the player to skip to the previous track.

position [OFFSET[+|-]]

Print the position of the current track in seconds. With OFFSET specified, seek to OFFSET seconds from the start of the current track. With the optional [+|-] appended, seek forward or backward OFFSET seconds from the current position.

volume [LEVEL[+|-]]

Print the player's volume scaled from 0.0 (0%) to 1.0 (100%). With LEVEL specified, set the player's volume to LEVEL. With the optional [+|-] appended, increase or decrease the player's volume by LEVEL.

metadata [KEY]

Print all metadata properties for the current track set by the current player. If KEY is specified only the value of KEY is printed.

open URI

Open URI in the player. URI may be the name of a file or an external URL.

shuffle [On | Off | Toggle]

Print the shuffle status of the player. With the shuffle status specified, set the shuffle status to either On , Off , or Toggle

loop [None | Track | Playlist]

Print the loop status of the player. With the loop status specified, set the loop status to None (disable looping), Track (loop the current track), or Playlist (loop the current playlist).

Format Strings

The output of the position, metadata, status and volume commands can be controlled using a format string. Variables set by these commands can be included in the format string by enclosing them in curly braces: ‘{{var}}’. These will then be expanded on output.

Each command has access to the following variables:


The name of the current player.


The time position of the current track, in microseconds.


The status of the current player.


The player's volume scaled from 0.0 (0%) to 1.0 (100%).

Each property listed in the metadata command are also set as variables. It is recommended to check this list for each player, as different players may not set the same properties. See the MPRIS v2 metadata guidelines for a list of all properties in the MPRIS specification. The most common properties are as follows:

album, xesam:album

The album of the current track.

artist, xesam:artist

The artist of the current track.

title, xesam:title

The title of the current track.

Helper functions are also available to transform expanded variables into other representations. They are called in the form ‘{{func(var)}}’. The helper functions are as follows:


Convert string str to lowercase.


Convert string str to uppercase.


Escape XML characters in string str.

default(str1, str2)

Print str1 if set, else print str2.


Reformat the microsecond timestamp time in the form ‘hh:mm:ss’. Can only be called with position or mpris:length.


Try to convert the value for key to an emoji representation. Currently implemented for status and volume.

trunc(str, len)

Truncate str to a maximum of len characters, adding an ellipsis (…) if necessary.

The template language is also able to perform basic math operations.

References to unknown functions will cause playerctl to exit with an error. References to unknown variables will be expanded to empty strings. Text not enclosed in braces will be printed verbatim.

Exit Status

The playerctl utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


Print the player name, playback status in lowercase, and position and length in human readable form:

$ playerctl metadata --format '{{playerName}}: {{lc(status)}} '\

See Also

MPRIS v2 metadata guidelines, freedesktop.org, https://freedesktop.org/wiki/Specifications/mpris-spec/metadata/, September 18, 2013.

playerctl homepage, playerctl API documentation, GObject introspection language bindings


The playerctl utility is maintained by Tony Crisci <tony@dubstepdish.com> and is made available under the GNU Lesser General Public License 3.0.

This reference was written by Nick Morrott <knowledgejunkie@gmail.com> for the Debian GNU/Linux project. It was later updated and expanded by Stephen Gregoratto <dev@sgregoratto.me>.


September 21, 2021