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sk - Man Page

fuzzy finder in rust

Examples (TL;DR)


sk [options]


sk is a general-purpose command-line fuzzy finder.


Search mode

-e,  --exact

Enable exact-match


Search with regular expression instead of fuzzy match


Fuzzy matching algorithm (default: skim_v2)

skim_v2 Almost always the one to choose
skim_v1 The legacy algorithm
clangd  the one used by clangd for keyword completion


To ignore case on matching or not. (default smart)

-n,  --nth=N[,..]

Comma-separated list of field index expressions for limiting search scope. See Field Index Expression for the details.


Transform the presentation of each line using field index expressions

-d,  --delimiter=STR

Field delimiter regex for --nth and --with-nth (default: AWK-style)

Search result


Reverse the order of the search result(normally used together with --no-sort)


Do not sort the search result(normally used together with --tac)

e.g. history | sk --tac --no-sort


Comma-separated list of sort criteria to apply when the scores are tied.

score   Score of the fuzzy match algorithm
index   Prefers line that appeared earlier in the input stream
begin   Prefers line with matched substring closer to the beginning
end     Prefers line with matched substring closer to the end
length  Prefers line with shorter length

- Each criterion could be negated, e.g. (-index)
- Each criterion should appear only once in the list


-i,  --interactive

Start the finder in the command query

-c,  --cmd [cmd]

Specify the command to invoke for fetching options

-I replstr

Replace replstr with the selected item

-m,  --multi

Enable multi-select with tab/shift-tab


Disable multi-select


Comma-separated list of custom key bindings. See Key Bindings for the details.


Disable horizontal scroll


Display sk window below the cursor with the given height instead of using the full screen.


Minimum height when --height is given in percent (default: 10). Ignored when --height is not specified.


Choose the layout (default: default)

default       Display from the bottom of the screen
reverse       Display from the top of the screen
reverse-list  Display from the top of the screen, prompt at the bottom


A synonym for --layout=reverse


Comma-separated expression for margins around the finder.

TRBL     Same margin for top, right, bottom, and left
TB,RL    Vertical, horizontal margin
T,RL,B   Top, horizontal, bottom margin
T,R,B,L  Top, right, bottom, left margin

Each part can be given in absolute number or in percentage relative to the terminal size with % suffix.

e.g. sk --margin 10%
    sk --margin 1,5%


Display finder info inline with the query

-p --prompt=STR

Input prompt (default: '> ')


Command prompt (default: 'c> ')


The given string will be printed as the sticky header. The lines are displayed in the given order from top to bottom regardless of --layout option, and are not affected by --with-nth. ANSI color codes are processed even when --ansi is not set.


The first N lines of the input are treated as the sticky header. When --with-nth is set, the lines are transformed just like the other lines that follow.


Keep the right end of the line visible when it's too long. Effective only when the query string is empty.


Line will start with the start of the matched pattern. Effective only when the query string is empty. Was designed to skip showing starts of paths of rg/grep results.

e.g. sk -i -c "rg {} --color=always" --skip-to-pattern '[^/]*:' --ansi


Do not clear previous items if new command returns empty result. This might be useful to reduce flickering when typing new commands and the half-complete commands are not valid.

This is not default however because similar usecases for grep and rg had already been optimized where empty result of a query do mean "empty" and previous results should be cleared.


If the command fails, send the error messages and show them as items. This option was intended to help debugging interactive commands. It's not enabled by default because the command often fails before we complete the "cmd-query" and error messages would be annoying.



Enable processing of ANSI color codes


Number of spaces for a tab character (default: 8)


Color configuration. The name of the base color scheme is followed by custom color mappings. Ansi color code of -1 denotes terminal default foreground/background color. You can also specify 24-bit color in #rrggbb format.

e.g. sk --color=bg+:24
    sk --color=light,fg:232,bg:255,bg+:116,info:27

   (default: dark on 256-color terminal, otherwise 16)

   dark    Color scheme for dark 256-color terminal
   light   Color scheme for light 256-color terminal
   16      Color scheme for 16-color terminal
   bw      No colors

   fg                Text
   bg                Background
   matched|hl        Text of highlighted substrings
   matched_bg        Background of highlighted substrings
   current|fg+       Text (current line)
   current_bg|bg+    Background (current line)
   current_match|hl+ Text of Highlighted substrings (current line)
   current_match_bg  Background of highlighted substrings (current line)
   query             Text of Query (the texts after the prompt)
   query_bg          Background of Query
   info              Info
   border            Border of the preview window and horizontal separators (--border)
   prompt            Prompt
   pointer|cursor    Pointer to the current line (no effect now)
   marker|selected   Multi-select marker
   spinner           Streaming input indicator
   header            Header



Load search history from the specified file and update the file on completion. When enabled, CTRL-N and CTRL-P are automatically remapped to next-history and previous-history.


Maximum number of entries in the history file (default: 1000). The file is automatically truncated when the number of the lines exceeds the value.


Load command query history from the specified file and update the file on completion.  When enabled, CTRL-N and CTRL-P are automatically remapped to next-history and previous-history.


Maximum number of command query entries in the history file (default: 1000). The file is automatically truncated when the number of the lines exceeds the value.



Execute the given command for the current line and display the result on the preview window. {} in the command is the placeholder that is replaced to the single-quoted string of the current line. To transform the replacement string, specify field index expressions between the braces (See Field Index Expression for the details).

e.g. sk --preview='head -$LINES {}'
    ls -l | sk --preview="echo user={3} when={-4..-2}; cat {-1}" --header-lines=1

sk overrides $LINES and $COLUMNS so that they represent the exact size of the preview window.

A placeholder expression starting with + flag will be replaced to the space-separated list of the selected lines (or the current line if no selection was made) individually quoted.

    sk --multi --preview='head -10 {+}'
    git log --oneline | sk --multi --preview 'git show {+1}'

Note that you can escape a placeholder pattern by prepending a backslash.

Also, {q} is replaced to the current query string. {cq} is replaced to the current command query string. {n} is replaced to zero-based ordinal index of the line. Use {+n} if you want all index numbers when multiple lines are selected

Preview window will be updated even when there is no match for the current query if any of the placeholder expressions evaluates to a non-empty string.


POSITION: (default: right)

Determine the layout of the preview window. If the argument ends with :hidden, the preview window will be hidden by default until toggle-preview action is triggered. Long lines are truncated by default. Line wrap can be enabled with :wrap flag.

If size is given as 0, preview window will not be visible, but sk will still execute the command in the background.

+SCROLL[-OFFSET] determines the initial scroll offset of the preview window. SCROLL can be either a numeric integer or a single-field index expression that refers to a numeric integer. The optional -OFFSET part is for adjusting the base offset so that you can see the text above it. It should be given as a numeric integer (-INTEGER), or as a denominator form (-/INTEGER) for specifying a fraction of the preview window height.

    # Non-default scroll window positions and sizes
    sk --preview="head {}" --preview-window=up:30%
    sk --preview="file {}" --preview-window=down:2

    # Initial scroll offset is set to the line number of each line of
    # git grep output *minus* 5 lines (-5)
    git grep --line-number '' |
      sk --delimiter : --preview 'nl {1}' --preview-window +{2}-5

    # Preview with bat, matching line in the middle of the window (-/2)
    git grep --line-number '' |
      sk --delimiter : \
          --preview 'bat --style=numbers --color=always --highlight-line {2} {1}' \
          --preview-window +{2}-/2


-q,  --query=STR

Start the finder with the given query


Specify the initial query for the command query


Print query as the first line

-f,  --filter=STR

Filter mode. Do not start interactive finder. It's like a fuzzy-version of grep. skim will output the score and the item to stdout.


Comma-separated list of keys that can be used to complete sk in addition to the default enter key. When this option is set, sk will print the name of the key pressed as the first line of its output (or as the second line if --print-query is also used). The line will be empty if sk is completed with the default enter key. If --expect option is specified multiple times, sk will expect the union of the keys. --no-expect will clear the list.

e.g. sk --expect=ctrl-v,ctrl-t,alt-s --expect=f1,f2,~,@


Read input delimited by ASCII NUL characters instead of newline characters


Print output delimited by ASCII NUL characters instead of newline characters


Do not clear finder interface on exit. If skim was started in full screen mode, it will not switch back to the original screen, so you'll have to manually run tput rmcup to return. This option can be used to avoid flickering of the screen when your application needs to start skim multiple times in order.

-1,  --select-1

Automatically select the only match

-0,  --exit-0

Exit immediately when there's no match


Synchronous search for multi-staged filtering. If specified, skim will launch ncurses finder only after the input stream is complete.

e.g. sk --multi | sk --sync


Pre-select the first NUM items in the multi-selection mode.


Pre-select the items that matches the REGEX specified in multi-selection mode. Check the doc for the detailed syntax: https://docs.rs/regex/1.4.1/regex/


Pre-select the specified items (separated by newline character) in multi-selection mode.


Pre-select the items read from FILENAME (separated by newline character) in multi-selection mode.


Display version information and exit

Environment Variables


Default command to use when input is tty. On *nix systems, sk runs the command with sh -c, so make sure that it's POSIX-compliant.


Default options. e.g. export SKIM_DEFAULT_OPTIONS="--multi

Exit Status

0      Normal exit
1      No match
2      Error
130    Interrupted with CTRL-C or ESC

Field Index Expression

A field index expression can be a non-zero integer or a range expression ([BEGIN]..[END]). --nth and --with-nth take a comma-separated list of field index expressions.


1      The 1st field
2      The 2nd field
-1     The last field
-2     The 2nd to last field
3..5   From the 3rd field to the 5th field
2..    From the 2nd field to the last field
..-3   From the 1st field to the 3rd to the last field
..     All the fields

Extended Search Mode

Unless specified otherwise, sk will start in "extended-search mode". In this mode, you can specify multiple patterns delimited by spaces, such as: 'wild ^music .mp3$ sbtrkt !rmx

You can prepend a backslash to a space (\ ) to match a literal space character.

Exact-match (quoted)

A term that is prefixed by a single-quote character (') is interpreted as an "exact-match" (or "non-fuzzy") term. sk will search for the exact occurrences of the string.


A term can be prefixed by ^, or suffixed by $ to become an anchored-match term. Then sk will search for the lines that start with or end with the given string. An anchored-match term is also an exact-match term.


If a term is prefixed by !, sk will exclude the lines that satisfy the term from the result. In this case, sk performs exact match by default.

Exact-match by default

If you don't prefer fuzzy matching and do not wish to "quote" (prefixing with ') every word, start sk with -e or --exact option. Note that when --exact is set, '-prefix "unquotes" the term.

OR operator

A single bar character term acts as an OR operator. For example, the following query matches entries that start with core and end with either go, rb, or py.

e.g. ^core go$ | rb$ | py$

Key Bindings

You can customize key bindings of sk with --bind option which takes a comma-separated list of key binding expressions. Each key binding expression follows the following format: KEY:ACTION

e.g. sk --bind=ctrl-j:accept,ctrl-k:kill-line

   enter       (ctrl-m)
   bspace      (bs)
   alt-enter   (alt-ctrl-m)
   alt-bspace  (alt-bs)
   btab        (shift-tab)
   pgup        (page-up)
   pgdn        (page-down)
   or any single character

   abort                 ctrl-c  ctrl-q  esc
   accept                enter
   backward-char         ctrl-b  left
   backward-delete-char  ctrl-h  bspace
   backward-kill-word    alt-bs
   backward-word         alt-b   shift-left
   beginning-of-line     ctrl-a  home
   clear-screen          ctrl-l
   delete-char           del
   delete-charEOF        ctrl-d
   down                  ctrl-j  ctrl-n  down
   end-of-line           ctrl-e  end
   execute(...)          (see below for the details)
   execute-silent(...)   (see below for the details)
   forward-char          ctrl-f  right
   forward-word          alt-f   shift-right
   kill-word             alt-d
   next-history          (ctrl-n on --history or --cmd-history)
   page-down             pgdn
   page-up               pgup
   preview-up            shift-up
   preview-down          shift-down
   previous-history      (ctrl-p on --history or --cmd-history)
   toggle+down           ctrl-i  (tab)
   toggle-in             (--layout=reverse* ? toggle+up : toggle+down)
   toggle-out            (--layout=reverse* ? toggle+down : toggle+up)
   toggle+up             btab    (shift-tab)
   unix-line-discard     ctrl-u
   unix-word-rubout      ctrl-w
   up                    ctrl-k  ctrl-p  up
   yank                  ctrl-y

Multiple actions can be chained using + separator.

   sk --bind 'ctrl-a:select-all+accept'

With execute(...) action, you can execute arbitrary commands without leaving sk. For example, you can turn sk into a simple file browser by binding enter key to less command like follows.

   sk --bind "enter:execute(less {})"

You can use the same placeholder expressions as in --preview.

If the command contains parentheses, sk may fail to parse the expression. In that case, you can use any of the following alternative notations to avoid parse errors.


This is the special form that frees you from parse errors as it does not expect the closing character. The catch is that it should be the last one in the comma-separated list of key-action pairs.

sk switches to the alternate screen when executing a command. However, if the command is expected to complete quickly, and you are not interested in its output, you might want to use execute-silent instead, which silently executes the command without the switching. Note that sk will not be responsive until the command is complete. For asynchronous execution, start your command as a background process (i.e. appending &).

With if-query-empty and if-query-not-empty action, you could specify the action to execute depends on the query condition. For example

   sk --bind 'ctrl-d:if-query-empty(abort)+delete-char'

If the query is empty, skim will execute abort action, otherwise execute delete-char action. It is equal to `delete-char/eof`.


Jinzhou Zhang (lotabout@gmail.com)

See Also

Project homepage:

Extra Vim plugin:




Oct 2018 sk 0.17.5 sk - a command-line fuzzy finder