Readline Init File Syntax

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Readline Init File Syntax

There are only a few basic constructs allowed in the Readline init
file.  Blank lines are ignored.  Lines beginning with a `#' are
comments.  Lines beginning with a `$' indicate conditional constructs
(*note Conditional Init Constructs::).  Other lines denote variable
settings and key bindings.
Variable Settings
     You can modify the run-time behavior of Readline by altering the
     values of variables in Readline using the `set' command within the
     init file.  The syntax is simple:
          set VARIABLE VALUE
     Here, for example, is how to change from the default Emacs-like
     key binding to use `vi' line editing commands:
          set editing-mode vi
     Variable names and values, where appropriate, are recognized
     without regard to case.
     A great deal of run-time behavior is changeable with the following
          Controls what happens when Readline wants to ring the
          terminal bell.  If set to `none', Readline never rings the
          bell.  If set to `visible', Readline uses a visible bell if
          one is available.  If set to `audible' (the default),
          Readline attempts to ring the terminal's bell.
          The string to insert at the beginning of the line when the
          `insert-comment' command is executed.  The default value is
          If set to `on', Readline performs filename matching and
          completion in a case-insensitive fashion.  The default value
          is `off'.
          The number of possible completions that determines when the
          user is asked whether he wants to see the list of
          possibilities.  If the number of possible completions is
          greater than this value, Readline will ask the user whether
          or not he wishes to view them; otherwise, they are simply
          listed.  This variable must be set to an integer value
          greater than or equal to 0.  The default limit is `100'.
          If set to `on', Readline will convert characters with the
          eighth bit set to an ASCII key sequence by stripping the
          eighth bit and prefixing an <ESC> character, converting them
          to a meta-prefixed key sequence.  The default value is `on'.
          If set to `On', Readline will inhibit word completion.
          Completion  characters will be inserted into the line as if
          they had been mapped to `self-insert'.  The default is `off'.
          The `editing-mode' variable controls which default set of key
          bindings is used.  By default, Readline starts up in Emacs
          editing mode, where the keystrokes are most similar to Emacs.
          This variable can be set to either `emacs' or `vi'.
          When set to `on', Readline will try to enable the application
          keypad when it is called.  Some systems need this to enable
          the arrow keys.  The default is `off'.
          If set to `on', tilde expansion is performed when Readline
          attempts word completion.  The default is `off'.
          If set to `on', the history code attempts to place point at
          the same location on each history line retrived with
          `previous-history' or `next-history'.
          This variable can be set to either `on' or `off'.  Setting it
          to `on' means that the text of the lines being edited will
          scroll horizontally on a single screen line when they are
          longer than the width of the screen, instead of wrapping onto
          a new screen line.  By default, this variable is set to `off'.
          If set to `on', Readline will enable eight-bit input (it will
          not clear the eighth bit in the characters it reads),
          regardless of what the terminal claims it can support.  The
          default value is `off'.  The name `meta-flag' is a synonym
          for this variable.
          The string of characters that should terminate an incremental
          search without subsequently executing the character as a
          command (*note Searching::).  If this variable has not been
          given a value, the characters <ESC> and `C-J' will terminate
          an incremental search.
          Sets Readline's idea of the current keymap for key binding
          commands.  Acceptable `keymap' names are `emacs',
          `emacs-standard', `emacs-meta', `emacs-ctlx', `vi', `vi-move',
          `vi-command', and `vi-insert'.  `vi' is equivalent to
          `vi-command'; `emacs' is equivalent to `emacs-standard'.  The
          default value is `emacs'.  The value of the `editing-mode'
          variable also affects the default keymap.
          If set to `on', completed directory names have a slash
          appended.  The default is `on'.
          This variable, when set to `on', causes Readline to display an
          asterisk (`*') at the start of history lines which have been
          modified.  This variable is `off' by default.
          If set to `on', completed names which are symbolic links to
          directories have a slash appended (subject to the value of
          `mark-directories').  The default is `off'.
          This variable, when set to `on', causes Readline to match
          files whose names begin with a `.' (hidden files) when
          performing filename completion, unless the leading `.' is
          supplied by the user in the filename to be completed.  This
          variable is `on' by default.
          If set to `on', Readline will display characters with the
          eighth bit set directly rather than as a meta-prefixed escape
          sequence.  The default is `off'.
          If set to `on', Readline uses an internal `more'-like pager
          to display a screenful of possible completions at a time.
          This variable is `on' by default.
          If set to `on', Readline will display completions with matches
          sorted horizontally in alphabetical order, rather than down
          the screen.  The default is `off'.
          This alters the default behavior of the completion functions.
          If set to `on', words which have more than one possible
          completion cause the matches to be listed immediately instead
          of ringing the bell.  The default value is `off'.
          If set to `on', a character denoting a file's type is
          appended to the filename when listing possible completions.
          The default is `off'.
Key Bindings
     The syntax for controlling key bindings in the init file is
     simple.  First you need to find the name of the command that you
     want to change.  The following sections contain tables of the
     command name, the default keybinding, if any, and a short
     description of what the command does.
     Once you know the name of the command, simply place on a line in
     the init file the name of the key you wish to bind the command to,
     a colon, and then the name of the command.  The name of the key
     can be expressed in different ways, depending on what you find most
     In addition to command names, readline allows keys to be bound to
     a string that is inserted when the key is pressed (a MACRO).
          KEYNAME is the name of a key spelled out in English.  For
               Control-u: universal-argument
               Meta-Rubout: backward-kill-word
               Control-o: "> output"
          In the above example, `C-u' is bound to the function
          `universal-argument', `M-DEL' is bound to the function
          `backward-kill-word', and `C-o' is bound to run the macro
          expressed on the right hand side (that is, to insert the text
          `> output' into the line).
          A number of symbolic character names are recognized while
          processing this key binding syntax: DEL, ESC, ESCAPE, LFD,
          KEYSEQ differs from KEYNAME above in that strings denoting an
          entire key sequence can be specified, by placing the key
          sequence in double quotes.  Some GNU Emacs style key escapes
          can be used, as in the following example, but the special
          character names are not recognized.
               "\C-u": universal-argument
               "\C-x\C-r": re-read-init-file
               "\e[11~": "Function Key 1"
          In the above example, `C-u' is again bound to the function
          `universal-argument' (just as it was in the first example),
          `C-x C-r' is bound to the function `re-read-init-file', and
          `<ESC> <[> <1> <1> <~>' is bound to insert the text `Function
          Key 1'.
     The following GNU Emacs style escape sequences are available when
     specifying key sequences:
          control prefix

meta prefix

          an escape character


          <">, a double quotation mark
          <'>, a single quote or apostrophe
     In addition to the GNU Emacs style escape sequences, a second set
     of backslash escapes is available:

alert (bell)



form feed


          carriage return
          horizontal tab

vertical tab

          the eight-bit character whose value is the octal value NNN
          (one to three digits)
          the eight-bit character whose value is the hexadecimal value
          HH (one or two hex digits)
     When entering the text of a macro, single or double quotes must be
     used to indicate a macro definition.  Unquoted text is assumed to
     be a function name.  In the macro body, the backslash escapes
     described above are expanded.  Backslash will quote any other
     character in the macro text, including `"' and `''.  For example,
     the following binding will make `C-x \' insert a single `\' into
     the line:
          "\C-x\\": "\\"