Transforms the monocle layout into a ‘'tabbed’‘ layout if more than one window is present on the monocle view. Navigating from window to window is done by clicking on the window tabs or using the usual Mod1-j, Mod1-k keys. The tabs are arranged in a bar on top or at bottom of the screen, which can also be displayed in the other layouts than monocle. Three display modes can be selected at run time, auto display, permanent display and no display. In permanent mode the tab bar is always display independently of the layout, while in the auto mode it is displayed only with the monocle layout and in presence of several windows.

Tab in action. Monocle view with the tab extension.

This patch can be used as an alternative to the tabbed tool. It differs in two ways: the ‘'tab’‘ feature is limited to the monocle mode; it works with any application without requiring to support the XEmbed protocol nor to define in advance the set of applications to be supported.


With the default configuration, use the key combination Mod1-w to toggle the tab bar display. Switch focus to a window with a mouse left-click on its tab or by using the usual Mod1-j, Mod1-k commands. Usage is also documented in the dwm man page once the patch is applied.

The selected view (‘'tag’‘) is reminded at the right corner of the tab bar. This feature is mainly meant to be used when the standard status bar is disabled. In case of a multi-tag view three dots are displayed without additional details.

Configuration and Installation

Quick installation

Using the default configuration file

The bar is displayed only with monocle layout when the view contains more than one window. The section “More Options” explains how to add more display options.

Using an existing customised configuration file

       /*   Display modes of the tab bar: never shown, always shown, shown only in  */
       /*   monocle mode in presence of several windows.                            */
       /*   A mode can be disabled by moving it after the showtab_nmodes end marker */
       enum showtab_modes { showtab_never, showtab_auto, showtab_nmodes, showtab_always};
       static const int showtab            = showtab_auto; /* Default tab bar show mode  */
       static const Bool toptab            = True;         /* False means bottom tab bar */

If you use the combined pertag+tab patch, include also (adapt the number of ‘0’ to your tags array configuration):

       /* default layout per tags */
       /* The first element is for all-tag view, following i-th element corresponds to */
       /* tags[i]. Layout is referred using the layouts array index.*/
       static int def_layouts[1 + LENGTH(tags)]  = { 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0};

The tab bar is displayed only with the monocle layout when the view contains more than one window. The Mod1-w key and the mouse support are not included in this configuration. Activation of these options is explained in the next section.

More Options

Pressing the key Mod1-w will cycle over the display modes of the tab bar described below with the following element added to the keys array:

{ MODKEY, XK_w, tabmode, {-1} }

Selection of a window by a mouse left-click on its tab is enabled by adding the following element to the buttons array:

{ ClkTabBar, 0, Button1, focuswin, {0} },

An example on how to insert these lines can be found in the default config file template, config.def.h.

The tab bar includes three display options: always, never, auto. In auto mode, the tab bar is displayed only with the monocle layout and when the view contains more than one window. The modes available at run time can be selected by changing the order of the elements in the showtab_mode enum of the config.h configuration file: the modes before showtab_nmodes are enabled, the ones after are disabled. The default mode is specified in the showtab variable, it must be one of the enabled modes.

Note: keyboard shortcuts to switch to a given display mode can be defined by using the tabmode function like in the definition of the Mod1-w key provided above and passing as argument the display mode (showtab_never, showtab_always, showtab_auto) instead of -1.

The tab bar can be displayed on top or at bottom of the screen, which is controlled by the ‘toptab’ variable. If the tab bar is displayed at bottom, then it is recommended to set the variable resizehints of the config.h file to False. This setting prevents possible gap between the windows and the tab bar. You can find more details about this variable and gap between windows in the dwm FAQ.


Please contact the author if the patch provided for the git master branch does not work with the current head.

Old versions

Change log

Fixed in the pertag-tab patch the support for per-tag default layout specification. No change in the tab only patch.
Typo corrected in the man page. For the combined pertag-tab patch, specification of a default layout per-tag layout was added in the config.h configuration file, but it was not taken into account properly. The version v2b fixed this issue.
First public version.