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A Python package which creates simple interactive menus on the command line.

Project description

Simple Terminal Menu


simple-term-menu creates simple menus for interactive command line programs. It can be used to offer a choice of different options to the user. Menu entries can be selected with the arrow or j/k keys. The module uses the terminfo database to detect terminal features automatically and disables styles that are not available. Currently, Linux and macOS are supported.


simple-term-menu is available on PyPI for Python 3.5+ and can be installed with pip:

python3 -m pip install simple-term-menu

If you use Arch Linux or one of its derivatives, you can also install simple-term-menu from the AUR:

yay -S python-simple-term-menu

You also find self-contained executables for 64-bit Linux distributions and macOS High Sierra and newer on the releases page. They are created with PyInstaller and only require glibc >= 2.17 on Linux (should be fine on any recent Linux system).


Create a menu with the default style

Create an instance of the class TerminalMenu and pass the menu entries as a list of strings to the constructor. Call the show method to output the menu and wait for keyboard input:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu

def main():
    terminal_menu = TerminalMenu(["entry 1", "entry 2", "entry 3"])
    menu_entry_index =

if __name__ == "__main__":

You will get an output like:


You can now select a menu entry with the arrow keys or j/k (vim motions) and accept your choice by hitting enter or cancel the menu with escape, q or <Ctrl>-C. show returns the selected menu entry index or None if the menu was canceled.

You can pass an optional title to the TerminalMenu constructor which will be placed above the menu. title can be a simple string, a multiline string (with \n newlines) or a list of strings.


You can pass styling arguments to the TerminalMenu constructor. Each style is a tuple of keyword strings. Currently the following keywords are accepted:

  • bg_black
  • bg_blue
  • bg_cyan
  • bg_gray
  • bg_green
  • bg_purple
  • bg_red
  • bg_yellow
  • fg_black
  • fg_blue
  • fg_cyan
  • fg_gray
  • fg_green
  • fg_purple
  • fg_red
  • fg_yellow
  • bold
  • italics
  • standout
  • underline

You can alter the following styles:

  • menu_cursor_style: The style of the shown cursor. The default style is ("fg_red", "bold").

  • menu_highlight_style: The style of the selected menu entry. The default style is ("standout",).

  • search_highlight_style: The style of matched search strings. The default style is ("fg_black", "bg_yellow", "bold").

  • shortcut_key_highlight_style: The style of shortcut keys. The default style is ("fg_blue",).

  • shortcut_parentheses_highlight_style: The style of parentheses enclosing shortcut keys. The default style is ("fg_gray",).

By setting menu_cursor you can define another cursor or disable it (None). The default cursor is "> ".


simple_term_menu has a built-in search feature to filter shown menu entries. The default key to activate search mode is / (like in Vim, less and other terminal programs). If you prefer another search key, pass a search_key parameter to the TerminalMenu constructor. None can be passed to activate the search on every letter key. Obviously, j and k cannot be used for cursor motions in that mode. Use <Ctrl-j> and <Ctrl-k> instead.

The search mode supports Python regex syntax. Visit the Python re documentation for more details.

String parts of the menu entries which match the given search pattern are highlighted. Use the search_highlight_style parameter to adjust the highlight style to your liking.

By default, the search is case insensitive. Set search_case_sensitive to True if you prefer a case sensitive search line.

Pass show_search_hint=True to the TerminalMenu constructor to activate a search hint in the search line (like (Press "/" to search)).


You can define shortcuts for selected menu entries by prepending a single character enclosed in square brackets (like [a]). Pass shortcut_key_highlight_style and/or shortcut_parentheses_highlight_style to the TerminalMenu constructor to change the default highlight style of the shortcuts.

By default, the show method returns when a shortcut key is pressed. If you only want the selection to jump the shortcut target, pass exit_on_shortcut=False to the TerminalMenu constructor.

If you configured the search to be activated on every letter key, the shortcut feature will be disabled.

Pass show_shortcut_hints=True to the TerminalMenu constructor to display shortcut hints in the menu title (useful for very long menus which need scrolling).

Shortcuts example

Create a menu of some fruits and use the first letter as shortcut key:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import os
from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu

def main():
    fruits = ["[a] apple", "[b] banana", "[o] orange"]
    terminal_menu = TerminalMenu(fruits, title="Fruits")
    menu_entry_index =

if __name__ == "__main__":


Custom accept keys

The default key to accept a menu item is enter. Pass the accept_keys parameter with a tuple of keys (as strings) to the TerminalMenu constructor to use a different set of accept keys. Custom accept keys can be plain ascii letters or ascii letters with a modifier key (prepend ctrl- or alt- to an ascii letter). Use the chosen_accept_key property of the TerminalMenu instance to query which accept key was pressed by the user.

Be aware that not all combinations of modifier and ascii keys will work depending on your terminal emulator and graphical user interface. In addition, some combinations generate other existing keys (e.g. ctrl-m is enter / carriage return).

Custom accept keys example

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import os
from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu

def main():
    terminal_menu = TerminalMenu(["entry 1", "entry 2", "entry 3"], accept_keys=("enter", "alt-d", "ctrl-i"))
    menu_entry_index =

if __name__ == "__main__":

Preview window

simple-term-menu can show a preview for each menu entry. Pass a preview_command to the TerminalMenu constructor to activate this optional feature. preview_command either takes a command string which will be executed as a subprocess or a Python callable which converts a given menu entry string into the preview output. If a command string is given, the pattern {} is replaced with the current menu entry string. If a menu entry has an additional data component (separated by |), it is passed instead to the preview command. \| can be used for a literal |. If you simply append a | (without a data component), the preview window will be disabled for this entry.

The additional keyword argument preview_size can be used to control the height of the preview window. It is given as fraction of the complete terminal height (default: 0.25). The width cannot be set, it is always the complete width of the terminal window.

Preview commands are allowed to generate ANSI escape color codes.

Preview examples

  • Create a menu for all files in the current directory and preview their contents with the bat command:

    #!/usr/bin/env python3
    import os
    from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu
    def list_files(directory="."):
        return (file for file in os.listdir(directory) if os.path.isfile(os.path.join(directory, file)))
    def main():
        terminal_menu = TerminalMenu(list_files(), preview_command="bat --color=always {}", preview_size=0.75)
        menu_entry_index =
    if __name__ == "__main__":


  • Another file preview example using the Pygments api:

    #!/usr/bin/env python3
    import os
    from pygments import formatters, highlight, lexers
    from pygments.util import ClassNotFound
    from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu
    def highlight_file(filepath):
        with open(filepath, "r") as f:
            file_content =
            lexer = lexers.get_lexer_for_filename(filepath, stripnl=False, stripall=False)
        except ClassNotFound:
            lexer = lexers.get_lexer_by_name("text", stripnl=False, stripall=False)
        formatter = formatters.TerminalFormatter(bg="dark")  # dark or light
        highlighted_file_content = highlight(file_content, lexer, formatter)
        return highlighted_file_content
    def list_files(directory="."):
        return (file for file in os.listdir(directory) if os.path.isfile(os.path.join(directory, file)))
    def main():
        terminal_menu = TerminalMenu(list_files(), preview_command=highlight_file, preview_size=0.75)
        menu_entry_index =
    if __name__ == "__main__":


  • Preview the active pane of each running tmux session (the session ids are appended to the menu entries with the | separator):

    #!/usr/bin/env python3
    import subprocess
    from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu
    def list_tmux_sessions():
        tmux_command_output = subprocess.check_output(
            ["tmux", "list-sessions", "-F#{session_id}:#{session_name}"], universal_newlines=True
        tmux_sessions = []
        for line in tmux_command_output.split("\n"):
            line = line.strip()
            if not line:
            session_id, session_name = tuple(line.split(":"))
            tmux_sessions.append((session_name, session_id))
        return tmux_sessions
    def main():
        terminal_menu = TerminalMenu(
            ("|".join(session) for session in list_tmux_sessions()),
            preview_command="tmux capture-pane -e -p -t {}",
        menu_entry_index =
    if __name__ == "__main__":


Additional settings

Furthermore, the TerminalMenu constructor takes these additional parameters to change the menu behavior:

  • cycle_cursor: A bool value which indicates if the menu cursor cycles when the end of the menu is reached. Defaults to True.
  • clear_screen: A bool value which indicates if the screen will be cleared before the menu is shown. Defaults to False.

Command line program

simple-term-menu can be used as a terminal program in shell scripts. The exit code of the script is the 1-based index of the selected menu entry. The exit code 0 reports the cancel action. The following command line arguments are supported:

usage: simple-term-menu [-h] [-t TITLE] [-c CURSOR] [-s CURSOR_STYLE]
                        [-m HIGHLIGHT_STYLE] [-n SEARCH_HIGHLIGHT_STYLE]
                        [-o SHORTCUT_KEY_HIGHLIGHT_STYLE]
                        [-q SHORTCUT_PARENTHESES_HIGHLIGHT_STYLE] [-C] [-l]
                        [-p PREVIEW_COMMAND] [--preview-size PREVIEW_SIZE]
                        [-k SEARCH_KEY] [-a] [-E] [-u] [-v] [-V]
                        [entries [entries ...]]

simple-term-menu creates simple interactive menus in the terminal and returns the selected entry as exit code.

positional arguments:
  entries               the menu entries to show

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -t TITLE, --title TITLE
                        menu title
  -c CURSOR, --cursor CURSOR
                        menu cursor (default: > )
  -s CURSOR_STYLE, --cursor_style CURSOR_STYLE
                        style for the menu cursor as comma separated list
                        (default: fg_red,bold)
                        style for the selected menu entry as comma separated
                        list (default: standout)
                        style of matched search patterns (default:
                        style of shortcut keys (default: fg_blue)
                        style of parentheses enclosing shortcut keys (default:
  -C, --no-cycle        do not cycle the menu selection
  -l, --clear-screen    clear the screen before the menu is shown
                        Command to generate a preview for the selected menu
                        entry. "{}" can be used as placeholder for the menu
                        text. If the menu entry has a data component
                        (separated by "|"), this is used instead.
  --preview-size PREVIEW_SIZE
                        maximum height of the preview window in fractions of
                        the terminal height (default: 0.25)
  -k SEARCH_KEY, --search_key SEARCH_KEY
                        key to start a search (default: "/", "none" is treated
                        a special value which activates the search on any
                        letter key)
  -a, --case_sensitive  searches are case sensitive
  -E, --no-exit-on-shortcut
                        do not exit on shortcut keys
  -u, --show-search_hint
                        show a search hint in the search line
  -v, --show-shortcut_hints
                        show shortcut hints in the menu title
  -V, --version         print the version number and exit

Example with preview option

Instead of using the Python api as in the previous examples, a file menu with bat preview can also be created from the command line:

simple-term-menu -p "bat --color=always {}" \
                 --preview-size 0.75 \
                 $(find . -maxdepth 1  -type f | awk '{ print substr($0, 3) }')

More advanced example

A more advanced example with sub menus (thanks to pageauc):

#!/usr/bin/env python3
Demonstration example for GitHub Project at

This code only works in python3. Install per

    sudo pip3 install simple-term-menu

import time
from simple_term_menu import TerminalMenu

def main():
    main_menu_title = "  Main Menu\n"
    main_menu_items = ["Edit Menu", "Second Item", "Third Item", "Quit"]
    main_menu_cursor = "> "
    main_menu_cursor_style = ("fg_red", "bold")
    main_menu_style = ("bg_red", "fg_yellow")
    main_menu_exit = False

    main_menu = TerminalMenu(menu_entries=main_menu_items,

    edit_menu_title = "  Edit Menu\n"
    edit_menu_items = ["Edit Config", "Save Settings", "Back to Main Menu"]
    edit_menu_back = False
    edit_menu = TerminalMenu(edit_menu_items,

    while not main_menu_exit:
        main_sel =

        if main_sel == 0:
            while not edit_menu_back:
                edit_sel =
                if edit_sel == 0:
                    print("Edit Config Selected")
                elif edit_sel == 1:
                    print("Save Selected")
                elif edit_sel == 2:
                    edit_menu_back = True
                    print("Back Selected")
            edit_menu_back = False
        elif main_sel == 1:
            print("option 2 selected")
        elif main_sel == 2:
            print("option 3 selected")
        elif main_sel == 3:
            main_menu_exit = True
            print("Quit Selected")

if __name__ == "__main__":

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