cbreak, nocbreak, echo, noecho, halfdelay, intrflush, keypad, meta,
nodelay, notimeout, raw, noraw, noqiflush, qiflush, timeout, wtimeout,
typeahead - curses input options
int halfdelay(int tenths);
int intrflush(WINDOW *win, bool bf);
int keypad(WINDOW *win, bool bf);
int meta(WINDOW *win, bool bf);
int nodelay(WINDOW *win, bool bf);
int notimeout(WINDOW *win, bool bf);
void timeout(int delay);
void wtimeout(WINDOW *win, int delay);
int typeahead(int fd);
The ncurses library provides several functions which let an application
change the way input from the terminal is handled. Some are global,
applying to all windows. Others apply only to a specific window. Win‐
dow-specific settings are not automatically applied to new or derived
windows. An application must apply these to each window, if the same
behavior is needed.
Normally, the tty driver buffers typed characters until a newline or
carriage return is typed. The cbreak routine disables line buffering
and erase/kill character-processing (interrupt and flow control charac‐
ters are unaffected), making characters typed by the user immediately
available to the program. The nocbreak routine returns the terminal to
normal (cooked) mode.
Initially the terminal may or may not be in cbreak mode, as the mode is
inherited; therefore, a program should call cbreak or nocbreak explic‐
itly. Most interactive programs using curses set the cbreak mode.
Note that cbreak overrides raw. [See curs_getch(3X) for a discussion
of how these routines interact with echo and noecho.]
The echo and noecho routines control whether characters typed by the
user are echoed by getch(3X) as they are typed. Echoing by the tty
driver is always disabled, but initially getch is in echo mode, so
characters typed are echoed. Authors of most interactive programs pre‐
fer to do their own echoing in a controlled area of the screen, or not
to echo at all, so they disable echoing by calling noecho. [See
curs_getch(3X) for a discussion of how these routines interact with
cbreak and nocbreak.]
The halfdelay routine is used for half-delay mode, which is similar to
cbreak mode in that characters typed by the user are immediately avail‐
able to the program. However, after blocking for tenths tenths of sec‐
onds, ERR is returned if nothing has been typed. The value of tenths
must be a number between 1 and 255. Use nocbreak to leave half-delay
If the intrflush option is enabled (bf is TRUE), and an interrupt key
is pressed on the keyboard (interrupt, break, quit), all output in the
tty driver queue will be flushed, giving the effect of faster response
to the interrupt, but causing curses to have the wrong idea of what is
on the screen. Disabling the option (bf is FALSE) prevents the flush.
The default for the option is inherited from the tty driver settings.
The window argument is ignored.
The keypad option enables the keypad of the user's terminal. If en‐
abled (bf is TRUE), the user can press a function key (such as an arrow
key) and wgetch(3X) returns a single value representing the function
key, as in KEY_LEFT. If disabled (bf is FALSE), curses does not treat
function keys specially and the program has to interpret the escape se‐
quences itself. If the keypad in the terminal can be turned on (made
to transmit) and off (made to work locally), turning on this option
causes the terminal keypad to be turned on when wgetch(3X) is called.
The default value for keypad is FALSE.
Initially, whether the terminal returns 7 or 8 significant bits on in‐
put depends on the control mode of the tty driver [see termio(7)]. To
force 8 bits to be returned, invoke meta(win, TRUE); this is equiva‐
lent, under POSIX, to setting the CS8 flag on the terminal. To force 7
bits to be returned, invoke meta(win, FALSE); this is equivalent, under
POSIX, to setting the CS7 flag on the terminal. The window argument,
win, is always ignored. If the terminfo capabilities smm (meta_on) and
rmm (meta_off) are defined for the terminal, smm is sent to the termi‐
nal when meta(win, TRUE) is called and rmm is sent when meta(win,
FALSE) is called.
The nodelay option causes getch to be a non-blocking call. If no input
is ready, getch returns ERR. If disabled (bf is FALSE), getch waits
until a key is pressed.
While interpreting an input escape sequence, wgetch(3X) sets a timer
while waiting for the next character. If notimeout(win, TRUE) is
called, then wgetch does not set a timer. The purpose of the timeout
is to differentiate between sequences received from a function key and
those typed by a user.
The raw and noraw routines place the terminal into or out of raw mode.
Raw mode is similar to cbreak mode, in that characters typed are imme‐
diately passed through to the user program. The differences are that
in raw mode, the interrupt, quit, suspend, and flow control characters
are all passed through uninterpreted, instead of generating a signal.
The behavior of the BREAK key depends on other bits in the tty driver
that are not set by curses.
When the noqiflush routine is used, normal flush of input and output
queues associated with the INTR, QUIT and SUSP characters will not be
done [see termio(7)]. When qiflush is called, the queues will be
flushed when these control characters are read. You may want to call
noqiflush in a signal handler if you want output to continue as though
the interrupt had not occurred, after the handler exits.
The timeout and wtimeout routines set blocking or non-blocking read for
a given window. If delay is negative, blocking read is used (i.e.,
waits indefinitely for input). If delay is zero, then non-blocking
read is used (i.e., read returns ERR if no input is waiting). If delay
is positive, then read blocks for delay milliseconds, and returns ERR
if there is still no input. Hence, these routines provide the same
functionality as nodelay, plus the additional capability of being able
to block for only delay milliseconds (where delay is positive).
The curses library does “line-breakout optimization” by looking for ty‐
peahead periodically while updating the screen. If input is found, and
it is coming from a tty, the current update is postponed until re‐
fresh(3X) or doupdate is called again. This allows faster response to
commands typed in advance. Normally, the input FILE pointer passed to
newterm, or stdin in the case that initscr was used, will be used to do
this typeahead checking. The typeahead routine specifies that the file
descriptor fd is to be used to check for typeahead instead. If fd is
-1, then no typeahead checking is done.
All routines that return an integer return ERR upon failure and OK
(SVr4 specifies only “an integer value other than ERR”) upon successful
completion, unless otherwise noted in the preceding routine descrip‐
X/Open does not define any error conditions. In this implementation,
functions with a window parameter will return an error if it is null.
Any function will also return an error if the terminal was not initial‐
returns an error if its parameter is outside the range
These functions are described in the XSI Curses standard, Issue 4.
The ncurses library obeys the XPG4 standard and the historical practice
of the AT&T curses implementations, in that the echo bit is cleared
when curses initializes the terminal state. BSD curses differed from
this slightly; it left the echo bit on at initialization, but the BSD
raw call turned it off as a side-effect. For best portability, set
echo or noecho explicitly just after initialization, even if your pro‐
gram remains in cooked mode.
When keypad is first enabled, ncurses loads the key-definitions for the
current terminal description. If the terminal description includes ex‐
tended string capabilities, e.g., from using the -x option of tic, then
ncurses also defines keys for the capabilities whose names begin with
“k”. The corresponding keycodes are generated and (depending on previ‐
ous loads of terminal descriptions) may differ from one execution of a
program to the next. The generated keycodes are recognized by the key‐
name function (which will then return a name beginning with “k” denot‐
ing the terminfo capability name rather than “K”, used for curses key-
names). On the other hand, an application can use define_key to estab‐
lish a specific keycode for a given string. This makes it possible for
an application to check for an extended capability's presence with
tigetstr, and reassign the keycode to match its own needs.
Low-level applications can use tigetstr to obtain the definition of any
particular string capability. Higher-level applications which use the
curses wgetch and similar functions to return keycodes rely upon the
order in which the strings are loaded. If more than one key definition
has the same string value, then wgetch can return only one keycode.
Most curses implementations (including ncurses) load key definitions in
the order defined by the array of string capability names. The last
key to be loaded determines the keycode which will be returned. In
ncurses, you may also have extended capabilities interpreted as key
definitions. These are loaded after the predefined keys, and if a ca‐
pability's value is the same as a previously-loaded key definition, the
later definition is the one used.
Note that echo, noecho, halfdelay, intrflush, meta, nodelay, notimeout,
noqiflush, qiflush, timeout, and wtimeout may be macros.
The noraw and nocbreak calls follow historical practice in that they
attempt to restore to normal (“cooked”) mode from raw and cbreak modes
respectively. Mixing raw/noraw and cbreak/nocbreak calls leads to tty
driver control states that are hard to predict or understand; it is not
curses(3X), curs_getch(3X), curs_initscr(3X), curs_util(3X), de‐