tmenu: Just one step away

The next time you hear someone whine about having to use the command line, you can provide them with a long list of utilities that deftly convert lists and applications into menu format. Putting aside pdmenu — the dedicated application menu tool for the console — you still have things like slmenu, fzf, sentaku, percol and now Dario Hamidi’s tmenu

2014-09-07-6m47421-tmenu-01 2014-09-07-6m47421-tmenu-02 2014-09-07-6m47421-tmenu-03

tmenu works a lot like sentaku or percol, accepting piped-in lists and returning to the screen. Unlike fzf, tmenu does not assume you want the current list of files, so you have to provide something; just entering tmenu gives you an empty list and a rather pointless tmenu experience.

With a proper list, you have the option to filter by character string, or navigate with CTRL+N, CTRL+P and so forth. Press return, and your selection is returned to STDOUT.

So this too can function in the same way as the slmenu gimmick, without the color that percol offers, without the vertical arrangment that fzf has, and perhaps a little more space-conscious than sentaku.

tmenu takes three flags — one for the number of items in the displayed list, one to change the prompt and one to take out the status line. That’s it. Very simple.

About the only thing I don’t like about tmenu is the lack of arrow key controls for list navigation. I know that’s fairly minor, but my instinct is to jump for the arrow keys when I’m presented with a list. CTRL+N and CTRL+P make sense when I think about them, but there’s always that split second when I don’t think, and just start tapping fruitlessly at the arrow keys. Grr.

All that being said, I’m wondering if it’s not time to just hotwire tmenu — or one of its brethren — into the /usr/bin folder and run it perpetually, like a Grand Unified Menu. And so this

$(ls /usr/bin | tmenu -l $(tput lines) )

Would give you this:


Not as scary as I thought. I guess we’re all just one step away from a completely menu-driven terminal experience.😉

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