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NOTE: Development focus has been shifted to pywal.

pywal is a Python 3 version of wal written by me. It's faster, the code is cleaner, it actually has tests(!) and it supports more export formats. pywal can also be installed easily on any distro by using pip install pywal.

For a list of differences between pywal and wal, take a look at this wiki page: What's different in pywal?

Repo link:


MIT licensed Build Status

wal is a script that takes an image (or a directory of images), generates a colorscheme (using imagemagick) and then changes all of your open terminal's colorschemes to the new colors on the fly. wal then caches each generated colorscheme so that cycling through wallpapers while changing colorschemes is instantaneous. wal finally merges the new colorscheme into the Xresources db so that any new terminal emulators you open use the new colorscheme.

wal can also change the colors in some other programs, check out the Customization section below.

NOTE: wal is not perfect and won't work with some images.

Albums of examples (Warning large)


Table of Contents



  • bash
  • imagemagick
    • Colorscheme generation
  • xfce, gnome, cinnamon, mate
    • Desktop wallpaper setting.
  • feh, nitrogen, bgs, hsetroot, habak
    • Universal wallpaper setting.
  • xprop
    • Used to detect which DE wallpaper setter to use.
    • Only required if you're running a DE.

Terminal Emulator

To use wal your terminal emulator must support a special type of escape sequence. The command below can be used as a test to see if wal will work with your setup.

Run the command below, does the background color of your terminal become red?

printf "%b" "\033]11;#ff0000\007"

If your terminal's background color is now red, your terminal will work with wal.


Just grab the script (wal) and add it to your path.


NOTE: If you get junk in your terminal, add -t to all of the wal commands.

Applying the theme to new terminals.

wal only applies the new colors to the currently open terminals. Any new terminal windows you open won't be using the new theme unless you add a single line to your shell's start up file. (.bashrc, .zshrc etc.) The -r flags tells wal to find the current colorscheme inside the cache and then set it for the new terminal.

Add this line to your shell startup file. (.bashrc, .zshrc or etc.)

# Import colorscheme from 'wal'
(wal -r &)

Here's how the extra syntax above works:

&   # Run the process in the background.
( ) # Hide shell job control messages.

Making the colorscheme persist on reboot.

On reboot your new colorscheme won't be set or in use. To fix this you have to add a line to your .xinitrc or whatever file starts programs on your system. This wal command will set your wallpaper to the wallpaper that was set last boot and also apply the colorscheme again.

Without this you'll be themeless until you run wal again on boot.

# Add this to your .xinitrc or whatever file starts programs on startup.
wal -i "$(< "${HOME}/.cache/wal/wal")"


Run wal and point it to either a directory (wal -i "path/to/dir") or an image (wal -i "/path/to/img.jpg") and that's all. wal will change your wallpaper for you and also set your terminal colors.

Usage: wal [OPTION] -i '/path/to/dir'
Example: wal -i '${HOME}/Pictures/Wallpapers/'
         wal -i '${HOME}/Pictures/1.jpg'

  -a                      Set terminal background transparency. *Only works in URxvt*
  -c                      Delete all cached colorschemes.
  -f '/path/to/colors'    Load colors directly from a colorscheme file.
  -h                      Display this help page.
  -i '/path/to/dir'       Which image to use.
  -n                      Skip setting the wallpaper.
  -o 'script_name'        External script to run after 'wal'.
  -q                      Quiet mode, don't print anything.
  -r                      Reload current colorscheme.
  -t                      Fix artifacts in VTE Terminals. (Termite, xfce4-terminal)
  -x                      Use extended 16-color palette.


Listed below are plugins for other programs that add support for wal colors.

Hyper Terminal


I've written another script [1] for personal use only that updates my lemonbar, dunst and startpage colors with the new ones from wal when run.

What I've done is bind both wal and my custom script to the same key so that after wal has done its thing my custom script applies the colors to the rest of my environment.

# i3 config.
# ...

# Cycle wallpapers and apply new colorscheme.
bindsym $mod+w exec "wal -i $HOME/Pictures/Wallpapers -o wal-set"

Now whenever I press Win+w a random wallpaper is chosen and all of the programs on my system start using the new colors immediately.

I've also set wal and my custom script to start with X. This means that when I boot my PC a random wallpaper is chosen and colors are generated + applied to all of my programs.

# .xinitrc
wal -i "$HOME/Pictures/Wallpapers" -o wal-set
exec i3

Have a look at my script to see how wal is used and how the programs get reloaded with the new colors.


NOTE: wal stores the exported files in $HOME/.cache/wal/


To use wal with i3 you have to make some modifications to your i3 config file.

i3 can read colors from Xresources into config variables! This allows us to change i3's colors dynamically. On run wal will detect that you're running i3 and reload your config for you. If you've set it up correctly i3 will then use your new colorscheme.


# Set colors from Xresources
# Change 'color7' and 'color2' to whatever colors you want i3 to use
# from the generated scheme.
# NOTE: The '#f0f0f0' in the lines below is the color i3 will use if
# it fails to get colors from Xresources for some reason.
set_from_resource $fg i3wm.color7 #f0f0f0
set_from_resource $bg i3wm.color2 #f0f0f0

# class                 border  backgr. text indicator child_border
client.focused          $bg     $bg     $fg  $bg       $bg
client.focused_inactive $bg     $bg     $fg  $bg       $bg
client.unfocused        $bg     $bg     $fg  $bg       $bg
client.urgent           $bg     $bg     $fg  $bg       $bg
client.placeholder      $bg     $bg     $fg  $bg       $bg

client.background       $bg

# PROTIP: You can also dynamically set dmenu's colors this way:
bindsym $mod+d exec dmenu_run -nb "$fg" -nf "$bg" -sb "$bg" -sf "$fg"


wal updates rofi's colors for you out of the box, automatically.


Inside this repo there's a colorscheme I created for vim that uses your terminal colors. It was made to work with the colors wal generates and you can install it using any vim package manager.


! Using plug
Plug 'dylanaraps/wal'

colorscheme wal


Install this package, which will make Emacs use your X environment's colors instead of its default colors.


Polybar can read colors from Xresources to set the bar's colors.


fg = ${xrdb:color7}
bg = ${xrdb:color2}


There's a script called wal2iterm in contrib/wal2iterm which converts the generated colors to an importable iTerm2 colorscheme.

The themes are stored in the wal cache directory. (${HOME}/.cache/wal/itermcolors).


wal -i "IMAGE" -o "/path/to/wal2iterm/wal2iterm"

Shell Variables

wal also exports the colorscheme as a list of shell variables that you can source for use in scripts and the shell.


# Add this line to your .bashrc or a shell script.
source "$HOME/.cache/wal/"

In the shell:

# Once the file is sourced you can use the colors like this:

dylan ~ >echo "$color0"

dylan ~ >echo "$color0 $color5"
#282A23 #BCC3CE

# lemonbar example
lemonbar -B "$color7" -F "$color0"

SCSS variables

wal also exports the colorscheme as SCSS variables for use in webpages. I'm using this feature to update my startpage with the new colors dynamically.


// Example .scss file

// Import Colors
@import '/home/dylan/.cache/wal/colors.scss';

body {
    background: $color0;
    color: $color7;

Firefox variables

wal also exports the colors as Firefox CSS variables for use with Stylish or userChrome.css.

Example Firefox CSS:

/* Import the CSS file.
   NOTE: This must be at line 1 of your Firefox stylesheet. */
@import url('file:///home/dylan/.cache/wal/firefox.css')

/* Use the variables */
#nav-bar {
    background-color: var(--color3) !important;
    color: var(--color7) !important;


wal also exports the colors so they can be used with PuTTY. After running wal, a file will be created ($HOME/.cache/wal/colors.reg) that can be executed on a Windows machine to create a new PuTTY session with the generated colors. Once the file is executed, you can select Wal from the Saved Sessions list.


wal also exports the colors in a plain text format. This is helpful when you want use the plain colors in another script. See the script in contrib/wal2iterm for an example.

The file is called colors and just contains the hex values one per line in the order of 0-15.

Example colors file:


Example usage in a script:

# Create an array with the plain hex colors ordered 0-15.
c=($(< "${cache_dir}/colors"))

# Remove the leading '#' if needed.

Custom Switcher

You can also manually create your own colors files and load them directly with the wal -f option to quickly switch between your favorite colorschemes without changing the background.

# Switch to previously saved Monokai colorscheme

wal -f "$HOME/.colors/monokai"

# Switch to previously saved Solarized colorscheme
wal -f "$HOME/.colors/solarized"

You can import wal's colors into by copy-pasting the contents of the colors.xresources file located in the cache directory.


🎨 Generate and change colorschemes on the fly. Deprecated, use pywal instead. -->








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