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A simple tool which print the current working directory of the currently focused window
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xcwd - X current working directory

xcwd is a simple tool which print the current working directory of the currently focused window.

The main goal is to launch applications directly into the same directory as the focused applications. This is especially useful if you want to open a new terminal for debugging or compiling purpose.


This script can't retrieve the working directory of a "single instance application" nor terminal multiplexer, e.g. :

  • tmux, screen
  • lilyterm
  • konsole
  • urxvtc with urxvtd
  • applications with tabs

The application works well with the following terminals :

  • urxvt
  • xterm
  • gnome terminal
  • terminology

How it works

  • Retrieve the focused window
  • Read its attributes to get the PID. If _NET_WM_PID is set, xcwd just read the value. Otherwise it reads the _NET_WM_CLASS and compares it to the name of all the running processes
  • Search for the deepest child of the selected PID (to avoid getting the working directory of the terminal instead of the shell)
  • Print the current working directory

If one of those steps fail, xcwd print the content of the HOME variable.


  • Linux or FreeBSD
  • libX11-dev

Running xwcd

Simply invoke the 'xcwd' command.

You probably want to use it this way: urxvt -cd "`xcwd`" xterm -e "cd `xcwd` && /bin/zsh"

i3 Configuration

bindsym $mod+Shift+Return exec urxvt -cd "`xcwd`" bindsym $mod+Shift+Return exec xterm -e "cd `xcwd` && /bin/zsh"

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