You DO NOT have to fork the main GitHub repo to personalize your Powerline configuration! Please read through the Quick setup guide for a quick introduction to user configuration.

Powerline is configured with one main configuration file, and with separate configuration files for themes and colorschemes. All configuration files are written in JSON, with the exception of segment definitions, which are written in Python.

Powerline provides default configurations in the following locations:

Main configuration
powerline/colorschemes/name.json, powerline/colorscheme/__main__.json, powerline/colorschemes/extension/name.json

The default configuration files are stored in the main package. User configuration files are stored in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/powerline for Linux users, and in ~/.config/powerline for OS X users. This usually corresponds to ~/.config/powerline on both platforms.

Quick setup guide

This guide will help you with the initial configuration of Powerline.

Start by copying the entire set of default configuration files to the corresponding path in your user config directory:

mkdir ~/.config/powerline
cp -R /path/to/powerline/config_files/* ~/.config/powerline

Each extension (vim, tmux, etc.) has its own theme, and they are located in config directory/themes/extension/default.json.

If you want to move, remove or customize any of the provided segments, you can do that by updating the segment dictionary in the theme you want to customize. A segment dictionary looks like this:

    "name": "segment_name"

You can move the segment dictionaries around to change the segment positions, or remove the entire dictionary to remove the segment from the prompt or statusline.


It’s essential that the contents of all your configuration files is valid JSON! It’s strongly recommended that you run your configuration files through jsonlint after changing them.

Some segments need a user configuration to work properly. Here’s a couple of segments that you may want to customize right away:

E-mail alert segment

You have to set your username and password (and possibly server/port) for the e-mail alert segment. If you’re using GMail it’s recommended that you generate an application-specific password for this purpose.

Open a theme file, scroll down to the email_imap_alert segment and set your username and password. The server defaults to GMail’s IMAP server, but you can set the server/port by adding a server and a port argument.

Weather segment

The weather segment will try to find your location using a GeoIP lookup, so unless you’re on a VPN you probably won’t have to change the location query.

If you want to change the location query or the temperature unit you’ll have to update the segment arguments. Open a theme file, scroll down to the weather segment and update it to include unit/location query arguments:

    "name": "weather",
    "priority": 50,
    "args": {
        "unit": "F",
        "location_query": "oslo, norway"

Main configuration


The main configuration file defines some common options that applies to all extensions, as well as some extension-specific options like themes and colorschemes.

Common configuration

Common configuration is a subdictionary that is a value of common key in powerline/config.json file.

Defines whether to output cterm indices (8-bit) or RGB colors (24-bit) to the terminal emulator. See the Application/terminal emulator feature support matrix for information on whether your terminal emulator supports 24-bit colors.
Tells powerline what to do with characters with East Asian Width Class Ambigious (such as Euro, Registered Sign, Copyright Sign, Greek letters, Cyrillic letters). Valid values: any positive integer; it is suggested that you only set it to 1 (default) or 2.

Select filesystem watcher. Variants are

Variant Description
auto Selects most performant watcher.
inotify Select inotify watcher. Linux only.
stat Select stat-based polling watcher.

Default is auto.

Valid for shell extensions, makes sense only if term_truecolor is enabled. Is to be set from command-line (unless you are sure you always need it). Controls additional escaping that is needed for tmux/screen to work with terminal true color escape codes: normally tmux/screen prevent terminal emulator from receiving these control codes thus rendering powerline prompt colorless. Valid values: "tmux", "screen", null (default).

Defines the dividers used in all Powerline extensions. This option should usually only be changed if you don’t have a patched font, or if you use a font patched with the legacy font patcher.

The hard dividers are used to divide segments with different background colors, while the soft dividers are used to divide segments with the same background color.

Defines additional paths which will be searched for modules when using module segment option. Paths defined here have priority when searching for modules.
Defines path which will hold powerline logs. If not present, logging will be done to stderr.
String, determines logging level. Defaults to WARNING.
String, determines format of the log messages. Defaults to '%(asctime)s:%(level)s:%(message)s'.
Number, determines time (in seconds) between checks for changed configuration. Checks are done in a seprate thread. Use null to check for configuration changes on .render() call in main thread. Defaults to None.
Boolean, determines whether configuration should be reloaded at all. Defaults to True.

Extension-specific configuration

Common configuration is a subdictionary that is a value of ext key in powerline/config.json file.

Defines the colorscheme used for this extension.

Defines the theme used for this extension.


Defines themes used when certain conditions are met, e.g. for buffer-specific statuslines in vim. Value depends on extension used. For vim it is a dictionary {matcher_name : theme_name}, where matcher_name is either matcher_module.module_attribute or module_attribute (matcher_module defaults to powerline.matchers.vim) and module_attribute should point to a function that returns boolean value indicating that current buffer has (not) matched conditions.

Color definitions


Color definitions, consisting of a dict where the key is the name of the color, and the value is one of the following:

  • A cterm color index.
  • A list with a cterm color index and a hex color string (e.g. [123, "aabbcc"]). This is useful for colorschemes that use colors that aren’t available in color terminals.

Gradient definitions, consisting of a dict where the key is the name of the gradient, and the value is a list containing one or two items, second item is optional:

  • A list of cterm color indicies.
  • A list of hex color strings.

It is expected that you define gradients from least alert color to most alert or use non-alert colors.


Location:powerline/colorschemes/name.json, powerline/colorscheme/__main__.json, powerline/colorschemes/extension/name.json

Colorscheme files are processed in order given: definitions from each next file override those from each previous file. It is required that either powerline/colorschemes/name.json, or powerline/colorschemes/extension/name.json exists.

Name of the colorscheme.

Segment highlighting groups, consisting of a dict where the key is the name of the highlighting group (usually the function name for function segments), and the value is either

  1. a dict that defines the foreground color, background color and attributes:


    Foreground color. Must be defined in colors.


    Background color. Must be defined in colors.


    List of attributes. Valid values are one or more of bold, italic and underline. Note that some attributes may be unavailable in some applications or terminal emulators. If you do not need any attributes leave this empty.

  2. a string (an alias): a name of existing group. This group’s definition will be used when this color is requested.


Mode-specific highlighting for extensions that support it (e.g. the vim extension). It’s an easy way of changing a color in a specific mode. Consists of a dict where the key is the mode and the value is a dict with the following options:

A dict where the key is the color to be translated in this mode, and the value is the new color. Both the key and the value must be defined in colors.
Segment highlighting groups for this mode. Same syntax as the main groups option.


Name of the theme.
Python module where segments will be looked by default.
A dict where keys are segment names or strings {module}.{name}. Used to specify default values for various keys: after, before, contents (only for string segments if name is defined), args (only for function segments). When using local themes values of these keys are first searched in the segment description, then in segment_data key of a local theme, then in segment_data key of a default theme. For the default theme itself step 2 is obviously avoided.

A dict with a left and a right lists, consisting of segment dictionaries. Shell themes may also contain above list of dictionaries. Each item in above list may have left and right keys like this dictionary, but no above key.

above list is used for multiline shell configurations.

left and right lists are used for segments that should be put on the left or right side in the output. Actual mechanizm of putting segments on the left or the right depends on used renderer, but most renderers require one to specify segment with width auto on either side to make generated line fill all of the available width.

Each segment dictionary has the following options:


The segment type. Can be one of function (default), string or filler:

The segment contents is the return value of the function defined in the name option.
A static string segment where the contents is defined in the contents option, and the highlighting group is defined in the highlight_group option.

Function module, only required for function segments. Defaults to powerline.segments.{extension}. Default is overriden by default_module theme option.


Function name, only required for function segments.


Highlighting group for this segment. Consists of a prioritized list of highlighting groups, where the first highlighting group that is available in the colorscheme is used.

Ignored for segments that have function type.


A string which will be prepended to the segment contents.


A string which will be appended to the segment contents.


Segment contents, only required for string segments.


A dict of arguments to be passed to a function segment.

Aligns the segments contents to the left (l), center (c) or right (r).

Enforces a specific width for this segment.

This segment will work as a spacer if the width is set to auto. Several spacers may be used, and the space will be distributed equally among all the spacer segments. Spacers may have contents, either returned by a function or a static string, and the contents can be aligned with the align property.


Optional segment priority. Segments with priority None (the default priority, represented by null in json) will always be included, regardless of the width of the prompt/statusline.

If the priority is any number, the segment may be removed if the prompt/statusline width is too small for all the segments to be rendered. A lower number means that the segment has a higher priority.

Segments are removed according to their priority, with low priority segments being removed first.

draw_hard_divider, draw_soft_divider
Whether to draw a divider between this and the adjacent segment. The adjacent segment is to the right for segments on the left side, and vice versa. Hard dividers are used between segments with different background colors, soft ones are used between segments with same background. Both options default to True.
Determines whether inner soft dividers are to be drawn for function segments. Only applicable for functions returning multiple segments. Defaults to False.
A list of modes where this segment will be excluded: The segment is included in all modes, except for the modes in this list.
A list of modes where this segment will be included: The segment is not included in any modes, except for the modes in this list.


Segments are written in Python, and the default segments provided with Powerline are located in powerline/segments/ User-defined segments can be defined in any module in sys.path or paths common configuration option, import is always absolute.

Segments are regular Python functions, and they may accept arguments. All arguments should have a default value which will be used for themes that don’t provide an args dict.

A segment function must return one of the following values:

  • None, which will remove the segment from the prompt/statusline.
  • A string, which will be the segment contents.
  • A list of dicts consisting of a contents string, and a highlight_group list. This is useful for providing a particular highlighting group depending on the segment contents.

Local configuration

Depending on the application used it is possible to override configuration. Here is the list:

Vim overrides

Vim configuration can be overridden using the following options:

Dictionary, recursively merged with contents of powerline/config.json.
Dictionary, recursively merged with contents of powerline/themes/vim/theme_name.json. Note that this way you can’t redefine some value (e.g. segment) in list, only the whole list itself: only dictionaries are merged recursively.
Path (must be expanded, ~ shortcut is not supported). Points to the directory which will be searched for configuration. When this option is present, none of the other locations are searched.
If this variable is set to a true value it will prevent Powerline from reporting an error when loaded in a copy of vim without the necessary Python support.

Powerline script overrides

Powerline script has a number of options controlling powerline behavior. Here VALUE always means “some JSON object”.


Overrides options from powerline/config.json. KEY.KEY2.KEY3=VALUE is a shortcut for KEY={"KEY2": {"KEY3": VALUE}}. Multiple options (i.e. -c K1=V1 -c K2=V2) are allowed, result (in the example: {"K1": V1, "K2": V2}) is recursively merged with the contents of the file.

If VALUE is omitted then corresponding key will be removed from the configuration (if it was present).


Overrides options from powerline/themes/ext/THEME_NAME.json. KEY.NESTED_KEY=VALUE is processed like described above, {ext} is the first argument to powerline script. May be passed multiple times.

If VALUE is omitted then corresponding key will be removed from the configuration (if it was present).

-p PATH or --config_path=PATH
Sets directory where configuration should be read from. If present, no default locations are searched for configuration. No expansions are performed by powerline script itself, but -p ~/.powerline will likely be expanded by the shell to something like -p /home/user/.powerline.

Zsh/zpython overrides

Here overrides are controlled by similarly to the powerline script, but values are taken from zsh variables.

Overrides options from powerline/config.json. Should be a zsh associative array with keys equal to KEY.NESTED_KEY and values being JSON strings. Pair KEY.KEY1 VALUE is equivalent to {"KEY": {"KEY1": VALUE}}. All pairs are then recursively merged into one dictionary and this dictionary is recursively merged with the contents of the file.
Overrides options from powerline/themes/shell/*.json. Should be a zsh associative array with keys equal to THEME_NAME.KEY.NESTED_KEY and values being JSON strings. Is processed like the above POWERLINE_CONFIG, but only subdictionaries for THEME_NAME key are merged with theme configuration when theme with given name is requested.
Sets directory where configuration should be read from. If present, no default locations are searched for configuration. No expansions are performed by powerline script itself, but zsh usually performs them on its own if you set variable without quotes: POWERLINE_CONFIG_PATH=~/example. Expansion depends on zsh configuration.

Ipython overrides

Ipython overrides depend on ipython version. Before ipython-0.11 you should pass additional keyword arguments to setup() function. After ipython-0.11 you should use c.Powerline.KEY. Supported KEY strings or keyword argument names:

Overrides options from powerline/config.json. Should be a dictionary that will be recursively merged with the contents of the file.
Overrides options from powerline/themes/ipython/*.json. Should be a dictionary where keys are theme names and values are dictionaries which will be recursively merged with the contents of the given theme.
Sets directory where configuration should be read from. If present, no default locations are searched for configuration. No expansions are performed thus you cannot use paths starting with ~/.

Prompt command

In addition to the above configuration options you can use $POWERLINE_COMMAND environment variable to tell shell or tmux to use specific powerline implementation. This is mostly useful for putting powerline into different directory or replacing powerline script with powerline-client for performance reasons.


$POWERLINE_COMMAND appears in shell scripts without quotes thus you can specify additional parameters in bash. In zsh you will have to make $POWERLINE_COMMAND an array parameter to achieve the same result. In tmux it is passed to eval and depends on the shell used. POSIX-compatible shells, zsh, bash and fish will split this variable in this case.

If you want to disable prompt in shell, but still have tmux support or if you want to disable tmux support you can use variables $POWERLINE_NO_{SHELL}_PROMPT/$POWERLINE_NO_SHELL_PROMPT and $POWERLINE_NO_{SHELL}_TMUX_SUPPORT/$POWERLINE_NO_SHELL_TMUX_SUPPORT (substitute {SHELL} with the name of the shell (all-caps) you want to disable support for (e.g. BASH) or use all-inclusive SHELL that will disable support for all shells). These variables have no effect after configuration script was sourced (in fish case: after powerline-setup function was run). To disable specific feature support set one of these variables to some non-empty value.

If you do not want to disable prompt in shell, but yet do not want to launch python twice to get above lines you do not use in tcsh you should set $POWERLINE_NO_TCSH_ABOVE or $POWERLINE_NO_SHELL_ABOVE variable.

If you do not want to see additional space which is added to the right prompt in fish in order to support multiline prompt you should set $POWERLINE_NO_FISH_ABOVE or $POWERLINE_NO_SHELL_ABOVE variables.


Most supported shells’ configuration scripts check for additional configuration variables being empty. But tcsh configuration script checks for variables being defined, not empty.