Get more out of the window title with Konsole

If you use git on a regular basis, you should look into using git-prompt; there is a file called that is shipped with git, the location in your setup varies depending on the Linux distribution you're using, for example in OpenSuse it's /etc/bash_completion.d/ The file is of course available in the upstream git repo.

Following the instructions from the top of that file should give you a very useful addition to the prompt of your shell (the file has instructions for BASH and ZSH). However that is not what this blog post is about; this post is about making the Konsole window title more useful, and by that I mean use the window title to show the current dir path and the info from git-prompt.

Now, the details, (these instructions are for BASH, but I expect it'll work with other shells with a bit of tweaking?):

  • Set Konsole to show the title from the shell session on the title bar: Settings -> Configure Konsole -> General -> Show window title on the title bar

  • Open ~/.bashrc in your favourite editor and add this:

# Adds a '*' and/or a '+' character to the window title to show
# the status of the repo, see for the details
  • Next add this small helper function to set the window title (for what this function does see [1]):
__prompt_set_window_title() {
    printf '\e]2;%s %s\a' "$(__git_ps1 " [ %s ]")" "${PWD/#$HOME/\~}";
  • Next add the __prompt_set_window_title() function to the PROMPT_COMMAND (the prompt command in BASH is executed after each command in the shell), by putting this on a new line in .bashrc:
PROMPT_COMMAND='history -a; __prompt_set_window_title'

For what history -a does see [2].

Now when you cd to any dir that has a git repo, the name of the branch will be displayed between the square brackets on the title bar, along with a '*' and/or '+' characters to show the status of the repo.

[1] Breaking down __prompt_set_window_title():
  • prinft '%s %s' "first arg" "second arg" printf will replace the first "%s" with "first arg" and the second "%s" with the second arg ...etc

  • \e]2; starts the escape sequence to set the window title and \a marks the end of it

  • $(__git_ps1 " [ %s ]") for this details about this part, read the docs at the beginning of the file; this will put the current branch name between square brackets. Note that if you're not in a dir with a git repo, this will show nothing, i.e. an empty string.

  • ${PWD/#$HOME/~} this will put the path of the current dir (i.e. the string stored in the PWD env var) next to the git branch name (and replace /home/username with ~), you can remove it if you don't want that behaviour (you'll also want to remove the second "%s" in the printf command).

[2] history -a adds a very useful feature, which I picked up from Mandriva more than a decade ago (thanks, Colin Guthrie :)), it appends the shell history to the history file after you run each command, which means that if you open a new terminal emulator window, you'll find that the shell history has the last command you ran from any other shell session; without 'history -a', the shell history is only appended in one go to ~/.bash_history (or whatever it's called in your distro) after you close the session). You can remove the history -a; part if you don't want that behaviour.