i3 - improved tiling WM

User-contributed article: enhanced and extensible i3bar with py3status

In the i3 documentation, the recommended tool for displaying a status line is to use i3status combined with i3bar.

While i3status is very efficient at what it does, it is by design limited to a few modules and does not allow you to inject your own scripts output on your i3bar. This is said pretty clearly on the i3status man page:

In i3status, we don’t want to implement process management again.
Therefore, there is no module to run arbitrary scripts or commands.
Instead, you should use your shell.

Introducing py3status

The goal of py3status is to fill this gap by allowing users to simply extend their i3bar while preserving their current i3status configuration. The main idea is to rely on i3status' strength without adding any configuration on the user's side. py3status is thus a wrapper script for i3status and its configuration as explained in the documentation.


Using py3status is easy, no need to multi-pipe your scripts after i3status. Instead just replace i3status in your current status_command by py3status. For example, if your current status_command in your i3 config file resides in ~/.i3/i3status.conf, you would change your i3 config to this:

status_command py3status -c ~/.i3/i3status.conf

Handle i3bar click events from your i3status.conf

Py3status (since v2) is also wrapping and extending your i3status.conf and allows you directly handle all the i3bar click events on any of your configured modules whether they are i3status modules or py3status modules.

To do so, all you have to do is add a new configuration parameter named on_click [button number] to your module config and py3status will then execute the given i3 command (using i3-msg). This means you can run simple tasks like executing a program or execute any other i3 specific command.

Some examples below from i3status.conf:

# reload the i3 config when I left click on the i3status time module
# and restart i3 when I middle click on it
time {
    on_click 1 = "reload"
    on_click 2 = "restart"

# run wicd-gtk GUI when I left click on the i3status ethernet module
# and kill it when I right click on it
ethernet eth0 {
    # if you use %speed, i3status requires root privileges
    format_up = "E: %ip"
    format_down = ""
    on_click 1 = "exec wicd-gtk"
    on_click 3 = "exec killall wicd-gtk"

# run thunar when I left click on the / disk info module
disk / {
    format = "/ %free"
    on_click 1 = "exec thunar /"

# open an URL on firefox when I left click on the py3status weather_yahoo module
weather_yahoo paris {
    cache_timeout = 7200
    woeid = 615702
    forecast_days = 2
    request_timeout = 10
    on_click 1 = "exec firefox-bin http://www.meteo.fr"

Use py3status modules on your i3bar

Py3status also comes with some configurable modules you can load and configure directly from your i3status.conf just like any other i3status module. You can see the list of the modules and their configuration parameters here.

To load a py3status module you just have to list it like any other i3status module using the order += parameter. For example you could insert and load the imap module like this:

order += "disk /home"
order += "disk /"
order += "imap"
order += "time"

And then you could configure it like this:

# configure the py3status imap module
# and run thunderbird when I left click on it
imap {
    cache_timeout = 60
    imap_server = 'imap.myprovider.com'
    mailbox = 'INBOX'
    name = 'Mail'
    password = 'coconut'
    port = '993'
    user = 'mylogin'
    on_click 1 = "exec thunderbird"

Group modules to save space on your i3bar

The group module allows you to group several modules together. Only one of the modules are displayed at a time. The displayed module can either be cycled through automatically or by user action (mouse scroll by default).

Example usage:

order += "group tz"

# cycle through different timezone hours every 10s
group tz {
    cycle = 10
    format = "{output}"

    tztime la {
        format = "LA %H:%M"
        timezone = "America/Los_Angeles"

    tztime ny {
        format = "NY %H:%M"
        timezone = "America/New_York"

    tztime du {
        format = "DU %H:%M"
        timezone = "Asia/Dubai"

Write your own modules to display your own stuff

Py3status features a simple and straightforward module system which you can use to get your own output displayed on your i3bar. You can read more and view some examples in the documentation.


You can read the full and up to date documentation on the py3status docs.