Using named scratchpads with xmonad

This will be a quick one. I always loved how i3 has the scratchpad feature and wanted to use this also with my xmonad setup.

It didn’t took me too long, to find out there is the XMonad.Util.NamedScratchpad package which can be used to set up a number of scratchpads running different applications.


First of all, import the package in your xmonad.hs

import XMonad.Util.NamedScratchpad

Now we just need to write following code block to configure some scratchpads. As an example, I’ll set up 3 different scratchpads.

-- scratchPads
scratchpads :: [NamedScratchpad]
scratchpads = [
-- run htop in xterm, find it by title, use default floating window placement
    NS "taskwarrior" "urxvtc -name taskwarrior -e ~/bin/tw" (resource =? "taskwarrior")
        (customFloating $ W.RationalRect (2/6) (2/6) (2/6) (2/6)),

    NS "term" "urxvtc -name scratchpad" (resource =? "scratchpad")
        (customFloating $ W.RationalRect (3/5) (4/6) (1/5) (1/6)),

    NS "pavucontrol" "pavucontrol" (className =? "Pavucontrol")
        (customFloating $ W.RationalRect (1/4) (1/4) (2/4) (2/4))

I will make use of the classname or resource of the window metadata to map them correctly. You can find out about those informations with a tool like xprop.

xprop | grep WM_CLASS

Now you only need to select a window to find out it’s WM_CLASS.


The last thing to do is to set up the keybindings and add the scratchpads to the manageHook:

-- scratchPad term
, ("M-S-\\", namedScratchpadAction scratchpads "term")
-- scratchPad taskwarrior
, ("M-S-t", namedScratchpadAction scratchpads "taskwarrior")
-- scratchPad pavucontrol
, ("M-v", namedScratchpadAction scratchpads "pavucontrol")
main = do
  xmonad $ def {
  ,manageHook = (myManageHook <+> namedScratchpadManageHook scratchpads

See my xmonad.hs for more details.

Terminals and their WM_CLASS

As you can see from my gif, the terminal I am using is URxvt. All of my terminals will have the Classname URxvt so it seems impossible to get a named scratchpad working with a terminal running a specific application (a.e. Taskwarrior), because all URxvtterminals will have the same WM_CLASS.

This is where the -name parameter comes into play. Thanks to this additional parameter a specific name get’s set as additional WM_CLASS and I can use it to identify my scratchpads.


At last you should consider making usage of XMonad.StackSet.RationalRect:

import XMonad.StackSet as W

This gives you the ability to predefine the structure of the window geometry of your scratchpads.

This means, RationalRect (3/5) (4/6) (1/5) (1/6) would start drawing my scratchpad window at 3/5 of my x axis, and at 4/6 of my y axis. The window will then be 1/5 of my x axis in width and 1/6 of my y axis in height. This is super useful if you aren’t using the same resolution all the time.

Read more about RationalRect here and don’t hesitate to contact me if something is unclear. I’m no Haskell or XMonad expert, but I’ll do my best to help you out.