#utility #launcher #x11 #window-management

app run-or-raise

Utility for launching applications or focusing their windows

7 releases

0.3.3 Sep 7, 2021
0.3.1 Mar 28, 2018
0.2.2 Mar 11, 2018
0.2.1 Nov 27, 2017
0.1.0 Feb 11, 2017

#1667 in Command line utilities

36 downloads per month

GPL-3.0 license

591 lines

run-or-raise 🏃‍

Build Status Latest Version GitHub release dependency status AUR version License: GPL v3

run-or-raise is a utility for launching applications or focusing their windows if they are already running. When invoked, run-or-raise tries to find a window that matches a specified criteria and focus it or, if no matching window is found, execute a specified program.

This can be useful when combined with a tiling window manager such as i3 or a general purpose keyboard shortcut manager such as xbindkeys that allow binding arbitrary commands to keybindings. In such setup, one might use run-or-raise to, for example, launch or focus a web browser with a single key press.

run-or-raise is designed to work with X11 based Linux systems.


run-or-raise can be installed using cargo:

cargo install run-or-raise

Compiling and running run-or-raise requires libxcb library to be installed.

To get the latest development version of run-or-raise, you can direct cargo to install from the git repository:

cargo install --git 'https://github.com/Soft/run-or-raise.git'

Note that cargo will not install man pages. To install run-or-raise along with its manual invoke make install in the project directory. By default, the installation script will place the files under /usr/local/ hierarchy.


run-or-raise CONDITION PROGRAM [ARGS...]

When invoked, run-or-raise matches existing windows against CONDITION. If a matching window is found, it is focused. If none of the windows match the criteria, run-or-raise executes PROGRAM passing any ARGS to it as arguments.


Conditions select windows based on their properties. In X11, each window can have any number of properties associated with them. Examples of window properties include name (typically what is visible in window's title bar), class (an identifier that can be usually used to select windows of a particular applications) and role (a representation of window's logical role, eg. a web browser). The xprop utility can be used to inspect windows and their properties.

The simplest possible window matching condition simply compares one of the properties with a value:

run-or-raise 'name = "Spotify"' spotify

This would find and focus a window with the title “Spotify” or run the command spotify.

Conditions support two comparison operators: = for exact equality comparison with a string literal and ~ for comparing using a regular expression.

Comparisons can be combined using logical operators: && for logical AND, || for logical OR, and ! for logical NOT. Operators in matching expressions are left-associative and ! (not) binds stronger than && (and) which, in turn, binds stronger than || (or). Possible properties are class, name, and role. Additionally, parentheses can be used to alter evaluation order. Strings and regular expressions are written inside double quotes. If multiple windows match the criteria, the first matching window is selected.

Bellow are some examples of how conditions can be used to select windows in various ways:

# Launch or focus emacs
run-or-raise 'class = "Emacs"' emacs

# You can also use regular expressions for matching.
# Match windows with title ending with the string "Firefox"
run-or-raise 'name ~ ".*Firefox$"' firefox

# You can combine multiple comparisons with logical operators.
# Match windows with the role "browser" that do not have the class "Chromium".
run-or-raise 'role = "browser" && ! class = "Chromium"' firefox

# Even more complex conditions are possible.
# This is getting silly
run-or-raise '! name ~ ".*\d+.*" || role = "browser" && ! class = "Emacs"' urxvt

Integration with External Tools

run-or-raise can be combined with just about any tool that allows executing arbitrary commands in response to key events. Bellow are some hints about configuring run-or-raise to work with various applications:

xbindkeys Keyboard Shortcut Manager

xbindkeys is an application for executing commands based on key events. run-or-raise can be combined with it to only launch applications if they are not already running. For example, to launch or focus Firefox by pressing Shift+Mod4+b, one could use the following xbindkeys configuration:

"run-or-raise 'role = \"browser\"' firefox"

i3 Window Manager

i3 is a tiling window manager that, among other things, supports binding arbitrary commands to arbitrary keys. To bind run-or-raise invocation to a key with i3, one might specify something like the following in i3's configuration file:

bindsym Mod4+Shift+b exec --no-startup-id \
	run-or-raise 'role = "browser"' firefox

KDE Custom Shortcuts

KDE allows binding arbitrary commands to key presses using Custom Shortcuts manager. Through this graphical configuration utility, run-or-raise can be used to launch or focus applications.

Desktop Entries

Desktop Entries are used to define shortcuts that appear in application menus and launchers. In addition to application name and icon they also define what commands should be executed when an application is launched. run-or-raise can be used as a part of a desktop file to mandate that only a single instance of a particular application should be started. For example, Spotify on Linux does not currently enforce that only a single instance of the application can be launched, this is annoying since having multiple audio players open is rarely what one wants. Integrating run-or-raise into a desktop file means replacing the Exec key with a one that invokes run-or-raise to check if the application is already running:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=run-or-raise 'class = "Spotify"' spotify %U


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