Compose - X client mappings for multi-key input sequences
The X library, libX11, provides a simple input method for characters beyond those repre-
sented on typical keyboards using sequences of key strokes that are combined to enter a
The compose file is searched for in the following order:
- If the environment variable $XCOMPOSEFILE is set, its value is used as the name of
the Compose file.
- If the user's home directory has a file named .XCompose, it is used as the Compose
- The system provided compose file is used by mapping the locale to a compose file
from the list in /usr/share/X11/locale/compose.dir.
Compose files can use an "include" instruction. This allows local modifications to be
made to existing compose files without including all of the content directly. For exam-
ple, the system's iso8859-1 compose file can be included with a line like this:
There are several substitutions that can be made in the file name of the include instruc-
%H expands to the user's home directory (the $HOME environment variable)
%L expands to the name of the locale specific Compose file (i.e.,
%S expands to the name of the system directory for Compose files (i.e.,
For example, you can include in your compose file the default Compose file by using:
and then rewrite only the few rules that you need to change. New compose rules can be
added, and previous ones replaced.
Compose files are plain text files, with a separate line for each compose sequence. Com-
ments begin with # characters. Each compose sequence specifies one or more events and a
resulting input sequence, with an optional comment at the end of the line:
EVENT [EVENT...] : RESULT [# COMMENT]
Each event consists of a specified input keysym, and optional modifier states:
Each modifier consists of a specified modifier and a state:
(! MODIFIER ) | None
Modifiers may be preceded by a "~" character to indicate that the modifier must not be
The result specifies a string, keysym, or both, that the X client receives as input when
the sequence of events is input:
"STRING" | keysym | "STRING" keysym
Keysyms are specified without the XK_ prefix.
Strings may be direct text encoded in the locale for which the compose file is to be used,
or an escaped octal or hexadecimal character code. Octal codes are specified as "\123"
and hexadecimal codes as "\0x123a". It is not necessary to specify in the right part of a
rule a locale encoded string in addition to the keysym name. If the string is omitted,
Xlib figures it out from the keysym according to the current locale. I.e., if a rule
<dead_grave> <A> : "\300" Agrave
the result of the composition is always the letter with the "\300" code. But if the rule
<dead_grave> <A> : Agrave
the result depends on how Agrave is mapped in the current locale.
File to use for compose sequences.
Directory to use for caching compiled compose files.
User default compose file if XCOMPOSEFILE is not set.
File listing the compose file path to use for each locale.
System default compose file for the locale, mapped via compose.dir.
System-wide cache directory for compiled compose files.
Per-user cache directory for compiled compose files.
XLookupString(3), XmbLookupString(3), XwcLookupString(3), Xutf8LookupString(3), mkcompose-
Xlib - C Language X Interface
X Version 11 libX11 1.4.4 Compose(5)