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Irssi Primer

Somehow it seems too easy for me to forget how to use Irssi. With this primer I hope to provide my future-self a decent reference to get up and going within an acceptable timeframe.

Basic Shortcuts

`Meta` is generally configured to the `Alt` key :wink:.
Shortcut Description
Meta+n scroll up
Meta+p scroll down
previous window
previous window
Meta+N goto window N

Window Selection

Besides using the shortcuts, one may use commands such as

  • /window N, where N represents the number of the window,
  • /window next and
  • /window previous

to navigate one’s way through the windows.

The number of a window may be changed through the /window number # command, where one enters the actual number instead of #. In case the provided number is already linked to another window, Irssi will simply perform a swap of window numbers to ensure that the active window has the number specified by the user.

Splits and Stickiness

An Illustrated Guide to Split Windows in Irssi gives a good explanation on window handling and the mechanics of splitting windows and window stickiness.

Basically sticky windows are limited in mobility. This is a convenient feature since it prevents windows from jumping between containers when stepping through them. Simply put, the container represents the entity that hosts a window.

Sticking a window to a container results to the container gaining focus every time the window is focussed.

Running window show # will create a new container on top and stick window # to that container unless the default setting for autostick_split_windows has been altered no not exhibit this behavior.

The window show # trick will not work in case window # is already stuck to a container. In the case you still want to create a split and attach an already-stuck window to the new container, one may run window new split which should create a new container with a blank window stuck to it, and then run /window stick # which will unstick the window from its former container and subsequently stick it to the focussed container :wink:.

To avoid stickiness confusion, I would recommend creating splits with `window split new` and manually sticking windows to the new container using `window stick #` until one is comfortable with the concept of stickiness in Irssi.

Window Size

The following commands are pretty self explanatory but immensely useful in order to effectively manage the utilisation of screen real-estate.

  • /window balance equalizes the line count for all windows
  • /window grow N increases the active window’s line count by N lines
  • /window shrink N decreases the active window’s line count by N lines
  • /window size N sets the line count for the active window to N lines


Whilst using IRC, it may be convenient to be aware of channel and user modes.

In the case of FreeNode, the user modes are specified to indicate that the user is

  • g, ignoring private messages
  • i, invisible
  • Z, connected securely

whereas channel modes are specified to indicate that a channel is

  • c, stripping color and formatting
  • C, blocking CTCP commands
  • f, a forward channel
  • i, invite only
  • k, password protected
  • l, limited
  • m, moderated
  • n, not allowing outsiders (to the channel) to send to the channel
  • p, private, outsiders can’t KNOCK to get in.
  • r, blocking unidentified users
  • s, secret
  • S, SSL-only
  • t, ops topic

among many other options of course, that would distract from the point I’m trying to make if I listed them all out in this text :wink:.