attroff, wattroff, attron, wattron, attrset, wattrset, color_set, wcolor_set, standend, wstandend, standout, wstandout, attr_get, wattr_get, attr_off, wattr_off, attr_on, wattr_on, attr_set, wattr_set, chgat, wchgat, mvchgat, mvwchgat, PAIR_NUMBERcurses character and window attribute control routines


#include <ncurses/curses.h>
int attroff(int attrs);
int wattroff(WINDOW *win, int attrs);
int attron(int attrs);
int wattron(WINDOW *win, int attrs);
int attrset(int attrs);
int wattrset(WINDOW *win, int attrs);
int color_set(short color_pair_number, void* opts);
int wcolor_set(WINDOW *win, short color_pair_number,
void* opts);
int standend(void);
int wstandend(WINDOW *win);
int standout(void);
int wstandout(WINDOW *win);
int attr_get(attr_t *attrs, short *pair, void *opts);
int wattr_get(WINDOW *win, attr_t *attrs, short *pair,
void *opts);
int attr_off(attr_t attrs, void *opts);
int wattr_off(WINDOW *win, attr_t attrs, void *opts);
int attr_on(attr_t attrs, void *opts);
int wattr_on(WINDOW *win, attr_t attrs, void *opts);
int attr_set(attr_t attrs, short pair, void *opts);
int wattr_set(WINDOW *win, attr_t attrs, short pair, void *opts);
int chgat(int n, attr_t attr, short color,
const void *opts)
int wchgat(WINDOW *win, int n, attr_t attr,
short color, const void *opts)
int mvchgat(int y, int x, int n, attr_t attr,
short color, const void *opts)
int mvwchgat(WINDOW *win, int y, int x, int n,
attr_t attr, short color, const void *opts)


These routines manipulate the current attributes of the named window. The current attributes of a window apply to all characters that are written into the window with waddch, waddstr and wprintw. Attributes are a property of the character, and move with the character through any scrolling and insert/delete line/character operations. To the extent possible, they are displayed as appropriate modifications to the graphic rendition of characters put on the screen.

The routine attrset sets the current attributes of the given window to attrs. The routine attroff turns off the named attributes without turning any other attributes on or off. The routine attron turns on the named attributes without affecting any others. The routine standout is the same as attron(A_STANDOUT). The routine standend is the same as attrset(A_NORMAL) or attrset(0), that is, it turns off all attributes.

The attrset and related routines do not affect the attributes used when erasing portions of the window. See bkgd(3NCURSES) for functions which modify the attributes used for erasing and clearing.

The routine color_set sets the current color of the given window to the foreground/background combination described by the color_pair_number. The parameter opts is reserved for future use, applications must supply a null pointer.

The routine wattr_get returns the current attribute and color pair for the given window; attr_get returns the current attribute and color pair for stdscr. The remaining attr_* functions operate exactly like the corresponding attr* functions, except that they take arguments of type attr_t rather than int.

The routine chgat changes the attributes of a given number of characters starting at the current cursor location of stdscr. It does not update the cursor and does not perform wrapping. A character count of −1 or greater than the remaining window width means to change attributes all the way to the end of the current line. The wchgat function generalizes this to any window; the mvwchgat function does a cursor move before acting. In these functions, the color argument is a color-pair index (as in the first argument of init_pair, see color(3NCURSES)). The opts argument is not presently used, but is reserved for the future (leave it NULL).

The following video attributes, defined in <curses.h>, can be passed to the routines attron, attroff, and attrset, or OR’d with the characters passed to addch.

These video attributes are supported by attr_on and related functions (which also support the attributes recognized by attron, etc.):

For consistency

The following macro is the reverse of COLOR_PAIR(n):

PAIR_NUMBER(attrs) Returns the pair number associated
with the COLOR_PAIR(n) attribute.

The return values of many of these routines are not meaningful (they are implemented as macro-expanded assignments and simply return their argument). The SVr4 manual page claims (falsely) that these routines always return 1.


Note that attroff, wattroff, attron, wattron, attrset, wattrset, standend and standout may be macros.

COLOR_PAIR values can only be OR’d with attributes if the pair number is less than 256. The alternate functions such as color_set can pass a color pair value directly. However, ncurses ABI 4 and 5 simply OR this value within the alternate functions. You must use ncurses ABI 6 to support more than 256 color pairs.


These functions are supported in the XSI Curses standard, Issue 4. The standard defined the dedicated type for highlights, attr_t, which is not defined in SVr4 curses. The functions taking attr_t arguments are not supported under SVr4.

The XSI Curses standard states that whether the traditional functions attron/attroff/attrset can manipulate attributes other than A_BLINK, A_BOLD, A_DIM, A_REVERSE, A_STANDOUT, or A_UNDERLINE is "unspecified". Under this implementation as well as SVr4 curses, these functions correctly manipulate all other highlights (specifically, A_ALTCHARSET, A_PROTECT, and A_INVIS).

This implementation provides the A_ITALIC attribute for terminals which have the enter_italics_mode (sitm) and exit_italics_mode (ritm) capabilities. Italics are not mentioned in X/Open Curses. Unlike the other video attributes, I_ITALIC is unrelated to the set_attributes capabilities. This implementation makes the assumption that exit_attribute_mode may also reset italics.

XSI Curses added the new entry points, attr_get, attr_on, attr_off, attr_set, wattr_on, wattr_off, wattr_get, wattr_set. These are intended to work with a new series of highlight macros prefixed with WA_. The older macros have direct counterparts in the newer set of names:

Older versions of this library did not force an update of the screen when changing the attributes. Use touchwin to force the screen to match the updated attributes.

The XSI curses standard specifies that each pair of corresponding A_ and WA_-using functions operates on the same current-highlight information.

The XSI standard extended conformance level adds new highlights A_HORIZONTAL, A_LEFT, A_LOW, A_RIGHT, A_TOP, A_VERTICAL (and corresponding WA_ macros for each). As of August 2013, no known terminal provides these highlights (i.e., via the sgr1 capability).


All routines return the integer OK on success, or ERR on failure.

X/Open does not define any error conditions.

This implementation returns an error if the window pointer is null. The wcolor_set function returns an error if the color pair parameter is outside the range 0..COLOR_PAIRS−1. This implementation also provides getattrs for compatibility with older versions of curses.

Functions with a "mv" prefix first perform a cursor movement using wmove, and return an error if the position is outside the window, or if the window pointer is null.


ncurses(3NCURSES), addch(3NCURSES), addstr(3NCURSES), bkgd(3NCURSES), printw(3NCURSES), curses_variables(3NCURSES)

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