Irssi quickstart guide

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A quick guide to the basic features of irssi, a powerfull consolebased irc client.

What is irssi?

irssi is a very good text-based irc client. It can be used in any terminal.

irssi has so many commands that no one could possibly memorize them. So people end up not being able to do anything menaingful and they delete irssi from their machine as useless crap and stick with KDE Konversation, which has programmable QuickButtons for every command which someone does not want to memorize, i.e. all of them.


Irssi follows the general Linux installation steps (./configure, make, make install). It has been around for a very long time so it is available in all GNU/Linux distributions package management systems.

click here to install on Ubuntu. On Gentoo Linux: emerge irssi

Command shortcuts

Use the shortcuts for commonly used commands.

/j kde,gnome (/join #kde,#gnome) Join a channel
/c /clear Clear the window
/c -all /clear -all Clear all windows
/wi nickname /whois View information about nickname
/pa /part Leave a channel
/m /msg Send a private message
/al /alias View available aliases/shortcuts
/al X /alias X Aliases/shortcuts beginning with X

Making your own /aliases

You can easy make your own aliases for commonly used commands and remarks:

/alias linuxfriends /me has a few good friends. man, info, /usr/doc, tlpd & google.

The command


will now tell the channel that

jonny has a few good friends. man, info, /usr/doc, tlpd, & google.

To make the alias use text (variables) used together with the alias, use $X:

/alias hipeople /me waves to $0 $1 $2 **

would let you write something like

/hipeople jon mary jane

and get the output

jonny waves to jon mary jane

To tell the channel what Gentoo Linux package contains program X on that distribution:

/alias whatpackage /exec -o qpkg -f -nc ``which $0 2>/dev/null | awk '{print "$*="$$1}';``

With this alias you could do:

/whatpackage epsxe

and get


Being able to do calculations could be handy. In this case you could do

/alias calc exec - if which bc &>/dev/null\; then echo '$*' | bc | awk '{print "$*="$$1}'\; else echo bc was not found\; fi

and get the result - but others would not see it. You need to add -o to exec to share the result with others on the channel you're in.

/alias cao exec -o echo '$*' | bc | awk '{print "$*="$$1}'\

Remember to save your settings with


once you've made your aliases. They are not saved automatically.

Window management

Window management is easy and done with the keyboard.

Use Alt+# to switch between windows. (Alt+1 for Window 1, Alt+2 for Windows 2 etc). Use qwerty for window numbers higher than 10 (and 0 for 10). The modifier key may differ depending on your shell/terminal. If Alt+# does not work, try Esc+# (openbsd).

Alt+left/right move between the channels in a window. This works in KDEs konsole and aterm, but not in xterm.

Alt+up/down moves between the window tabs. This works in KDEs konsole and aterm, but not in xterm.

Use alt+a to change to the next active window (where someone has uttered a word)

To make a new window:

/window new

Use the shortcut:

/win new

You can move the current channel with:

/win m u (/window move up) /win m d (/window move down)

You can resize a window with:

/win gr 5 (/window grow #)

/win shr 5 (/window shrink #)

Use /win # where # is the window number to jump directly to a window:

/win 11

To close a window:

/win c (/window close)

This actually parts the channel but only closes the window if you have no other channels open in it. So usually it will the same as /part:

/pa (/part)

To get some nice information about the current window, just type:


You can save your window settings so your windows are restored the next time you start irssi:

/layout save

Pasting a programs output to a channel

To execute a command in irssi, just do:

/exec program

Links to more information about irssi