How To: Find Out Which Window Manager You’re Using

Today’s article shouldn’t be all that long or difficult, as we simply go over how to find out which window manager you’re using. In the Linux world, this is often abbreviated as “WM” but we’ll avoid using the abbreviation ’cause of search engines. Yeah, search engines have a lot to do with how this (and every other) site is configured – including deciding how I write articles.

Yay! We need to appeal to you AND the algorithms. We’re all slaves to the machine! 

So, what is a window manager? We can cheat and cite the Arch Wiki (a brilliant source for all things Linux). They define window managers as:

A window manager (WM) is system software that controls the placement and appearance of windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface (GUI). It can be part of a desktop environment (DE) or be used standalone.

Further, there are the following clues:

Window managers are X clients that control the appearance and behaviour of the frames (“windows”) where the various graphical applications are drawn. They determine the border, title bar, size, and ability to resize windows, and often provide other functionality such as reserved areas for sticking dockapps like Window Maker, or the ability to tab windows like Fluxbox. Some window managers are even bundled with simple utilities like menus to start programs or to configure the window manager itself.

Now, in modern times, most of you will be using the window manager that came with your distro and you’ll just leave it as the default. This article is for that person – the person who didn’t install their window manager and doesn’t know which window manager they’re using.

Which Display Manager Are You Using:

You guessed it! You’re going to need to use a terminal for this. Oh, there are surely GUI ways to do this, but I know you have a terminal. You can just press CTRL + ALT + T to open your default terminal.

With your terminal, you can run the following command:

If that command doesn’t spit out the information you’re after, you may need to install it. Your trusty default terminal should happily tell you how to install wmctrl, but it’d be (in Debian/Ubuntu/Mint/etc) something like this:

Of course, if you have Neofetch installed, you can just run Neofetch. Like ‘wmctrl’, you might need to install it. You might as well install it, though you could just as easily use Screenfetch. You get to pick which one you want to use, but it’ll be listed under the aforementioned abbreviation of “WM”. See? Foreshadowing! I can’t believe you read this nonsense.

So, there are a few options to find out which window manager you’re using. You can pick which you like most, but either of the *fetch applications will give you more system information. Do what you must…


I planned on another article, but this one seemed like a more interesting article to write today. As it seemed more interesting to share how to find which window manager you’re using, I decided to go with that one.

These “easier” articles take about the same amount of time to write. The subject is often decided by what I feel is the most interesting. You can always start your own site and write along with me. There’s room for all of us!

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