Configuration and customization


You DO NOT have to fork the main GitHub repo to personalize your Powerline configuration! Please read through the Quick setup guide for a quick introduction to user configuration.

Powerline is configured with one main configuration file, and with separate configuration files for themes and colorschemes. All configuration files are written in JSON, with the exception of segment definitions, which are written in Python.

Powerline provides default configurations in the following locations:

Main configuration
powerline/colorschemes/name.json, powerline/colorscheme/extension/__main__.json, powerline/colorschemes/extension/name.json
powerline/themes/top_theme.json, powerline/themes/extension/__main__.json, powerline/themes/extension/default.json

The default configuration files are stored in the main package. User configuration files are stored in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/powerline for Linux users, and in ~/.config/powerline for OS X users. This usually corresponds to ~/.config/powerline on both platforms.

If you need per-instance configuration please refer to Local configuration overrides.


If you have multiple configuration files with the same name in different directories then these files will be merged. Merging happens in the following order:

  • powerline_root/powerline/config_files is checked for configuration first. Configuration from this source has least priority.
  • $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS/powerline directories are the next ones to check. Checking happens in the reversed order: directories mentioned last are checked before directories mentioned first. Each new found file is merged with the result of previous merge.
  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/powerline directory is the last to check. Configuration from there has top priority.

When merging configuration only dictionaries are merged and they are merged recursively: keys from next file overrule those from the previous unless corresponding values are both dictionaries in which case these dictionaries are merged and key is assigned the result of the merge.


Some configuration files (i.e. themes and colorschemes) have two level of merging: first happens merging described above, second theme- or colorscheme-specific merging happens.

Quick setup guide

This guide will help you with the initial configuration of Powerline.

Start by copying the entire set of default configuration files to the corresponding path in your user config directory:

mkdir ~/.config/powerline
cp -R /path/to/powerline/config_files/* ~/.config/powerline

Each extension (vim, tmux, etc.) has its own theme, and they are located in config directory/themes/extension/default.json.

If you want to move, remove or customize any of the provided segments, you can do that by updating the segment dictionary in the theme you want to customize. A segment dictionary looks like this:

    "name": "segment_name"

You can move the segment dictionaries around to change the segment positions, or remove the entire dictionary to remove the segment from the prompt or statusline.


It’s essential that the contents of all your configuration files is valid JSON! It’s strongly recommended that you run your configuration files through jsonlint after changing them.

Some segments need a user configuration to work properly. Here’s a couple of segments that you may want to customize right away:

E-mail alert segment

You have to set your username and password (and possibly server/port) for the e-mail alert segment. If you’re using GMail it’s recommended that you generate an application-specific password for this purpose.

Open a theme file, scroll down to the email_imap_alert segment and set your username and password. The server defaults to GMail’s IMAP server, but you can set the server/port by adding a server and a port argument.

Weather segment

The weather segment will try to find your location using a GeoIP lookup, so unless you’re on a VPN you probably won’t have to change the location query.

If you want to change the location query or the temperature unit you’ll have to update the segment arguments. Open a theme file, scroll down to the weather segment and update it to include unit/location query arguments:

    "name": "weather",
    "priority": 50,
    "args": {
        "unit": "F",
        "location_query": "oslo, norway"