Creating a custom Powerline segment

The Powerline status line provides useful information in your terminal prompt. In this post, learn how to create your custom Powerline segment using Python.

You can create your own Powerline segments that display information tailored to your workflow. The following screenshot shows a custom Powerline segment displaying hello:

Custom Powerline segment


This post assumes that you have installed Powerline and copied the configuration files needed to customize the installation. To meet these prerequisites, check Installing Powerline on Ubuntu Linux including the Edit your Powerline configuration section.

Creating the custom segment

Powerline segments are defined in Python classes. You must create a package to host the class that defines your custom segment. The structure of the package looks similar to the following:

├── mysegments
│   ├──
│   └──

To create the package:

  1. Create the file, copy the following contents, and save the file:
    import setuptools
        author="Your name",
        author_email="[email protected]",
        description="My custom Powerline segments.",
        long_description="A long description for the " + \
            "package that includes the custom segments.",

    Note: You must append your username or organization name to the name field if you plan to upload your package to a central location, such as Such step is not required in this tutorial.

  2. Create the mysegments directory:
    mkdir mysegments
  3. Create the mysegments/ file, which is just an empty file:
    touch mysegments/
  4. Create the mysegments/ file, which defines the CustomSegment class. Copy the following contents and save the file:
    # vim:fileencoding=utf-8:noet
    from __future__ import (unicode_literals, division, absolute_import, print_function)
    from powerline.segments import Segment, with_docstring
    from powerline.theme import requires_segment_info, requires_filesystem_watcher
    class CustomSegment(Segment):
      divider_highlight_group = None
      def __call__(self, pl, segment_info, create_watcher):
        return [{
          'contents': 'hello',
          'highlight_groups': ['information:regular'],
    hello = with_docstring(CustomSegment(), '''Return a custom segment.''')

    This segment uses the information:regular highlight group, which defines the color and other appearance features. To check other highlight groups, browse the $HOME/.config/powerline/colorschemes/default.json file.

Installing the package in editable mode

Installing the package in editable mode allows you to make changes to the code without having to reinstall the package to see the changes.

To install the package in editable mode:

pip3 install --editable ./

To check that the package is installed:

pip3 list

You should see an entry similar to the following:

mysegments (0.0.1, /path_to_current_dir)

Configuring the custom segment

Powerline themes define the segments used in different applications, such as vim, tmux, and shell. You can configure your custom segment in one of the Powerline themes. For the purposes of this post, we’ll add the custom segment to the shell theme. The shell theme is declared in the $HOME/.config/powerline/themes/shell/default.json file.

Note: These instructions assume that you have copied the configuration files that allow you to customize your Powerline installation. For more information, check Edit your Powerline configuration.

To add the custom theme to the shell theme, add the following segment declaration to the list of segments in the default.json file:

  "function": "mysegments.custom.hello",
  "priority": 10

Testing the custom segment

You must restart the Powerline daemon to apply the changes in the previous sections:

powerline-daemon --replace

After you restart the daemon, the custom Powerline segment appears in your shell when the prompt refreshed. You can keep making changes to the CustomSegment class and the changes apply immediately.

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