Often times I want to spin off a new terminal window on the current directory I am working on. I use gnome-terminal, and if you just type in ‘gnome-terminal’ it does spawn a new terminal process on the current directory; but more often than not I am just using my i3 shortcut to open a new terminal window (ctrl+enter); but that just opens it on $HOME.

To make i3 open a new terminal, I thought of:

  1. Get the current focused window (i.e. my current terminal)
  2. Get the window’s process working directory
  3. Use it as working directory for the new terminal

There are many ways to get the PID of the current focused window, I decided to use xprop. It is not the simplest, but I did not want to install any new tools.

The following will print a bunch of details about the current window, including PID and Title.

xprop -id $(xprop -root -f _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW 0x " \$0\\n" _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW | awk "{print \$2}")

I am using gnome-terminal, which uses a background process to spawn new children. A side effect of this is that the parent process owns the window, and that process’ current directory is not what the actual shell is using.

The hacky solution I went with was to just get the current directory from the window’s title, since, well, I already have it there and xprop returns the title along with the PID :). I added a directory existence check and pass it to gnome-terminal as an argument in the script I configured i3 to call when starting a new process.

# gets the currently focused window's id
current_focused_window_id=$(xprop -root -f _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW 0x " \$0\\n" _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW | awk "{print \$2}")

# get the tile for the current window
window_title=$(xprop -id $current_focused_window_id | sed -ne 's/WM_NAME(STRING) = "\(.*\)"/\1/p')

# in my set up the title looks like "user@machine:path", this line uses sed to graph the path only after :
preferred_cwd=$(echo $window_title | sed -e 's/.*://')

# expand ~

# if path points to a valid directory, pass it to gnome-terminal
[[ -d "$preferred_cwd" ]] && ARGS="$ARGS --working-directory=$preferred_cwd "
gnome-terminal $ARGS $*