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Should the options be listed in alphabetical order, or first split into booleans and compound options? (I know they're listed with booleans first in the game, but IMO that's a misfeature :) --Paxed 16:51, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Alphabetical order seems more useful. That's how the guidebook lists them. --Jayt 21:37, 3 October 2006 (UTC)


In the standard defaults.nh in the windows binary download, you can find an option called subkeyvalue. The numbers are ASCII codes (decimal).

# Finnish keyboards might need these modifications uncommented. 
# For  \, @, $, [, |

I wanted to substitute y with z because I've got an German keyboard layout (QERTZ). I tried


but it doesn't work.

Does anyone know something about that option? It isn't documented in the Guidebook. -- 17:47, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

I just took a peek at the source code and I can't see why it wouldn't work, provided you're using the console version. I don't think it works with the tiled version. Key processing is wonky on Windows console programs and the subkeyvalue option was meant to fix that; see nhraykey.dll and W343-4 for a brief description of the issues.--Ray Chason 20:04, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Distro-specific stuff

Someone added this:

  • /etc/nethack/nethackrc for system-wide settings on unix-like OS's, and ~/.nethackrc for individual users to override those settings.

But that seems to be a Debian-specific thing; vanilla NetHack compiled from source definitely doesn't do this. --paxed 16:51, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Missing options

The following options are missing from the article:

  • Atari specific: font_message, font_map, font_status, font_menu, font_text, scroll_margin, ascii_map, align_message, align_status, vary_msgcount
  • Win32 specific: font_menu (font_size_menu), font_status (font_size_status), font_message (font_size_message), font_text (font_size_text), scroll_amount, scroll_margin, map_mode, hilite_pet, align_message, vary_msgcount

The following aren't used with OPTIONS=, instead they're used like SOUNDDIR=/home/nick/nethacksounds/:


--paxed 17:03, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm finding some of the options descriptions a bit unclear. What exactly is the "message window"? Is that just when you're looking at previous messages, or does it also include currently displayed messages?

I tried setting "OPTIONS=vary_msgcount:2", but nothing has changed in either behavior. What I want is to have the current messages:

You displaced your kitten. The large cat misses the fog cloud.--More-- (wait until you hit return)
The kitten misses the fog cloud. The large cat bites the fog cloud.--More-- (wait until you hit return)
The fog cloud swallows the large cat. The large cat is regurgitated!

turned into:

You displaced your kitten. The large cat misses the fog cloud.
The kitten misses the fog cloud. The large cat bites the fog cloud.--More-- (wait until you hit return)
The fog cloud swallows the large cat. The large cat is regurgitated!

With the current behavior, if you have several pets in a melee, say in the castle or the valley of the dead, the interface is painful: wield a weapon, then lean on the return key while six to fourteen non-actionable messages flash by. Move one square, then lean on the return key for a while. Displaying two lines would halve the number of times I hit return (and nearly eliminate it in the less-busy parts of the game). Is this what vary_msgcount is supposed to do? 19:04, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

After a quick look through the source I can't find much evidence of vary_msgcount actually doing anything, at least in the TTY version. The only advice I can give is to use a very wide terminal, which will at least increase the number of messages that can be displayed on one line. -- Killian 05:32, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
vary_msgcount seems to only work in the Atari GEM und Win32 GUI builld. --bhaak 10:17, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Help with Online NetHack options?

Hey guys, this is archmage84. I'm a mad player of NetHack, but I haven't been able to ascend. So I found this pretty cool site: , and it's what I want. Only problem is: I can't use the arrow keys to move. Can someone help me, please? I'm really looking forward to playing online, and the only thing stopping me is moving.

Yeah, and I'm using a laptop, so I can't move with the number-pad. Only arrow keys and 1,3,7,9.

archmage84 "Long live Archmages!"

You can turn the numpad option off and learn to use the HJKL keys. 11:24, September 23, 2009 (UTC)

Can't find nethack defaults

I'm running my Nethack game in a Mac OS X Terminal, which means I should have a file named NetHack Defaults somewhere. Problem is, I can't find it anywhere. I checked the ~ directory, I checked the /usr/games directory (and respective subdirectories), and I've even poked around in my ~/Library directory. Help? 00:34, May 10, 2010 (UTC) Adalrik

In OS X it is .nethackrc, I can give much more information but this DAMNED WIKI rejects my contributions. I shall have to stop contributing. Cssdixieland (talk) 13:54, 19 April 2023 (UTC)

Slashem Options?

There is a lot of outdated info about how to configure user options for Slashem. Specifically, how to choose alternate tileset options when playing in Linux. Can we get some clarity on the main page with regard to this matter?

Those should probably go into Options (SLASH'EM) --paxed 14:59, September 12, 2010 (UTC)
I added the page Options (SLASH'EM) . Bucketoftruth 21:40, October 4, 2010 (UTC)

colors too dark to see on monitor

Since color redirects here, there should be a note how to change the color scheme in case it's too dark to discern on your monitor. --Tjr 18:42, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

For rxvt, I use:

rxvt -rv -color4 lightblue

--Greycat 18:53, 26 January 2012 (UTC)


I have the NetHackCocoa package that I downloaded from Google Code. Where should I save the configuration file? -- 09:21, 24 June 2014 (UTC)


I've added an example line to DUNGEONSYMBOLS that emulates IBMGraphics as closely as possible. This might be useful for people whose CP437 support is incomplete - I know that the MacOS terminal breaks on the Rogue level when vanilla IBM is used. 23:55, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

3.6.0 not reading defaults.nh

I just downloaded the official Win32 binary for 3.6.0 and it doesn't seem to be reading my defaults.nh. I extracted the .zip into a new folder in my Downloads folder and created a desktop shortcut for nethackw.exe, and then copied my 3.4.3 defaults.nh to that folder, but now when I launch nethackw.exe the options are all set to their defaults. I'm fairly confident that it isn't even reading the file because I have number_pad set to 0 (off) and whenever I launch the game it's set to 1. Has anyone else encountered a similar problem and found a solution? Am I doing something hilariously wrong? Should I file a bug report? This options file worked fine on 3.4.3. PrimevalWalrus (talk) 22:22, 11 September 2016 (UTC)

Nevermind, I fixed it! all I did was delete some files from the directory above my NetHack folder from when I extracted straight into my user folder on accident and turned on debugging in Sysconf. PrimevalWalrus (talk) 17:51, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

whatis_filter and whatis_menu

Somewhat ought to write these out more clearly. I have a hard time determining what they do.

TK (talk) 18:37, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

Never mind, it was a problem with the What is page!

TK (talk) 18:42, 30 May 2018 (UTC)