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unicode_version = 9

Since: Version 20211204-082213-a66c61ee9

The functionality described in this section requires version 20211204-082213-a66c61ee9 of wezterm, or a more recent version.

Specifies the version of unicode that will be used when interpreting the width/presentation of text.

This option exists because Unicode is an evolving specification that introduces new features and that occasionally adjusts how existing features should be handled.

For example, there were a number of unicode code points that had their width changed between Unicode version 8 and version 9. This wouldn't be an issue if all software was simultaneously aware of the change, but the reality is that there is a lot of older software out there, and that even if your local system is fully up to date, you might connect to a remote system vis SSH that is running applications that use a different version of unicode than your local system.

The impact of mismatching expectations of unicode width for a terminal emulator is that text columns may no longer line up as the application author expected, and/or that the cursor may appear to be in the wrong place when editing lines or text in shells or text editors.

The unicode_version option defaults to unicode version 9 as that is the most widely used version (from the perspective of width) at the time of writing, which means that the default experience has the lowest chance of mismatched expectations.

Unicode Version Impact
8 (or lower) Some characters will be narrower than later versions
9-13 Some characters will be wider than in Unicode 8
14 (or higher) Explicit Emoji or Text presentation selectors will be respected and make some characters wider or narrower than earlier versions, depending on the context

If you aggressively maintain all of your software to the latest possible versions then you may wish to set unicode_version = 14 to match the current (at the time of writing) version of Unicode. This will enable Emoji Presentation selectors to affect the presentation of certain emoji characters and alter their width in the terminal display.

If you'd like to use a higher default version but switch to a lower version when launching an older application, or when SSH'ing into a remote host, then you may be pleased to learn that wezterm also provides an escape sequence that allows the unicode version to be changed on the fly.

Unicode Version Escape sequence

This escape sequence is was originally defined by iTerm2. It supports setting the value as well as pushing and popping the value on a stack, which is helpful when temporarily adjusting the value.

OSC 1337 ; UnicodeVersion=N ST

The above sets the unicode version to N, where N is the integer version number.

OSC 1337 ; UnicodeVersion=push ST

Pushes the current version onto a stack.

OSC 1337 ; UnicodeVersion=pop ST

Pops the last-pushed version from the stack and sets the unicode version to that value. If there were no entries on the stack, the unicode version is left unchanged.

OSC 1337 ; UnicodeVersion=push LABEL ST

Pushes the current version onto a stack, labeling it with LABEL.

OSC 1337 ; UnicodeVersion=pop LABEL ST

Pops entries from the stack stopping after an entry labelled with LABEL is popped.

The labels are helpful when writing a wrapper alias, for example:

function run_with_unicode_version_9() {
  local label=$(uuidgen)
  printf "\e]1337;UnicodeVersion=push %s\e\\" $label
  printf "\e]1337;UnicodeVersion=9\e\\"
  eval $@
  local result=${PIPESTATUS[0]}
  printf "\e]1337;UnicodeVersion=pop %s\e\\" $label
  return $result

# Connect to a remote machine with an older version of unicode
run_with_unicode_version_9 ssh remote.machine

Will save the current version on the stack with a unique label, then set the version to 9 and spawn the requested command. When the command returns it will restore the saved version, even if the command itself set or pushed other values.