Scripting Guide

Building on the Configuration Quick Start, this chapter explains more complex commands and constructs of the scripting language. It also helps with controlling rTorrent from the outside, via the XMLRPC protocol.

It is to become the comprehensive reference to rTorrent’s command language that was always missing, and will only be a success when enough people join forces and thus spread the workload to many shoulders. If you’re a developer or power user, this will be an invaluable tool, so please take the time and contribute what you know.

See the Commands Reference chapter for a list of all relevant XMLRPC and ‘private’ commands of rTorrent with a short explanation. The generated index also lists all the commmand names.

Another helpful tool is the quite powerful GitHub search. Use it to find information on commands, e.g. their old vs. new syntax variants, what they actually do (i.e. “read the source”), and internal uses in predefined methods, handlers, and schedules. Consider the view.add example.


rTorrent scripting uses a strictly line-oriented syntax, with no control structures that span several logical lines. Read Basic Syntax Elements (again) regarding the most fundamental syntax rules. If you skipped Config Template Deconstructed, now is the time to go through it, since it exposes you to common idioms while explaining the core config commands.

Here’s also a short command syntax summary:

  • Comments start with a #.
  • Line continuations work by escaping the line end with \.
  • Commands take the form cmd = arg, (‘old’ syntax) or (cmd, arg, …) (‘new’ syntax).
  • Arguments are a comma-separated list: arg1, arg2, .
  • $cmd=… evaluates cmd and inserts its result value in place of the call. A command in single parentheses is also immediately evaluated.
  • Use double quotes for preserving whitespace, or to pass statements as arguments to other commands (like method.insert and schedule2). Use \" to escape quotes within quoted strings.
  • Use double parentheses to pass a command unevaluated to another command.
  • Braces {…, …} pass a list as an argument, used for setting list values, or with boolean operators.
  • All commands are defined in the C++ source files rtorrent/src/command_*.cc of the client’s source code, which is the ultimate reference when it comes to intricate details.


A command is ... It’s called by ...

A deep-dive into defining your own commands can be found in the reference of related commands.

Use the Commands Reference for details on specific commands, and the generated index to find them by name.


The most basic form of escaping is when you have to supply a command with multiple arguments to another command as part of an argument list. You have to tell rTorrent which comma belongs to the inner argument list, and which to the outer one, by quoting the inner command using double quotation marks:

outer = arg1, "inner=arg21,arg22", arg3

It’s also good style to avoid deep nesting by defining your own custom commands (see method.insert, and also Config Template Deconstructed and Common Configuration Use-Cases for many examples). You can then use these building blocks in another command, instead of a literal nested group. The additional benefit is you can name things for documentation purposes, and also avoid overly long lines.

In practice, anything but a single nested quote should be avoided, because the next level already gives you the \\\" awkwardness.

Make plenty use of line continuations, i.e. escaping of line ends to break up long physical lines into several short ones. Put the breaks into places where you can use any amount of whitespace, and then indent the parts according to the structure of the logical line.

method.insert = indent_sequence_of_cmds_and_their_args, private|simple,\
    "load.verbose =\
        (cat, (, (argument.0), /*.torrent),\
        (cat, d.category.set=, (argument.0)) ;\
     category.view.update = (argument.0)"

schedule2 = polling, 10, 120,\
    ((d.multicall2, main,\

Also note how using combinations of ‘new’ and ‘old’ syntax keeps the needed amount of escaping at bay (double parentheses are also a form of escaping).

Object Types

This is a summary about the possible object types in (applies to 0.9.6).

  • multi (with subtypes: static, private, const, rlookup)
    • TODO: what is it
  • simple (with subtypes: static, private, const)
    • TODO: why is it “simple”
  • value, bool, string, list (with subtypes: static, private, const)
    • Standard types, value is an integer.

Formatting & Type Conversions


Custom Attributes


Advanced Concepts

‘✴.multicall’ Demystified


Scripting Best Practices


Using XMLRPC for Remote Control


  • TCP vs. Unix domain sockets
  • raw SCGI vs. HTTP gateways
  • XMLRPC buffer size
  • client libs
  • daemon mode