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RTorrent User Guide

Insert stuff about sessions, adding torrents, throttling etc. Anyone feel like writing something? This page really needs to be cleaned up...

See manpage in the meanwhile.

General note about key combinations: ^ means the Ctrl-key. M-x means Meta-x (Usually Alt-x or Esc-x)

Adding and removing torrents

backspaceAdd torrent using an URL or file path. Use tab to view directory content and do auto-complete. Also, wildcards can be used. For example: ~/torrent/*
returnSame as backspace, except the torrent remains inactive. (Use ^s to activate)
^oSet new download directory for selected torrent. Only works if torrent has not yet been activated.
^sStart download. Runs hash first unless already done.
^dStop an active download, or remove a stopped download.
^kStop and close the files of an active download.
^rInitiate hash check of torrent. Without starting to download/upload.

Note that ^s (and ^q for quit) is often used for terminal control to pause screen output (and ^q to resume). This may interfere with rTorrent. Type stty -a to see whether these have been mapped. To remove the mappings, execute the commands

stty stop undef
stty start undef

before running rTorrent (or reattaching to screen) to leave them undefined. You could also replace undef with some other code -- ^p, say. ^d also usually sends end-of-file but ncurses passes this through to rTorrent. stty eof undef if you are worried.

To fix this, you may also toggle the flow control in screen with ^a ^f until screen displays "-flow" in the bottom left corner.


a/s/dIncrease the upload throttle by 1/5/50 KB.
z/x/cDecrease the upload throttle by 1/5/50 KB.
A/S/DIncrease the download throttle by 1/5/50 KB.
Z/X/CDecrease the download throttle by 1/5/50 KB.

Note that all throttling is applied globally and not per torrent.

Common Error Messages

Could not parse bencoded data
This message is caused by bad communication with the tracker, often caused by invalid client authentication (passkey, IP address, etc.)
Could not create download, the input is not a valid torrent
This message is caused by a corrupted or otherwise non-valid .torrent file. You should redownload the .torrent file or possibly find a new source for it.

Global Keys

^qInitiate shutdown, press again to force the shutdown and skip sending the stop signal to trackers.
up/downSelect item.
leftGo back to the previous screen.

Main View Keys

right Switch to Download View.
^rInitiate hash check of torrent.
+/-Change priority of torrent.
lView log. Exit by pressing the space-bar.
1Show all downloads
2Show all downloads, ordered by name
3Show started downloads
4Show stopped downloads
5Show complete downloads
6Show incomplete downloads
7Show hashing downloads
8Show seeding downloads

Download View Keys

rightSwitch to selected view
leftSwitch to view selection or back to main view
1/2Adjust max uploads.
3/4Adjust min peers.
5/6Adjust max peers.
pDisplay peer list
oDisplay torrent info
iDisplay file list
uDisplay tracker list
t/TInitiate tracker request. Use capital T to force the request, ignoring the "min interval" set by the tracker.

Peer list View Keys

leftSwitch to view selection
rightShow peer details
*Snub peer (stop uploading to this peer)
kKick peer (disconnect from peer)
BBan peer (No unbanning is possible.) 0.8.4+

File list View Keys

leftSwitch to view selection
rightShow file details
spaceChange the file priority; applies recursively when done on a directory
*Change the priority of all files
/Collapse directories. While collapsed, press right to expand the selected directory.

Priority options are blank (standard priority), hig (high priority) and off (not to be downloaded).

Tracker list View Keys

leftSwitch to view selection
*Enable/disable tracker
spaceRotate trackers in a group

Main view window.

The main view window lists all loaded torrents with respective status info. Example of a single torrent:

*  ubuntu-5.10-install-i386.iso
* Torrent:  161.6 /  617.2 MB Rate:   1.1 /  41.3 KB Uploaded:     5.1 MB [24%]  0d  3:09 [TI R: 0.03]

Torrent info line explanation

Torrent: 161.6 / 617.2 MB

Amount of downloaded data / total size of torrent.

Rate: 1.1 / 41.3 KB

Upload / download speed rates.

Uploaded: 5.1 MB

Amount of uploaded data.


Download ratio. 161.6 MB downloaded makes 24% of the total 617.2 MB. Well, roughly apparently, presumably since some of the downloaded data may have been bad and discarded.

0d 3:09

Estimated completion time. This torrent is expected to be completely downloaded in 0 days, 3 hours and 9 minutes.


Present if torrent is tied to a file, blank otherwise.


Present if torrent is ignoring commands (such as stop_on_ratio). Toggle with 'I'.

R: 0.03

Share ratio. 5.1 MB uploaded makes 3% of the 161.6 MB already downloaded.

Note that the estimated completion time does not take into account whether you turned off the download of individual files in the torrent. It just relies on the current download speed and total size of the torrent.

Bottom line in GUI shows current info about a lot of things.

Here are a few outlined.

Example of the statusbar:

Throttle U/D: 200/off  Rate: 141.6 /   0.0 KiB  Listen:<default>:xxxxx  Bind:  [U 3/14] [D 15/0] [H 1/32] [S 6/40/768] [F 4/128]

Bottom line explanation

Throttle U/D: 200/off

These are the current speed settings.

U = upload = outgoing transfer

D = download = incoming transfer

In this case the total upload speed is limited to 200 KB/s. With the D setting to "off" there is no limit on download speed.

See Throttling section for information on how to change the settings.

Rate: 141.6 / 0.0 KiB

These numbers show the current upload/download speeds.


This is the ip reported to the tracker. It should be the same as the ip from where you are browsing the tracker.


This is the ip on which libtorrent/rtorrent is running. The external ip if you're behind a NAT.

[D 15/0]

Current number of download slots in use and the maximum (0 if unlimited).

[H 1/32]

Current number of active HTTP requests (for tracker announces and downloads of .torrent files), and the maximum.

[U 3/14]

Current number of upload slots in use, and the maximum, which depends on the global upload rate limit.

[S 6/40/768]

The three numbers represent handshakes/open sockets/max open sockets.

[F 4/128]

The two numbers represent open files/max open files. The library dynamically closes the least used files as needed.

The Peers screen

Some parts of this screen is fairly cryptic, here's explaination of the fields.


IP              UP     DOWN   PEER   C/RE/LO  QS    DONE  REQ   SNUB

Example entry:         1.1    0.0    20.5   r/ci/un  3/0   32



The IP address of the peer. (Which, of course, has nothing to do with DNS)


The rate at which your client is uploading to the peer (KiB/sec).


The rate at which your client is downloading from the peer (KiB/sec).


The download rate (KiB/sec) of this peer for this torrent (reported to your client by the peer client).


C = Connection type, can be r, l, R or L.

r = Started remotely, the peer initiated the connection to your client.

l = Started locally, your client initiated the connection to the peer.

R = Started remotely, using encrypted data transfer.

L = Started locally, using encrypted data transfer.

RE = Remote client information, has two parts; the first is u or c and the second is i or n.

c = This peer has choked your client (which means it is not going to send you any pieces for now).

u = Your client is not choked by this peer (unchoked).

i = This peer is interested in downloading from your client.

n = This peer is not interested in downloading from your client.

LO = Local client information, has two parts; the first is u or c and the second is i or n.

c = Your client has choked this peer (which means it is not going to send this peer any pieces for now).

u = Your client is not choking the peer (unchoked).

i = Your client is interested in downloading from this peer.

n = Your client is not interested in downloading from this peer.


Queues Outoing/Incoming pieces. The first is the number of pieces that are queued to be sent to the peer. The second is the number of pieces your client has requested and is waiting for the peer to send.


What percent this peer has of the file.


The number of the piece that is currently on the top of the request queue.


This field has a * in it when your client is snubbing this peer. When a peer agrees to send you a piece you have requested and then does not send that piece within a certain time your client will snub this peer. It is basically a way for the client to flag that this peer is unreliable and it is better to request pieces from other clients.


A status line in this screen lists information such as:

Peers: 99(1002) Min/Max: 40/100 Uploads: 15 U/I/C/A: 3/71/5/3 Failed: 0


The amount of peers you are connected and (not connected) to.


The minimum and maximum amount of peers to try to keep connected. Can be toyed with keys 3, 4, 5 and 6.


Maximum number of peers to upload to at the same time (given the global upload slots are available). Can be toyed with keys 1 and 2.


U = Number of corrently unchoked peers

I = Currently interested peers

C = Complete peers

A = Peers accounted


Number of failed chunks.

The Chunks seen screen

You see that screen after you press the 'i' key. You got

 Chunks seen: [C/A/D 25/29/6.99]     X downloaded  X missing  X queued  X downloading

C/A/D stands for Complete/Accounted/Distributed copies. Only those peers whose bitfields are accounted for are included above; they do not include seeders, peers with empty bitfields, nor normal peers if there are too many.

Then, you have a view of the chunks of the torrent. The chunks are shown in groups of 10. Each new line begins with the number of the first chunk on that line.

Each chunk is shown by a hexadecimal number (0123456789ABCDEF) which is equal to its rarity among the non-seeders:

  • a chunk shown as 0 is not available from non-seeders in the swarm (but all seeders have it of course)
  • a chunk shown as 6 is available from 6 non-seeders
  • and a chunk shown as F is available from 15 or more peers.

If the chunk is in bold it means you do not have that chunk yet, if it is underlined then it is in the transfer list (i.e. queued to be downloaded), and if the chunk is in reverse, it is currently being downloaded. Otherwise, a normal font indicates that the chunk has already been downloaded and verified as correct by rTorrent.

Session directory

Setting the session option will enable session management and the torrent files for all open downloads will be stored in this directory. When restarting rtorrent all torrents previously open will be restored. Only one instance of rtorrent should be used with each session directory, though at the moment no locking is done. An empty string will disable the session directory.

Watching a directory for torrents

The client may be configured to check a directory for new torrents and load them. Torrents loaded in this manner will be tied to the filename and when the file is deleted the torrent may be stopped or removed. If a torrent which is tied to a file is removed from the client, the tied file will be deleted.

schedule = watch_directory,5,5,load_start=./watch/*.torrent
schedule = untied_directory,5,5,stop_untied=

Creating a config file


Using the -i <ip> flag or "ip = <ip>" option you may change your ip address that is reported to the tracker. If you have a dynamic ip address then "schedule = ip_tick,0,1800,ip=my_address" may be used to update the ip address every 30 minutes.

The client may spend as much as 60 seconds trying to contact a UDP tracker, so if you are behind a firewall that blocks the reply packets you should tell the client to skip the UDP tracker. Set "use_udp_trackers = no" in your configuration file or in the command line option.

Signal handlers

SIGINT Normal shutdown with 5 seconds to send the stopped request to trackers.
SIGTERM Shut down immediately.
SIGWINCH Resize and redraw.
Last modified 8 years ago Last modified on 08/08/15 16:34:40
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