Manual browser: usbhidctl(1)

USBHIDCTL(1) General Commands Manual USBHIDCTL(1)


usbhidctlmanipulate USB HID devices


usbhidctl -f device [-t table] [-lv] -a

usbhidctl -f device [-t table] [-v] -r

usbhidctl -f device [-t table] [-lnv] item [...]

usbhidctl -f device [-t table] [-z] -w item=value [...]


usbhidctl can be used to output or modify the state of a USB HID (Human Interface Device). If a list of items is present on the command line, then usbhidctl prints the current value of those items for the specified device. If the -w flag is specified usbhidctl attempts to set the specified items to the given values.

The options are as follows:

Show all items and their current values. This option fails if the device does not support the GET_REPORT command.
-f device
Specify a path name for the device to operate on. If device is numeric, it is taken to be the USB HID device number. If it is a relative path, it is taken to be the name of the device under /dev. An absolute path is taken to be the literal device pathname.
Loop and dump the device data every time it changes. Only 'input' items are displayed in this mode.
Suppress printing of the item name when querying specific items. Only output the current value.
Dump the USB HID report descriptor.
-t table
Specify a path name for the HID usage table file.
Be verbose. Repeating this option increases verbosity.
Change item values. Only 'output' and 'feature' kinds can be set with this option.
Reset all feature and output flags to zero before attempting to change them. May be required for changing item values (via -w) on devices that don't implement GET_REPORT.


/usr/share/misc/usb_hid_usages The default HID usage table.


usbhidctl parses the names of items specified on the command line against the human interface items reported by the USB device. Each human interface item is mapped from its native form to a human readable name, using the HID usage table file. Command line items are compared with the generated item names, and the USB HID device is operated on when a match is found.

Each human interface item is named by the “page” it appears in, the “usage” within that page, and the list of “collections” containing the item. Each collection in turn is also identified by page, and the usage within that page.

On the usbhidctl command line the page name is separated from the usage name with the character ‘:’. The collections are separated by the character ‘.’.

As an alternative notation in items on the command line, the native numeric value for the page name or usage can be used instead of the full human readable page name or usage name. Numeric values can be specified in decimal, octal or hexadecimal.

Some devices give the same name to more than one item. usbhidctl supports isolating each item by appending a ‘#’. character and a decimal item instance number, starting at zero.


On a standard USB mouse the item
reflects the current status of button 2. The “button 2” item is encapsulated within two collections, the “Mouse” collection in the “Generic Desktop” page, and the “Pointer” collection in the “Generic Desktop” page. The item itself is the usage “Button_2” in the “Button” page.

An item can generally be named by omitting one or more of the page names. For example the “button 2” item would usually just be referred to on the command line as:

usbhidctl -f /dev/mouse Mouse.Pointer.Button_2

Items can also be named by referring to parts of the item name with the numeric representation of the native HID usage identifiers. This is most useful when items are missing from the HID usage table. The page identifier for the “Generic Desktop” page is 1, and the usage identifier for the usage “Button_2” is 2, so the following can be used to refer to the “button 2” item:

usbhidctl -f /dev/mouse 1:Mouse.1:Pointer.Button:2

Devices with human interface outputs can be manipulated with the -w option. For example, some USB mice have a Light Emitting Diode under software control as usage 2 under page 0xffff, in the “Mouse” collection. The following can be used to switch this LED off:

usbhidctl -f /dev/mouse -w Mouse.0xffff:2=0

The output below is from a device that uses the same name repeatedly.

% usbhidctl -f /dev/uhid0 -a 

The “Consumer_Control.Unassigned” name is used twice. Each can be individually accessed by providing an instance number. For example, to set the value for the first item:

usbhidctl -f /dev/uhid0 -w 'Consumer_Control.Unassigned#0=1'

Another example is configuring multimedia keys on a keyboard. First you would look in the dmesg(8) output, which uhid(4) devices are attached to the keyboard's uhidev(4) device and use usbhidctl to see how the controls are reported:

usbhidctl -f /dev/uhidX -lv -a
Then press the special keys; you should see something like Consumer:Volume_Up etc. Then create a configuration file containing the actions, like:

Consumer:Volume_Up      1       /usr/pkg/bin/dcop amarok player volumeUp & 
Consumer:Volume_Down    1       /usr/pkg/bin/dcop amarok player volumeDown & 
Consumer:Mute           1       /usr/pkg/bin/dcop amarok player mute &
and use
usbhidaction -c /path/to/file -f /dev/uhidX
once during your X startup.


The usbhidctl command first appeared in NetBSD 1.4.


David Sainty <>
March 30, 2011 NetBSD 7.0