For example, this keeps the gnuplot-x11 graph window open until a key is pressed:

gnuplot -e "plot \"file\" ; pause -1 \"text\""

How to keep it open until manually closed?

3 Answers 3


Use the -p or --persist option:

gnuplot --persist -e 'plot sin(x)'

This will keep the window open until manually closed. From the man page:

-p,  --persist  lets  plot  windows  survive after main gnuplot program
  • 5
    as zoom doesn't work with --persist, SDsolar answer is better if you need zoom
    – lepe
    Apr 3, 2018 at 1:35
  • I have a temporary plot file that I want to remove as soon as gnuplot is done (window closed). With the -p option gnuplot invoked from my shell exits immediatly, Suggestions?
    – rew
    Oct 4, 2018 at 11:54

You'd better use pause mouse close at the end of the script. This way you will have control over the plot with mouse and various key bindings w/o any extra polling, unlike --persist or reread.

The default key bindings include:

 <B1> doubleclick   send mouse coordinates to clipboard (pm win wxt x11)
 <B2>               annotate the graph using `mouseformat` (see keys '1', '2')
                    or draw labels if `set mouse labels is on`
 <Ctrl-B2>          remove label close to pointer if `set mouse labels` is on
 <B3>               mark zoom region (only for 2d-plots and maps)
 <B1-Motion>        change view (rotation); use <Ctrl> to rotate the axes only
 <B2-Motion>        change view (scaling); use <Ctrl> to scale the axes only
 <Shift-B2-Motion>  vertical motion -- change xyplane
 <B3-Motion>        change view (azimuth)
 <wheel-up>           scroll up (in +Y direction)
 <wheel-down>         scroll down
 <shift-wheel-up>     scroll left (in -X direction)
 <shift-wheel-down>   scroll right
 <Control-WheelUp>    zoom in on mouse position
 <Control-WheelDown>  zoom out on mouse position
 <Shift-Control-WheelUp>    pinch on x
 <Shift-Control-WheelDown>  expand on x

 q            * close this plot window

 a               `builtin-autoscale` (set autoscale keepfix; replot)
 b               `builtin-toggle-border`
 e               `builtin-replot`
 g               `builtin-toggle-grid`
 h               `builtin-help`
 i               `builtin-invert-plot-visibilities`
 l               `builtin-toggle-log` y logscale for plots, z and cb for splots
 L               `builtin-nearest-log` toggle logscale of axis nearest cursor
 m               `builtin-toggle-mouse`
 r               `builtin-toggle-ruler`
 V               `builtin-set-plots-invisible`
 v               `builtin-set-plots-visible`
 1               `builtin-previous-mouse-format`
 2               `builtin-next-mouse-format`
 5               `builtin-toggle-polardistance`
 6               `builtin-toggle-verbose`
 7               `builtin-toggle-ratio`
 n               `builtin-zoom-next` go to next zoom in the zoom stack
 p               `builtin-zoom-previous` go to previous zoom in the zoom stack
 u               `builtin-unzoom`
 +               `builtin-zoom-in` zoom in
 =               `builtin-zoom-in` zoom in
 -               `builtin-zoom-out` zoom out
 Right           `scroll right in 2d, rotate right in 3d`; <Shift> faster
 Up              `scroll up in 2d, rotate up in 3d`; <Shift> faster
 Left            `scroll left in 2d, rotate left in 3d`; <Shift> faster
 Down            `scroll down in 2d, rotate down in 3d`; <Shift> faster
 <               `rotate azimuth left in 3d`; <ctrl> faster
 >               `rotate azimuth right in 3d`; <ctrl> faster
 Escape          `builtin-cancel-zoom` cancel zoom region
  • 1
    Thanks, this is the best solution.
    – m0dular
    Nov 25, 2020 at 18:23

You can make your plot program periodically refresh, making it into a live graph. This is most commonly used for data loggers where the file is being updated.

But in reference to your question it holds the plot open, refreshing, until you press Ctrl-C

Simply add these two lines to the end of your plot program:

pause 30

One advantage to doing it this way is that you do not need to exit the gnuplot environment to use it, especially while debugging. When you stop the plot you are returned to the gnuplot prompt. You can still use !vi plotpgm.gp to edit the program from within the gnuplot environment, then the load "plotpgm.gp command to start it up again.

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