14.28. Common Widget Properties

Each widget has a set of properties that define its visual appearance on the computer screen and how it responds to user events. There is a set of properties that all tk widgets have in common. Some of these are shown in the following table.

Common Widget Properties Description
bg Background color.
fg Foreground color.
width Width in pixels
height Height in pixels
borderwidth The size of the border in pixels.
text Text displayed on the widget.
font The font used for text on the widget.
cursor The shape of the cursor when the cursor is over the widget.
activeforeground The color of the text when the widget is activated.
activebackground The color of the background when the widget is activated.
image An image to be displayed on the widget.

You can treat a widget object as a dictionary and use the property names as keys to access and change the property values. For example, to change the background color and width of a widget whose object variable is named sam, you could do this:

sam = tk.Button(application_window, text="Sam's Button")
sam['bg'] = 'red'
sam['width'] = 60  # pixels

14.29. Specific Widget Properties

Each type of widget has properties specific to its intended use. Here are some examples:

Specific Widget Properties Applies to Description
variable Checkbutton Radiobutton Entry Spinbox Text An Tk object that will be changed by interaction with the widget.
from_ Scale The starting value of a scale (i.e., a slider)
to Scale The ending value of a scale (i.e., a slider)
orient Scale HORIZONTAL or VERTICAL
resolution Scale The increment amount along a scale (i.e., a slider)

Some widgets have a “variable” that a user manipulates. For such widgets you must create a special tk object that stores the widget’s value. Basically you are creating a non-visible widget that can have events associated with it. You can access the widget’s value through .set(new_value) and .get() methods on the variable object. There are four types of variable objects:

tk variable object Description
tk.BooleanVar A tk object that holds a single Boolean value
tk.IntVar A tk object that holds a single integer value
tk.DoubleVar A tk object that holds a single double value
tk.StringVar A tk object that holds a single string value

Let’s take a tk.Checkbutton as an example and walk through the steps needed to get and set its “value”. You need to do three things:

  1. Create a tk.BooleanVar object. (Actually any type of variable object can be used.)
  2. Give the tk.BooleanVar object the initial value you want for the checkbutton.
  3. Assign the variable attribute of the checkbutton to the tk.BooleanVar object.

In code this looks like this:

checkbutton_value = tk.BooleanVar()
checkbutton_value.set(True)  # The checkbutton will be "checked"

my_checkbutton = tk.Checkbutton(parent_widget, text="Example check box")
my_checkbutton['variable'] = checkbutton_value

If you want the value of the checkbutton at any time while your program is running, you get the value of the variable object like this:

the_current_value_of_the_checkbutton = checkbutton_value.get()

And you can change the state of the checkbutton at any time using a call to .set() like this:

checkbutton_value.set(FALSE)  # set the checkbutton to "un-checked"

14.30. Widget Attributes

The following web pages provide a good description of the properties that can be modified for individual widgets:

Widget Documentation Resource
tk.Button http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/button.html
ttk.Button http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Button.html
tk.Menu http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/menu.html
tk.Menubutton http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/menubutton.html
ttk.Menubutton http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Menubutton.html
tk.OptionMenu http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/optionmenu.html
ttk.Entry http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Entry.html
tk.Text http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/text.html
tk.Checkbutton http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/radiobutton.html
ttk.Checkbutton http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Checkbutton.html
tk.Radiobutton http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/radiobutton.html
ttk.Radiobutton http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Radiobutton.html
tk.Listbox http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/listbox.html
ttk.Combobox http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Combobox.html
tk.Scale http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/scale.html
ttk.Scale http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Scale.html
Container Widgets  
tk.Frame http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/frame.html
ttk.Frame http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Frame.html
tk.LabelFrame http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/labelframe.html
ttk.LabelFrame http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-LabelFrame.html
tk.PanedWindow http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/panedwindow.html
ttk.PanedWindow http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-PanedWindow.html
ttk.Notebook http://infohost.nmt.edu/tcc/help/pubs/tkinter/web/ttk-Notebook.html
Next Section - 14.31. Timer Events