The getch, wgetch, mvgetch and mvwgetch, routines read a character from the window. In no-delay mode, if no input is waiting, the value ERR is returned. In delay mode, the program waits until the system passes text through to the program. Depending on the setting of cbreak, this is after one character (cbreak mode), or after the first newline (nocbreak mode). In half-delay mode, the program waits until a character is typed or the specified timeout has been reached.
Unless noecho has been set, then the character will also be echoed into the designated window according to the following rules: If the character is the current erase character, left arrow, or backspace, the cursor is moved one space to the left and that screen position is erased as if delch had been called. If the character value is any other KEY_ define, the user is alerted with a beep call. Otherwise the character is simply output to the screen.
If the window is not a pad, and it has been moved or modified since the last call to wrefresh, wrefresh will be called before another character is read.
If keypad is TRUE, and a function key is pressed, the token for that function key is returned instead of the raw characters. Possible function keys are defined in <curses.h> as macros with values outside the range of 8-bit characters whose names begin with KEY_. Thus, a variable intended to hold the return value of a function key must be of short size or larger.
When a character that could be the beginning of a function key is received (which, on modern terminals, means an escape character), curses sets a timer. If the remainder of the sequence does not come in within the designated time, the character is passed through; otherwise, the function key value is returned. For this reason, many terminals experience a delay between the time a user presses the escape key and the escape is returned to the program.
The ungetch routine places ch back onto the input queue to be returned by the next call to wgetch. There is just one input queue for all windows.
The following function keys, defined in <curses.h>, might be returned by getch if keypad has been enabled. Note that not all of these are necessarily supported on any particular terminal.