Getting started with tmux

I started learning tmux and highly recommend the book tmux: Productive Mouse-Free Development 1 as a guide. My tmux.conf 2 configuration file is available as well.

Keyboard tips
  • Ctrl-b is the default prefix which I kept so that I could continue to use Ctrl-a to move the cursor to the front in bash and vim.
  • On OS X I remapped my caps lock key to be the control key
  • Ctrl-b z can be used to toggle a pane into a window, and back to a pane.
  • To scroll back through output Ctrl-b [ enters copy mode. I use vim navigation to move around (Ctrl-u and Ctrl-d up and down 1/2 page, Shift j/k to move a line at a time). If I know I need to read back though, I usually tail the log file in a separate terminal window and use the mouse since I find it to be faster.
  • tmux ls when detached, lists any running tmux sessions. tmux attach -t X can be used to attach to an existing session, where X is the number of the session.
  • Ctrl-b d detaches from an existing session
  • Ctrl-b c creates a new window within a session. exit will close the window. Ctrl-b , (comma) can be used to rename the window.
  • To split a window into panes, following the guidelines the book recommends, the shortcut Ctrl-b | (pipe) splits the window vertically into two panes next to each other, while Ctrl-b - (hyphen) splits the window into two panes stacked on top of each other horizontally. To move back and forth between panes Ctrl-b h/j/k/l can be used, or to apply a new layout entirely to the panes within a window, Ctrl-b spacebar can be used.
  • Ctrl-b w displays a list of the open windows, and the h/j/k/l keys can be used to move up and down the list. Ctrl-b X where X is a number can be used to jump to a specific numbered window.

One of the issues when resizing a window from a small size to a large size is that dots would be drawn around the main content area. Detaching and re-attaching to the window seems to fix it. 3

At this time it is not possible to give names to panes within windows. I tried having multiple applications running with their log file being tailed, one application per pane within a window, but it became too difficult to tell what application was running in a given pane. As a workaround I mostly limit a window to a single running application, and don't use multiple panes.


Do you have any favorite tmux tips or tricks? Please get in touch.