For people who like to make things

There are times when I have to log into Linux systems that don’t have window managers. I have a single terminal window in which to work. With the help of tmux, I can have multiple virtual windows in my single window. Each window can be split into panes. I can also save sessions so that I can bring the environment back after I disconnect from the system and reconnect several days (or weeks or months) later. In this blog post I’ll share the most important tmux commands.

I don’t want to make a tmux tutorial. There are several really good ones out there (see below). Instead, what you see below is a cheatsheet for quick reference:


  • $ tmux
  • $ tmux new-session -s basic Create a session named basic
  • $ tmux new -s basic Create a session named basic


  • __PREFIX__ d detach from our tmux session
  • $ tmux list-sessions or tmux ls List sessions
  • $ tmux attach Attach to our session
  • $ tmux new -s second_session -d Create a new session and detach it immediately
  • $ tmux attach -t second_session Attach to named session
  • $ tmux kill-session -t basic Kill session named basic
  • $ tmux new -s windows -n shell Create a session name “windows” and name the first window “shell”
  • __PREFIX__ s Select sessions. Use the right arrow to select specific windows
  • __PREFIX__ ( Switch to previous session
  • __PREFIX__ ) Switch to next session
  • __PREFIX__ $ Rename session


  • __PREFIX__ c Create a new window
  • __PREFIX__ , Rename window
  • __PREFIX__ n Next window
  • __PREFIX__ p Previous Window
  • __PREFIX__ 4 Go to window 4 (starting from 0)
  • __PREFIX__ f Find window by name
  • __PREFIX__ w Display a visual menu of window


  • __PREFIX__ % Split window vertically
  • __PREFIX__ " Split window horizontally
  • __PREFIX__ o Cycle through panes
  • __PREFIX__ UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT Move around the panes
  • __PREFIX__ Cntrl-UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT Resize pane. Repeatable
  • __PREFIX__ SPACE Cycle through default layouts
  • __PREFIX__ x Kill pane - useful if you can’t communicate with the process.

Command Mode

  • __PREFIX__ : Go into command mode
  • new-window -n processes "top" Create a new window named processes running top

Custom setups

  • tmux attach -t development Attach to session named development
  • tmux split-window -v -t development Split window in session named development
  • tmux new -s development -n machineOne -d Create session named development, name window machineOne and detach immediately
  • tmux send-keys -t development 'cd CocoaApps' C-m
  • tmux split-window -v -t development
  • tmux select-layout -t devlopment main-horizontal
  • tmux send-keys -t development:0.1 'emacs' C-m Open emacs in session devlopment, screen 0, window 1
  • tmux select-window -t development:1

Working with text

  • __PREFIX__ [ to enter copy mode, ESC to exit. Emacs bindings to select and copy. Vi mode also possible.


  • __PREFIX__ z toggle pane zoom
  • : pipe-pane -o "log.txt" Toggle output piping to log.txt
  • : pipe-pane -o "cat >> ~/#W.log" \; display "Toggled logging to ~/#W.log" Toggle output piping to log.txt


© 2022 Aijaz Ansari
The Joy of Hack by Aijaz Ansari is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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