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tmux cheatsheet

tmux cheat sheet

(C-x means ctrl+x, M-x means alt+x)

Prefix key

The default prefix is C-b. If you (or your muscle memory) prefer C-a, you need to add this to ~/.tmux.conf:

# remap prefix to Control + a
set -g prefix C-a
# bind 'C-a C-a' to type 'C-a'
bind C-a send-prefix
unbind C-b

I'm going to assume that C-a is your prefix.

Sessions, windows, panes

Session is a set of windows, plus a notion of which window is current.

Window is a single screen covered with panes. (Once might compare it to a ‘virtual desktop’ or a ‘space’.)

Pane is a rectangular part of a window that runs a specific command, e.g. a shell.

Getting help

Display a list of keyboard shortcuts:

C-a ?

Navigate using Vim or Emacs shortcuts, depending on the value of mode-keys. Emacs is the default, and if you want Vim shortcuts for help and copy modes (e.g. j, k, C-u, C-d), add the following line to ~/.tmux.conf:

setw -g mode-keys vi

Any command mentioned in this list can be executed as tmux something or C-a :something (or added to ~/.tmux.conf).

Managing sessions

Creating a session:

tmux new-session -s work

Create a new session that shares all windows with an existing session, but has its own separate notion of which window is current:

tmux new-session -s work2 -t work

Attach to a session:

tmux attach -t work

Detach from a session: C-a d.

Switch between sessions:

C-a (          previous session
C-a )          next session
C-a L          ‘last’ (previously used) session
C-a s          choose a session from a list


C-a $          rename the current session

Managing windows

Create a window:

C-a c          create a new window

Switch between windows:

C-a 1 ...      switch to window 1, ..., 9, 0
C-a 9
C-a 0
C-a p          previous window
C-a n          next window
C-a l          ‘last’ (previously used) window
C-a w          choose window from a list

Switch between windows with a twist:

C-a M-n        next window with a bell, activity or
               content alert
C-a M-p        previous such window


C-a ,          rename the current window
C-a &          kill the current window

Managing split panes

Creating a new pane by splitting an existing one:

C-a "          split vertically (top/bottom)
C-a %          split horizontally (left/right)

Switching between panes:

C-a left       go to the next pane on the left
C-a right      (or one of these other directions)
C-a up
C-a down
C-a o          go to the next pane (cycle through all of them)
C-a ;          go to the ‘last’ (previously used) pane

Moving panes around:

C-a {          move the current pane to the previous position
C-a }          move the current pane to the next position
C-a C-o        rotate window ‘up’ (i.e. move all panes)
C-a M-o        rotate window ‘down’
C-a !          move the current pane into a new separate
               window (‘break pane’)
C-a :move-pane -t :3.2
               split window 3's pane 2 and move the current pane there

Resizing panes:

C-a M-up, C-a M-down, C-a M-left, C-a M-right
               resize by 5 rows/columns
C-a C-up, C-a C-down, C-a C-left, C-a C-right
               resize by 1 row/column

Applying predefined layouts:

C-a M-1        switch to even-horizontal layout
C-a M-2        switch to even-vertical layout
C-a M-3        switch to main-horizontal layout
C-a M-4        switch to main-vertical layout
C-a M-5        switch to tiled layout
C-a space      switch to the next layout


C-a x          kill the current pane
C-a q          display pane numbers for a short while

Other config file settings

Force a reload of the config file on C-a r:

unbind r
bind r source-file ~/.tmux.conf

Some other settings that I use:

setw -g xterm-keys on

fjfish commented Jun 4, 2013

^A is beginning of line - personally leave it at ^B

It's the same for me it's ^B. Thanks for the tips :)

LeftyBC commented Sep 23, 2013

I change the prefix to ^A, but "^A a" passes through that ^A to do beginning-of-line, so I don't miss it.

amiel commented Sep 25, 2013

I use ^T, which is pretty handy in dvorak

igbanam commented Oct 14, 2013

Thanks for the recipe (:

djblue commented Oct 24, 2013

Very handy. Thanks!

anselmo commented Jan 15, 2014


droope commented Feb 19, 2014

This is great! thanks

sukima commented Feb 25, 2014

I wouldn't mind going for ^B but my muscle memory is so used to the old days with screen that I can't undo ^A. 😞

Had my own reservations about switching to ^A since I'm used to using it for start of line in bash & zsh, however tapping it twice (^A^A) mimics the old ^A behaviour. Since discovering that I've been happy with the change.

How reload the tmux.conf ?

33 unbind r
34 bind r source-file ~/.tmux.conf

Then i hit r + return ?

Close all tmux sessions, or run: tmux kill-server. Then start new session: tmux new -s session_name
Session is closed by pressing Ctrl-d

hauleth commented Apr 11, 2014

Personally I use ^Q as I often use ^A in Vim.

You should say what setw -g xterm-keys on actually does.

This is great! Very handy.

It's strange I can't resize the panes in tmux. For example to resize left a pane, I tried:

^b ^h
^b alt-<arrow-left>
^b ^<arrow-left>

This works

^b : resize-pane -L

but I prefer a shortcut to having to type too much.

Any ideas?

ps: I don't have ~/.tmux.conf file

I find this so useful

stoddart commented Dec 4, 2014

@xavierartot @akartynnik You can also run:

killall tmux insure that all tmux sessions are closed.

stoddart commented Dec 4, 2014

@EvanCarroll What #setw -g xterm-keys on does is insure keyboard shortcuts inside vim still work by enabling xterm keybindings.

I have problem switching between last used session. C-a L switches to last used window rather than last used session which is the same as C-a l. Is there a way to switch to last used session?

kibromGB commented Aug 4, 2015

Am I supposed to create the config file manually as it is not there on my home directory ( ~/.tmux.conf )?

PS: Output of: /# whereis tmux.conf
is: tmux: /usr/bin/tmux /usr/bin/X11/tmux /usr/share/man/man1/tmux.1.gz

C-a " split vertically (top/bottom) Is that right? Shouldn't that be called as splitting horizontally ?

very nice & helpful

I run tmux local and screen remote so the Ctrl-B, Ctrl-A defaults are best for me.

lmj0011 commented Jun 29, 2016 edited

I always find myself coming back to this gist after viewing at this one:

longkai commented Aug 3, 2016



FliiFe commented Oct 24, 2016

I use C-Space as prefix, it does not interfere with anything I have (C-b drives me insane, I use vim, and C-a too).

How do I cancel "C-a mode" after switching panes? E.g. after doing C-a right I want to be able to press left without going to another pane.


tony commented Feb 15, 2017 edited

(I posted this message on another gist too), but I've recently written a book called The Tao of tmux and made it available for free to read online. It covers tmux by the way of its server, down to its sessions, window and panes. It also covers details on configuration and usage shortcuts. All are welcome to check it out!

I found C-\ to be a good prefix, stays out of the way and is easy to reach quickly.

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