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Comprehensive tmux Tutorial: Problem-Solving Tips and Commands

Tmux is a terminal multiplexer that allows users to manage multiple terminal sessions from a single window. It is a powerful tool for developers and system administrators who need to work with multiple command line interfaces simultaneously. In this comprehensive tutorial, we will cover everything from installing tmux on different operating systems to advanced commands and scripting for automation. Whether you are new to tmux or looking to expand your knowledge, this guide will provide you with the problem-solving tips and commands you need to master tmux.

Starting tmux



Description: Initiates a new tmux session. The session will be given an ID if not named.

Creating a New Session


tmux new -s session_name

Description: Starts a new session named “session_name”, aiding in management of sessions.

Attaching to a Session


tmux attach -t session_name

Description: Reconnects to an existing session named “session_name”, useful for returning to previous workspaces.

Detaching from a Session


Ctrl+b d

Description: Detaches from the current session, allowing it to continue running in the background.

Splitting the Window

Horizontal Split:

Ctrl+b "

Vertical Split:

Ctrl+b %

Description: Splits the current window into horizontal or vertical panes, enabling simultaneous command line operations.

Switching Between Panes


Ctrl+b arrow key

Description: Changes focus between panes, facilitating multitasking within the same window.

Creating a New Window


Ctrl+b c

Description: Opens a new window in the session, each window can host its own application or task.

Moving Between Windows


Ctrl+b n (next), Ctrl+b p (previous)

Description: Navigates through session windows, organizing multiple tasks efficiently.

Renaming a Window


Ctrl+b ,

Description: Changes the current window’s name, helping in identifying the purpose or task of the window.

Closing a Pane or Window


exit or Ctrl+d

Description: Exits the current pane or window. If in a pane, only that pane will close; otherwise, the window closes.

While tmux commands on Mac use the Control key as part of the command sequence, macOS-specific shortcuts typically use the Command key. There isn’t a direct overlap between tmux commands and macOS system commands, so the tmux experience on Mac, in terms of keyboard shortcuts, is quite similar to that on other Unix-like systems. If you prefer to use the Command key for tmux commands, you would need to explore custom configurations and possibly third-party tools or terminal applications that allow such modifications.

Detached Sessions

Issue: You’ve started a long-running process in tmux, but accidentally closed the terminal or got disconnected.


  1. Reattach to the tmux session: Use tmux attach-session or tmux a to reattach to the last session. If you have multiple sessions, use tmux list-sessions to view all sessions and tmux attach-session -t [session-name] to attach to a specific one.

Split Windows

Issue: You need to view multiple terminal panes side-by-side for monitoring or development purposes.


  1. Splitting Windows: Inside a tmux session, press Ctrl+b (tmux prefix), then % to split the window vertically, or " to split it horizontally.
  2. Navigating Panes: Use Ctrl+b then the arrow keys to move between panes.

Copy-Paste Issues

Issue: Unable to copy text from a tmux pane to your system clipboard.


  1. Enter Copy Mode: Press Ctrl+b then [ to enter copy mode.
  2. Navigate and Select: Use arrow keys to navigate, space to start the selection, and enter to copy.
  3. Paste Inside tmux: Use Ctrl+b then ] to paste the copied text in another tmux pane.
  4. System Clipboard Integration: For system clipboard integration, you may need to configure tmux with set-option -g set-clipboard on in .tmux.conf and ensure xclip/xsel is installed on Linux or reattach-to-user-namespace is installed on macOS.

Customizing Key Bindings

Issue: Default key bindings are not intuitive or conflicting with other applications.


  1. Edit .tmux.conf: Open ~/.tmux.conf in a text editor.
  2. Custom Key Bindings: Add lines like unbind C-b and set -g prefix C-a to change the prefix. Bind new keys with bind-key followed by the key and the command.

Lost Configuration After Reboot

Issue: tmux settings and sessions are lost after a system reboot.


  1. Persistent Configuration: Always save your tmux configuration in ~/.tmux.conf.
  2. Session Management: Tools like tmuxinator or tmux-resurrect can be used to save and restore sessions.

Difficulty Managing Multiple Sessions

Issue: Hard to manage or switch between multiple tmux sessions.


  1. List Sessions: Use tmux list-sessions to view all active sessions.
  2. Create Named Session: Use tmux new -s [session-name] to create a new named session.
  3. Switch Sessions: Use tmux switch -t [session-name] to switch between sessions.

Clear Steps for Common Tasks

  1. Starting a New Session:
    • Command: tmux new -s mysession
    • Explanation: This starts a new tmux session named ‘mysession’.
  2. Detaching and Reattaching Sessions:
    • Detach: Ctrl+b then d
    • Reattach: tmux attach -t mysession
    • Explanation: Detach from a session with a key combination and reattach using a command.
  3. Customizing the Status Bar:
    • Edit ~/.tmux.conf
    • Add lines like set -g status-bg blue
    • Explanation: Customize the look and feel of your tmux status bar.

By understanding these common problems and their solutions, you can effectively utilize tmux to enhance your terminal experience. Remember, tmux is highly customizable, so feel free to tailor it to your specific workflow needs.

Introduction to tmux Usage

tmux is a command-line tool that allows users to create, manage, and navigate multiple terminal sessions from a single window. It is especially useful for remote work, as it allows users to detach and reattach sessions without losing their work. tmux is also highly customizable, with a range of configuration options and keybindings that can be tailored to individual workflows.

Installing tmux

Installing tmux on a server typically involves using the package manager available on your server’s operating system. Here’s a general guide on how to install tmux on various commonly used Linux distributions and macOS.

For Debian/Ubuntu-based Linux Distributions

Update Package Lists:

sudo apt update

Install tmux:

sudo apt install tmux

For CentOS/RHEL-based Linux Distributions

For CentOS/RHEL 7 and earlier, you might need to enable the EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) repository first:

sudo yum install epel-release

Install tmux:

sudo yum install tmux

For Fedora

Install tmux:

sudo dnf install tmux

For Arch Linux

Install tmux:

sudo pacman -S tmux

For macOS

If you have Homebrew installed (a popular package manager for macOS), you can install tmux using it. If not, you can install Homebrew first by following instructions on

Install tmux with Homebrew:

brew install tmux

Verifying the Installation

Once you have installed tmux, you can verify the installation by running:

tmux -V

This command should return the version of tmux installed.


  • The commands provided assume you have administrative (sudo) privileges on the server.
  • The availability of tmux in package repositories can vary based on the version of the operating system.
  • For distributions that do not have tmux in their default repositories, or for installing specific versions, you might need to add additional repositories or compile tmux from source.

Remember, after installing tmux, you can start using it by typing tmux in your terminal. For customized configurations, you can create a .tmux.conf file in your home directory.

tmux is available on most Unix-based operating systems, including Linux and macOS. On Linux, it can be installed using the package manager for your distribution, such as apt for Ubuntu or yum for CentOS. On macOS, tmux can be installed using Homebrew with the command brew install tmux. For Windows users, tmux is available through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

tmux Configuration Basics

tmux can be configured through the .tmux.conf file, which is located in the user’s home directory. This file allows users to set default options, keybindings, and other preferences. For example, users can set the default prefix key (the key used to issue tmux commands) or change the appearance of the status bar.

tmux Session Management

Sessions are the top-level organizational unit in tmux, and they allow users to group related terminal windows together. To create a new session, users can use the tmux new -s command. Sessions can be detached using the tmux detach command and reattached with tmux attach -t.

Creating and Managing Windows

Within a tmux session, users can create multiple windows to organize their work. Windows can be created with the tmux new-window command and navigated with the tmux select-window -t command. Windows can also be renamed and rearranged to suit the user’s workflow.

Splitting Panes in tmux

tmux allows users to split windows into multiple panes, either horizontally or vertically. This can be done using the tmux split-window command, with the -h flag for horizontal splits and -v for vertical splits. Panes can be resized and navigated using tmux commands or keybindings.

Customizing tmux Keybindings

tmux keybindings can be customized to match the user’s preferences. This can be done by adding bind-key commands to the .tmux.conf file. For example, users can change the keybinding for creating a new window or for navigating between panes.

Synchronizing Panes in tmux

tmux allows users to synchronize input across multiple panes, which can be useful for running the same command on multiple servers. This can be done using the setw synchronize-panes command, which can be toggled on and off as needed.

tmux Scripting for Automation

tmux can be scripted to automate repetitive tasks, such as setting up a development environment with specific windows and panes. This can be done by creating a shell script that issues tmux commands, which can then be run with a single command.

Troubleshooting tmux Issues

Users may encounter issues with tmux, such as problems with keybindings or configuration settings. These can often be resolved by checking the tmux man page or by searching for solutions online. It is also important to ensure that the .tmux.conf file is properly formatted and free of errors.

Advanced tmux Commands

For advanced tmux users, there are a range of commands that can be used to further customize and optimize their workflow. These include commands for setting window and pane layouts, managing buffers, and scripting complex workflows.

In conclusion, tmux is a powerful and versatile tool that can greatly enhance productivity for command-line users. By mastering the basics of tmux usage, configuration, and session management, users can create efficient and organized workflows. With the ability to customize keybindings, synchronize panes, and automate tasks through scripting, tmux offers a range of advanced features for power users. For further resources, users can refer to the tmux man page, online forums, and tutorials to continue expanding their knowledge and skills with tmux.



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