Comprehensive Tmux Tutorial for Beginners with a Cheat Sheet

Changing the color scheme, information in the status bar, installing themes via the plugin manager, enabling copy and paste via the mouse and to the clipboard, and mimicking the screen prefix in the config file are all covered in this tmux quick start guide.

However, in addition to providing the essential configuration options, this tutorial also provides a beginner-friendly introduction to the layout of tmux screens, windows, panes, and how each of these components works together.

This quick start guide is designed to coach a beginner from the installation and configuration of tmux, to installing custom powerline themes via a plugin manager by the time they reach the bottom of the page.

Why use Tmux?

Tmux stands for Terminal Multiplexer. Essentially tmux allows a user to create multiple terminal sessions within one actual terminal window or tab. A (probably bad) analogy could be if you have 10 different tabs open in Chrome or Firefox, and within each tab, you had 4 different web pages displayed.

For the actual definition, what better place to define tmux than the tmux man page

 tmux is a terminal multiplexer: it enables a number of terminals to be
 created, accessed, and controlled from a single screen.  tmux may be
 detached from a screen and continue running in the background, then
 later reattached.

Additional information can be obtained from the tmux github page.

Three Main Benefits of Tmux

The three main benefits of tmux also highlight the three different components that make up a tmux server instance. While there are other benefits (quickly resizing panes, color customization, themes, customization, hotkeys, etc.), the three MAIN benefits are listed below, with each component highlighted.

  1. Attach/detach from SESSIONS
  2. Multiple WINDOWS within a session
  3. Multiple PANES within a window

In order to understand exactly what these mean, lets take a closer look into what makes up a tmux Session, Window, and Pane.

Sessions, Windows, and Panes

TMUX SESSIONS. Sessions are the highest level object that make up the interface. A user can create multiple sessions, kill sessions, rename them, and more, all without ever actually having to enter into the session. Sessions also allow users to attach and detach from them with ease.

Sessions exemplify the power of tmux due to the ability to detach and attach. A single session could have 5 windows, with a total of 20 panes spread between them, with each pane already cd’ed into the proper directory, tailing the correct log, or executing the watch script, with a workspace pane also available. Need to do the same thing, but on another system? Just detach, and switch to the appropriate session with the same configuration. As you can imagine, this functionality can save a lot of time.

TMUX WINDOWS. Windows are the equivalent to tabs within your web browser, tabs within excel, or terminal tabs. Users can rename them and switch to them with a simple hotkey. They are displayed within the tmux status bar.

The benefit of tmux windows is obvious as even as you read this you probably have a minimum of 13 other tabs open. Example scenario: TAB1 is your troubleshooting tab with logs being tailed, monitoring cpu utilization, etc. TAB2 is where you are modifying your script or application configuration. Make a change in TAB2, switch to TAB1, and watch the stats/logs.

TMUX PANES. Panes are essentially another terminal instance, within the window, within the session. Users can shape panes horizontally and vertically with hotkeys, arranging them to optimize their screen space for the current task.

Tmux panes are the largest contributor to increased productivity. For example, you are testing a config change and want to see its impact on the system. You need to compare against a known good system. Within a span of 5 seconds you could open up two more panes, ssh to the good system, view the config in one pane, and look at the logs in another. All the while still viewing your test system logs and config on the other two panes you had open…. In the same Tmux Window…. In the Tmux Session… In the same Terminal Tab. Now that’s increased productivity.

tmux tips colors powerline themes cheat sheet color scheme session config detach
A Tmux Session with two tmux windows with multiple tmux panes within each

Tmux Status Bar

The tmux status bar deserves it’s own section because understanding where you are is essential to using tmux correctly and not accidentally rm -rf’ing a directory on the wrong host. The status bar shows you all you need to know, and its important to know whats going on down there before we start muxing.

The Tmux status bar quickly shows you the following:

  • Session name
  • Window number
  • Window name
  • Active Window
  • Hostname

There are a lot of configuration options available for the tmux status bar, but with a standard install, the default color of the status bar is green. The image below is an example of what the panes in Window1 of the image above could look like when configured the same way.

tmux server themes powerline conf config cheat sheet attach detach windows session pane
Tmux Status bar legend

With a basic understanding of what tmux is and how sessions, windows, and panes work together, lets quickly install it and start messing around.

Tmux Installation

Typical Install

  • Installing tmux is quite simple:
    • Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install tmux
    • Mac: brew install tmux
    • CentOS/RHEL: sudo yum install tmux

Local Download

  • If you’d like to have a local installation, you can download tmux, navigate to their github page and download the latest stable .tar.gz. Once downloaded, follow the configure/make/make install procedures.
    • Note: A local tmux download/install require ncurses and libevent 2.x. See the tmux README for additional information.

The Tmux Prefix

Before we start manipulating tmux sessions, windows, and panes, it is important to understand what the prefix is.

The tmux prefix is a combination of keys you press prior to pressing ANOTHER (command) key which will actually do the action you desire. It’s the equivalent of pressing ctrl + alt before pressing ctrl + alt + del. In this example the ctrl + alt is the prefix, and the del is the command.

The default prefix for tmux is ctrl + b. For example:
Prefix: ctrl + b
Command: d
As we will learn further down in the article, this will detach from the current session using the command key d.

We learn how to change the prefix key within the tmux config section.

Tmux Sessions

There are a couple of methods to create, attach, detach, switch, and kill tmux sessions. We will practice creating one using the most basic method, and then with a bit more detail.

Creating a Simple Session

Starting with the very basics, lets simply start and attach to a new session, then exit it.

To start and attach to a new session, simply run the command:


Inside your first session, notice the view is almost identical to a normal terminal window. The tmux status bar at the bottom shows information regarding this session. Before we go further, lets exit this session (not detach).

Exit the session by pressing (When we exit the session, the server will also exit)

ctrl + d
new tmux server session status bar green color theme attach detach
Start a new tmux server session. Ctrl+d to exit it. Return to bash prompt with tmux server [exited] message.

Now, we are going to do the same thing, except this time we are going to detach from the session, leaving the tmux server, and therefor this session, still running. After detaching, we can attach to it again.

Start and attach to a new session


Now, detach from the session

ctrl + b d

Next, let’s list running sessions. We should see our previously created session

tmux ls

Now, we can reattach to the session in a variety of ways. One of the ways you can reattach is by attaching to your most previously used session. Run any of the following commands to attach to your most previously used session

tmux a
tmux at
tmux attach
tmux attach-session

Boom! You are back into the same session you created earlier. You can now exit with ctrl + d or detach with ctrl + b d.

tmux attach detach session server ls create pane
Create, detach, list, and reattach to a tmux session.

These are the absolute basics of creating, exiting, detaching, and attaching to a single session. Next, we are going to practice creating and managing tmux sessions with a bit more detail.

Session Management

Now that we’ve created, detached, listed, and attached back to a single session, let us explore creating some with session names, killing sessions, switching to others.

First, let’s create three new sessions with a specified name without attaching. To do this, we will use the -d option to stay detached, and the -s option to specify a name. tmux new -d -s <YourSessionName>.

tmux new -d -s 1tmux
tmux new -d -s 2tmux
tmux new -d -s 3tmux

List tmux sessions. You should see all three newly created sessions.

tmux ls

Now, for testing purposes, lets:
1. Kill 1tmux
2. Attach to 2tmux
3. Change the session name from 2tmux to 2TMUXXX (from inside the session)
4. Kill all remaining sessions aside from the one we are in (which will mean killing 3tmux).
5. List the remaining sessions. There should only be 2TMUXX

Kill 1tmux session (From the terminal, not inside a session)

tmux kill-ses -t 1tmux

Attach to session 2tmux (From the terminal, not inside a session)

tmux a -t 2tmux

Rename session 2tmux to 2TMUXXX (Inside a session)

ctrl+b $ 2TMUXX

Kill all remaining tmux sessions aside from this one (Inside a session)

tmux kill-ses -a

Detach (not exit) from this session (Inside a session)

ctrl + b d
tmux ls

List tmux sessions (From the terminal, not inside a session)

tmux ls

The only session remaining should be 2TMUXXX.

tmux rename-session status bar color config conf
Creating, deleting, and renaming multiple tmux sessions

Switch sessions without exiting or detaching. Before continuing, you MUST know how to do this. This functionality will save you countless seconds every time you utilize it. Which, over the course of a few years, adds up to a few minutes!

In addition to providing two features in one, invoking the tmux prefix + command key to switch sessions provides a preview of the other session. Great for verifying if you actually want to switch to a session before doing so.

Quick Tip! The switch session preview only occurs if your terminal window is large enough. If you don’t see the preview, increase your terminal window size, and try to switch sessions again.

To switch sessions (and list them), enter your tmux prefix + s

Ctrl + b s

Use the arrow keys to navigate through the available sessions. Yep! That’s right, this is the same as listing sessions. Press enter to complete the session switch. Use the preview to make an informed decision!

tmux session swap switch find create color scheme server tips quick start themes powerline buffer copy paste
List and switch tmux sessions with a preview of the session before switching.

Quick Tip! While inside a session, using the functionality to switch sessions is preferable to doing a list of sessions. For example, while working within tmux, you list the running sessions only to realize you want to switch to one now that you’ve seen what is available. You don’t switch sessions every time, but sometimes you do end up switching to a session after listing them. Well, the hotkey for switching and listing sessions contains the benefit of listing sessions, with an additional benefit of giving you a preview of what is in the other sessions. This can save you an extra step while providing an additional feature. So basically, get in the habit of switching tmux sessions vs listing them!

Tmux Windows

Within each session, you can have multiple windows. Again, think of tmux windows like tabs in a browser or another terminal session.

For this example, we will do the following
1. Create and enter a new session
2. Rename the current window
3. Create two new windows within the session
4. Rename the two new windows

First, create a new session with the name MUXWIN

tmux new -s MUXWIN

In the MUXWIN tmux session, rename the window from its default (bash) to Winder1

ctrl + b ,

Create a new window

ctrl + b c

Rename this window to Winder2, then create one more window and rename it to Winder3

Ctrl + b , Winder2
Ctrl + b c
Ctrl + b , Winder3

Detach from the session (do not exit)

Ctrl + b d

List the sessions. Notice our session MUXWIN shows 3 Windows

tmux ls
tmux zsh zshc config conf themes buffer switch color scheme server attach detach
Create a new tmux session, and create and rename three windows within it.

Tmux Panes

Now that we can manage sessions and windows, let’s start creating new panes within a tmux window.

First, create a session and attach to it. This one is called 1MUX

tmux new -s 1MUX

Now, split the pane vertically

ctrl + b %

Your cursor will now be on the right pane. Now, split the pane horizontally

ctrl + b "

Your cursor should now be on the bottom right of three panes within one tmux session!

tmux quick start tips switch session status bar cheat sheet detach attach
Splitting tmux pane vertically and horizontally

Display the pane numbers by typing

ctrl + b q
tmux cheat sheet attach detach quick start tips switch status bar color scheme
Ctrl+ b q to show tmux pane numbers

Knowing the numbers of the panes is useful for quickly switching to them. You can switch between the various panes by using the same key used to display the numbers, except this time add a number after the q to switch to that pane.

ctrl + b q <0..1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9>

While we only have three panes open right now, being able to quickly switch to a numbered pane can come in very handy when you have multiple sessions open with multiple panes within each session.

Quick tip: A very helpful way to use multiple panes within one session is to use the minimal amount of screen space required to obtain the information you need. For example, if you were running a watch command, and grepping for a new log file to drop into a directory, you could do that easily, while still using the other panes within the tmux session to continue working.

tmux powerline config conf themes quick start tips status bar color session pane server
Using the smallest amount of space required to watch for a new file to drop, while still continuing to work within the other two panes within a single tmux session.

Tmux Copy / Paste & Clipboard

Being able to copy and paste is a basic human right, and no tmux tutorial would be complete without learning how to do it with the default config.

What’s cool about this copy mode is that you can use while you are vim’ing a file, and also just at the command prompt.

What’s not cool about this copy mode is that out of the box there is no hotkey to also copy it to our system’s clipboard. So, keep in mind when you copy text here, it is only going to be relevant to the tmux buffer.

Copy & Paste – Default Settings

In a tmux window, enter tmux “copy mode

ctrl + b [

You should see a little counter appear in the upper right with [0/0]. You are now in copy mode.

You still can’t copy text yet. Move to where you want to START copying text.

Now, enter the “copy” mode of “copy mode”.


Now, using the arrow keys, move up/down. The highlighted text will be copied to your buffer.

Once you are done, exit copy mode by pressing

Alt + w

Everything that you just highlighted is now stored within the tmux buffer. Navigate to a new window or pane where you’d like to paste it. NOTE: You must still be in a session, you cannot paste this to a separate terminal window outside of tmux (for now).

Paste the text

ctrl + b ]

Thats it! Remember, you can use this within vim, nano, or your choice of editor, but also on the command prompt!

Copy Tmux Buffer to System Clipboard

Now let’s modify our .tmux.conf so that we can copy the tmux buffer to our system’s clipboard.

These settings are the most basic. As with anything, you can find more advanced versions, but for an easy way to configure copying the tmux buffer to the clipboard, these few lines work great.

For this configuration we use a program called xclip, so make sure you have it installed.

First, let’s examine what each line of the config does, and then we’ll piece it all together.

Allow copying with the mouse

set-option -g mouse on

Set tmux copy mode vi

setw -g mode-key vi

Set v to start copying, y to actually copy, and r to change to a rectangle copy

bind-key -T copy-mode-vi v send-keys -X begin-selection
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi y send-keys -X copy-selection
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi r send-keys -X rectangle-toggle

UNBIND the typical “Enter” key from Vi mode. We want to script this so that it will finish copying the text, but also send the text to the clipboard.

unbind -T copy-mode-vi Enter

Now, we need to RE-BIND the copy-mode-vi “Enter” to also include copying to the clipboard. A message will appear at the bottom of your tmux window once you press enter.

bind-key -T copy-mode-vi Enter send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel 'tmux showb |xsel -i' \; display-message "Copied to Clipboard"

Finally, bind the mouse pointer so that you copy to the clipboard with it as well.

bind-key -T copy-mode-vi MouseDragEnd1Pane send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel 'tmux showb |xsel -i' \; display-message "Copied to Clipboard"

When you are done, your .tmux.conf should look similar to this:

set-option -g mouse on
setw -g mode-key vi
set-option -s set-clipboard off
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi v send-keys -X begin-selection
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi y send-keys -X copy-selection
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi r send-keys -X rectangle-toggle
unbind -T copy-mode-vi Enter
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi Enter send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel 'tmux showb |xsel -i' \; display-message "Copied to Clipboard"
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi MouseDragEnd1Pane send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel 'tmux showb |xsel -i' \; display-message "Copied to Clipboard"

Now try it out!
1. Enter tmux copy mode with ctrl + b [
2. Select the text you would like to copy with v
3. Press Enter to copy the text to the tmux buffer AND the clipboard
4. Paste the text in another terminal window using standard paste commands (shift + insert)! BOOM! PASTED!

The Tmux Config

Wait, No Default Config?

Yep! With a fresh installation, there is no default tmux conf in /etc/ or somewhere else for us to examine. The man page for tmux says:

protech@ubuntu3-vm:~$ man tmux
... By default, tmux loads the system configuration 
file from /etc/tmux.conf, if present, then looks for 
a user configuration file at ~/.tmux.conf.

If you’ve freshly installed tmux, chances are there is no tmux.conf in /etc/, nor do you have a ~/.tmux.conf config file.

While there is no tmux conf for us to examine after a fresh install, an example config located in /usr/share/doc/tmux/example_tmux.conf.

protech@ubuntu3-vm:~$ ll /usr/share/doc/tmux/
total 100
drwxr-xr-x    2 root root  4096 Jul  7 09:18 ./
drwxr-xr-x 1427 root root 69632 Jul  7 09:18 ../
-rw-r--r--    1 root root   776 Dec 31  2019 changelog.Debian.gz
-rw-r--r--    1 root root  6041 Dec  3  2019 copyright
-rw-r--r--    1 root root  1820 Jun 26  2019 example_tmux.conf
-rw-r--r--    1 root root   609 Dec  3  2019 NEWS.Debian.gz
-rw-r--r--    1 root root  1920 Jul 29  2019 README

Just because there is no default config available for viewing doesn’t mean we can’t see how tmux will behave once we start using it.

Your Tmux Config

Not sure how your tmux is configured? How do you view your Tmux config? You dump it of course! We can dump our tmux config to a file of our choosing using the tmux show-options -g command.

Before dumping the config, you must have at least one tmux server running first. If you try to dump your config without a tmux server running, you’d get the following message

protech@ubuntu3-vm:~$ tmux show-options -g > tmux.conf-default
no server running on /tmp/tmux-1000/default

To view your tmux config, do the following:

  1. Attach to a new a session
  2. Run the command tmux show-options -g > tmux.conf-default.
    1. Make sure you include the -g.
    2. This will drop a new file, tmux.conf-default, in your current working directory.
tmux show-options -g > tmux.conf-default

You can either stay attached or detach from the session.

Running ls -lhrt will show your newly created tmux.conf-default file, complete with your

protech@ubuntu3-vm:~$ ls -lhrt |tail -1
-rw-rw-r-- 1 protech protech 2.8K Jul  8 09:30 tmux.conf-default

The resulting tmux conf file contains 55 lines of configuration settings. Options for the tmux status bar color, buffers, display settings, history, pane, titles, detach settings, and much more can be found here.

However, this file CANNOT be used as your tmux config file.

Modifying Your Config

As stated in the man page, a user’s tmux config comes from their ~/.tmux.conf.

If you compare the tmux-conf.default (what we dumped) with the example .tmux.conf file, you will notice that while they may contain SIMILAR information, the contents of the files are formatted differently. We cannot simply rename the dump to ~/.tmux.conf.

If you rename the dumped file to .tmux.conf, and try to start tmux again, you will likely get an error message saying: unknown command: activity-action.

You can change your tmux config by adding and modifying lines to your ~/.tmux.conf. Making changes within this file will automatically take effect the next time you start a new session. Conversely, you can reload your ~/.tmux.conf from inside a tmux session by running tmux source ~/.tmux.conf.

Essential Tmux.conf Settings

Before we start messing around with plugins and colors and themes, oh my!, Let’s implement some quick changes to make our life easier down the road.

Change The Prefix

To change the tmux prefix from ctrl + b to ctrl + a, add the following to your tmux.conf (This is popular due to the same prefix being used with the screen program).

set-option -g prefix C-a

Then, from inside your tmux session, reload your newly updated config with

tmux source ~/.tmux.conf

Change the Scrollback Buffer Size

Another incredibly useful option to specify is increasing the tmux scrollback buffer. There is nothing worse than running a command and having 3000 lines of java error messages spew across your screen, filling the buffer (the default tmux buffer size is 2000). You can attempt to prevent this by increasing your buffer size to 5000 with the following:

set-option -g history-limit 5000

NOTE: This will only take effect for new panes. Existing panes will not inherit the increased buffer size. Remember to be consciences of the amount of buffer you wish to keep. The greater the buffer, the greater amount of RAM used, the great the amount of heat generated, the greater the amount of mountain dew consumed.

Change the Pane Navigation Settings

It’s super helpful to not have to invoke the prefix in order to navigate through the tmux panes. Adding the following code to your .tmux.conf will allow you to navigate through the panes using nothing more than the Alt + Arrow

bind -n m-Left select-pane -L
bind -n m-Right select-pane -R
bind -n m-Up select-pane -U
bind -n m-Down select-pane -D

Tmux Colors & Display Options

Out of the box, the tmux colors are great, but you probably want to change them, which may be why you are on this page. We can change the background colors, status bar colors, pane colors, text colors, and much more. Add all of the following options to your ~/.tmux.conf file, and reload (tmux source ~/.tmux.conf) it to implement changes in real-time.

Before we start messing around with colors, there is a great answer on superuser, with a short little bash script that I’ll provide here. Run this script to get a nice output of all the available colors and their colour### available for tmux:

for x in {0..255}; do  printf "\x1b[38;5;${x}mcolor%-5i\x1b[0m" $x ; if ! (( ($x + 1 ) % 8 )); then echo ; fi ; done
tmux powerline themes cheat sheet attach detach quick start tips copy paste clipboard session switch scheme server
Tmux status bar color change options from bash script

Status Bar Colors & Options


Lets change the background of the tmux status bar color to dark gray

set-option -g status-bg colour236

Change the color of the font within the status bar to yellow

set-option -g status-fg colour3


Change the Session background to green and display the name of the session surrounded by brackets using [ #S ]. Then, leave a space before listing the first window.

set-window-option -g status-left "#[bg=colour23][ #S ]#[bg=colour236] "

Now, let’s start changing the colors of the windows within the status bar. Change the active window to a bright green background, with yellow text.

set-window-option -g window-status-current-style 'fg=colour11 bg=colour2 bold'

At this point, we’ve changed your tmux status bar background color, font text, session background color, window background color, and window text. Here is what the status bar should currently look like (session name is Sess1). Note, the right side of the status bar is still the default.

tmux copy paste clipboard theme colour buffer quick start tips server sess
Current status of the tmux status bar with our color changes.


Now, let’s start changing the right side of that status bar that currently says “ubuntu3-vm” Hour:minute day-month-yr.

Specifying the display on the right side is done in one line within the config. We will specify the hostname, month/day, and current time. Each field with a different color.

First, let’s look at each part of the line individually, and then we’ll combine it all together.

Specifying what options we are modifying

set-option -g status-right

Adding the hostname with #h, with a background color of gray, and text of black

#=[fg=colour233,bg=colour8] #h 

Add the date in a month/day format, with a background color of green, and text of black

#[fg=colour233,bg=colour23] %m/%d 

Add the time in an Hour:Minute:Second format, with a background color of gray and text of black.

#[fg=colour233,bg=colour8] %H:%M:%S '

Now, let’s combine all those together into one line, and inside your tmux.conf config file it will look like this:

set-option -g status-right '#[fg=colour233,bg=colour8] #h #[fg=colour233,bg=colour23] %m/%d #[fg=colour233,bg=colour8] %H:%M:%S '

At this point we have added a total of five lines to our .tmux.conf, changing the colors of the session, windows, hostname, time, and date. Our .tmux.conf will have the following code.

# Colors for status bar
set-option -g status-bg colour236
set-option -g status-fg colour3

# Color options for right side of status bar
set-option -g status-right '#[fg=colour233,bg=colour8] #h #[fg=colour233,bg=colour23] %m/%d #[fg=colour233,bg=colour8] %H:%M:%S '

# Color options for windows within status bar
set-window-option -g window-status-current-style 'fg=colour11 bg=colour2 bold'
set-window-option -g status-left "#[bg=colour23][ #S ]#[bg=colour236] "

Our .tmux.conf and status bar will look like this

tmux detach attach cheat sheet config conf powerline themes scheme server tmuxinator wemux
.tmux.conf config changes to modify tmux status bar colors and displayed information.

Pane Border Colors

Now lets change the colors of our panes and their borders.

First, lets change border color of inactive panes to white

set-option -g pane-border-style 'fg=colour255'

Next, lets change the border color of the active pane to bright cyan

set-option -g pane-active-border-style 'fg=colour51'

Next, change the background of the active pane we are working in is a different color so that it stands out.

set-window-option -g window-style 'fg=colour247,bg=colour235'
set-window-option -g window-active-style 'fg=colour255,bg=colour237'

Now, we can clearly see which pane is active due to the different background colors. Our current settings will result in a session with two panes looking like the following image

tmux color scheme text foreground template split screen copy
The active pane has a lighter background and text to help it stand out.

Plugin Manager

Before we start talking about tmux color schemes and themes, a supreme two-second meme about plugins should be gleaned. The reason for the is because

The tmux plugin manager is the most efficient way to handle tmux color schemes and themes. Just use it.

You do not want to be manually downloading and install themes. Install this plugin manager first.

Tmux plugins are handled via a plugin manager called tpm. Installation is simple (git clone and adding 3 lines to .tmux.conf). Follow the instructions found on their github installation section to install the plugin manager.

Yep, thats it. Now we can move onto the pretty colors and themes.

Themes & Color Schemes

Tmux themes and color schemes can be found all across the internet. Shoot, even the colors we defined above could be considered a color scheme if they were uploaded to github and gave them a name.

Anyway, let’s install a particularly good looking theme that has a few built-in color schemes options based on powerline.

The Tmux Themepack has a super clean layout, in a great variety of colors. Installing it is easier than installing the tmux plugin manager.

Add the following to your .tmux.conf.

set -g @plugin 'jimeh/tmux-themepack'

Then, run ctrl + b I to install the theme.

Once the theme is active, you may see some weird characters in the status bar. This is because the powerline fonts are probably not installed. Simply install them via sudo apt install powerline-fonts or the applicable method for your distro.

tmux quick start tips copy paste status session config color scheme attach detach
Install powerline-fonts to ensure tmux theme displays correctly.

Concluding Thoughts

And that’s it! By now you should have a good idea of the basics of tmux, including why it is such a powerful tool, how to navigate through its different features, how to customize the colors and layout, how to download and install custom themes and color schemes. From here, the world is your oyster!

Last but not least, no tmux quick start guide would be complete without a cheat sheet, soooo…

Tmux Cheat Sheet

This cheat sheet assumes the default prefix has not been changed.

Session Commands – from the Terminal

tmuxCreate and attach to a new session
tmux new -sCreate new session specifying a name
tmux kill-ses -t <Session Name>Kill a session with name <SessionName>
tmux kill-session -aKill all sessions except the current
tmux kill-session -a -t <SessionName>Kill all sessions except for <SessionName>
tmux lsList running sessions
tmux a -t <SessionName>Attach to session <SessionName>
tmux aAttach to last session

Session commands – Inside a Session

Prefix + Command KeyFunction
Ctrl + b $Rename Session
Ctrl + b dDetach from session
Ctrl + b (Move to the previous session
Ctrl + b )Move to the next session
Ctrl +b sShow all sessions

Window Commands – Inside a Session

Prefix + Command KeyFunction
Ctrl + b cCreate a new window
Ctrl + b ,Rename current window
Ctrl + b &Close current window
Ctrl + dExit current window
Ctrl + b nJump to next window
Ctrl + b pJump to previous window
Ctrl + b <0..1..2..3…9>Jump to Window number <0-9>

Pane Commands – Inside a Session

Prefix + Command KeyFunction
Ctrl + b ;Switch to previous active pane
Ctrl + b %Vertically split pane
Ctrl + b “Horizontally split pane
Ctrl + b {Shift to the left pane
Ctrl + b }Shift to the right pane
Ctrl + b <-Switch to a pane to the left – the direction of arrow
Ctrl +b ->Switch to a pane to the right – the direction of arrow
Ctrl + b Down arrowSwitch to a downwards pane – the direction of arrow
Ctrl + b Up arrowSwitch to an upwards pane – the direction of arrow
Ctrl + b qShow the pane numbers
Ctrl + b q <0..1..2..3..0>Jump to Pane number <0-9>
Ctrl + b !Transform the current pane into a window
Ctrl + b + Ctrl Up/down ArrowResize Pane height up/down
Ctrl + b + Ctrl Left/Right ArrowResize Pane width left/right
Ctrl + b xClose pane

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