Excellent Utilities: tmux – terminal multiplexer software

Last Updated on May 22, 2022

In Operation

With a GUI desktop environment, you have windows. With tmux, panes replace these windows. Similar to desktop environments, panes let you run multiple applications, with the option to open, close, resize, and move them.

The most valuable feature is the ability to disconnect, and reconnect to a session, and even connect to the same session multiple times (i.e. from one than one location.) It lets you quickly jump in and out of a remote server.

Here’s a simple walk through of a few examples of tmux in action. We’re using it together with st, a terminal emulator which is extremely frugal. I’ll fire it up with the command st -e tmux. Here’s what you’ll see.


When you’re using tmux, you’ll see an ever-present green bar at the bottom of the pane. You can configure the green bar to your liking, such as changing the background colour, or even turn it off. This green bar shows useful information such as the session number, who owns the active pane, whether you’re currently using the window, the hostname of the tmux server you’re using, as well as the date and time on that host.

You’ll need to master the command key bindings. Actions are performed by pressing a prefix key (Ctrl-b), followed by a separate key.

The software offers vertical and horizontal window split support. For example, to split the current pane into two, you can type Ctrl-b followed by ” (splits the current pane into two, top and bottom), or Ctrl-b followed by % (splits the current pane into two, left and right). The image below shows the former.


Naturally, you can split the current pane again. In the example below, we’ve split the bottom pane into two, this time horizontally.


We’ve therefore got 3 terminals available from a single terminal session. Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed we’ve renamed the current session (this is shown in the green bar). And it’s easy to navigate around the panes with Ctrl+b followed by an arrow key.

One of the best features is the ability to attach and detach panes. For example, you can detach a session with Ctrl+b d. But the detached session is still available, which lets you pick up where you left off. It’s an essential feature if you’ve got an unreliable network connection.

There’s lots of ways to manipulate panes including swapping panes, and moving panes to a different window.

You can show active sessions with tmux ls.

Each tmux session has a number associated on the left hand side. This number is used to attach and return to the same session.

Next page: Page 3 – Other Features

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Other Features
Page 4 – Summary

Complete list of articles in this series:

Excellent Utilities
AES CryptEncrypt files using the Advanced Encryption Standard
AnanicyShell daemon created to manage processes’ IO and CPU priorities
brootNext gen tree explorer and customizable launcher
CerebroFast application launcher
cheat.shCommunity driven unified cheat sheet
CopyQAdvanced clipboard manager
crocSecurely transfer files and folders from the command-line
DeskreenLive streaming your desktop to a web browser
dufDisk usage utility with more polished presentation than the classic df
ezaA turbo-charged alternative to the venerable ls command
Extension ManagerBrowse, install and manage GNOME Shell Extensions
fdWonderful alternative to the venerable find
fkillKill processes quick and easy
fontpreviewQuickly search and preview fonts
horcruxFile splitter with encryption and redundancy
KoohaSimple screen recorder
KOReaderDocument viewer for a wide variety of file formats
ImagineA simple yet effective image optimization tool
LanguageToolStyle and grammar checker for 30+ languages
Liquid PromptAdaptive prompt for Bash & Zsh
lnavAdvanced log file viewer for the small-scale; great for troubleshooting
lsdLike exa, lsd is a turbo-charged alternative to ls
Mark TextSimple and elegant Markdown editor
McFlyNavigate through your bash shell history
mdlessFormatted and highlighted view of Markdown files
notiMonitors a command or process and triggers a notification
NushellFlexible cross-platform shell with a modern feel
nvitopGPU process management for NVIDIA graphics cards
OCRmyPDFAdd OCR text layer to scanned PDFs
Oh My ZshFramework to manage your Zsh configuration
PaperworkDesigned to simplify the management of your paperwork
pastelGenerate, analyze, convert and manipulate colors
PDF Mix ToolPerform common editing operations on PDF files
pecoSimple interactive filtering tool that's remarkably useful
ripgrepRecursively search directories for a regex pattern
RnoteSketch and take handwritten notes
scrcpyDisplay and control Android devices
StickySimulates the traditional “sticky note” style stationery on your desktop
tldrSimplified and community-driven man pages
tmuxA terminal multiplexer that offers a massive boost to your workflow
TuskAn unofficial Evernote client with bags of potential
UlauncherSublime application launcher
WatsonTrack the time spent on projects
Whoogle SearchSelf-hosted and privacy-focused metasearch engine
ZellijTerminal workspace with batteries included
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