Screen Cheatsheet

Getting in

start a new screen session with session name screen -S <name>
list running sessions/screens screen -ls
attach to a running session screen -x
… to session with name screen -r <name>
the “ultimate attach” screen -dRR (Attaches to a screen session. If the session is attached elsewhere, detaches that other display. If no session exists, creates one. If multiple sessions exist, uses the first one.)
detach a running session screen -d <name>

Escape key

All screen commands are prefixed by an escape key, by default C-a (that's Control-a, sometimes written ^a). To send a literal C-a to the programs in screen, use C-a a. This is useful when when working with screen within screen. For example C-a a n will move screen to a new window on the screen within screen.


Getting out

detach C-a d
detach and logout (quick exit) C-a D D
exit screen C-a \ Exit all of the programs in screen.
force-exit screen C-a C-\ (not recommended)


See help C-a ? (lists keybindings)

The man page is the complete reference, but it's very long.


Window Management

create new window C-a c
change to last-visited active window C-a C-a (commonly used to flip-flop between two windows)
change to window by number C-a <number> (only for windows 0 to 9)
change to window by number or name C-a ' <number or title>
change to next window in list C-a n or C-a <space>
change to previous window in list C-a p or C-a <backspace>
see window list C-a " (allows you to select a window to change to)
show window bar C-a w (if you don't have window bar)
close current window Close all applications in the current window (including shell)
kill current window C-a k (not recommended)
kill all windows C-a \ (not recommended)
rename current window C-a A

Split screen

split display horizontally C-a S
split display vertically C-a | or C-a V (for the vanilla vertical screen patch)
jump to next display region C-a tab
remove current region C-a X
remove all regions but the current one C-a Q



send a command to a named session screen -S <name> -X <command>
create a new window and run ping screen -S <name> -X screen ping
stuff characters into the input buffer
using bash to expand a newline character
(from here)
screen -S <name> [-p <page>] -X stuff $'quit\r'
a full example
# run bash within screen
screen -AmdS bash_shell bash
# run top within that bash session
screen -S bash_shell -p 0 -X stuff $'top\r'
# ... some time later
# stuff 'q' to tell top to quit
screen -S bash_shell -X stuff 'q'
# stuff 'exit\n' to exit bash session
screen -S bash_shell -X stuff $'exit\r'


redraw window C-a C-l
enter copy mode C-a [ or C-a <esc> (also used for viewing scrollback buffer)
paste C-a ]
monitor window for activity C-a M
monitor window for silence C-a _
enter digraph (for producing non-ASCII characters) C-a C-v
lock (password protect) display C-a x
enter screen command C-a :
enable logging in the screen session

C-a H

Sharing A Screen Session With One Account

If you have two people logged into the same account from remote locations, they can easily share a screen session (so what one types the other sees and vice versa). To do this:

  • Create a named screen session:
[devel@rice ~]$ screen -d -m -S dbgwindow
  • Attach to the screen session in your terminal window
[devel@rice ~]$ screen -x dbgwindow
  • Have the other person (logged into the same account) also attach to the screen session
[devel@rice ~]$ screen -x dbgwindow
  • At this point both terminal windows should see the same thing.