3 Easy Ways to Scroll Up and Down in Tmux

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Last updated: June 25, 2023

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To scroll up and down in tmux, you can try these three methods:

  1. Activate Tmux commands with Ctrl+b, enter copy mode with [, scroll using arrow keys, and exit with q.
  2. Enable mouse support in your terminal emulator, hover over the Tmux pane or window, and scroll with the mouse wheel or scrollbar.
  3. Use Ctrl+b followed by Page Up or Page Down to scroll through the output of an entire Tmux window.

Discover solutions to common Tmux errors and enhance your scrolling experience. Optimize configuration, enable mouse support, improve performance, and adjust the buffer size. Unlock advanced scrolling features with tips like mouse scrolling, search functionality, and Tmux plugins.

Explore the article below to learn to scroll up and down in Tmux, customize scrolling behavior, and common errors that can occur.

Terminal multiplexing with Tmux allows you to manage multiple terminal sessions within a single window efficiently. With Tmux’s powerful scrolling capabilities, you can effortlessly review and search through the scrollback buffer, containing valuable output from past commands and programs. Gone are the days of losing important information due to limited buffer visibility. By mastering scrolling in Tmux, you’ll reclaim control over your terminal’s history, enabling you to analyze and extract critical data efficiently. In this comprehensive guide, I will explore various techniques to scroll up and down in Tmux, tips to enhance scrolling, and common errors with possible solutions that will empower you to master scrolling in Tmux like a pro.

How to Scroll Up and Down in Tmux

To scroll up and down in Tmux, you can use key bindings, mouse scrolling, and window-specific key bindings. In copy mode, use Ctrl+b [ to scroll with arrow keys. Enable mouse support to scroll effortlessly within panes and windows. For window scrolling, use Ctrl+b, Page Up/Down, or enter copy mode and navigate with arrow keys.

1. Key Bindings (Copy Mode)

Tmux allows you to enter copy mode, where you can scroll through the terminal output using key bindings. This method provides fine-grained control and precision while scrolling, allowing you to review past output or navigate through logs. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+b (default prefix) to activate Tmux commands.
activating command mode in tmux
  1. Press [ to enter copy mode and use the arrow keys to scroll up and down.
scrolling through arrow keys in tmux 1
  1. Press q to exit copy mode.
exiting copy mode in tmux

2. Mouse Scrolling

If your terminal emulator and Tmux configuration support it, you can use your mouse to scroll within Tmux panes and windows. Mouse scrolling offers a more intuitive and effortless way to navigate through large amounts of terminal output, particularly useful when working with graphical applications or lengthy logs. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Ensure that your Terminal emulator supports mouse input within Tmux by opening the configuration file of Tmux using the following command:
<strong>vi ~/.tmux.conf</strong>
  1. The command will open the configuration file.
entering tmux configuration file 1
  1. Enter the following command to enable the mouse in Tmux:
<strong>set-option -g mouse on</strong>
  1. Save this file and exit.
eanbling mouse in tmux configuration file
  1. Hover the cursor over the Tmux pane or window where you want to scroll. Use the mouse wheel or drag the scrollbar to scroll up and down.
scrolling through mouse wheel in tmux

3. Key Bindings (Window Scrolling):

Tmux provides specific key bindings for scrolling within windows, which are separate instances of terminal sessions. This method allows you to scroll through the output of an entire Tmux window, which may consist of multiple panes, providing a broader overview of the session’s history. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. To activate the Tmux command mode, press Ctrl+b.
  2. Press Page Up or Page Down to scroll through the window’s output.
pressing keys to scroll

3 Common Errors with Possible Solutions

While using Tmux, you may encounter some common errors. Reading and understanding the error message is helpful in finding the best solution. Here are three frequent errors and their possible solutions:

  • 🔄 “Scrolling is not working in Tmux” error: If you find that scrolling is not functioning as expected in Tmux, it is likely due to improper configuration or lack of support for scrolling in your Tmux setup. Review your Tmux configuration file (~/.tmux.conf) for any conflicting settings or key bindings that may affect scrolling to resolve this issue. Additionally, ensure that mouse support is enabled in your terminal emulator and the Tmux configuration. If you use a Tmux plugin for scrolling, ensure it is correctly installed and configured.
  • 📜 “Scrollback buffer limit reached” error: Tmux limits the number of lines stored in the scrollback buffer. When this limit is reached, you may encounter errors or truncated output. To address this, you can increase the scrollback buffer size by modifying your Tmux configuration file (~/.tmux.conf). Add the line set-option -g history-limit <number_of_lines>, replacing <number_of_lines> with the desired value. 
  • “Scrolling is choppy or slow in Tmux” error: If you experience choppy or slow scrolling in Tmux, it could be due to performance issues or insufficient system resources. Start by checking if any resource-intensive processes run concurrently and utilize significant CPU or memory. Optimizing your Tmux configuration can also help improve scrolling performance. Consider disabling unnecessary plugins or simplifying your Tmux setup. If your terminal emulator supports it, you can adjust the scroll speed in Tmux by adding the line set-option -g mouse-scroll-speed <value> to your ~/.tmux.conf file. Experiment with different values to find an optimal scrolling speed that suits your needs.

3 Tips and Tricks to Enhance Scrolling Experience

Different tips and tricks can enhance your scrolling experience. By implementing these tips, you can optimize your scrolling experience in Tmux, enabling efficient navigation through the scrollback buffer, quick content search, and the utilization of powerful plugins to enhance your workflow. Here are three tips to enhance your scrolling experience in Tmux:

  • 🖱️ Use mouse scrolling in copy mode: When you enter copy mode in Tmux, you can use your mouse’s scroll wheel to navigate the scrollback buffer. This allows for a more intuitive and fluid scrolling experience. To enter copy mode, press Ctrl + b followed by [. Once in copy mode, simply scroll up or down using your mouse’s scroll wheel to view past output.
  • 🔎 Leverage the search functionality: Tmux provides a powerful search feature that allows you to find specific content within the scrollback buffer quickly. While in copy mode, press Ctrl + s to initiate a search. Then, start typing your desired search term, and Tmux will highlight matching occurrences in real time. Press n to move to the next occurrence or N to move to the previous one. This feature is especially useful when locating specific information buried within a large scrollback buffer.
  • 🔌 Utilize Tmux plugins: Tmux has a vibrant ecosystem that can enhance scrolling functionality and provide additional features. Explore popular plugins like tmux-scroll-copy-mode or tmux-yank that offer advanced scrolling and copying capabilities. These plugins allow you to easily scroll through the buffer and copy text efficiently, making your Tmux workflow even more productive. Install and configure these plugins using a Tmux plugin manager like TPM (Tmux Plugin Manager) to unlock their full potential.

In Conclusion

In this article, I have discussed several methods to scroll up and down in Tmux, including using keyboard shortcuts, the scroll wheel on your mouse, and adjusting the scroll speed. Furthermore, I have also explained three tips and tricks to enhance the scrolling behavior and discussed some common errors with possible solutions. 

If you’re interested in exploring deeper into Tmux, I encourage you to explore articles on Tmux configurations and productivity hacks, Tmux plugins and integration with other tools,  and how Tmux integrates with other command-line tools. By exploring these articles, you can unlock the full potential of Tmux and become a master of this powerful terminal multiplexer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to scroll through the Tmux scrollback buffer indefinitely?

By default, Tmux has a limit on the number of lines stored in the scrollback buffer. However, you can configure Tmux to increase this limit or set it to an unlimited value. In your Tmux configuration file (~/.tmux.conf), you can add the line set-option -g history-limit <number_of_lines> to adjust the buffer size. Replace <number_of_lines> with the desired value or set it to unlimited to scroll through the buffer indefinitely. Keep in mind that setting an excessively large buffer size may consume more memory, so consider your system resources when modifying this setting.

Are there any plugins specifically designed to improve scrolling in Tmux?

Yes, several Tmux plugins are available designed to enhance scrolling functionality and provide additional features. One such plugin is tmux-scroll-copy-mode, which allows you to scroll through the scrollback buffer more smoothly. This plugin provides a more seamless scrolling experience, allowing you to scroll continuously without entering copy mode. Another useful plugin is tmux-resurrect, which not only preserves your Tmux sessions but also saves and restores the scrollback buffer, so you can access previously scrolled content even after detaching and reattaching to sessions. You can explore these plugins and more on GitHub or other Tmux plugin managers like Tmux Plugin Manager (TPM) to find ones that suit your needs.

Can Tmux be configured to scroll to the bottom of the scrollback buffer automatically?

Yes, it is possible to configure Tmux to automatically scroll to the bottom of the scrollback buffer when new output is generated. To achieve this, you can add the line set-option -g aggressive-resize to your Tmux configuration file (~/.tmux.conf). This setting enables Tmux to adjust the window size to fit new content, ensuring that the latest output is always visible at the bottom of the scrollback buffer. With this configuration, you won’t have to scroll down each time new content is added, providing a more convenient scrolling experience manually.



Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.



Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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