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screen command in Linux with Examples

Last Updated : 06 May, 2022
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screen command in Linux provides the ability to launch and use multiple shell sessions from a single ssh session. When a process is started with ‘screen’, the process can be detached from session & then can reattach the session at a later time. When the session is detached, the process that was originally started from the screen is still running and managed by the screen itself. The process can then re-attach the session at a later time, and the terminals are still there, the way it was left. Syntax:

screen [-opts] [cmd [args]]


  • -a: It force all capabilities into each window’s termcap.
  • -A -[r|R]: It adapt all windows to the new display width & height.
  • -c file: It read configuration file instead of ‘.screenrc’.
  • -d (-r): It detach the elsewhere running screen (and reattach here).
  • -dmS name: It start as daemon: Screen session in detached mode.
  • -D (-r): It detach and logout remote (and reattach here).
  • -D -RR: It do whatever is needed to get a screen session.
  • -e xy: It change the command characters.
  • -f: It make the flow control on, -fn = off, -fa = auto.
  • -h lines: It set the size of the scrollback history buffer.
  • -i: It interrupt output sooner when flow control is on.
  • -l: It make the login mode on (update /var/run/utmp), -ln = off.
  • -ls [match]: It display all the attached screens.
  • -L: It turn on output logging.
  • -m: It ignore $STY variable, do create a new screen session.
  • -O: It choose optimal output rather than exact vt100 emulation.
  • -p window: It preselect the named window if it exists.
  • -q: It quiet startup. Exits with non-zero return code if unsuccessful.
  • -Q: It commands will send the response to the stdout of the querying process.
  • -r [session]: It reattach to a detached screen process.
  • -R: It reattach if possible, otherwise start a new session.
  • -S sockname: It name this session .sockname instead of …
  • -t title: It set title. (window’s name).
  • -T term: It use term as $TERM for windows, rather than “screen”.
  • -U: It tell screen to use UTF-8 encoding.
  • -v: It print “Screen version 4.06.02 (GNU) 23-Oct-17”.
  • -x: It attach to a not detached screen. (Multi display mode).
  • -X: It execute as a screen command in the specified session.

Shortcut keys Options:

  • Ctrl-a + c: It create a new windows.
  • Ctrl-a + w: It display the list of all the windows currently opened.
  • Ctrl-a + A: It rename the current windows. The name will appear when you will list the list of windows opened with Ctrl-a + w.
  • Ctrl-a + n: It go to the next windows.
  • Ctrl-a + p: It go to the previous windows.
  • Ctrl-a + Ctrl-a: It back to the last windows used.
  • Ctrl-a + k: It close the current windows (kill).
  • Ctrl-a + S: It split the current windows horizontally. To switch between the windows, do Ctrl-a + Tab.
  • Ctrl-a + |: It split the current windows vertically.
  • Ctrl-a + X: Close active Split window
  • Ctrl-a + Q: Close all Split windows
  • Ctrl-a + d: It detach a screen session without stopping it.
  • Ctrl-a + r: It reattach a detached screen session.
  • Ctrl-a + [: It start the copy mode.
  • Ctrl-a + ]: It paste the copied text.


  • Installation of screen command: To install the screen command simply go to the terminal and type the following command:
sudo apt install screen
  • screen: It will start a new window within the screen.
  • -S: It will start a new window within the screen and also gives a name to the window. It creates a session which is identified by that name. The name can be used to reattach screen at a later stage.
screen -S file
  • -ls: It is used to display the currently opened screens including those running in the background. It will list all the attached as well as detached screen sessions.
screen -ls
  • -d: It is used to detach a screen session so that it can be reattached in future. It can also be done with the help of shortcut key Ctrl-a + d
screen -d 1643
  • Here 1643 is the screen id we want to detach.
  • -r: It is used to reattach a screen session which was detached in past.
screen -r 1643


  • To check for the manual page of screen command, use the following command:
man screen
  • To check the help page of screen command, use the following command:
screen --help

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