How To Use Linux Screen

When working on a remote machine/server VIA SSH over long periods you will have experienced your internet connection dropping and your SSH session breaking. This can be very annoying as the terminal will freeze for a while before giving you a broken pipe message, wiping out whatever work you were in the middle of.


Instead we can use Linux Screen to preserve sessions so we can carry on working where we left off.



You probably already have Screen installed if you are using a popular Linux distribution or are using macOS. To test whether Screen is installed you can run the Screen version command.


screen --version


Screen version


If Screen is not found you can install on Ubuntu or Debian using


sudo apt install screen


or on CentOs


sudo yum install screen


Start a Screen session


To start a Screen session type "screen" into your console




Then list all of the available commands by typing "ctrl+a" and then "?" (control + a) on a Mac.


Named Screen Session


If you want to have multiple screens you can manage them easier by passing in a name as you start a new session.


screen -S session1


Create a new window typing "ctrl+a" and then "a". Your original window is preserved.


Detaching and Reattaching Screen


After running any tasks you need you can detach this screen by pressing CTRL+A and then D


When you want to come back and carry on working in this screen you can just reattach it by typing:


screen -r


If you have multiple sessions running you will need to pass the session ID as the third parameter, you can do this by typing:


screen -ls


Common Screen Commands


Some Common Screen Commands

  • CTRL+A C Create a new screen
  • CTRL+A " List all screens
  • CTRL+A 0 Switch to screen number
  • CTRL+A A Rename the current session
  • CTRL+A S Split current region horizontally into two regions
  • CTRL+A | Split current region vertically into two regions
  • CTRL+A TAB Switch the input focus to the next region
  • CTRL+A CTRL+A Toggle between the current and previous region
  • CTRL+A Q Close all regions but the current one
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