Linux Screen Cheatsheet

Published: April 25, 2018


There are a few of these, but none have all the answers that I want (e.g. how to scroll back up the terminal while attached to a screen session) or are in a format I like. So, I’ve prepared my own.

This is a cheatsheet of how to do the things I typically need to do with Linux (unix)’s screen command…

Start A New Screen Session

$ screen -S [name]

Name is just an alias for the screen session so that it can easily be distinguished what’s happening in that session when looking at a list of all screen sessions via screen -ls.

Detach From The Current Screen Session

ctrl-a d

In order to detach from a screen session hold the control key and press “a”. Then press the “d” key.

You’ll be back a command prompt like the below after doing so.

[detached from 28882.db-dump]

List Running Screen Sessions

$ screen -ls

As mentioned above screen -ls will list running screen sessions. Here’s a sample of the output

$ screen -ls
There are screens on:
	28882.db-dump	(Detached)	(Detached)
2 Sockets in /var/run/screen/S-mchadwick.

Re-attach to a Screen Session

screen -r [name-or-pid]

screen -r will allow you to re-attach to a running screen session. You can use the id or name of the screen session.

Scroll up while attached to a screen session

ctrl-a esc

While attached to a screen session, hold the control key and press “a”. Then press escape. At this point you’ll be able to scroll up and down within the screen session.

Press escape again to regain the ability to enter commands.

Kill the screen session you’re currently attached to

ctrl-a k

While attached to a screen session, hold the control key and press “a”, then press “k”. You’ll need to then press “y” to confirm you’d really like to kill the screen session.

Detach a screen from another terminal and attach to it

$ screen -d -r [name]

You may have to do this if you unexpectedly lost an SSH connection while attached to a screen session. In this case the screen session may still think it’s connected to that SSH connection (e.g. orphaned). The above command will detach it from that terminal and re-attach it to the current terminal.

Max Chadwick Hi, I'm Max!

I'm a software developer who mainly works in PHP, but loves dabbling in other languages like Go and Ruby. Technical topics that interest me are monitoring, security and performance. I'm also a stickler for good documentation and clear technical writing.

During the day I lead a team of developers and solve challenging technical problems at Something Digital where I mainly work with the Magento platform. I've also spoken at a number of events.

In my spare time I blog about tech, work on open source and participate in bug bounty programs.

If you'd like to get in contact, you can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.