Home » How to copy and paste with a mouse with tmux

How to copy and paste with a mouse with tmux

Solutons:


Put this block of code in your ~/.tmux.conf. This will enable mouse integration letting you copy from a pane with your mouse without having to zoom.

set -g mouse on
bind -n WheelUpPane if-shell -F -t = "#{mouse_any_flag}" "send-keys -M" "if -Ft="#{pane_in_mode}" 'send-keys -M' 'select-pane -t=; copy-mode -e; send-keys -M'"
bind -n WheelDownPane select-pane -t= ; send-keys -M
bind -n C-WheelUpPane select-pane -t= ; copy-mode -e ; send-keys -M
bind -t vi-copy    C-WheelUpPane   halfpage-up
bind -t vi-copy    C-WheelDownPane halfpage-down
bind -t emacs-copy C-WheelUpPane   halfpage-up
bind -t emacs-copy C-WheelDownPane halfpage-down

# To copy, drag to highlight text in yellow, press Enter and then release mouse
# Use vim keybindings in copy mode
setw -g mode-keys vi
# Update default binding of `Enter` to also use copy-pipe
unbind -t vi-copy Enter
bind-key -t vi-copy Enter copy-pipe "pbcopy"

After that, restart your tmux session. Highlight some text with mouse, but don’t let go the mouse. Now while the text is stil highlighted and mouse pressed, press return key. The highlighted text will disappear and will be copied to your clipboard. Now release the mouse.

Apart from this, there are also some cool things you can do with the mouse like scroll up and down, select the active pane, etc.

If you are using a newer version of tmux on macOS, try the following instead of the one above:

# macOS only
set -g mouse on
bind -n WheelUpPane if-shell -F -t = "#{mouse_any_flag}" "send-keys -M" "if -Ft="#{pane_in_mode}" 'send-keys -M' 'select-pane -t=; copy-mode -e; send-keys -M'"
bind -n WheelDownPane select-pane -t= ; send-keys -M
bind -n C-WheelUpPane select-pane -t= ; copy-mode -e ; send-keys -M
bind -T copy-mode-vi    C-WheelUpPane   send-keys -X halfpage-up
bind -T copy-mode-vi    C-WheelDownPane send-keys -X halfpage-down
bind -T copy-mode-emacs C-WheelUpPane   send-keys -X halfpage-up
bind -T copy-mode-emacs C-WheelDownPane send-keys -X halfpage-down

# To copy, left click and drag to highlight text in yellow, 
# once you release left click yellow text will disappear and will automatically be available in clibboard
# # Use vim keybindings in copy mode
setw -g mode-keys vi
# Update default binding of `Enter` to also use copy-pipe
unbind -T copy-mode-vi Enter
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi Enter send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel "pbcopy"
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi MouseDragEnd1Pane send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel "pbcopy"

If using iTerm on macOS, goto iTerm2 > Preferences > “General” tab, and in the “Selection” section, check “Applications in terminal may access clipboard”.

And if you are using Linux and a newer version of tmux, then

# Linux only
set -g mouse on
bind -n WheelUpPane if-shell -F -t = "#{mouse_any_flag}" "send-keys -M" "if -Ft="#{pane_in_mode}" 'send-keys -M' 'select-pane -t=; copy-mode -e; send-keys -M'"
bind -n WheelDownPane select-pane -t= ; send-keys -M
bind -n C-WheelUpPane select-pane -t= ; copy-mode -e ; send-keys -M
bind -T copy-mode-vi    C-WheelUpPane   send-keys -X halfpage-up
bind -T copy-mode-vi    C-WheelDownPane send-keys -X halfpage-down
bind -T copy-mode-emacs C-WheelUpPane   send-keys -X halfpage-up
bind -T copy-mode-emacs C-WheelDownPane send-keys -X halfpage-down

# To copy, left click and drag to highlight text in yellow, 
# once you release left click yellow text will disappear and will automatically be available in clibboard
# # Use vim keybindings in copy mode
setw -g mode-keys vi
# Update default binding of `Enter` to also use copy-pipe
unbind -T copy-mode-vi Enter
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi Enter send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel "xclip -selection c"
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi MouseDragEnd1Pane send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel "xclip -in -selection clipboard"

In Debian and Debian based distros (Ubuntu, Kali), you might need to install xclip:

sudo apt-get install -y xclip

(You may also check out https://github.com/gpakosz/.tmux for many other tmux options.)

tmux has its own internal clipboard, which is not copied to the system clipboard.

Since you are on macOS, you can however simply ask tmux to transfer its clipboard to the system clipboard (the usual one). This is done with the command below, which, for convenience, can be bound to Ctrl-b Ctrl-c (if you’re using the standard Ctrl-b for invoking tmux commands) in your .tmux.conf:

bind C-c run "tmux save-buffer - | pbcopy"  # Copy to OS X

Thus, you can simply select text with your mouse while using tmux (no key to press). tmux is great in that it will select text only in the current pane. This text is copied to tmux’s internal clipboard. You can then simply transfer it to the system clipboard with Ctrl-b Ctrl-c.

On FreeBSD you can use y key (vi-style) to copy selected text while holding the left mouse button on selected text when mouse on is set in ~/tmux.conf 🙂

set -g mouse on
bind -T copy-mode-vi y send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel 'xclip -in -selection clipboard'

Just remember to install (as root) xclip package with pkg install xclip 🙂

Some more more useful hints:

  • Use set -g repeat-time 0 will disable following tmux command keys when you have an editor in one pane and shell or other cursor operated applications in the other panes. Usually following cursor keys will switch between panes for some time and that may be distracting and annoying in come cases if you want to use cursor quickly in the pane that you have switched to.
  • Use set -g status-style fg=white,bg=green to easily differentiate between different sessions on different remote machines. Setting different bg value on different machines will help you quickly identify the machine you want to work on 🙂

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