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I use screen for my command-line tasks while managing the servers where I work. I usually run small commands (mostly file-system tasks) but sometimes I run more extensive tasks (like DBA).

The output of those tasks is important to me. Since I use Ubuntu and OS X (both Terminal Windows) for my tasks, yet I need to use screen, the scrolling is not available, so any long output (think a 500-row table from a select) is invisible for me. Mouse-wheel is out of the question.

When I say "scroll is invisible for me, I mean this:

top while using screen, in Mac OS X, while scrolling

I was thinking about two options:

  1. Pause (think paginate) the output of a certain command. When the output begins, it would let me read what's happening, then I press "Enter", then the output continues... until there's nothing more to show.

  2. Scroll inside screen. But I don't know if this is possible.

Of course, I don't know if those options are actually possible. If they are, how can acheive them? Other alternatives will be well received.


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2 Answers 2

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Screen has its own scroll buffer, as it is a terminal multiplexer and has to deal with several buffers.

Maybe there's a better way, but I'm used to scrolling using the "copy mode" (which you can use to copy text using screen itself, although that requires the paste command too):

  • Hit your screen prefix combination (C-a, control+A by default), then hit 'Escape'.

  • Use the arrow keys to move up/down as needed.

  • When you're done, hit the 'Return' key twice, you will be back to the end of the scroll buffer.

(If you move the cursor after hitting 'Return' once, you'll be selecting text to copy, and hitting 'Return' the second time will copy it. Then you can paste with C-a followed by ])

Of course, you can always use more and less, two commonly used pagers, which may be enough for some commands.

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I was just about to post about Copy / Scrollback mode (since deep in the manpage there's the reference) but you beat me to it =) — I found out that here (bit.ly/Lyg0yi) there's a nice explanation of how to use Vi-style commands for Scrollback navigation (Entering Scrollback Mode and Navigating section). Really useful. –  AeroCross Jun 7 '12 at 17:53
Also, pressing q quits copy mode without copying anything (and it's one less button press). This might be in the vi explanation but the link is now broken. –  Nathanael Farley Jun 26 '14 at 8:59

Using the screen buffer as pointed out by njsg is a good solution. You can also disable the alternate text buffer in the xterm termcap info inside screen. When disabled you can use the scroll bars (and mouse wheel) to scroll up and down.

Add this to your ~/.screenrc.

# Enable mouse scrolling and scroll bar history scrolling
termcapinfo xterm* ti@:te@

You can read more discussion here.

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Wow ― this is actually what I wanted. I'm gonna try this one out. I'll check back soon! Thanks for the tip! –  AeroCross Jun 7 '12 at 20:34

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