I have installed tmux but now text mode vim colorschemes do not fill the background colour properly. Here is how it looks with colorscheme xoria256 in the normal Ubuntu 14.10 terminal:

enter image description here

And here when I run it in the exact same terminal after tmux:

enter image description here

So as you can see the desktop is showing through anywhere where there is no text in vim. I have a 256 color terminal.

My .tmux.conf:

~ cat .tmux.conf
set -g mode-mouse on
set -g default-terminal "screen-256color"

and I have a 256 colour terminal:

~ tput colors

How do I get tmux to work properly with vim 256-colour colorschemes which work fine in the normal terminal?

  • In my experience, tmux behaves strangely when launched inside gnome-terminal. Try launching tmux with TERM=xterm tmux and see if it behaves differently. If xterm doesn't work, try xterm-256color or xterm-color.
    – jw013
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 20:44
  • @jw03 Sadly none of those options worked to fix it. Identical behaviour. Same behaviour if I run tmux inside terminator Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 21:03
  • 1
    In a shell inside tmux, what’s the value of $TERM? If it’s not screen-256color, try launching vim as TERM=screen-256color vim, then make sure no startup script sets TERM (or, if you need to do that to work around buggy software, make sure it checks the original value first).
    – Ry-
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 22:55
  • @minitech: Bingo. I had xterm-256color whereas screen-256color fixes the problem. If you make this an answer I will accept it. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 23:06
  • This worked for me: stackoverflow.com/a/15095377/96855 Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 4:49

3 Answers 3


This happens when TERM isn’t set to the correct screen[-256color] in Vim’s environment, usually by some shell startup script. If that is the case – for example, you have a


, either remove it or make sure it checks the original value of TERM before changing it, e.g.

if [[ "$TERM" = xterm ]]; then

in your .tmux.conf:

set -g default-terminal "screen-256color"

Late comment, but I had looked through all the threads and couldn't resolve it until I did the following. All I had to do was add a second check of

if [[ $TERM == screen]]; then

in addition to the first conditional statement in my .bashrc file:

if [[ $TERM == xterm ]]; then

I also had this in .tmux.conf:

set -g default-terminal "screen-256color"

In my .vimrc file:

set term=screen-256color

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