When in tmux copy mode, I'd like to move the cursor with some Alt+key combos rather than the arrows. Is there a way to make tmux do this?

Here are the definitions I'd like:

Alt+i: up
Alt+l: right
Alt+j: left
Alt+k: down
Alt+o: forward word
Alt+u: backward word

I do not want to switch tmux over to vi mode.


Turns out you have to edit the key bindings for the emacs-copy table. Here's how I made the changes that I wanted above.

First, I checked out what the current bindings were by entering the following command in tmux (by pressing Prefix+colon) list-keys -t emacs-copy. This gave me a list of the keys that were bound in emacs-copy mode and I looked through them to figure out which commands did what I wanted.

Then, I added the appropriate key bindings to my ~/.tmux.conf file like so:

bind-key -t emacs-copy M-j cursor-left
bind-key -t emacs-copy M-i cursor-up
bind-key -t emacs-copy M-l cursor-right
bind-key -t emacs-copy M-k cursor-down
bind-key -t emacs-copy M-u previous-word
bind-key -t emacs-copy M-o next-word

Finally, I ran the tmux command source ~/.tmux.conf inside tmux to get the keys bound without having to exit and reload the session.


This (apparently) has changed in more recent tmux versions: In 2.9a, there does not seem to be an emacs-copy key table (but there's a copy-mode), and the bind-key argument for key tables is (only) -T (note upper case). So to e.g. have Ctrl-Left/Right jump words in copy/mode:

bind-key -T copy-mode C-Left send-key -X previous-word                                                                  
bind-key -T copy-mode C-Right send-key -X next-word   

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