Is it possible to change the background of the active (current) tmux tab?

I'm using tmux 1.9 on Ubuntu 15.04.

$ tmux -V
tmux 1.9

I tried to do:

set-option -g pane-active-border-fg red

But the result was not changed:

I expected the 3-bash* to have a red background.

  • @jasonwryan I don't want to change the status bar foreground color but to make the current tab display a different background color. Jun 17, 2015 at 8:01

2 Answers 2


In version 3.3 use the answer in comment provided here by @AntK.

set-window-option -g window-status-current-style bg=red

In version 2.9 You should change this options to something like:

# Active window title color
setw -g window-status-current-style fg=black,bg=white

There's an argument with a decent explanation here: https://github.com/tmux/tmux/issues/1689

And the FAQ: https://github.com/tmux/tmux/wiki/FAQ#how-do-i-translate--fg--bg-and--attr-options-into--style-options

  • confirmed this works for 2.9a Jun 24, 2019 at 4:39
  • thanks. that's the actual way to set those colors
    – KhaimovMR
    Dec 28, 2020 at 12:26
  • 1
    This throws syntax error in next-3.3. @AntK's solution worked fine
    – vishless
    May 14, 2021 at 9:12
  • Put this in your ~/.tmux.conf and enter :source ~/.tmux.conf from an active session to "hot reload" it. Aug 4, 2023 at 13:54

You haven't set window active background color, you only set active panel border, try:

set-window-option -g window-status-current-bg red
  • Still the same -- i.imgur.com/3AdyVZc.png Jun 17, 2015 at 8:06
  • Yes, I saved ~/.tmux.conf and started tmux in a new terminal. Jun 17, 2015 at 8:12
  • xterm-256color Jun 17, 2015 at 8:19
  • 1
    Also, for those wondering, you can set the foreground with set-window-option -g window-status-current-fg 'white'
    – laurent
    Nov 9, 2017 at 11:36
  • 18
    if you're looking at this post tmux v2.9 this option will look like so set-window-option -g window-status-current-style bg=red Jun 16, 2019 at 13:36

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