I'm looking for a behavior that is similar to how vim(1) handles its split windows with ^w =. I know tmux(1) has predefined layouts with ^b Meta[1-5], but this likely does not have the layout that I am currently using.

When splitting a window, it halves the current window for both panes. Split again, and it halves that pane into two new. Combine vertical and horizontal splits, and they continue to halve each other, each new pane getting smaller and smaller.

How can I keep the new layout I've just created, but have all vertical and horizontal splits equally balanced, like vim(1) does with ^w =?

  • The description for the "tiled" layout says "Panes are spread out as evenly as possible over the window in both rows and columns." Could you explain how what you want is different from this please? Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 18:56
  • 1
    Sure. This describes it very well: gist.github.com/1942422 Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 19:39

8 Answers 8



select-layout even-vertical
Usually assigned to: Ctrl+b, Alt+2


select-layout even-horizontal
Usually assigned to: Ctrl+b, Alt+1

  • 88
    For other people who are wondering: C-b M-2 means Control-b, and M-2 means alt+2. Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 20:49
  • 40
    M-2 means ESC+2 for me on Debian using Gnome Terminal. Probably depends on setup.
    – arcyqwerty
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 5:06
  • 10
    C-... and M-... are emacs-ims M- means "meta" which is [Alt] in combination with or [Esc] followed by the referenced key both options look the same over the wire, but there is the possibility that your GUI may be trapping the [Alt] sequence
    – Jasen
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 3:56
  • 12
    Just to put this here in case it helps someone else, because I am constantly confused, "vertical" and "horizontal" are the direction of the spacing--that is, choosing even-vertical will create a layout where the three panes are stacked vertically, equal in height, where even-horizontal will create a layout where the three panes are side-by-side, equal in width
    – A. Wilson
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 16:20
  • 1
    How to do M-2 on macOS with a keyboard where "2" requires pressing shift (like the French keyboard)? I didn't succeed, with various combinations of alt, control, command, escape and shift + 2… Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 9:05

You can use ctrl-b space to cycle through layouts with even spacing, but that won't necessarily preserve the layout you had.

  • 6
    The idea behind the trick (if you want to map it to something else or adapt it): bind-key -r Space next-layout. Then C-b Space Space Space...
    – BenC
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 14:01
  • 5
    Is there a way to know which layout I've selected, and how to quickly jump to it again?
    – hughes
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 21:15
  • this is a nice one, let you explore various combinations
    – emvidi
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 20:34
  • very useful and easy to remember!
    – supersan
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 12:16

From the command line you can use

tmux select-layout tiled

to make your splits all roughly equal size. You can bind that to a key command as well.

  • 10
    Usually assigned to: C-b M-5
    – minipif
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 3:40
  • @minipif That is the answer Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 1:09

I don't know any single key shortcut, but maybe this helps you:

You can try to write some script to do the layout, and bind a key to the script. You can do this by using tmuxcommand pipe-pane [-o] [-t target-pane] [shell-command] to write the current layout to the script. Next you need to read a layout prepared by the script using tmuxcommand select-layout .


tmux provides with some pre defined layouts, do tmux select-layout and you will have some options:

even-horizontal even-vertical main-horizontal main-vertical tiled

  • 1
    Perhaps you could explain what the different layouts do, and how they address the original question (in ways that haven’t already been covered). Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 17:53

I was having a hard time finding the magic incantation to split into 4 equal quadrants, so here it is:

# Split session into FOUR EQUAL quadrants
tmux selectp -t 0    # select the first (0) pane
tmux splitw -h -p 50 # split it into two halves
tmux selectp -t 0    # select the first (0) pane
tmux splitw -v -p 50 # split it into two halves

tmux selectp -t 2    # select the new, second (2) pane
tmux splitw -v -p 50 # split it into two halves
tmux selectp -t 0    # go back to the first pane

ctrl b and then :resize-pane -M and then just use your mouse! (requires mouse-mode to be enabled)

  • 3
    mice do not belong in terminals
    – inetknght
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 20:49

If you want to achieve this with command when tmux is opened:

  1. Enter Command Mode with Ctrl-b (or your own tmux prefix key)
  2. type :
  3. Enter Command:
  • select-layout even-horizontal for horizontally split panes
  • select-layout even-vertical for vertically split panes
  • select-layout tiled for all panes

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