In either Cygwin or gnome terminal, clear doesn't actually remove the previous output in the terminal. So when I run clear and then some programs, and search (using the search feature of the terminals) for some word in the output of the programs that are run after clear , it will also search in the output of the other commands previously run on the screen before clear.

How can i search in the output on a terminal screen since an arbitrarily chosen time point?

My current workaround is to open a new terminal to run the programs whose outputs I would like to search in. But is there a way without opening a new terminal?


  • This isn't AFAIK really doable, because searchable terminal history is entirely a clientside thing. You could look into modifying the terminal emulator to accept a certain escape sequence to purge the entire history, but I don't know of any that offer this functionality out of the box.
    – DopeGhoti
    Mar 29, 2017 at 19:01
  • 1
    tput clear seems to do it, but I dont know why and I didn't test searching.
    – ctx
    Mar 29, 2017 at 19:04
  • @ctx tput clear is the same as clear
    – roaima
    Mar 29, 2017 at 19:13
  • Alternately you can use script(1) to save a copy of the session in a file and search that. i.e. script; ./prog1; ./prog2; exit; grep word typescript; rm typescript Mar 29, 2017 at 20:07
  • tput init or tput reset, depending on the capabilities of the terminal. Sometimes reset works as well.
    – ridgy
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


The features that you're mentioning sound very similar to what GNU Screen provides.

If you wish to search terminal output then you can make use of the copy-mode/scrollback feature. (CTRL-a ESC) then ? to reverse search and / to forward search.

I spend a very large (close to 100%) of my terminal time in GNU Screen.

By default the scroll back is set to 100 lines, this is easily increased by setting defscrollback to something higher in ~/.screenrc. New windows can be created (CTRL-a c) and switched between (CTRL-a n, or CTRL-a p).

It's something that has been around for decades and I hope it will be around for many more to come due to the vast array of features it provides which gives me a consistent layer no matter which terminal is flavour of the month.

  • 3
    I think this is the opposite of what the OP desires. They do not want the shell history search to include commands that have been followed by clear.
    – roaima
    Mar 29, 2017 at 19:14
  • Then destroy the window. CTRL-a k or CTRL-d. Scroll back is there for searching or destroying.
    – Ed Neville
    Mar 29, 2017 at 19:18
  • 1
    Not a good answer, the user, and others, want to know what the module is inside of the terminal to control the rendering without having to close and open a new window. clear, reset and history -c do not clear the searchable history within the terminal.
    – mibbit
    Sep 27, 2018 at 5:06

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