tmux select problem

My Problem

When I select text from tmux using the mouse, the block selection spans to neighbouring panes.

What Have I Tried

My Question

How can I configure tmux to allow mouse selection in multiple-pane mode?

  • Which tmux version are you using, and which terminal emulator?
    – JigglyNaga
    Oct 31, 2018 at 16:34
  • tmux 2.7, iterm2 3.2.0
    – Adam Matan
    Oct 31, 2018 at 21:17

5 Answers 5


It depends on the version of tmux. When tmux mouse is on then the mouse selections will not span panes and will be copied into tmux's selection buffer. When tmux mouse is off (as it is in the description) then the mouse selection will be native X (and span panes).

I add the following to my ~/.tmux.conf. It will enable CTRL+b M (to turn tmux mouse on) and CTRL+b m (to turn tmux mouse off).

For tmux 1.x - 2.0

# Toggle mouse on
bind-key M \
  set-window-option -g mode-mouse on \;\
  set-option -g mouse-resize-pane on \;\
  set-option -g mouse-select-pane on \;\
  set-option -g mouse-select-window on \;\
  display-message 'Mouse: ON'

# Toggle mouse off
bind-key m \
  set-window-option -g mode-mouse off \;\
  set-option -g mouse-resize-pane off \;\
  set-option -g mouse-select-pane off \;\
  set-option -g mouse-select-window off \;\
  display-message 'Mouse: OFF'

For tmux 2.1+

# Toggle mouse on
bind-key M \
  set-option -g mouse on \;\
  display-message 'Mouse: ON'

# Toggle mouse off
bind-key m \
  set-option -g mouse off \;\
  display-message 'Mouse: OFF'

Or, to use a single bind-key toggle for tmux 2.1+

# Toggle mouse on/off
bind-key m \                  
set-option -gF mouse "#{?mouse,off,on}" \;\
display-message "#{?mouse,Mouse: ON,Mouse: OFF}"

When tmux mouse is on, and a selection is made with the mouse, releasing the left mouse button should copy it to the tmux selection buffer and CTRL+b ] will paste it.

  • 2
    Simple and efficient and does what I need.
    – Stabledog
    Jun 11, 2020 at 10:48
  • 3
    Why it's so complicated to do this in tmux, sad
    – avocado
    Sep 19, 2021 at 9:58
  • 1
    You can also use a single key mapping to toggle between mouse mode on and off by doing bind m set -gF mouse "#{?mouse,off,on}" (replace m with the key you want to use). Nov 4, 2021 at 13:22
  • Brilliant @RaphaelSchweikert ... I never thought of using FORMATS. Thanks for sharing! Nov 4, 2021 at 22:12
  • 1
    @JosephTingiris Thanks. I did feel quite brilliant when I figured this out. That is until I realized doing set-option -g mouse without any argument will already toggle the setting, no FORMATs needed. Nov 5, 2021 at 7:21

I'm not sure about 2.7, I'm using tmux 3.1c. With 3.1c, you can press prefix+z to maximize ("zoom") the pane (where prefix is Ctrl+b by default). Then, you can do your copying, and prefix+z again to switch back.

  • @Kusalananda Thank you for making the answer more clear
    – Xin
    Dec 22, 2020 at 9:53
  • 1
    prefix + z is exactly what I was looking for.
    – Juampy NR
    Oct 14, 2022 at 11:08

Usually it is expected behaviour while copying with button pressed - You are escaping the tmux to underlying terminal which does not care about the vertical boundary.

Otherwise it should highlight only what you select. Also selection usually disappears as soon as you release the mouse. But it does copy the selection to its internal buffers to be available for later pastes.

You may also find this answer to related question useful:

How to copy and paste with a mouse with tmux

  • That's a great link, thank you!
    – evaristegd
    Mar 5, 2020 at 16:26

The following solution works for me with tmux 3.1c (tmux -V).

It needs the xclip command (e.g., apt install xclip).

Shut down any running tmux instance to make sure the upcoming edits to your tmux configuration file ~/.tmux.conf are being used:

tmux kill-server

Now edit file ~/.tmux.conf and have the following configurations in it:

set -g mouse on

# for tmux's default "emacs" mode-keys (copy-mode)
bind-key -T copy-mode MouseDragEnd1Pane send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel "xclip -selection primary -filter | xclip -selection clipboard"

# if you are using "vi" mode-keys (copy-mode-vi), it will be probably like so:
# set-window-option -g mode-keys vi
# bind-key -T copy-mode-vi MouseDragEnd1Pane send-keys -X copy-pipe-and-cancel "xclip -selection primary -filter | xclip -selection clipboard"

From now on, in tmux, left-mouse-button-selecting-without-holding-shift should

  • as usual select text within a pane (selected text being colored in orange/yellow)
  • and as usual, after releasing the left mouse button, the selection is copied into tmux's own "buffer" (pastable with Ctrl + b then ])
  • but now new, after releasing the left mouse button, the selection is automatically put into both the "primary" and "clipboard" clipboard (I never understood this clipboard distinction; it only causes gotchas, so I just want my selection be dumped to any clipboard that exists).

If this setup still does not work, make sure the tmux environment is configured correctly:

  • Output from tmux list-keys | grep MouseDragEnd1Pane shall include the configured bind-key.
  • Check the active tmux set-clipboard configuration with tmux show -s | grep clip. Mine is set-clipboard external, the tmux default, as of this writing, since tmux 2.6.
  • Make sure to tmux kill-server and start tmux anew to have any configuration changes be used.

@Raphael Schweikert mentioned in a comment that just setting set-option -g mouse fixes it (rather than set -g mouse on), which worked for me with nothing else needed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .