I cannot install any tools like screen or xproc on the box. I dont need to modify the title, I only need to find the window title name.

echo -e "\033]0;[title]\07"; modifies the title I know. But I just want to know the existing title name.

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    does unix.stackexchange.com/a/122870/117549 do it for you? – Jeff Schaller Nov 12 '18 at 15:27
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    or possibly unix.stackexchange.com/a/274386/117549 – Jeff Schaller Nov 12 '18 at 15:28
  • my os does not recognize those as commands – Bootham Deyyam Nov 12 '18 at 16:39
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    printf '\e[21t' should cause your terminal to return its title in the form \e]title\e\\ . I'll try to wrap that in a script if they don't delete your question until then. – qubert Nov 12 '18 at 16:46
  • I tried the above and got the result below, this is definitely in the right direction, as I was not getting any output before. print "\033[21t" >$(tty) IFS='' read -t 3 -r a output : ^[]l^[\ – Bootham Deyyam Nov 13 '18 at 15:38

Try the following, but notice that the compatibility is pretty limited. See the notes below.

        set -e
        ss=`stty -g`; trap 'exit 11' INT QUIT TERM; trap 'stty "$ss"' EXIT
        e=`printf '\033'`; st=`printf '\234'`; t=
        stty -echo -icanon min 0 time "${2:-2}"
        printf "${1:-\033[21t}" > "`tty`"
        while c=`dd bs=1 count=1 2>/dev/null` && [ "$c" ]; do
                case "$t" in
                        t=${t%$e\\}; t=${t%$st}; printf '%s\n' "${t#$e\][lL]}";
                        exit 0;;
                *) break;;
        printf %s "$t"; exit 1


$ get_title
$ title=`get_title`

Or, if your script's stdin is not the terminal:

$ title=`get_title </dev/tty`

The stty + dd kludge tries to make sure that the script won't just block if the terminal doesn't report anything in response to the \e[21t escape. This (or a better) approach could be also used with other control sequences (eg. to get the cursor position).


Since the \e[21t escape is considered "insecure", extra configuration is needed in order to make it work:

For xterm: echo '*.vt100.allowWindowOps: true' | xrdb -override

For urxvt: echo 'Rxvt.insecure: true' | xrdb -override

It will not work at all in vte-based terminals like gnome-terminal, mate-terminal, xfce4-terminal, etc, since they report either a fake ("Terminal") or empty title in response.

mlterm doesn't need anything special, but it will crash (!) if the title wasn't set before with \e]2;TITLE\a (that bug was fixed in the current sources).

screen will report its own window title (the one that was set with the -t option or the C-a A command, not the title of the window it's running in.

It's blocked and not supported in tmux.

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    Thank you very much for your help. Much appreciated – Bootham Deyyam Dec 3 '18 at 23:09
  • @Bootham_Deyyam , since it appears that this answer works for you, you should mark it as correct (click the check mark under the votes). In my opinion, you should also up-vote it. This is a great solution. – bballdave025 Apr 24 '20 at 19:11

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