I have a ruby terminal script that I would like to print out hyperlinks. I achieve that like so:

puts("\e]8;;https://example.com\aThis is a link\e]8;;\a")

This works perfectly fine in a "normal" terminal (gnome-terminal btw) window.

But I need to run this script within GNU screen, where the escape-sequence simply has no effect. Other sequences (like colors for example) work fine, the hyperlink one (which according to the source might be a gnome-terminal-only thing) doesn't. (screen is running inside gnome-terminal)

How can I get screen to acknowledge my link sequence and display it properly?

1 Answer 1


You can pass through some text to the terminal screen itself runs in by putting it inside an ESC P, ESC \ pair (\033P%s\033\\ in printf format).

So you should bracket inside \eP..\e\\ pairs all the parts of the sequence, except for the text which will appear on the screen ("This is a link"):

printf '\eP\e]8;;https://example.com\a\e\\This is a link\eP\e]8;;\a\e\\\n'
printf '\eP\e]8;;%s\a\e\\%s\eP\e]8;;\a\e\\\n' https://example.com 'This is a link'

Or, from C:

puts("\eP\e]8;;https://example.com\a\e\\This is a link\eP\e]8;;\a\e\\");
printf("\eP\e]8;;%s\a\e\\%s\eP\e]8;;\a\e\\\n", url, title);

Putting the replacement text too inside \eP..\e\\ may result in screen losing track of the cursor position.

This is documented in the GNU screen manual:

ESC P  (A)     Device Control String
               Outputs a string directly to the host
               terminal without interpretation

The "string" should should be terminated with a ST ("string terminator") escape, ie. \e\\ -- thence \eP..\e\\.

  • I might be doing something wrong, but that doesn’t work for me... Mar 27, 2020 at 15:43
  • This does not work for me either, neither with printf nor with echo -e nor from the ruby script. It prints This is a link but it's not clickable. Gnome-terminal GNU Screen 4.08.00
    – confetti
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:45
  • @mosvy I know it should work, and I had no doubt you’d tested it. I tried it on Fedora 31 running GNU screen 4.06.02 inside GNOME Terminal 3.34.2, and a remote Debian 10 running GNU screen 4.06.02 inside the same GNOME Terminal. Mar 27, 2020 at 15:48
  • With the remote connection, I get ]8;;https://example.comThis is a link; in Fedora, I get an undecorated This is a link. Mar 27, 2020 at 15:50
  • 1
    That's because screen will "eat up" the \a which terminates that escape. I will update the answer with a solution which doesn't need that ~/.screenrc mod.
    – mosvy
    Mar 27, 2020 at 16:22

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