I recently set up tmux-powerline and noticed that the background color on the status-left, if changed, refuses to go back to default and transparent (if transparency is enabled). tmux-powerline broken

I was able to fix the status-right (because it's before the background is changed), but it seems impossible to clear/erase the background after it's set for a section. I'd love to be wrong about this, though, and was wondering if anyone knows of a solution?

set -g status-left='#[bg=colour89]ANYTHING CAN GO HERE[#bg=default] AND HERE TOO!'

I'd expect to have the background cleared out (bg=default at the beginning would have it stay transparent, and works for status-right), but I get a dark grey instead.

TERM = screen-256

  • It might be helpful if you posted the relevant part of your .tmux.conf...
    – jasonwryan
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 6:11
  • Oops. I was asking in IRC as well and forgot I never put it here.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 18:25
  • 1
    Probably won't help as I expect it is related to your compositor, but I use #[default] to reset the colours.
    – jasonwryan
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 18:31
  • I'll try that when I get home, as well as other compositors.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 18:31
  • #[default] doesn't do it. I doubt it's related to the compositor because it does make a change, just not to "blank".
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


The "transparent" feature relies upon the applications which run in the terminal to not explicitly set the background color. In particular, when clearing the background, these applications should not set the color. That corresponds to a terminal feature known as back color erase, or bce.

The TERM=screen-256color entry tells applications that they have to set the color when clearing the display (to ensure that the current color is used). There is a different terminal description screen-256color-bce which would do what you want in this case.

Further reading:

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