If I check in screen the the currently running tasks (ctrl/a + "), I get this:

 Num Name                                                                                                                
   0 -bash  
   1 -bash  
   2 -bash  

...which is right, normally in my all screen windows, a bash is running. However, not that is what I want to see. I want to see the actually executed command in that window. It can be anything, like ssh-ing, rsync-ing, or running buildscripts and so on:

 Num Name                                                                                                                
   0 ssh to@this 
   1 rsync this./ [email protected]:/path
   2 make world

My current best idea, any time if I execute a new command, bash should somehow talk to the screen process, what is happening at the moment. For example, as a datagram message over a unix pipe. Probably it is not easily possible.

Is there something to get at least some similar?

1 Answer 1


Short answer:

  • Add the following lines to your $HOME/.bashrc4

    case "$TERM" in
        screen*) PROMPT_COMMAND='printf "\ek\e\\\\"'
  • Add the following line in $HOME/.screenrc

    shelltitle '$ | bash'


screen has a shell-specific heuristic that is enabled by setting the window’s name to "<search pattern>|<window name>" and <ESC>k<ESC>\ sequence as part of prompt2.

Screen will use the <ESC>k<ESC>\ to clear the previous command name and get ready for the next command. When a newline is received from the shell, a search is made for the end of the prompt. screen will grab the first word after the matched string and use it as the command name.

Use PROMPT_COMMAND='printf "\ek\e\\\\"' to set <ESC>k<ESC>\ as part of prompt. And use shelltitle subcommand (title does not work here) to set default window title, by adding

shelltitle '<end of prompt>|<default window name>'

to $HOME/.screenrc2 5.

After loading new configurations windowlist should show command being run.

2. screen dynamic titles: https://www.gnu.org/software/screen/manual/html_node/Dynamic-Titles.html#Dynamic-Titles
4. Similar post: https://superuser.com/questions/244299/gnu-screen-how-to-update-dynamically-the-title-of-a-window
5. shelltitle examples: https://www.gnu.org/software/screen/manual/html_node/Title-Screenrc.html
3. About PROMPT_COMMAND: https://www.gnu.org/software/bash/manual/html_node/Controlling-the-Prompt.html

  • Hi, I tried it and nothing changed.
    – peterh
    Nov 14, 2023 at 18:02
  • Ref (1) says the same what does not work. Ref(2) is meaningless, probably only the doc author knows what is he writing about. Ref(3) explains PROMPT_COMMAND but not, how to change the window title to the current command. Ref(4) is the origin of your post.
    – peterh
    Nov 14, 2023 at 18:09
  • I am sorry but your answer is useless in its current form.
    – peterh
    Nov 14, 2023 at 18:19
  • I was using my custom .screenrc so I didn't realize the answer was incomplete. I apologize.
    – davidt930
    Nov 15, 2023 at 4:48
  • Looks we can't really understand each other. To the .screenrc, you can give a fix string. I want a dynamic string, namely always the currently executing shell command. Did you read the question, at the top of the page?
    – peterh
    Nov 15, 2023 at 17:04

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