I accidentally created over 1000 screens. How do I kill them all with one command? (Or a few)

  • 3
    run --> screen -ls | grep Detached | cut -d. -f1 | awk '{print $1}' | xargs kill – sactiw Nov 12 '16 at 10:26
  • Good idea @sactiw. I modified it to work with my named sessions, and tweaked the commands a bit for preference, cleaning the sessions out completely in case they are 'stuck' like they were for me, and listing again for the user as a sanity check: screen -ls | grep "<name>" | cut -d. -f1 | tr --delete "\t" | xargs kill -9; screen -wipe; screen -ls; – Pysis Aug 9 '17 at 14:37
  • 5
    How did you accidentally create 1000 screens? – duhaime Apr 4 '18 at 0:06

You can use :

pkill screen


killall screen

In OSX the process is called SCREEN in all caps. So, use:

pkill SCREEN


killall SCREEN
  • 2
    It's not recommended to use SIGKILL in this case. SIGTERM would be a much better choice. – Marco Oct 10 '13 at 22:31
  • Hi, Rahul Patil. why screen is not listed in Top – user15964 Apr 30 '16 at 1:03
  • What if I don't have permissions? Do I have to manually go into and exit all the screens individually? – hipoglucido Jun 21 '17 at 15:39

If the screens are dead, use:

screen -wipe

Have recently begun to familiarize myself with awk I put together this and it served its purpose. I posted it since its quite easy to understand.

screen -ls | grep '(Detached)' | awk 'sys {screen -S $1 -X quit}'

Where screen -ls lists all current screens. grep 'pattern' filters out all matching rows. We can then get a handle for all detached screens and with awk sys {command} we can copy and paste together a command and execute it with sys, $1 refers to the first argument picked up by awk. Finally we execute the quit command with screen -X quit.

  • 4
    screen -ls | grep '(Detached)' | awk '{print $1}' | xargs -I % -t screen -X -S % quit worked better for me. – whereisalext Sep 22 '19 at 23:24
str=$(screen -ls)  

array=$(echo $str|tr "." "\n")  

for V in $array  
if [ $V -gt 0  ]  
        then screen -S $V -X quit  
for scr in $(screen -ls | awk '{print $1}'); do screen -S $scr -X kill; done

I'm a bit puzzled over how you managed to create 1000 "screens". Did you perhaps mean 1000 screen windows (1000 different terminal windows within a single screen session)?

If you meant 1000 windows within a single screen session, then a more elegant solution would be to quit screen using the command C-a \ (ctrl-a followed by \).

  • 1
    Try executing screen 1000x within screen. What happens? You get 1000 screen windows. Yes, that's right, screen intelligently and mercifully doesn't spawn 1000 screen sessions. So if the OP had already started screen it should be far easier to accidentally start 1000 screen windows than to start 1000 screen sessions. – Railgun2 Oct 11 '13 at 1:44
  • Strange but the comment I was replying to appears to have disappeared. Anyway I'm letting the above comment stand for the record. – Railgun2 Oct 11 '13 at 1:49
  • 1
    Well it's actually pretty simple. Just make a infinite loop (by accident) and put something like this in there screen -m sleep 100000. This happened and I did not notice until it had already created over 1000 screen sessions. – BrainStone Oct 11 '13 at 10:14

The following command will terminate all inactive screens:

perl -e 'while (map { kill 9, [split /\./]->[0] } grep { /Detached/ } split /\n/, qx{screen -ls}) { sleep 1 } exec qw(screen -wipe)'

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.