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I'm trying to set something to gray, but can't figure out how. The only bit of info in the man page about colors I can find is:

message-bg colour
  Set status line message background colour, where colour is one of:
  black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, white, colour0 to
  colour255 from the 256-colour palette, or default.

I also found a blog post which iterates through colors, but I can't quite grok it, and don't want to sit at the terminal all day guessing color numbers until one works.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 110 down vote accepted

You can get a list with this bash script:

for i in {0..255} ; do
    printf "\x1b[38;5;${i}mcolour${i}\n"

Then use colourxxx with tmux.

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use $ reset to get your prompt color back :> – lkraav Feb 14 '12 at 10:26
perhaps you need three digit colours? This script outputs like color12 but that is not accepted by tmux as a valid colour. – artfulrobot Jan 11 '13 at 11:49
My tmux (1.6) accepts even colors like colour12 (mind the "u"). – cYrus Jan 11 '13 at 12:28
This answer is still helpful! Helped me pick the colors I wanted. – asfallows Oct 18 '13 at 20:48
omg! A rainbow on my terminal. Just in time to celebrate marriage equality in the US! – garbelini Jun 29 at 14:11

In Subversion (what will be tmux 1.5) you can also use #abcdef hex-style colours which are mapped to the nearest 256 colour palette entry. You need quotes as it's treated as a string, whereas regular color names are treated as named constants. Also note that 3-letter shorthand (#f00) is invalid.


set pane-active-border-bg red # no quotes for name
set pane-active-border-bg "#ff0000" # quotes for rgb
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Can you? I can't see how to... – Eric Apr 23 '12 at 18:18
set-option message-bg "#abcdef"; the quotes are necessary. – chepner May 1 '12 at 20:05

I've been using the xterm-color-table.vim script. Any 256 color terminal color table will work.

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tmux through 1.9 only supports the international spelling for the 256 colour palette, e.g.


as opposed to the American spelling that drops the u


Looks like this will be changed soon,

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