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In screen, I can just type C-a :number 0 to move a window to the top of the window list and push all the other windows down one. What's the equivalent command sequence for tmux? I looked at the man page, but I'm finding it confusing on this point.

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C-b, . lets you renumber a window. –  isomorphismes Feb 19 at 1:01
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8 Answers

up vote 107 down vote accepted

The swap-window command is closest to what you want.

"Prefix :" (that is "Ctrl-B :" by default) brings you to the tmux-command prompt. There you enter:

swap-window -s 3 -t 1

to let window number 3 and window number 1 swap their positions.

To swap the current window with the top window, do:

swap-window -t 0

In the unlikely case of having no window at index 0, do:

move-window -t 0

(if base-index is 0, as it is by default).

You can bind that command to a key (T for "top" for example) by adding the following to your ~/.tmux.conf:

bind-key T swap-window -t 0
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Thanks for your edit, but move-window only works, if there is not another window at the given index. So in most cases, move-window -t 0 will not work, since usually there will be another window at that position already. –  matlehmann Mar 21 '13 at 15:32
That's right, I will improve it. –  zakkak Mar 23 at 23:31
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I renumber windows like this:

Ctrl+b, ., 222

would make the current tmux window (all panes) number 222.

Relatedly: When I'm shuffling things around I tend to want to do

Ctrl+b :new-session -d -s "reading"

and from there I can also use Ctrl+b, ., reading to move the current window (all panes at once) over to the reading session. You can browse among sessions with Ctrl+b, s the way you would browse within session using Ctrl+b, w.


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The approach I use combines a bit of Ashish's answer with piec's; I have alt-left and right arrow bound to a quick little shell callout that moves the window one to the left or the right, unless it is the first or last window, respectfully. I did this because, when you issue a swap +1 at the last window (or swap -1 at the first window), it will still swap, instead of looping back around again like you might expect:

0:one 1:two 2:three 3:zero*


0:zero* 1:two 2:three 3:one

Instead of

0:zero* 1:one 2:two 3:three

So, the commands I use stop working when the window has reached the edge of the list:

bind-key -n M-Left run-shell 'tmux list-windows | head -n 1 | grep -q active || tmux swap-window -t -1'
bind-key -n M-Right run-shell 'tmux list-windows | tail -n 1 | grep -q active || tmux swap-window -t +1'

This can easily be combined with base-index and renumber-windows to have a list of windows that start at an arbitrary number and never has any gaps.

If you are using base-index 1 like me and you don't think you'll ever go above 999 windows, you can use a little trick to make it roll properly, though the commands bloat a bit:

set -g base-index 1
set -g renumber-windows on
bind-key -n M-Left run-shell 'if tmux list-windows | head -n 1 | grep -q active ; then tmux move-window -t 999 \; move-window -r \; refresh-client -S ; else tmux swap-window -t -1 ; fi'
bind-key -n M-Right run-shell 'if tmux list-windows | tail -n 1 | grep -q active ; then tmux move-window -t 0 \; move-window -r \; refresh-client -S ; else tmux swap-window -t +1 ; fi'

This works by temporarily moving the last window to the unused index-0 and then calling move-window -r to renumber them starting from 1 again. It works similarly when moving the first window to the end; by picking a huge number you'll never use, it ensures that when move-window -r fires again everything will be numbered like you'd expect. If you're wondering about refresh-client -S, that's necessary because sometimes, while the reordering from move-window will work properly, the status bar won't update until further changes are made. By forcing a refresh of just the status bar (-S), you avoid this.

The only issue I can find with this approach is that swap-window will implicitly alter the last-used window to the one you swapped with. Thus, if you are on window #1, switch to window four and move it back one, you'll find that your last-used window is the new # 4 (formerly #3) instead of #1. There doesn't seem to be a way around this.

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Adding to Gareth's answer, you can use the following key bindings

bind-key -n C-S-Left swap-window -t -1
bind-key -n C-S-Right swap-window -t +1

Pressing Ctrl+Shift+Left (will move the current window to the left. Similarly right. No need to use the modifier (C-b).

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This -1 and +1 syntax helps solve the problem of occupied indices. tmux will shift the other windows for you and will event wrap around to the end/beginning automatically. This is the best answer. –  brianpeiris Oct 10 '13 at 13:29
I came here looking for the quickest way to write these exact bindings. Thanks! –  Keith Smiley Jan 6 at 19:25
This is godly! Thanks. –  Bruno Buccolo Jan 21 at 13:56
My inability to easily move tmux windows has been bugging me for a few weeks. This makes it so much easier to deal with the windows! Many thanks from this recent tmux convert. –  calvinf Jan 21 at 20:09
This is seriously the most useful shortcut in my repertoire, thank you for sharing that. –  glitch May 17 at 23:48
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You can implement an equivalent to screen's number command using an external shell script that chooses between swap-window and move-window. You can bind it to a key that way:

bind < command-prompt -p index "run-shell '~/.tmux.number.sh %%'"


if [ $# -ne 1 -o -z "$1" ]; then
    exit 1
if tmux list-windows | grep -q "^$1:"; then
    tmux swap-window -t $1
    tmux move-window -t $1
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Very nice solution, working great! I just made minor edits to cleanup and removed the -F option which is not accepted by my tmux version. –  haridsv Jan 23 '13 at 9:33
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Using swap-window to move to any id: [closest to screen's :number]

# window movement / renumbering like in screen's :number
bind-key m command-prompt -p "move window to:"  "swap-window -t '%%'"

[m for move --> hit prefix-m and enter say 3 . .to renumber window to 3]

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This is already nice, but even better would be: do swap-window and if it fails, fall back to move-window –  nisc Dec 26 '11 at 15:18
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The tmux equivalent to :number 42 is :move-window -t 42.

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This is bound to C-b . –  vedang Jun 30 '11 at 12:59
Thanks! This is much better than the accepted answer imo. –  Yuki Feb 14 '12 at 22:27
@ArlenCuss Actually both answers are good and useful. You see, using screen :number you could swap windows, using tmux's :move-window you can only relocate window if the target index is not in use. So, imo, both :swap-window and :move-window are necessary to grasp control over window locations :) –  Victor Farazdagi Mar 20 '12 at 12:30
+1 for getting an answer from a programming guru (also for being correct). This is the only way I could get it to work on an active window –  engineerDave Jul 24 '12 at 13:37
tmux's :move-window is not equivalent to screen's :number. :number swaps if the destination exists, :move-window fails in that case. You have to choose between :move-window and :swap-window –  piec Jan 29 '13 at 23:28
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I think you want to bind a new key combination to the 'choose-window' command.

I know you said you've already read the man page, but you should refer back to it. you need to modify your ~/.tmux.conf file to add a bind-key command.

Specifically, look at page 4 of the following.

tmux man page

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choose-window doesn't seem to move the current window to a new position. –  dan Feb 2 '11 at 20:20
Also, choose-window is already bound to C-B w. –  kynan Jun 10 '13 at 18:10
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