I am running Tilix on Arch Linux. I am having problems with emoji display when running vim or tmux, even though things work correctly in the same terminal when not running vim or tmux.

For demonstration purposes, I have a shell script called smile that looks like this:


echo '😄'

When run on the terminal, it produces:

enter image description here

But when running tmux on the same terminal, I get:

enter image description here

And if I open the script in vim I see:

enter image description here

On my Fedora 31 system, also running Tilix (under Gnome), all of the above works just fine: the emoji displays correctly under tmux and in vim.

Any thoughts on what could be going on here?

  • Are you using the latest version of Arch Linux? – harrymc Dec 18 '19 at 8:42
  • @harrymc Yes; pacman reports no available updates. – larsks Dec 18 '19 at 11:44

You need proper Unicode all the way up the stack from OS-Locale, to Terminal, to Tmux, to Vim. Each part of the chain must support Unicode properly.

For your OS-Locale

you need something like: set LANG="en_US.UTF-8"

For Tmux

Try starting tmux using tmux -u, like Jon suggested. If that doesn't work then you might need to check your config files .tmux.conf or reset to default.


You need to compile vim with multi-byte support.

The easiest way to do this is to run

./configure --with-features=big

This will build vim with the correct support.

You can verify that it was compiled correctly with


in vim or by running

vim --version

and looking for +multi_byte. If it says -multi_byte it will not work.

  • Thanks! This is a good list of things to check. I'll give that a shot later today. – larsks Dec 18 '19 at 11:44

Try starting tmux with the -u flag to enable unicode encoding

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