I recently became enamored with the excellent app in Ubuntu GNU screen. I was really happy to see it installed on my Mac as well, but I can't split vertically... I guess I need to update it somehow. I tried mac ports, and brew, but I couldn't find anything. Has anyone done this successfully?

10 Answers 10


Patch by Evan Meagher: http://old.evanmeagher.net/2010/12/patching-screen-with-vertical-split-in-os

Using these instructions and patch to compile screen I now have screen with vertical splitting capability in Mac OS X

  • flawless! thanks. zero effort === time travel to 1 second ago ;-)
    – Brad Parks
    Mar 6, 2013 at 1:46
  • Brilliant, worked for me as copy and paste job only, no thinking at all! Using OSX 10.8.2.
    – Billy Moon
    Mar 13, 2013 at 16:12

At this point…

brew install homebrew/dupes/screen

…will get you a 4.4.0 with vertical splitting.

  • 1
    As of Jan 2018 this is the simplest solution. Jan 20, 2018 at 20:43
  • I got v4.06 after installing with brew but still could not get vertical split to work. Are the key-bindings same? C-a | or C-a V?
    – rrrocky
    Feb 22, 2018 at 7:13
  • screen 4.6.2 (as versioned by Homebrew) AKA 4.06.02 (as versioned by GNU / upstream) does work for me with CTRL+a, then | (SHIFT+). Does the command type screen say it's in /usr/local/bin/? If it says /usr/bin/ without the 'local', that is probably macOS's native screen and not Homebrew's. Feb 22, 2018 at 17:13
  • Please note, as of 2022 the dupes repo has been migrated to core so the working command is brew install homebrew/core/screen or simply brew install screen
    – Zaya
    Jul 8, 2022 at 14:07

Give tmux a try. You will have to use mac ports but its pretty painless minus the build times. If you like what screen gives you tmux does it all and more and is actually being maintained and improved.

Tmux Info

  • 1
    Tmux has no pasteboard access though.
    – Daniel Beck
    Jan 11, 2011 at 17:07

The best solution these days (late 2014) is to download the current screen source and compile it locally. I just verified this works for me on OSX Mavericks.

There are some patches that need to be applied for building on Mac OSX. I have applied them and put the source code on Github.

Automatic Instuctions

git clone https://github.com/FreedomBen/screen-for-OSX && cd screen-for-OSX/ && ./install.sh

Manual Instructions:

  1. git clone https://github.com/FreedomBen/screen-for-OSX
  2. cd screen-for-OSX/src
  3. ./autogen.sh
  4. ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
  5. make
  6. sudo make install

Post Installation:

The new binary is installed into /usr/local/bin. It doesn't replace the old one, so it needs to be called by absolute path, or you need to rearrange your PATH variable. Please see the README.md file for more details.


My suggestions (pick one):

  1. Try tmux. You should find it in MacPorts and Homebrew (don't even mention Fink), or you can compile it from source.
  2. You can compile the latest source code (hxxps://savannah.gnu.org/git/?group=screen); it should be easy enough if you look at the README.

Just a side note.

If you have MacPorts the vertical split patch is installed by default

port cat screen | grep vertical

sudo port -v install screen

But split -v and Ctrl+A, | don't work. Bummer.


AFAIK you need at least screen-4.01. You can get it from their git repositories over at gnus's savannah. One of the newer dowloads here might also work, but I haven't tried.


Try "split -v" or C-a |. Those are set with the current release of gnu-screen installed on Ubuntu (screen 4.00.03jw4). You might have luck with the MacOsX version as well.

  • Nope! It wont work on macos10.6 nor 10.7
    – Ali
    Dec 21, 2011 at 14:37

It works fine here. I followed the first description i found via google.

I used the screen version that came with my 10.6.3 Installation: Screen version 4.00.03 (FAU) 23-Oct-06. What version are you using?

Did you create at least two sessions before trying to split by pressing Ctrl-a+Shift-s

  • You don't even have to create two sessions. You can split all day long if you want, and have multiple views of the same session. My issue is that I can't split vertically, like the version that comes preinstalled with Ubuntu. I'm trying to patch that in or something. Jul 19, 2010 at 13:29

The newer versions of screen->4.01 support this. You can get it from their git repositories over at gnus's savannah and build it yourself.

After having installed screen, try the following sequence of commands

(Ctrl + A) | #Create the vertical split
(Ctrl + Tab) #To move to the new vertical split
(Ctrl + C)   #Create a new window in the vertical split

The build process is a straightforward configure, make and make install routine as I didn't run into any dependency problems.

I did the above with screen-4.1.0 and it works perfectly on Mountain Lion.

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