Sometimes it would be very useful to maximize a pane in tmux and then restore it to it's previous size.

I've been reading the manual and I can't find a way. What I've come up with is that I could bind a key to resize the pane to "max" width, and another key to restore it to some predefined width.

Of course this has its drawbacks, so I'm wondering if anyone has a better idea.

11 Answers 11

up vote 49 down vote accepted

Another option could be to use break-pane followed by join-pane. From the man page:

break-pane [-d] [-t target-pane]
                   (alias: breakp)
             Break target-pane off from its containing window to make it the
             only pane in a new window.  If -d is given, the new window does
             not become the current window.

join-pane [-dhv] [-l size | -p percentage] [-s src-pane] [-t dst-pane]
                   (alias: joinp)
             Like split-window, but instead of splitting dst-pane and creating
             a new pane, split it and move src-pane into the space.  This can
             be used to reverse break-pane.

So you could select your pane and do break-pane and then once your done with the maximised version, you could re-join it with join-pane - might need some default arguments to put it back in place, or just rearrange afterwards.

Note that join-pane appears to be in tmux 1.3 but not 1.1. (Not sure about 1.2, sorry).

And just to mention that terminator (a GUI (GTK based) terminal multiplexer) can do the zoom thing. (Ctrl-Shift-X is the default keybinding). Of course it doesn't do lots of things that tmux does ...

  • 25
    As of version 1.8 there is a better solution (see Tyler Holien's answer). – momeara Oct 30 '13 at 13:19
  • For those that try this before the better answer, to get join-pane to work do: join-pane -t:{previous} for the previous window or join-pane -t:0 to join it back to window 0. – Realistic Jan 12 at 22:57

This is now a native tmux feature.

Version 1.8 saw the addition of the -Z flag to resize-pane. From the man page:

With -Z, the active pane is toggled between zoomed (occupying the whole of the window) and unzoomed (its normal position in the layout).

It's bound to tmux-prefix-z by default on my installation (via Homebrew on OS X).

  • 31
    someone with adequate privilages should make this the answer. It is inconceivable that someone would still be using a version of tmux other than the latest. – Jay Jul 9 '13 at 13:14
  • this was great, just added to my .tmux.conf and now have a far more fluid experience: bind-key z resize-pane -Z – St-Ste-Ste-Stephen Aug 5 '14 at 13:23
  • Is it possible to somehow have the edges of the submerged panes visible for depth indication? I keep forgetting I'm zoomed in and the "Z-title" isn't really prominent enough. – lkraav Feb 21 '16 at 23:15
  • Works in BunsenLabs out of the box. – Mateusz Piotrowski Apr 2 '16 at 20:37
  • 10
    "INCONCEIVABLE" - "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." – Michael Anderson May 9 '16 at 4:16

So I know you asked this a while ago ... but I didn't switch from screen until today!

I ran into the same problem, here is how I solved it:

unbind +
bind + new-window -d -n tmux-zoom 'clear && echo TMUX ZOOM && read' \; swap-pane -s tmux-zoom.0 \; select-window -t tmux-zoom
unbind -
bind - last-window \; swap-pane -s tmux-zoom.0 \; kill-window -t tmux-zoom

If your workflow is like mine (i.e. you maximize a window, do some work, then immediately unmaximize it) this should work great for you.

  • (In case it wasn't clear, this maintains the layout in your original window...after maximizing and un-maximizing, it's exactly the same.) – Ryan Nov 15 '11 at 20:22
  • 2
    Any idea how I could map the same keystroke to both? Something like bind c-m select-window -t tmux-zoom ? <minimize> : <maximize>. But now I want to define this function somewhere else, for the sake of cleanliness, and just bind c-m :max_or_min. Is that possible? I'm finding it hard to search for. (I find I often hit the wrong command and end up creating additional, empty 'tmux-zoom' windows.) – chadoh Apr 3 '12 at 13:44
  • 6
    This worked for me only when I removed 'clear && echo TMUX ZOOM && read' from maximize. – Epeli Apr 8 '12 at 18:32
  • Thw maximise works for me, but the minimise action just kills the the original window, leaving the maximised pane. – paradroid Apr 15 '12 at 11:53
  • This sort of worked, but I lose my layout.. almost though! – John Hunt Jul 4 '12 at 10:23

Improved zoomer. Now one can zoom multiple panes, even hierarchically. After doing the below and reloading your tmux server (Ctrl-r in my case) you will have your x key bound to zoom in and zoom out a pane. zoom-in is achieved by opening pane in a new window, and zoom-out is achieved by taking a pane back to its original window. If you end up splitting the zoom-in window, you will be able to zoom into the panes of the zoom-in window and zoom-out back to the zoom-in window. zoom-out happens only if you are in a zoom-in window containing a single pane.

Add following to end of your ~/.tmux.conf

~$ grep "bind x" ~/.tmux.conf
unbind x
bind x run ". ~/.tmux/zoom"

Add following file

~$ cat ~/.tmux/zoom
#!/bin/bash -f
currentwindow=`tmux list-window | tr '\t' ' ' | sed -n -e '/(active)/s/^[^:]*: *\([^ ]*\) .*/\1/gp'`;
currentpane=`tmux list-panes | sed -n -e '/(active)/s/^\([^:]*\):.*/\1/gp'`;
panecount=`tmux list-panes | wc | sed -e 's/^ *//g' -e 's/ .*$//g'`;
inzoom=`echo $currentwindow | sed -n -e '/^zoom/p'`;
if [ $panecount -ne 1 ]; then
if [ $inzoom ]; then
    lastpane=`echo $currentwindow | rev | cut -f 1 -d '@' | rev`;
    lastwindow=`echo $currentwindow | cut -f 2- -d '@' | rev | cut -f 2- -d '@' | rev`;
    tmux select-window -t $lastwindow;
    tmux select-pane -t $lastpane;
    tmux swap-pane -s $currentwindow;
    tmux kill-window -t $currentwindow;
    tmux new-window -d -n $newwindowname;
    tmux swap-pane -s $newwindowname;
    tmux select-window -t $newwindowname;
  • 4
    Only a single upvote?! This answer is awesome! Works very well, introduces nice new functionality which now completely replaces the bloaty 'terminator' program I used to use. – sillyMunky Aug 27 '12 at 10:49
  • +1 This is really good! By far the best working solution I've come across so far! Thanks!! – armandino Nov 8 '12 at 6:07
  • I concur. This works, and is more than awesome. It's screen++ – Brad Parks Mar 6 '13 at 3:28
  • +1. This works great but it's a fraction of a second (~0.8s) slower than @Ryan's answer above, at least on my system. Not a big deal, but I wonder if there is a way to make it faster – Amelio Vazquez-Reina Mar 6 '13 at 15:55
  • Beautiful indeed. I love the special pane names (zoom@…), which are useful reminders, and the single "x" zoom in/out command. – Eric Lebigot Jun 9 '13 at 14:26

Cntl + b (prefix) + z works to zoom into a particular pane in tmux 2.1. it you press Cntrl + b + z again, it zoom pane back to original size. It doesnt create a new pane.

Compared to the solution posted above by aksay, if you try to split the zoomed-in pane, it wont allow to split, and will go back to the original pane and split that pane instead.

The zoom window option is probably more versatile..

I did this to maximize/minimize with the same keystroke:

bind C-k run "if [[ $(tmux list-window) =~ ZOOM ]]; then tmux last-window; tmux swap-pane -s ZOOM.1; tmux kill-window -t ZOOM; else tmux new-window -d -n ZOOM; tmux swap-pane -s ZOOM.1; tmux select-window -t ZOOM;fi"

Also for me work without 'clear && echo TMUX ZOOM && read'. With this snippet every time I minimize one pane from first window disappear.

For those who can't go with tmux 1.8 or prefer a longer maximized state, I published a tmux script that works with tmux 1.6+.

Hope that helps.

I am on Ubuntu 12.04 and also needed this feature. Since tmux 1.8 there is native support for zoom toggling using tmux-prefix z. Since we probably won't see tmux 1.8 in 12.04 I compiled tmux 1.8 from source on another dev computer, renamed it to _tmux-1.8 and just copied the 1.8 binary to /usr/bin/_tmux-1.8 and edited .bash_aliases -> alias tmux='_tmux-1.8'.

I haven't noticed any problems using this quick and dirty method and when/if tmux 1.8 comes to 12.04 I haven't broken anything.

For older versions of tmux, this solution is the only one I've found that works:

The problem with resize-pane -Z being a toggle is that sometimes it will perform the reverse zoom operation than desired, particularly when called from a script or inside tmux.conf.

Here's the work-around:


# Zoom in the current pane ONLY if it is not currently zoomed.
# Requires tmux version >= 1.8

tmux list-panes -F '#F' | grep -q Z || tmux resize-pane -Z


# Zoom out the current pane ONLY if it is not currently zoomed.
# Requires tmux version >= 1.8

tmux list-panes -F '#F' | grep -q Z && tmux resize-pane -Z

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