I'm trying to learn how to use screen, in unix so that I don't have to open up several ssh connections and terminal windows just because I want to do more than one thing at the same time on a machine. I have found the split command quite useful, but I have a problem I can't seem to figure out of... how do I unsplit??

I can split split using ^A S and switch between them using ^A ^I, but can't figure out how to remove a split...

  • Do you want to maximize one screen or close one screen?
    – Mikel
    Feb 9, 2011 at 8:32
  • 1
    @Mikel: Close one of them. But knowing how to maximize one as well might come in handy some day as well. I assume maximizing one means to close the rest?
    – Svish
    Feb 9, 2011 at 9:21

5 Answers 5


ctrl-a,X doesn't work on my distribution either.

If you go into the help by pressing ctrl-a,?, you may notice that there is no remove command listed. (This is the case on my distribution, for some reason). Note that this means there is no keybinding for the command, but the command should still work using the "long form" that maxelost suggested.

Don't worry, you can still remove the current split using "long form": ctrl-a:removeenter.

In addition, you can bind the remove command to X by putting this line in your ~/.screenrc file (and then restarting screen so the changes take effect, of course):

bind X remove
  • In case you accidentally locked your session and root's password doesn't unlock, just open a new terminal/ssh connection and reattach the screen session.
    – valid
    Aug 21, 2016 at 10:02
  • 2
    note that ctrl-a, x instead locks your screen... Feb 5, 2021 at 20:25

Just use ctrlaQ (given that a is your screen-command key) to close all splits. ctrlaX closes only active window, as maxelot commented.

For example this page documents screen splitting, and other useful keys for screen.

  • When I do <kbd>^A Q</kbd>, I get a blank screen with all my splits removed.
    – Svish
    Feb 9, 2011 at 9:23
  • 7
    Maybe C-a X is more appropriate (remove). Btw., I prefer writing C-a : command RET for commands that I don't use often. I find it easier to remember the name of a command than its keyboard shortcut.
    – maxelost
    Feb 9, 2011 at 9:33
  • @Svish I got that too, just follow with C-a n to get back to your window.
    – krs013
    Nov 4, 2015 at 3:22

CTRL a + Q unsplits and lets you remain on the current window


CTRL a + X unsplits and puts you on the following available window

The first one with Q is great as you may want to remain on the current window when you need bigger space :)

Of course after that, should you need to revert to split screen, you will have to do again the CTRL a + S and CTRL a + Tab with CTRL a + Space to get back but that's ok... That would be nice if there was a way to toggle simply back and forth.

  • 1
    Thanks for the c-A Q tip! But, note that 'Q' actually means "only": if one has more than one "window", c-A Q will make the current window the only window, closing all other windows. OTOH, c-A :remove will close only the current window.
    – aqn
    Apr 2, 2018 at 18:10
  • FYI tmux has a 'fullscreen' toggle command. I don't know if there's an equivalent for GNU Screen that reverses the effect of C-a Q.
    – thiagowfx
    Oct 16, 2018 at 3:30

If you want to unsplit the currently focused split to a window, Ctrl + a + ! will do the trick (tested on OSX, or check the shortcut by running Ctrl + a + ?)


Either of the following got rid of the other window for me. This from the chapter on regions. From the Screen User's Manual.

Ctrl + a then Q

Ctrl + a then : then only

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