To improve my workflow a little I have written a few wrapper scripts to automatically start some commands when I want to work on a project. When I'm done however, and clean all the tmux tabs for this specific session I would like to kill some processes and cleanup some files.

Is there any way to automatically execute a command when exiting the tmux server?

The wanted workflow:

  • execute command to create new tmux server, open some files, start a few apps
  • work in the session
  • detach to work on it later
  • reattach
  • when all tabs in the tmux server are closed and the server is destroyed, execute a cleanup command

[edit]The script I currently use: https://github.com/WoLpH/dotfiles/blob/master/bin/tmx

  • by "cleanup command" you mean a server-specific command? For example, you have a session open for project A and another session for project B. So you want to execute cleanup_A when session_A is closed? Or do you mean something different? May 8, 2013 at 7:08
  • Yes, that's exactly what I mean. But a general cleanup command can work too, I can easily deduce the previously opened project from the remaining files. I just need any kind of post-server-exit trigger so I can unmount some things.
    – Wolph
    May 8, 2013 at 9:44
  • I've written a command-line utility for scripting tmux session setup/teardown: github.com/tarruda/tmuxer. It even includes a replacement to 'choose-session' that will let you choose 'closed' sessions Nov 6, 2013 at 23:52
  • @ThiadodeArruda: that looks cool, I'll test it soon. Currently I am using this script: github.com/WoLpH/dotfiles/blob/master/bin/tmx
    – Wolph
    Nov 7, 2013 at 2:15
  • @Wolph: I also had my solution integrated into a dotfiles-zsh script, recently I extracted into a reusable set of posix-compatible shell scripts for better portability and easier reuse by others Nov 7, 2013 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


For now, there is no specific way to have tmux automatically run commands triggered by detach or closing all windows in the session. However, since you already have a wrapper script (I will call this tmux_wrapper) that opens your desired custom-session, you can easily convert this script to automate cleanup. I do something very similar to this myself here, where I wanted to allow nested tmux sessions if I am attaching through ssh.

Since you have a custom experience in mind, you no longer need the tmux attach .... or similar commands, so I will assume you always start session for project A by something like tmux_wrapper A. In your wrapper you probably have a line similar to tmux new-session -s A. Here we can take advantage of the session name A. Then, at the end of your wrapper you can have a cleanup switch that only activates if the session is no longer live (i.e. windows/panes are no longer attachable).

A simple example tmux_wrapper would look something like this:



# test if the session has windows
    n=$(tmux ls 2> /dev/null | grep "^$sess" | wc -l)
    [[ $n -eq 0 ]]

# either create it or attach to it
if is_closed ; then
  tmux new -s $sess
  tmux attach -t $sess

# the session is now either closed or detatched
if is_closed ; then
    # perform cleanup here ...

Run it like tmux_wrapper A. Now, the cleanup will automatically occur for session A if and only if the session has been completely closed.

  • Not the prettiest solution but it should work :) Thanks! I indeed have a similar script, you can find it here if you're interested: gist.github.com/WoLpH/3163775
    – Wolph
    May 9, 2013 at 11:56

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