I'm trying to have tmux draw my attention to background windows when they have new activity in them, but I'm having trouble with the various -activity- options. It seems as though any setting I give them is always ignored if the window-status-format string contains any value for that setting. E.g. :

# Set window notifications
setw -g monitor-activity on
set-option -gw window-status-activity-style fg=white,bg=red,blink


setw -g window-status-format "#[fg=colour231,bg=colour233] #I :#[fg=colour231,bg=colour233] #W "

With the above in my .tmux.conf, the color of the window-status won't change at all. I originally only had the fg and bg options in there and thought I was just setting it wrong, but adding the blink attribute does make the window-status blink on activity. I have even tried passing the -a flag to

set-option -agw window-status-activity-style fg=white,bg=red,blink

but it made no difference, which is what you'd expect.

  • Not sure if this is related, but what's with the redundant colour instructions in the last line?
    – henrebotha
    Oct 5, 2015 at 8:08
  • If I want the index and the window name to be different colors, I just change the corresponding color instruction. I happen to have them the same at the moment. Oct 6, 2015 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


I've discovered the root of my problem. The window-status-activity-style is going into affect, but window-status-format will take priority such that the activity style can't overwrite anything that is explicitly set in the format. I got blinking to work by setting it in the activity style and making sure that there is nothing to prevent blinking in the format.

If I want it to change font color upon activity, I'll have to set a font color in the activity style, and make sure that there is no font color mentioned in the format. I can make non-activity windows still appear as intended by making the default window tittle font color the same as what I would have put in the format.


try it with this :

blinking works for me.. at least in xterm (not urxvt :/)...

20 set -g window-status-format " #{?window_activity_flag, #[fg=colour231]#[blink],#[fg=colour245]}#{?window_bell_flag,#[fg=colour01]#[blink],#[fg=colour245]} #W "
21 set -g window-status-style 'bg=colour232'
22 set -g window-status-activity-style 'bg=colour232,fg=colour247,blink'
23 set -g window-status-bell-style 'bg=colour232,fg=colour01,blink'
24 set -g window-status-current-style 'bg=colour232,fg=colour09'
25 set -g monitor-activity on

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