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Tmux copycat

Build Status

NOTE: tmux 3.1 adds support for native regex searches. This is great news because it means a big part of 'tmux-copycat' is now available natively! Use this plugin only if you need its other features.

This plugin enables:

  • regex searches (native support added in tmux 3.1)
  • search result highlighting
  • predefined searches

Predefined searches are plugin killer feature. It speeds the workflow and reduces mouse usage with Tmux.

It works even better when paired with tmux yank. Tested and working on Linux, OSX and Cygwin.


screencast screenshot


  • prefix + / - regex search (strings work too)

Example search entries:

  • foo - searches for string foo
  • [0-9]+ - regex search for numbers

Grep is used for searching.
Searches are case insensitive.

Predefined searches

  • prefix + ctrl-f - simple file search
  • prefix + ctrl-g - jumping over git status files (best used after git status command)
  • prefix + alt-h - jumping over SHA-1/SHA-256 hashes (best used after git log command)
  • prefix + ctrl-u - url search (http, ftp and git urls)
  • prefix + ctrl-d - number search (mnemonic d, as digit)
  • prefix + alt-i - ip address search

These start "copycat mode" and jump to first match.

"Copycat mode" bindings

These are enabled when you search with copycat:

  • n - jumps to the next match
  • N - jumps to the previous match

To copy a highlighted match:

  • Enter - if you're using Tmux vi mode
  • ctrl-w or alt-w - if you're using Tmux emacs mode

Copying a highlighted match will take you "out" of copycat mode. Paste with prefix + ] (this is Tmux default paste).

Copying highlighted matches can be enhanced with tmux yank.

Installation with Tmux Plugin Manager (recommended)

Add plugin to the list of TPM plugins in .tmux.conf:

set -g @plugin 'tmux-plugins/tmux-copycat'

Hit prefix + I to fetch the plugin and source it. You should now be able to use the plugin.

Optional (but recommended) install gawk via your package manager of choice for better UTF-8 character support.

Manual Installation

Clone the repo:

$ git clone ~/clone/path

Add this line to the bottom of .tmux.conf:

run-shell ~/clone/path/copycat.tmux

Reload TMUX environment with: $ tmux source-file ~/.tmux.conf. You should now be able to use the plugin.

Optional (but recommended) install gawk via your package manager of choice for better UTF-8 character support.

Installation for Tmux 2.3 and earlier

Due to the changes in tmux, the latest version of this plugin doesn't support tmux 2.3 and earlier. It is recommended you upgrade to tmux version 2.4 or later. If you must continue using older version, please follow these steps for installation.


This plugin has some known limitations. Please read about it here.


  • Most of the behavior of tmux-copycat can be customized via tmux options. Check out the full options list.
  • To speed up the workflow you can define new bindings in .tmux.conf for searches you use often, more info here

Other goodies

tmux-copycat works great with:

  • tmux-yank - enables copying highlighted text to system clipboard
  • tmux-open - a plugin for quickly opening a highlighted file or a url
  • tmux-continuum - automatic restoring and continuous saving of tmux env

Test suite

This plugin has a pretty extensive integration test suite that runs on travis.

When run locally, it depends on vagrant. Run it with:

# within project top directory
$ ./run-tests

Contributions and new features

Bug fixes and contributions are welcome.

Feel free to suggest new features, via github issues.

If you have a bigger idea you'd like to work on, please get in touch, also via github issues.