Mike Griffin

Saving Tmux Scrollback to a File


I do most of my console work using tmux so that I can get multiple windows to see different things at the same time. Sometimes, I copy the scrollback from one pane into a file so that I can save it or work on it in some way.

Today, I ran into a problem with that because I had somehow created a single line with over 32,000 characters. When I tried to paste it into vim, as I usually do, my CPU shot up to 100% and vim stopped responding.

I went looking for a solution and found this Stack Exchange post. There’s loads in there, but the bit I used straight away was CTRL+A and then

:save-buffer ~/long-string.txt

This wrote the text that I had copied into the buffer to a file in my home directory where I could do with it as I pleased.

Some of the other neat things in there are

:capture-pane -S -3000

This will get the last 3,000 lines from the pane’s history and dump them into the buffer. There’s also -E to specify an end, as well as using - instead of specifying a number to get all the lines.

As the icing on the cake, here’s a binding that lets you store the pane history in a file of your choosing in one go:

bind-key P command-prompt -p 'save history to filename:' -I '~/tmux.history' 'capture-pane -S -32768 ; save-buffer %1 ; delete-buffer'