Tmux Zsh Vim Titles

Unified terminal titles in tmux, zsh, and vim/nvim

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Unified Tmux-ZSH-Vim Terminal Titles

Creates intelligent terminal titles in tmux, zsh, and vim, that work together to give information about session, ssh host, path, and currently edited vim buffer. Each part is modular and must be installed separately.

Note: the ZSH component of this is heavily influenced by jreese/zsh-titles. The other components are inspired by a variety of stack exchange answers.

How it works

The three components of this plugin work together to make a useful colon-separated title for any combination of tmux, zsh, and vim. For example, if you are in a tmux session on your home computer with zsh at your home directory, your title will be t:0:~, if your tmux session was named fred, it would be t:fred:~. If you then opened hi.txt in vim or nvim, it would be t:fred:v:hi.txt.

If by contrast, your did those same things over ssh on your remote machine hubble, those would be: t:hubble:0:~, t:hubble:fred:~, t:hubble:v:hi.txt instead. If you were the root user on hubble, the starting t: would instead be rt:.

Note: A tmux terminal bell results in the title being prefixed with '!' until an update event (doing something in vim, pressing return in zsh, waiting for status-interval seconds (default 15)).




Install with tpm by adding the following line to your .tmux.conf:

set -g set-titles on
set -g @plugin 'MikeDacre/tmux-zsh-vim-titles'

You will then need to source your tmux config (tmux source ~/.tmux.conf) and install the plugin by pressing your prefix key combo (defaults to Ctrl+b) followed by I (shift+i). You can update by running your prefix followed by U.


The easiest way to install this plugin with ZSH is to use Antigen by adding the following line to the apprpriate spot in your ~/.zshrc file:

antigen bundle MikeDacre/tmux-zsh-vim-titles

You will then need to reload your zsh configuration (e.g. by starting a new shell or sourcing your ~/.zshrc to install the plugin. You can update by running antigen upgrade.

Alternatively, if you use oh-my-zsh, you can clone this into your oh-my-zsh custom plugin directory:

  1. mkdir -p ${ZSH}/custom/plugins
  2. cd ${ZSH}/custom/plugins
  3. git clone https://github.com/MikeDacre/tmux-zsh-vim-titles.git
  4. Add plugins+=(unified-titles) to the right spot in your ~/.zshrc and reloading zsh

To update you have to cd to the plugin directory and run git pull.


There are a great many plugin managers for vim/nvim right now, I personally use vim-plug, to install with that manager, just add the following line to the right spot in your ~/.vimrc or ~/nvim/init.vim:

Plug 'MikeDacre/tmux-zsh-vim-titles'

You will then need to open a vim/nvim instance and run PlugInstall to install the plugin. To update run PlugUpdate. The various other plugin managers work similarly.

Bash or another sh shell

If you also use a non-zsh shell, you can source the bash-titles.plugin.sh file from your ~/.bashrc. It doesn't do anywhere near as much as the ZSH version, it simply sets the terminal title to the path, avoiding the otherwise long titles that bash sometimes sets.

If anyone wants to port the zsh plugin to bash, that would be awesome. It should be pretty easy, but I can't be bothered as I so rarely use bash.


The plugins will work right out of the box, but the formats can be configured with a variety of shell variables. For example you could change the tmux prompt, disable setting the window tab names, or change the delimiter from : to something else.

All variables can be set in the shell, and are specified in the defaults.sh config file. Vim variables may also be set in your vimrc, but must be set before the plugin is loaded, not after. All variables start with tzvt_, plugin specific variables are followed by the component name, e.g. tzvt_vim_<option> or tzvt_tmux_<option>. Options that affect more that one component do not have a component name, e.g. tzvt_set_tmux_window_status is used by every component.

I recommend that you create a ~/.tzvt_config file to store all config variables for the titles. You can create it by just duplicating the defaults.sh file to that location and editing it. To set the location of this config file, you can set the $tzvt_config shell variable and @tzvt_config tmux variable to point to whatever config file you would like. This will just be sourced prior to running the various components, so you could set it to a .bashrc or .zshrc file if you wanted, but I don't recommend that. This file is also not required, you can just set all variables in your .zshrc and .vimrc if you prefer.

Note that in tmux, those config files will not be sourced. The tmux component is written in bash and explicitly sources your ~/.bashrc and ~/.profile in addition to the $tzvt_config and defaults.sh files.

Ideally, you should copy defaults.sh to that location and alter it to git your preferences. To do that, do the following:

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/MikeDacre/tmux-zsh-vim-titles/master/defaults.sh >> ~/.tzvt_config
echo "source ~/.tmux/profile.sh >> ~/.zshrc"
echo "source ~/.tmux/profile.sh >> ~/.bashrc"

If you would like your config to be somewhere else (e.g., your existing profile), add the following line to your ~/.tmux.conf:

set -gq @tzvt_conf ~/.bash_profile

Reminder: for the tmux plugin only, the user's ~/.bashrc and ~/.profile are also sourced, but it doesn't make sense to rely on this.

Tmux window updating

By default, only the terminal title is set by all parts of this plugin, to also set a mini version of the title in the status line window names, set $tzvt_set_tmux_window_status to true in your config.

export $tzvt_set_tmux_window_status=true

Tmux title configuration

Tmux is the first part of the title, the default title is t:<session>: on a local machine, or t:<session>:<hostname> on a remote machine. The t: is replaced with rt if you are root.

These variations are controlled by the following optional variables (dafaults displayed):

  • tzvt_tmux_title_start='t:'
  • tzvt_tmux_title_root='rt:'
  • tzvt_tmux_title_format='#S:#T'
  • tzvt_tmux_title_format_ssh='#h:#S:#T'
  • tzvt_tmux_win_current_fmt='#I:#W#F'
  • tzvt_tmux_win_other_fmt='#I:#W#F'
  • tzvt_host_dict='{}'

Note, after altering any of these settings, run tmux source ~/.tmux.conf to implement the changes.

The format strings that start with a # are tmux specific and can be found in the tmux man page. #S is the session name, #I is the window number, #h is the short hostname, it is modified by tzvt_host_dict. This variable holds a JSON dictionary as a string and has hostname replacements, e.g. '{"fraser-server": "lab"}'. This will convert the hostname fraser-server to lab to shorten the title. For example, add something like this to your ~/.profile file and source it from bash and zsh:

export tzvt_host_dict='{
    "fraser-server": "lab",
    "esmeralda": "esme",
    "fruster": "fr"

If the hosts did not load after sourcing, try running the script directly: bash ~/.tmux/plugins/tmux-zsh-vim-titles/unified-titles.tmux

#T is the terminal title and is set by the zsh and vim plugins, without it those other plugins will not display their titles.

Status Window Renaming

Additionally, if $tzvt_set_tmux_window_status is set to true, the window status tabs will also be updated to include the terminal title, by default the window status is set to '#F#I:#W', equivalent to

tmux set-window-option -g window-status-current-format "#F#I:#W"
tmux set-window-option -g window-status-format "#F#I:#W"

To control these formats if $tzvt_set_tmux_window_status is true, update the $tzvt_tmux_win_current_fmt and $tzvt_tmux_win_other_fmt config variables, don't set the tmux window options directly, as they will be overwritten.

Note that the window-name will be also be automatically updated by ZSH and Vim/NVIM (provided the plugin is also installed there), making the window status title more useful. Note though that this will make tmux rename-window not work if ZSH or Vim/NVIM are running, as they will continually change the window title.

ZSH title configuration

Without this plugin, the default ZSH title is just the hostname. This plugin replaces this with the directory path or command:path if a command is running in the terminal.

There are two variables to customize the ZSH portion of the title:

  • tzvt_zsh_title_fmt='${cmd}:${path}'
  • tzvt_zsh_path_width=40

tzvt_zsh_title_fmt controls the overall formatting of the title. Note the single quotes, this is very important to prevent the variable from being expanded to early, you must not use "{cmd}:${path}", that will result in the string : being passed to the plugin.

tzvt_zsh_path_width controls the maximum width of the path to the current directory in the title, if the path is longer than this, only the last n characters of the path will be shown. Note, this uses named paths, so HOME is replaced with ~ and any hashed directories are replaced with their name, e.g. with cdbk.

If tzvt_set_tmux_window_status is true, then the window-name will be automatically updated with a shortened version of the tzvtzshtitle_fmt, where tzvt_zsh_path_width is replaced by tzvt_zsh_win_path_width, which defaults to 25.

Note, ZSH tries to detect if the tmux plugin is installed. If in tmux, it checks if the tmux plugin has been initialized. If not in tmux, it looks in the @tmux_plugins directory for tmux_zsh_vim_titles. If you have a non-standard plugin config, you probably should set tzvt_tmux_plugin_installed=true manually.

Vim/NVIM title configuration

For all other commands, the title will be command:path, but for vim or NVIM, instead we use v:<buffer>, e.g. v:README.md or v:[BUFEXPLORER]. This title is updated immediately on any buffer change, which makes it very useful.

If vim is not updating the titlebar correctly, try setting $tzvt_vim_force_tmux_title_change. If this variable is set, the plugin will force change the window title to the appropriate vim title and will issue shell title instructions to try to force change the terminal title change. This works in almost all cases, but there is a slight visual defect+overhead as the vim buffer is redrawn on buffer change. For that reason it is off by default. If your vim is not setting the title properly, try adding the following to the @tzvt_conf config, or your .bashrc/.zshrc/a sourced profile file (only the environment of the calling shell matters):

export tzvt_vim_force_tmux_title_change=true

Alternatively, for greater robustness, add let g:tzvt_vim_force_tmux_title_change = 1 to your ~/.vimrc.

The only format that can be changed for the vim title is the prefix, currently set as v: to keep it out of the way:

  • $tzvt_vim_title_prefix="v:" OR let g:tzvt_vim_title_prefix = 'v:'

Note, you can chose not to install the vim plugin, in which case either you will end up with vim:<path> in the title, or another title produced internally by vim, depending on your settings.

Finally, if you want to add the path to the terminal and window title also, you can do so with tzvt_tzvt_vim_include_path, if this variable equates to long, the whole path will be included, which can make your titles very large (unless you use ZSH named dirs, see below), if it is just true, then any directories between you and the file are included. To set, either edit the config file to include export tzvt_tzvt_vim_include_path='long' or add the following line to your ~/.vimrc:

let g:tzvt_tzvt_vim_include_path = 1 " OR 'long'/'zsh'

Otherwise the path follows the format elsewhere: t:session:v:file.txt:~/code/

To explicily disable the path (the default), set:

let g:tzvt_tzvt_vim_include_path = 0

To make the path go before the filename (more traditional), add this command to your ~/.vimrc:

let g:tzvt_vim_path_before = 1

Long Paths on ZSH, Plus ZSH Named Directories

If you are using ZSH and Vim, the maximum length of the 'long' path will be set at path_width, which defaults to 40 chars (this can be overriden just for vim by adding let g:tzvt_vim_pth_width = <len> to your ~/.vimrc, or for both vim and ZSH by adding export path_width=<len> to your ~/.zshrc.

Furthermore, if you use named directories (specified with hash -d name=path), these will be included in the short path. These must be specified in a ZSH config file, which is defined by $ZSH_BOOKMARKS and defaults to ~/.zshbookmarks. You can manage this file with the cdbk plugin.

To use ZSH paths when in ZSH or no paths at all other times, set g:tzvt_tzvt_vim_include_path to zsh.

Tmux Window Name Alteration

If tzvt_set_tmux_window_status is true, then the window-name will be automatically changed also, and for the window running vim the current-window-status-format will be updated to use the terminal title instead of window name, which allows more vim sugar in the title. One side-effect of this is that if you have multiple panes running with vim in some of them and non-ZSH shells (or ZSH without this plugin installed) in the others, then the current-window-status-format will not be updated on leaving vim, which could give the other panes a long title.