GNU Screen is a versatile tool that enhances productivity for users who spend a lot of time working in the terminal. In this guide, we’ll explore what GNU Screen is, its common use cases, reasons why you should use it, how to detach and reattach sessions, and some common options you can specify to tailor your experience.

What is GNU Screen?

GNU Screen is a terminal multiplexer that allows users to create multiple virtual terminals within a single physical terminal or SSH session. It was originally developed by Oliver Laumann in 1987 and is now maintained as part of the GNU Project.

Common Use Cases

Session Management

One of the primary use cases for GNU Screen is session management. It allows users to create multiple sessions within a single terminal window or SSH session, making it easy to switch between tasks without opening new windows or tabs.


GNU Screen allows users to detach and reattach to sessions, which is particularly useful for long-running tasks or sessions that need to persist across multiple sessions. This means you can start a task in one session, detach from it, and reattach to it later from a different location or session.

Remote Access

GNU Screen is often used for remote access to servers or other machines via SSH. By running Screen sessions on remote machines, users can disconnect and reconnect as needed without interrupting long-running processes.

Why Use GNU Screen?

Improved Productivity

GNU Screen can significantly improve productivity for users who spend a lot of time working in the terminal. By allowing for the creation of multiple virtual terminals within a single session, users can easily switch between tasks without losing context.


GNU Screen is highly customizable and supports a wide range of options for configuring sessions and windows. This flexibility allows users to tailor their experience to suit their specific needs and preferences.

Remote Access

For users who frequently work on remote machines via SSH, GNU Screen provides a convenient way to manage sessions and tasks without the need for multiple SSH connections or terminal windows.

Detaching and Reattaching Sessions

Detaching from a GNU Screen session allows you to disconnect from the terminal session without terminating any processes running within it. To detach from a session, simply press Ctrl + A followed by d.

To reattach to a detached session, you can use the -r option followed by the session name if you have multiple sessions running. If there’s only one session, you can simply use screen -r.

Common Options

-S, –sessionname

Specifies the name of the Screen session.

-r, –resume

Reattaches to a detached Screen session.

-d, –detach

Detaches from the current Screen session.

-ls, –list

Lists all active Screen sessions.

-X, –execute

Executes a command in a running Screen session.


GNU Screen is a powerful tool for managing terminal sessions and improving productivity for users who work extensively in the command line. Whether you’re managing multiple tasks, working on remote machines, or simply looking to streamline your workflow, GNU Screen offers a range of features and options to suit your needs.