Change GNU Screen Keyboard Command

I changed the command character for screen from Control-a to Control-b recently, after switching to a wireless Mac keyboard. On this small, portable keyboard—which is the same layout as most Mac laptops—there’s only one Control key, and it’s on the left side of the keyboard.

The weird angle to hit Control-a was hurting my hand. Gone now is the left-side contortion I was forced to make to strike with my pinky and ring finger.

It’s pretty easy to change the command key mapping, just add escape ^Bb to your screen config file (usually located in your home directory). Here’s what my .shellrc looks like:

# Make the shell in every window as your login shell
shell -$SHELL

# Instead of Control-a, make the escape/command character be Control-b
escape ^Bb

# Autodetach session on hangup instead of terminating screen completely
autodetach on

# Turn off the splash screen
startup_message off

# Use a 100000-line scrollback buffer
defscrollback 100000

Published by

Lance Willett

By day Lance is a web developer at Automattic, and by night he is Launcelot du Lac, Knight of the Round Table.

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