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Monitoring Windows

screen can monitor your windows, either for silence or activity, notifying when the condition occurs. This is useful for all sorts of things, including waiting for a lengthy compile to finish or watching log files.


Use C-a M to start monitoring a window for activity. C-a _ monitors for 30 seconds of silence. Using the appropriate key combination a second time will turn off monitoring.


There are a couple of configuration commands that can be used to tweak the monitoring settings. silencewait will change the number of seconds of silence that will trigger the monitor. activity sets the message that screen shows when a monitored window has activity. [There doesn't seem to be a way to set the silence message. Is this correct? <PMG>] The message uses the standard string escapes, as well as replacing '^G' with an ASCII BEL (so the terminal will beep).

Setting the timout for silence monitoring affects all windows. There's no way to have different timeouts for different windows.


  • C-a M - Start/stop monitoring window for activity.
  • C-a _ - Start/stop monitoring window for inactivity.


  • activity - Set message displayed by screen when a monitored window shows activity.
  • defmonitor - Set the default monitoring status for new windows.
  • defsilence - Set the default silence monitoring status for new windows.
  • monitor - Set the monitoring status for the current window.
  • silence - Set the silence monitoring status for the current window.
  • silencewait - Set the silence timeout for all windows.


Change the activity message to include a timestamp and window title, as well as beep. In practice it will read something like “12:37 activity → 7$ zsh”:

activity "%c activity -> %n%f %t^G"

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