Linux: GNU/Screen Scroll Up and Down Look At Data

I am using GNU Screen software application to multiplex several virtual consoles. I can access multiple separate terminal sessions inside a single terminal window over remote ssh terminal session. Often I need to go though server logs located in /var/ directory. I can not seem to scroll up when I run tail -f /var/log/messages or /var/log/secure file. How do I use page-up / page-down keys to scroll up under GNU scree?

Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
You need to use the following key combination to scroll up and look at your data under GNU screen. First press:



Next press:

This will activate copy mode in GNU/screen. Now, you can scroll up/down and look at your data. Use the following keys:

  1. CTRL-u and CTRL-d scroll the display up/down by the specified amount of lines while preserving the cursor position. (Default: half screen-full).
  2. CTRL-b and C-f scroll the display up/down a full screen.

From the man page – following movement keys can be used in copy mode:

         h, j, k, l move the cursor line by line or column by column.
         0, ^ and $ move to the leftmost column, to the first or last non-whitespace character on the line.
         H, M and L move the cursor to the leftmost column of the top, center or bottom line of the window.
         + and - positions one line up and down.
         G moves to the specified absolute line (default: end of buffer).
         | moves to the specified absolute column.
         w, b, e move the cursor word by word.
         B, E move the cursor WORD by WORD (as in vi).
         C-u and C-d scroll the display up/down by the specified amount of lines while preserving the cursor position. (Default: half screen-full).
         C-b and C-f scroll the display up/down a full screen.
         g moves to the beginning of the buffer.
         % jumps to the specified percentage of the buffer.

For searching use the following vi like syntax:

  • /SearchWord – Vi-like search forward.
  • ?SearchWord – Vi-like search backward.

See screen man page for more information:
$ man screen

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10 comments… add one
  • Michael Ray Dec 2, 2012 @ 1:54

    I always use Ctrl+A Esc, then just use the arrows and PageUp/PageDown to move through the scroll buffer (then just press Esc again to get out of copy mode). To me, that’s a little more intuitive than h/j/k/l and Ctrl+u/Ctrl+d.

    • martin Dec 3, 2012 @ 12:02


    • garconcn Jan 4, 2013 @ 23:39

      Thanks, Michael
      I prefer your method. This had bothered me for a long time. I had asked in other place before, but I didn’t find the solution.

    • Danilo Jan 21, 2014 @ 16:27

      Really helpful Michael! Thanks!

    • raj Aug 6, 2016 @ 15:28

      Thank you :)

  • ILMostro Nov 13, 2013 @ 7:27

    You could just use Shift-Pg_up & Shift-Pg_down

    • Laxmana Aug 14, 2014 @ 9:07

      Yes. It worked

    • Przemo-c Jul 21, 2015 @ 6:36

      When you’re in PuTTY it scrolls the putty terminal not the screen session

      • Putty Jul 13, 2016 @ 4:38

        Check the key bindings in putty if your having problems like that.

    • IanB Nov 24, 2015 @ 2:54

      That didn’t work for me using Gnome Terminal :(

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