I have several instances of terminals running in my working environment, what I would like is to set a specific title for each one, in order to have a clear idea what purpose the specific terminal serves i.e. Apache, editing_ini, postgres etc...

Of course from the command line.

  • Further to Ward's comment: Don't forget to "unset PROMPT_COMMAND" before you send the title-change escape sequence, otherwise any change you make will be lost as soon as the next shell prompt. – Jon Green Sep 2 '11 at 11:38
  • For a similar question for KDE, see stackoverflow.com/questions/8782159/… – naught101 May 29 '12 at 2:22
  • I had this issue when switching from OS X to Ubuntu. To obtain custom titles within a multi-tab set-up, I used gnome-terminal --load-config together with this script I've written. – halfer Apr 13 '14 at 1:29
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    add following to your .bashrc file in your home dir # set title of current terminal setTerminalTitle(){ echo -ne "\033]0;${1}\007" } alias termttl=setTerminalTitle now you can use termttl alias for setting title e.g. termttl askubuntu – urmalp Oct 11 '15 at 5:33
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    "Protected" so I can't supply an answer. Gnome3 gnome-terminal default is PROMPT_COMMAND=__vte_prompt_command. This uses values from Profiles in prefs. When multiple profiles exist, New Tab and New Window menu items have a submenu item for each Profile. The manual way is to open a new terminal tab, right click on the tab title, and select Set Title.... (This would read so much easier in a separate answer, but ...) – Rich Aug 23 '19 at 15:45

13 Answers 13



  • There are other ways however, you can also issue

    gnome-terminal --title="SOME TITLE HERE"

    This might not give the desired effect since there is a big chance that your .bashrc overwrites that behaviour.

  • Bringing us to the last method, which I shamelessly ripped out of my .bashrc.

    PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;SOME TITLE HERE\007"'

As an extra reference, this is the particular line in my .bashrc

PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;${USER}@${HOSTNAME}: ${PWD/$HOME/~}\007"'

You may also need to comment this code out in your ~/.bashrc

case "$TERM" in
    # JEFFYEE REMOVED because it makes commands to title() not work
    #PS1="\[\e]0;${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h: \w\a\]$PS1"
| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Need to comment out or remove as you mentioned in order to take effect! – topless Jan 20 '11 at 15:49
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    GNOME Terminal 3.16.2 says Option "--title" is no longer supported in this version of gnome-terminal. – Ivan Kozik Nov 18 '15 at 21:23
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    On Gnome 3.18.3, there is no "Set title" entry in the menus :/ – shadi Sep 26 '16 at 4:46
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    For anyone else confused by the gobbledegook in the strings above, they are ANSI escape characters - see e.g. lihaoyi.com/post/… – WillC Feb 24 '17 at 0:21
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    GNOME terminal 3.20 does not have "set title..." in the menu – Bastian Voigt Sep 13 '17 at 6:11

Ward's answer is great if you want to set your title based on what host you're on etc every time you open a terminal. If you just want to quickly set a title though, you can just run echo by itself:

echo -ne "\033]0;SOME TITLE HERE\007"

or make a simple function (inside your ~/.bashrc), say termtitle

termtitle() { printf "\033]0;$*\007"; }

which you can run with termtitle some title here.

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  • 4
    or similarly we can add as bash alias by adding below lines in ~/.bash_aliases function set_title() { echo -ne "\033]0;${1}\007" } alias title=set_title and then use: $ title term_title – sumit Sep 22 '16 at 6:10
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    Sadly doesn't seem to work for me in GNOME terminal 3.6.2. – austinmarton Jan 26 '17 at 23:36
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    Also doesn't seem to work in xterm 322 or konsole 16.12... I don't know if there's a new method, unfortunately :( – naught101 Jan 27 '17 at 0:49
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    @3ocene it doesn't actually matter in this case, they are the same thing, but it's a good habit to get into, because e.g. $var_log and ${var}_log are very different things, and the difference can cause bugs in scripts. – naught101 Sep 10 '17 at 10:50
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    if it doesn't work for you it is probably because PROMPT_COMMAND var or PS1 var is set and is over-riding it. unset PROMPT_COMMAND or set it so that it also changes the title e.g. export PROMPT_COMMAND='printf "\033]0;%s@%s:%s\007" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "$(basename $PWD)"' – gaoithe Aug 21 '18 at 10:49

If you use the Vim editor, you can also enable this option in your vimrc:

:set title

which is disabled by default. It will set cool terminal titles showing the filename which you are editing at the moment and some other things.

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For the sake of completeness, I would add that you can also set the gnome-terminal title using this command:

wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -N "MyWindowTitle"

You'll need to install the package wmctrl Install wmctrl first.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    MyWindowTitle does not show up in title of terminal. It shows up when I do wmctrl -m. – sureshvv Aug 4 '15 at 7:24
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    Note that wmctrl changes window title and not the tab title, whereas the escaped characters solution changes the tab title. Moreover, window title change back to original tab title as soon as you switch between tabs. – redochka Nov 13 '15 at 19:32

Argh, so many answers...

I tried wmctrl, which almost worked, except I couldn't get it to change the icon title, at least not permanently.

The problem is that the PS1 in Bash in Ubuntu sets the title.

The default PS1 is

\[\e]0;\u@\h: \w\a\]${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ 

... which sets the title in the first escape sequence: \e]0;\u@\h: \w\a

Thus, there are two solutions:

Solution 1: simplify PS1, then use PROMPT_COMMAND

Change PS1 to something simpler:

PS1="\u@\h:\w\$ "

Then use the PROMPT_COMMAND:

PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;SOME TITLE HERE\007"'

Solution 2: directly modify PS1

Simply modify PS1 with new title:

PS1='\[\e]0;newtitle\a\]${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ '
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  • hi, I like your answer quite a lot. Would you mind explaining the role of ]0; in your code? I think I found the meaning of echo -e '\007 \033' with the ascii -o command…although I’m truthfully not sure what that’s doing there either … thanks … – isomorphismes Mar 10 '17 at 11:28
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    @iso \e or \033 is the escape (ESC) character, which starts an escape sequence. ] starts an operating system command (OSC). For an xterm, 0; means "set the title", and \a or \007 is the bell (BEL) character that terminates the OSC. More info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANSI_escape_code#Escape_sequences – wjandrea Feb 1 '19 at 15:51
  • @wjandrea I was looking for the equivalent escape letters (\e and \a) for \033 and \007 but I couldn't find them certainly because I didn't know the right keywords to type in google. The link you gave is also useful. Can you please convert your comment to an answer ? – SebMa Apr 26 '19 at 12:55

If you are a Ubuntu user, you can change the title of a gnome-terminal tab using the HUD.

While in the gnome-terminal, hit Alt to bring up the HUD, type the first few letters, e.g. "tit", hit enter and type in your new title.

This is a very quick method and avoids using the mouse.

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  • 1
    Indeed. Keeps the hands on the keyboard. The existing title is displayed, so it's fast and easy to also just modify the existing one using this method. – Brent Faust Dec 19 '13 at 0:39
  • tit is only for English Ubuntu. – törzsmókus Feb 22 '17 at 13:02
  • and the whole option has been removed :( – törzsmókus Feb 22 '17 at 13:02
  • the F2 key also avoids the mouse. – isomorphismes Mar 10 '17 at 11:31
  • @törzsmókus And French - titre ;) – wjandrea Feb 1 '19 at 15:56

Another way of changing the title of gnome-terminal is by using gconftool-2; this changes the initial terminal title for the profile selected, so you could have different profiles associated with titles such as 'Apache', 'Editing', etc. You would then launch gnome-terminal with the appropriate profile to get the terminal title you had specified. This is in contrast to gnome-terminal --title "name" which changes the title per terminal, but doesn't affect the initial title specified in the profile.

You could use the following command in a script to set the name of the terminal for a profile, and you could have the name of the terminal change at certain times in the day to remind you of things:

gconftool-2 --set /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/title --type=string "Apache"

This is for the default profile, but you could set the title for other profiles as well by changing, for example, Default to another profile like Profile0:

gconftool-2 --set /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Profile0/title --type=string "Editing"

I thought this way of changing the title is of use because of the way it could be used in scripting, or just as a quick command-line way to set the title for the profile. Note that sometimes you have to relaunch the terminal with the specified profile for the gconftool-2 setting to take affect. The complete settings available for gnome-terminal can be listed with gconftool-2 -R /apps/gnome-terminal.

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Another solution is to use xdotool to simulate keystrokes, maybe useful in scripts:

  1. Set a keyboard shortcut in gnome-terminal:

    Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts... > Terminal > Set Title

    For example assing the Shift+Ctrl+Y.

  2. Install xdotool if you don't have it already:

    sudo apt-get install xdotool
  3. The following sequence of commands (that you can use also in a bash script) will set the terminal/tab title (escape the spaces with \):

    xdotool key ctrl+shift+y 
    xdotool type My\ new\ fabulous\ title
    xdotool key Return
  4. [optional] You can also use xdotool to e.g. open a new tab and set the title with the above commands, using:

    xdotool key ctrl+shift+t

    Consider adding a sleep time before and after opening a new tab, e.g. sleep 1 (to wait for 1 second).

This is not the most elegant solution, but it worked for me! The previous answers did not work in my case. I use gnome-terminal in Ubuntu 14.04 and I wanted to make a bash script.

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To display only the current working directory in the title, try this in your '.bashrc' :

PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0; ${PWD##*/}\007"'


PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;$(basename ${PWD})\007"' 
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This worked in my Gnome Terminal 3.18.3.

Edit your .bashrc file and add this function

# Update gnome terminal title
function termtitle() {
    # take argument
    # update title
    PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0; $TITLE \007"'

Don't forget to source your .bashrc file

$ source ~/.bashrc

And then you can simply update you'll be able to change terminal title like this:

$ termtitle "MariaDB CLI"
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My answer is similar to newer answer which didn't work for me. The oldest answers don't work anymore. The middle old answer is too much typing so I created a function in my ~/.bashrc file:

function termtitle() { PS1="${PS1/\\u@\\h: \\w/$@}"; }

After adding or changing the function or, if you want to reset the title a second time use:

. ~/.bashrc
termtitle Special Projects

Otherwise on a daily basis simply use termtitle with a new title.

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If you are using gnome 3, the convenient Terminal > Set Title menu option has been removed. You can install a gnome 2 forked terminal which still has that "Set Title" menu option, and run that instead:

sudo apt-get install mate-terminal

Instead of running "Terminal", run "MATE Terminal". You should probably also select mate-terminal in sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator.

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In case any poor souls like myself are forced to use tcsh, try something like this in your .cshrc:

set prompt='%{\033]0;%n@%m\007%}%~%# '

Source and more details: http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Xterm-Title-4.html

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  • Some indication of why my answer was voted down would have been nice :-( – spookypeanut May 17 '19 at 6:25

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