I was using byobu on Ubuntu 11.10 Server and I needed to hit a function key in an app, so I hit F9 to bring up the config menu and switched the keybinding set from "f-keys" to "screen-escape-keys". That worked, but now I can't re-enable all the f-keys.

I found a program byobu-config that brings up the menu again, and I can switch back to screen keys from there. This fixes things for new screen processes, but the effect on the current screen session is weird: it disables the Ctrl+a (screen) keys and restores F2-F8, but F9-F12 still don't do anything (they're just passed on to the foreground process).

What's up with this? Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

5 Answers 5


Note: This only works if you're using Byobu with tmux as the back-end. See other answers for Byobu with screen as the back-end.

Just press Shift+F12 To toggle F-keys on and off.

Example : Launch htop (within a Byobu pane of course) then enter Shift+F12, then if you press F3 you will search in htop processes, not switch to the left Byobu window/pane.

Related question with answer also for screen.

  • 9
    Note to future self: ignore the accepted answer status - this doesn't work for me.
    – Yang
    Oct 14, 2012 at 20:15
  • 1
    Thank you very much. I was struggling to figure out why I can't switch windows all of a sudden.
    – wujj123456
    Nov 5, 2012 at 19:44
  • 4
    Does not work any more... (using ubuntu 12.04.1)
    – zipizap
    Jan 9, 2013 at 15:01
  • 2
    Works on Ubuntu 14.04 Jul 29, 2015 at 20:00
  • 1
    I guess this does not work on byobu-screen. Check @Dustin Kirkland's answer if does not work for you and you use byobu-screen. Feb 10, 2016 at 17:08

You can also toggle between the f-keys bindings and the screen-escape-keys bindings using:

  • 2
    Here this displays the message "can't break with only one pane" are you sure of this shortcut ?
    – yPhil
    Oct 1, 2012 at 8:42
  • 4
    That only works in byobu-screen, not in byobu-tmux (bugs.launchpad.net/byobu/+bug/386363). In the latter the correct combination is SHIFT-F12.
    – invernizzi
    Nov 28, 2012 at 20:40
  • This does work on Ubuntu 12.04.1 (NOTE: answer SHIFT-F12 does not work)
    – zipizap
    Jan 9, 2013 at 15:03
  • 1
    Note that this will also reset your meta/escape key, probably because it just sources /usr/share/byobu/keybindings/f-keys.screen.disable which has the line escape ^Aa. If you for example used 't' as your escape key you can set it again by hitting ctrl-a and then :escape ^Tt.
    – Perseids
    Feb 15, 2014 at 10:29

We can attempt to debug your particular problem, however it would be much easier to just clean out your Byobu configuration and start clean:

rm -rf ~/.byobu

On 11.04, you'll also need to remove the folder this symlink points to:

rm -rf ~/.local/share/byobu

And then start byobu.


In case any of the key combinations from the other answers did not work, just try this equivalent command inside Byobu:


Make your ~/.byobu/keybindings look like this:

# source $BYOBU_PREFIX/share/byobu/keybindings/common
. /usr/share/byobu/keybindings/f-keys.screen.disable

and select screen as byobu's back-end via byobu-select-backend. That works in Debian, at least.

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