Posted On 2007-05-01 by FortyPoundHead
Keywords: Command Reference
Tags: Linux Commandline Linux
Views: 1463

Display output one screen at a time, Search through output, Edit the command line.

less [options]

| less [options]

Moving Commands:

Commands marked with * may be preceded by a number, N.
Notes in parentheses indicate the behavior if N is given.

e ^E j ^N CR * Forward one line (or N lines).
y ^Y k ^K ^P * Backward one line (or N lines).
f ^F ^V SPACE * Forward one window (or N lines).
b ^B ESC-v * Backward one window (or N lines).
z * Forward one window (and set window to N).
w * Backward one window (and set window to N).
ESC-SPACE * Forward one window, but don''t stop at end-of-file.
d ^D * Forward one half-window (and set half-window to N).
u ^U * Backward one half-window (and set half-window to N).
ESC-( RightArrow * Left 8 character positions (or N positions).
ESC-) LeftArrow * Right 8 character positions (or N positions).
F Forward forever; like "tail -f".
r ^R ^L Repaint screen.
R Repaint screen, discarding buffered input.

h H Display this help.
q :q Q :Q ZZ Exit.
Default "window" is the screen height.
Default "half-window" is half of the screen height.


Searching Commands:

/pattern * Search forward for (N-th) matching line.
?pattern * Search backward for (N-th) matching line.
n * Repeat previous search (for N-th occurrence).
N * Repeat previous search in reverse direction.
ESC-n * Repeat previous search, spanning files.
ESC-N * Repeat previous search, reverse dir. & spanning files.
ESC-u Undo (toggle) search highlighting.
Search patterns may be modified by one or more of:
^N or ! Search for NON-matching lines.
^E or * Search multiple files (pass thru END OF FILE).
^F or @ Start search at FIRST file (for /) or last file (for ?).
^K Highlight matches, but don''t move (KEEP position).

Jumping commands:

g < ESC-< * Go to first line in file (or line N).
G > ESC-> * Go to last line in file (or line N).
p % * Go to beginning of file (or N percent into file).
{ ( [ * Find close bracket } ) ].
} ) ] * Find open bracket { ( [.
ESC-^F * Find close bracket .
ESC-^B * Find open bracket
Each "find close bracket" command goes forward to the close bracket
matching the (N-th) open bracket in the top line.
Each "find open bracket" command goes backward to the open bracket
matching the (N-th) close bracket in the bottom line.

m Mark the current position with .
'' Go to a previously marked position.
'''' Go to the previous position.
^X^X Same as ''.
A mark is any upper-case or lower-case letter.
Certain marks are predefined:
^ means beginning of the file
$ means end of the file

Changing files:

:e [file] Examine a new file.
^X^V Same as :e.
:n * Examine the (N-th) next file from the command line.
:p * Examine the (N-th) previous file from the command line.
:x * Examine the first (or N-th) file from the command line.
:d Delete the current file from the command line list.
= ^G :f Print current file name.

Miscellaneous Commands:

- Toggle a command line option [see OPTIONS below].
-- Toggle a command line option, by name.
_ Display the setting of a command line option.
__ Display the setting of an option, by name.
+cmd Execute the less cmd each time a new file is examined.

!command Execute the shell command with $SHELL.
|Xcommand Pipe file between current pos & mark X to shell command.
v Edit the current file with $VISUAL or $EDITOR.
V Print version number of "less".

Most options may be changed either on the command line, or from within less by using the - or -- command.
Options may be given in one of two forms: either a single character preceded by a -, or a name preceeded by --.


-a ........ --search-skip-screen
Forward search, skips current screen.
-g ........ --hilite-search
Highlight only last match for searches.
-G ........ --HILITE-SEARCH
Don''t highlight any matches for searches.
-h [N] .... --max-back-scroll=[N]
Backward scroll limit.
-i ........ --ignore-case
Ignore case in searches.
-I ........ --IGNORE-CASE
Ignore case in searches and in search patterns.
-j [N] .... --jump-target=[N]
Screen position of target lines.
-p [pattern] --pattern=[pattern]
Start at pattern (from command line).
-t [tag] .. --tag=[tag]
Find a tag.
-T [tagsfile] --tag-file=[tagsfile]
Use an alternate tags file.
-y [N] .... --max-forw-scroll=[N]
Forward scroll limit.


-D [xn.n] . --color=xn.n
Set screen colors. (MS-DOS only)
-c -C .... --clear-screen --CLEAR-SCREEN
Repaint by scrolling/clearing.
-P [prompt] --prompt=[prompt]
Define new prompt.
-m -M .... --long-prompt --LONG-PROMPT
Set prompt style.
-n -N .... --line-numbers --LINE-NUMBERS
Use line numbers.
-r ........ --raw-control-chars
Output "raw" control characters.
-s ........ --squeeze-blank-lines
Squeeze multiple blank lines.
-S ........ --chop-long-lines
Chop long lines.
-w ........ --hilite-unread
Highlight first new line after forward-screen.
-W ........ --HILITE-UNREAD
Highlight first new line after any forward movement.
-~ ........ --tilde
Don''t display tildes after end of file.
-z [N] .... --window=[N]
Set size of window.


-b [N] .... --buffers=[N]
Number of buffers.
-B ........ --auto-buffers
Don''t automatically allocate buffers for pipes.
-f ........ --force
Force open non-regular files.
-k [file] . --lesskey-file=[file]
Use a lesskey file.
-o [file] . --log-file=[file]
Copy to log file (standard input only).
-O [file] . --LOG-FILE=[file]
Copy to log file (unconditionally overwrite).


-d ........ --dumb
Dumb terminal.
-e -E .... --quit-at-eof --QUIT-AT-EOF
Quit at end of file.
-q -Q .... --quiet --QUIET --silent --SILENT
Quiet the terminal bell.
-u -U .... --underline-special --UNDERLINE-SPECIAL
Change handling of backspaces.
-x [N] .... --tabs=[N]
Set tab stops.
-X ........ --no-init
Don''t use termcap init/deinit strings.
-" [c[c]] . --quotes=[c[c]]
Set shell quote characters.
-? ........ --help
Display help (from command line).
-V ........ --version
Display the version number of "less".

Line Editing:

These keys can be used to edit text being entered
on the "command line" at the bottom of the screen.

RightArrow ESC-l Move cursor right one character.
LeftArrow ESC-h Move cursor left one character.
CNTL-RightArrow ESC-RightArrow ESC-w Move cursor right one word.
CNTL-LeftArrow ESC-LeftArrow ESC-b Move cursor left one word.
HOME ESC-0 Move cursor to start of line.
END ESC-$ Move cursor to end of line.
BACKSPACE Delete char to left of cursor.
DELETE ESC-x Delete char under cursor.
CNTL-BACKSPACE ESC-BACKSPACE Delete word to left of cursor.
CNTL-DELETE ESC-DELETE ESC-X Delete word under cursor.
CNTL-U ESC (MS-DOS only) Delete entire line.
UpArrow ESC-k Retrieve previous command line.
DownArrow ESC-j Retrieve next command line.
TAB Complete filename & cycle.
SHIFT-TAB ESC-TAB Complete filename & reverse cycle.
CNTL-L Complete filename, list all.

About the Author

has posted a total of 1974 articles.

Comments On This Post

No comments on this post yet!

Do you have a thought relating to this post? You can post your comment here. If you have an unrelated question, you can use the Q&A section to ask it.

Or you can drop a note to the administrators if you're not sure where you should post.

Your IP address is:

Before you can post, you need to prove you are human. If you log in, this test goes away.

Code Links