OpenBSD manual page server

Manual Page Search Parameters

MAN(1) General Commands Manual MAN(1)

mandisplay manual pages

man [-acfhklw] [-C file] [-M path] [-m path] [-S subsection] [[-s] section] name ...

The man utility displays the manual page entitled name. Pages may be selected according to a specific category (section) or machine architecture (subsection).

The options are as follows:

Display all matching manual pages.
Use the specified file instead of the default configuration file. This permits users to configure their own manual environment. See man.conf(5) for a description of the contents of this file.
Copy the manual page to the standard output instead of using less(1) to paginate it. This is done by default if the standard output is not a terminal device.

When using -c, most terminal devices are unable to show the markup. To print the output of man to the terminal with markup but without using a pager, pipe it to ul(1). To remove the markup, pipe the output to col(1) -b instead.

A synonym for whatis(1). It searches for name in manual page names and displays the header lines from all matching pages. The search is case insensitive and matches whole words only.
Display only the SYNOPSIS lines of the requested manual pages. Implies -a and -c.
A synonym for apropos(1). Instead of name, an expression can be provided using the syntax described in the apropos(1) manual. By default, it displays the header lines of all matching pages.
A synonym for mandoc(1). The name arguments are interpreted as filenames. No search is done and file, path, section, subsection, and -w are ignored. This option implies -a.
Override the list of directories to search for manual pages. The supplied path must be a colon (‘:’) separated list of directories. This option also overrides the environment variable MANPATH and any directories specified in the man.conf(5) file.
Augment the list of directories to search for manual pages. The supplied path must be a colon (‘:’) separated list of directories. These directories will be searched before those specified using the -M option, the MANPATH environment variable, the man.conf(5) file, or the default directories.
Only show pages for the specified machine(1) architecture. subsection is case insensitive.

By default manual pages for all architectures are installed. Therefore this option can be used to view pages for one architecture whilst using another.

This option overrides the MACHINE environment variable.

[-s] section
Only select manuals from the specified section. The currently available sections are:

General commands (tools and utilities).
System calls and error numbers.
Library functions.
perl(1) programmer's reference guide.
Device drivers.
File formats.
Miscellaneous information.
System maintenance and operation commands.
Kernel internals.
List the pathnames of all matching manual pages instead of displaying any of them. If no name is given, list the directories that would be searched.

The options -IKOTW are also supported and are documented in mandoc(1). The options -fkl are mutually exclusive and override each other.

The search starts with the -m argument if provided, then continues with the -M argument, the MANPATH variable, the manpath entries in the man.conf(5) file, or with /usr/share/man:/usr/X11R6/man:/usr/local/man by default. Within each of these, directories are searched in the order provided. Within each directory, the search proceeds according to the following list of sections: 1, 8, 6, 2, 3, 5, 7, 4, 9, 3p. The first match found is shown.

The mandoc.db(5) database is used for looking up manual page entries. In cases where the database is absent, outdated, or corrupt, man falls back to looking for files called name.section. If both a formatted and an unformatted version of the same manual page, for example cat1/foo.0 and man1/foo.1, exist in the same directory, only the unformatted version is used. The database is kept up to date with makewhatis(8), which is run by the weekly(8) maintenance script.

Guidelines for writing man pages can be found in mdoc(7).

As some manual pages are intended only for specific architectures, man searches any subdirectories, with the same name as the current architecture, in every directory which it searches. Machine specific areas are checked before general areas. The current machine type may be overridden by setting the environment variable MACHINE to the name of a specific architecture, or with the -S option. MACHINE is case insensitive.
Any non-empty value of the environment variable MANPAGER is used instead of the standard pagination program, less(1). If less(1) is used, the interactive :t command can be used to go to the definitions of various terms, for example command line options, command modifiers, internal commands, environment variables, function names, preprocessor macros, errno(2) values, and some other emphasized words. Some terms may have defining text at more than one place. In that case, the less(1) interactive commands t and T can be used to move to the next and to the previous place providing information about the term last searched for with :t. The -O tag[=term] option documented in the mandoc(1) manual opens a manual page at the definition of a specific term rather than at the beginning.
Override the standard search path which is either specified in man.conf(5) or the default path. The format of MANPATH is a colon (‘:’) separated list of directories. Invalid directories are ignored. Overridden by -M, ignored if -l is specified.

If MANPATH begins with a colon, it is appended to the standard path; if it ends with a colon, it is prepended to the standard path; or if it contains two adjacent colons, the standard path is inserted between the colons.

Specifies the pagination program to use when MANPAGER is not defined. If neither PAGER nor MANPAGER is defined, less(1) is used.

default man configuration file

The man utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs. See mandoc(1) for details.

Format a page for pasting extracts into an email message — avoid printing any UTF-8 characters, reduce the width to ease quoting in replies, and remove markup:

$ man -T ascii -O width=65 pledge | col -b

Read a typeset page in a PDF viewer:

$ MANPAGER=mupdf man -T pdf lpd

apropos(1), col(1), mandoc(1), ul(1), whereis(1), man.conf(5), mdoc(7)

The man utility is compliant with the IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”) specification.

The flags [-aCcfhIKlMmOSsTWw], as well as the environment variables MACHINE, MANPAGER, and MANPATH, are extensions to that specification.

A man command first appeared in Version 2 AT&T UNIX.

The -w option first appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX; -f and -k in /usr/usb/man in 4.0BSD; -M in 4.3BSD; -a in 4.3BSD-Tahoe; -c and -m in 4.3BSD-Reno; -h in 4.3BSD-Net/2; -C in NetBSD 1.0; -s and -S in OpenBSD 2.3; and -I, -K, -l, -O, and -W in OpenBSD 5.7. The -T option first appeared in AT&T System III UNIX and was also added in OpenBSD 5.7.

August 4, 2022 OpenBSD-current