MAN(1) User Commands MAN(1)

manfind and display reference manual pages

man [-] [-adFlrt] [-T macro-package] [-M path] [-s section] name ...

man [-M path] [-s section] -k keyword ...

man [-M path] [-s section] -f file ...

man [-M path] -w

The man command displays information from the reference manuals. It displays complete manual pages that you select by name, or one-line summaries selected either by keyword (-k), or by the name of an associated file (-f). If no manual page is located, man prints an error message.

Reference Manual pages are marked up with either man(7), or mdoc(7) language tags. The man command recognizes the type of markup and processes the file accordingly.

The online Reference Manual page directories are conventionally located in /usr/share/man. Each directory corresponds to a section of the manual. Since these directories are optionally installed, they might not reside on your host. You might have to mount /usr/share/man from a host on which they do reside. The man command reformats a page whenever it is requested.

If the standard output is not a terminal, or if the - flag is given, man pipes its output through cat(1). Otherwise, man pipes its output through a pager such as more(1) to handle paging and underlining on the screen.

The following options are supported:

Shows all manual pages matching name within the MANPATH search path. Manual pages are displayed in the order found.
Debugs. Displays what a section-specifier evaluates to, method used for searching, and paths searched by man.
file ...
Attempts to locate manual pages related to any of the given file names. It strips the leading path name components from each file, and then prints one-line summaries containing the resulting basename or names. This option also uses the whatis database.
This option is present for backwards compatibility and is documented here for reference only. It performs no function.
keyword ...
Prints out one-line summaries from the whatis database (table of contents) that contain any of the given keyword. The whatis database is created using the -w option.
Lists all manual pages found matching name within the search path.
Specifies an alternate search path for manual pages. The path is a colon-separated list of directories that contain manual page directory subtrees. For example, if path is /usr/share/man:/usr/local/man, man searches for name in the standard location, and then /usr/local/man. When used with the -k, -f, or -w options, the -M option must appear first. Each directory in the path is assumed to contain subdirectories of the form man*, one for each section. This option overrides the MANPATH environment variable.
Reformats the manual page, checking for formatting errors, but does not display it.
Specifies sections of the manual for man to search. The directories searched for name are limited to those specified by section. section can be a numerical digit, perhaps followed by one or more letters to match the desired section of the manual, for example, 3head. Also, section can be a word, for example, local, new, old, public. section can also be a letter. To specify multiple sections, separate each section with a comma. This option overrides the MANPATH environment variable and the file. See Search Path below for an explanation of how man conducts its search.
Arranges for the specified manual pages to be sent to the default printer as PostScript.
This option is present for backwards compatibility and is documented here for reference only. It performs no function.
Updates the whatis database.

The following operand is supported:

The name of a standard utility or a keyword.

The usage of man is described below:

Entries in the reference manuals are organized into . A section name consists of a major section name, typically a single digit, optionally followed by a subsection name, typically one or more letters. An unadorned major section name, for example, "9", does not act as an abbreviation for the subsections of that name, such as "9e", "9f", or "9s". That is, each subsection must be searched separately by man -s. Each section contains descriptions apropos to a particular reference category, with subsections refining these distinctions. See the manual pages for an explanation of the classification used in this release.

Before searching for a given name, man constructs a list of candidate directories and sections. It searches for name in the directories specified by the MANPATH environment variable.

In the absence of MANPATH, man constructs its search path based upon the PATH environment variable, primarily by substituting man for the last component of the PATH element. Special provisions are added to account for unique characteristics of directories such as /sbin, /usr/ucb, /usr/xpg4/bin, and others. If the file argument contains a "/" character, the portion of the argument is used in place of PATH elements to construct the search path.

Within the manual page directories, man confines its search to the sections specified in the following order:

  • sections specified on the command line with the -s option
  • sections embedded in the MANPATH environment variable
  • sections specified in the file for each directory specified in the MANPATH environment variable
If none of the above exist, man searches each directory in the manual page path, and displays the first matching manual page found.

The file has the following format:


Lines beginning with ‘#’ and blank lines are considered comments, and are ignored. Each directory specified in MANPATH can contain a manual page configuration file, specifying the default search order for that directory.

If the first line of the manual page is a reference to another manual page entry fitting the pattern:

.so man*/

man processes the indicated file in place of the current one. The reference must be expressed as a path name relative to the root of the manual page directory subtree.

When the second or any subsequent line starts with , man ignores it; troff(1) or nroff(1) processes the request in the usual manner.

See environ(7) for descriptions of the following environment variables that affect the execution of man: LANG, LC_ALL, LC_CTYPE, LC_MESSAGES, and NLSPATH.

A colon-separated list of directories; each directory can be followed by a comma-separated list of sections. If set, its value overrides /usr/share/man as the default directory search path, and the file as the default section search path. The -M and -s flags, in turn, override these values.
Width of the output. If set to the special value "" (or ""), and output is to terminal, auto-detect terminal width.
A program to use for interactively delivering output to the screen. If not set, ‘more -s’ is used. See more(1).

Root of the standard manual page directory subtree
Unformatted manual entries
Table of contents and keyword database
Default search order by section

The man utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.

The following example spools the pipe(2) man page in PostScript to the default printer:

% man -t -s 2 pipe

Note that mandoc(1) can be used to obtain the PostScript content directly.

The following example creates the pipe(2) man page in ASCII text:

% man pipe.2 | col -x -b > pipe.text



apropos(1), cat(1), col(1), mandoc(1), more(1), whatis(1), environ(7), man(7), mdoc(7)

The -f and -k options use the whatis database, which is created with the -w option.

The manual is supposed to be reproducible either on a phototypesetter or on an ASCII terminal. However, on a terminal some information (indicated by font changes, for instance) is lost.

May 13, 2017 OmniOS