APROPOS(1) User Commands APROPOS(1)

apropos, whatis
locate commands by keyword lookup

apropos [-M path] [-s section] keyword ...

whatis [-M path] [-s section] keyword ...

The apropos utility displays the man page name, section number, and a short description for each man page whose NAME line contains keyword. This information is contained in the whatis database created by the -w option used with man(1). If this database is not present, apropos and whatis fail.

Each word is considered separately and the case of letters is ignored. Words which are part of other words are considered; for example, when looking for ‘compile’, apropos finds all instances of ‘compiler’ also.

The whatis command performs the same search, but only matches whole words. In the above example, whatis would not match the instances of ‘compiler’ when keyword is ‘compile’.

The apropos command is actually just the -k option to the man(1) command.

Force a specific colon separated manual path instead of the default search path. Overrides the MANPATH environment variable.
Restrict search to specified section.

Used to find the location of the whatis database.

table of contents and keyword database


example% apropos password

If the line starts ‘filename(section) ...’ you can run

% man -s section filename

to display the man page for filename.


example% apropos format

and then

example% man -s 3C printf

to get the manual page on the subroutine printf(3C).

/usr/share/man/whatis: No such file or directory
The whatis database does not exist. The command man -w must be run to create it.



man(1), catman(1M)
July 20, 2014 OmniOS