MORE(1P) POSIX Programmer's Manual MORE(1P)PROLOG
This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux
implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding
Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may
not be implemented on Linux.
more — display files on a page-by-page basis
more [−ceisu] [−n number] [−p command] [−t tagstring] [file...]
The more utility shall read files and either write them to the terminal
on a page-by-page basis or filter them to standard output. If standard
output is not a terminal device, all input files shall be copied to
standard output in their entirety, without modification, except as
specified for the −s option. If standard output is a terminal device,
the files shall be written a number of lines (one screenful) at a time
under the control of user commands. See the EXTENDED DESCRIPTION sec‐
Certain block-mode terminals do not have all the capabilities necessary
to support the complete more definition; they are incapable of accept‐
ing commands that are not terminated with a <newline>. Implementations
that support such terminals shall provide an operating mode to more in
which all commands can be terminated with a <newline> on those termi‐
nals. This mode:
* Shall be documented in the system documentation
* Shall, at invocation, inform the user of the terminal deficiency
that requires the <newline> usage and provide instructions on how
this warning can be suppressed in future invocations
* Shall not be required for implementations supporting only fully
* Shall not affect commands already requiring <newline> characters
* Shall not affect users on the capable terminals from using more as
described in this volume of POSIX.1‐2008
The more utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of
POSIX.1‐2008, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines, except that '+'
may be recognized as an option delimiter as well as '−'.
The following options shall be supported:
−c If a screen is to be written that has no lines in common with
the current screen, or more is writing its first screen, more
shall not scroll the screen, but instead shall redraw each
line of the screen in turn, from the top of the screen to the
bottom. In addition, if more is writing its first screen, the
screen shall be cleared. This option may be silently ignored
on devices with insufficient terminal capabilities.
−e Exit immediately after writing the last line of the last file
in the argument list; see the EXTENDED DESCRIPTION section.
−i Perform pattern matching in searches without regard to case;
see the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 9.2,
Regular Expression General Requirements.
−n number Specify the number of lines per screenful. The number argu‐
ment is a positive decimal integer. The −n option shall over‐
ride any values obtained from any other source.
Each time a screen from a new file is displayed or redis‐
played (including as a result of more commands; for example,
:p), execute the more command(s) in the command arguments in
the order specified, as if entered by the user after the
first screen has been displayed. No intermediate results
shall be displayed (that is, if the command is a movement to
a screen different from the normal first screen, only the
screen resulting from the command shall be displayed.) If any
of the commands fail for any reason, an informational message
to this effect shall be written, and no further commands
specified using the −p option shall be executed for this
−s Behave as if consecutive empty lines were a single empty
Write the screenful of the file containing the tag named by
the tagstring argument. See the ctags utility. The tags fea‐
ture represented by −t tagstring and the :t command is
optional. It shall be provided on any system that also pro‐
vides a conforming implementation of ctags; otherwise, the
use of −t produces undefined results.
The filename resulting from the −t option shall be logically
added as a prefix to the list of command line files, as if
specified by the user. If the tag named by the tagstring
argument is not found, it shall be an error, and more shall
take no further action.
If the tag specifies a line number, the first line of the
display shall contain the beginning of that line. If the tag
specifies a pattern, the first line of the display shall con‐
tain the beginning of the matching text from the first line
of the file that contains that pattern. If the line does not
exist in the file or matching text is not found, an informa‐
tional message to this effect shall be displayed, and more
shall display the default screen as if −t had not been speci‐
If both the −t tagstring and −p command options are given,
the −t tagstring shall be processed first; that is, the file
and starting line for the display shall be as specified by
−t, and then the −p more command shall be executed. If the
line (matching text) specified by the −t command does not
exist (is not found), no −p more command shall be executed
for this file at any time.
−u Treat a <backspace> as a printable control character, dis‐
played as an implementation-defined character sequence (see
the EXTENDED DESCRIPTION section), suppressing backspacing
and the special handling that produces underlined or standout
mode text on some terminal types. Also, do not ignore a
<carriage-return> at the end of a line.
The following operand shall be supported:
file A pathname of an input file. If no file operands are speci‐
fied, the standard input shall be used. If a file is '−', the
standard input shall be read at that point in the sequence.
The standard input shall be used only if no file operands are speci‐
fied, or if a file operand is '−'.
The input files being examined shall be text files. If standard output
is a terminal, standard error shall be used to read commands from the
user. If standard output is a terminal, standard error is not readable,
and command input is needed, more may attempt to obtain user commands
from the controlling terminal (for example, /dev/tty); otherwise, more
shall terminate with an error indicating that it was unable to read
user commands. If standard output is not a terminal, no error shall
result if standard error cannot be opened for reading.
The following environment variables shall affect the execution of more:
COLUMNS Override the system-selected horizontal display line size.
See the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Chapter 8,
Environment Variables for valid values and results when it is
unset or null.
EDITOR Used by the v command to select an editor. See the EXTENDED
LANG Provide a default value for the internationalization vari‐
ables that are unset or null. (See the Base Definitions vol‐
ume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 8.2, Internationalization Vari‐
ables for the precedence of internationalization variables
used to determine the values of locale categories.)
LC_ALL If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of
all the other internationalization variables.
Determine the locale for the behavior of ranges, equivalence
classes, and multi-character collating elements within regu‐
LC_CTYPE Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of
bytes of text data as characters (for example, single-byte as
opposed to multi-byte characters in arguments and input
files) and the behavior of character classes within regular
Determine the locale that should be used to affect the format
and contents of diagnostic messages written to standard error
and informative messages written to standard output.
NLSPATH Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing
LINES Override the system-selected vertical screen size, used as
the number of lines in a screenful. See the Base Definitions
volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Chapter 8, Environment Variables for
valid values and results when it is unset or null. The −n
option shall take precedence over the LINES variable for
determining the number of lines in a screenful.
MORE Determine a string containing options described in the
OPTIONS section preceded with <hyphen> characters and
<blank>-separated as on the command line. Any command line
options shall be processed after those in the MORE variable,
as if the command line were:
more $MORE options operands
The MORE variable shall take precedence over the TERM and
LINES variables for determining the number of lines in a
TERM Determine the name of the terminal type. If this variable is
unset or null, an unspecified default terminal type is used.
The standard output shall be used to write the contents of the input
The standard error shall be used for diagnostic messages and user com‐
mands (see the INPUT FILES section), and, if standard output is a ter‐
minal device, to write a prompting string. The prompting string shall
appear on the screen line below the last line of the file displayed in
the current screenful. The prompt shall contain the name of the file
currently being examined and shall contain an end-of-file indication
and the name of the next file, if any, when prompting at the end-of-
file. If an error or informational message is displayed, it is unspeci‐
fied whether it is contained in the prompt. If it is not contained in
the prompt, it shall be displayed and then the user shall be prompted
for a continuation character, at which point another message or the
user prompt may be displayed. The prompt is otherwise unspecified. It
is unspecified whether informational messages are written for other
The following section describes the behavior of more when the standard
output is a terminal device. If the standard output is not a terminal
device, no options other than −s shall have any effect, and all input
files shall be copied to standard output otherwise unmodified, at which
time more shall exit without further action.
The number of lines available per screen shall be determined by the −n
option, if present, or by examining values in the environment (see the
ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES section). If neither method yields a number, an
unspecified number of lines shall be used.
The maximum number of lines written shall be one less than this number,
because the screen line after the last line written shall be used to
write a user prompt and user input. If the number of lines in the
screen is less than two, the results are undefined. It is unspecified
whether user input is permitted to be longer than the remainder of the
single line where the prompt has been written.
The number of columns available per line shall be determined by examin‐
ing values in the environment (see the ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES section),
with a default value as described in the Base Definitions volume of
POSIX.1‐2008, Chapter 8, Environment Variables.
Lines that are longer than the display shall be folded; the length at
which folding occurs is unspecified, but should be appropriate for the
output device. Folding may occur between glyphs of single characters
that take up multiple display columns.
When standard output is a terminal and −u is not specified, more shall
treat <backspace> and <carriage-return> characters specially:
* A character, followed first by a sequence of n <backspace> charac‐
ters (where n is the same as the number of column positions that
the character occupies), then by n <underscore> characters ('_'),
shall cause that character to be written as underlined text, if the
terminal type supports that. The n <underscore> characters, fol‐
lowed first by n <backspace> characters, then any character with n
column positions, shall also cause that character to be written as
underlined text, if the terminal type supports that.
* A sequence of n <backspace> characters (where n is the same as the
number of column positions that the previous character occupies)
that appears between two identical printable characters shall cause
the first of those two characters to be written as emboldened text
(that is, visually brighter, standout mode, or inverse-video mode),
if the terminal type supports that, and the second to be discarded.
Immediately subsequent occurrences of <backspace>/character pairs
for that same character shall also be discarded. (For example, the
sequence "a\ba\ba\ba" is interpreted as a single emboldened 'a'.)
* The more utility shall logically discard all other <backspace>
characters from the line as well as the character which precedes
them, if any.
* A <carriage-return> at the end of a line shall be ignored, rather
than being written as a non-printable character, as described in
the next paragraph.
It is implementation-defined how other non-printable characters are
written. Implementations should use the same format that they use for
the ex print command; see the OPTIONS section within the ed utility. It
is unspecified whether a multi-column character shall be separated if
it crosses a display line boundary; it shall not be discarded. The
behavior is unspecified if the number of columns on the display is less
than the number of columns any single character in the line being dis‐
played would occupy.
When each new file is displayed (or redisplayed), more shall write the
first screen of the file. Once the initial screen has been written,
more shall prompt for a user command. If the execution of the user com‐
mand results in a screen that has lines in common with the current
screen, and the device has sufficient terminal capabilities, more shall
scroll the screen; otherwise, it is unspecified whether the screen is
scrolled or redrawn.
For all files but the last (including standard input if no file was
specified, and for the last file as well, if the −e option was not
specified), when more has written the last line in the file, more shall
prompt for a user command. This prompt shall contain the name of the
next file as well as an indication that more has reached end-of-file.
If the user command is f, <control>‐F, <space>, j, <newline>, d, <con‐
trol>‐D, or s, more shall display the next file. Otherwise, if display‐
ing the last file, more shall exit. Otherwise, more shall execute the
user command specified.
Several of the commands described in this section display a previous
screen from the input stream. In the case that text is being taken from
a non-rewindable stream, such as a pipe, it is implementation-defined
how much backwards motion is supported. If a command cannot be executed
because of a limitation on backwards motion, an error message to this
effect shall be displayed, the current screen shall not change, and the
user shall be prompted for another command.
If a command cannot be performed because there are insufficient lines
to display, more shall alert the terminal. If a command cannot be per‐
formed because there are insufficient lines to display or a / command
fails: if the input is the standard input, the last screen in the file
may be displayed; otherwise, the current file and screen shall not
change, and the user shall be prompted for another command.
The interactive commands in the following sections shall be supported.
Some commands can be preceded by a decimal integer, called count in the
following descriptions. If not specified with the command, count shall
default to 1. In the following descriptions, pattern is a basic regular
expression, as described in the Base Definitions volume of
POSIX.1‐2008, Section 9.3, Basic Regular Expressions. The term ``exam‐
ine'' is historical usage meaning ``open the file for viewing''; for
example, more foo would be expressed as examining file foo.
In the following descriptions, unless otherwise specified, line is a
line in the more display, not a line from the file being examined.
In the following descriptions, the current position refers to two
1. The position of the current line on the screen
2. The line number (in the file) of the current line on the screen
Usually, the line on the screen corresponding to the current position
is the third line on the screen. If this is not possible (there are
fewer than three lines to display or this is the first page of the
file, or it is the last page of the file), then the current position is
either the first or last line on the screen as described later.
Write a summary of these commands and other implementation-defined com‐
mands. The behavior shall be as if the more utility were executed with
the −e option on a file that contained the summary information. The
user shall be prompted as described earlier in this section when end-
of-file is reached. If the user command is one of those specified to
continue to the next file, more shall return to the file and screen
state from which the h command was executed.
Scroll Forward One Screenful
Scroll forward count lines, with a default of one screenful. If count
is more than the screen size, only the final screenful shall be writ‐
Scroll Backward One Screenful
Scroll backward count lines, with a default of one screenful (see the
−n option). If count is more than the screen size, only the final
screenful shall be written.
Scroll Forward One Line
Scroll forward count lines. The default count for the <space> shall be
one screenful; for j and <newline>, one line. The entire count lines
shall be written, even if count is more than the screen size.
Scroll Backward One Line
Scroll backward count lines. The entire count lines shall be written,
even if count is more than the screen size.
Scroll Forward One Half Screenful
Scroll forward count lines, with a default of one half of the screen
size. If count is specified, it shall become the new default for subse‐
quent d, <control>‐D, and u commands.
Skip Forward One Line
Display the screenful beginning with the line count lines after the
last line on the current screen. If count would cause the current posi‐
tion to be such that less than one screenful would be written, the last
screenful in the file shall be written.
Scroll Backward One Half Screenful
Scroll backward count lines, with a default of one half of the screen
size. If count is specified, it shall become the new default for subse‐
quent d, <control>−D, u, and <control>−U commands. The entire count
lines shall be written, even if count is more than the screen size.
Go to Beginning of File
Display the screenful beginning with line count.
Go to End-of-File
If count is specified, display the screenful beginning with the line
count. Otherwise, display the last screenful of the file.
Refresh the Screen
Refresh the screen.
Discard and Refresh
Refresh the screen, discarding any buffered input. If the current file
is non-seekable, buffered input shall not be discarded and the R com‐
mand shall be equivalent to the r command.
Mark the current position with the letter named by letter, where letter
represents the name of one of the lowercase letters of the portable
character set. When a new file is examined, all marks may be lost.
Return to Mark
Return to the position that was previously marked with the letter named
by letter, making that line the current position.
Return to Previous Position
Return to the position from which the last large movement command was
executed (where a ``large movement'' is defined as any movement of more
than a screenful of lines). If no such movements have been made, return
to the beginning of the file.
Search Forward for Pattern
Display the screenful beginning with the countth line containing the
pattern. The search shall start after the first line currently dis‐
played. The null regular expression ('/' followed by a <newline>) shall
repeat the search using the previous regular expression, with a default
count. If the character '!' is included, the matching lines shall be
those that do not contain the pattern. If no match is found for the
pattern, a message to that effect shall be displayed.
Search Backward for Pattern
Display the screenful beginning with the countth previous line contain‐
ing the pattern. The search shall start on the last line before the
first line currently displayed. The null regular expression ('?' fol‐
lowed by a <newline>) shall repeat the search using the previous regu‐
lar expression, with a default count. If the character '!' is
included, matching lines shall be those that do not contain the pat‐
tern. If no match is found for the pattern, a message to that effect
shall be displayed.
Repeat the previous search for countth line containing the last pattern
(or not containing the last pattern, if the previous search was "/!" or
Repeat Search in Reverse
Repeat the search in the opposite direction of the previous search for
the countth line containing the last pattern (or not containing the
last pattern, if the previous search was "/!" or "?!").
Examine New File
Examine a new file. If the filename argument is not specified, the cur‐
rent file (see the :n and :p commands below) shall be re-examined. The
filename shall be subjected to the process of shell word expansions
(see Section 2.6, Word Expansions); if more than a single pathname
results, the effects are unspecified. If filename is a <number-sign>
('#'), the previously examined file shall be re-examined. If filename
is not accessible for any reason (including that it is a non-seekable
file), an error message to this effect shall be displayed and the cur‐
rent file and screen shall not change.
Examine Next File
Examine the next file. If a number count is specified, the countth next
file shall be examined. If filename refers to a non-seekable file, the
results are unspecified.
Examine Previous File
Examine the previous file. If a number count is specified, the countth
previous file shall be examined. If filename refers to a non-seekable
file, the results are unspecified.
Go to Tag
If the file containing the tag named by the tagstring argument is not
the current file, examine the file, as if the :e command was executed
with that file as the argument. Otherwise, or in addition, display the
screenful beginning with the tag, as described for the −t option (see
the OPTIONS section). If the ctags utility is not supported by the sys‐
tem, the use of :t produces undefined results.
Invoke an editor to edit the current file being examined. If standard
input is being examined, the results are unspecified. The name of the
editor shall be taken from the environment variable EDITOR, or shall
default to vi. If the last pathname component in EDITOR is either vi
or ex, the editor shall be invoked with a −c linenumber command line
argument, where linenumber is the line number of the file line contain‐
ing the display line currently displayed as the first line of the
screen. It is implementation-defined whether line-setting options are
passed to editors other than vi and ex.
When the editor exits, more shall resume with the same file and screen
as when the editor was invoked.
Write a message for which the information references the first byte of
the line after the last line of the file on the screen. This message
shall include the name of the file currently being examined, its number
relative to the total number of files there are to examine, the line
number in the file, the byte number and the total bytes in the file,
and what percentage of the file precedes the current position. If more
is reading from standard input, or the file is shorter than a single
screen, the line number, the byte number, the total bytes, and the per‐
centage need not be written.
The following exit values shall be returned:
0 Successful completion.
>0 An error occurred.
CONSEQUENCES OF ERRORS
If an error is encountered accessing a file when using the :n command,
more shall attempt to examine the next file in the argument list, but
the final exit status shall be affected. If an error is encountered
accessing a file via the :p command, more shall attempt to examine the
previous file in the argument list, but the final exit status shall be
affected. If an error is encountered accessing a file via the :e com‐
mand, more shall remain in the current file and the final exit status
shall not be affected.
The following sections are informative.
When the standard output is not a terminal, only the −s filter-modifi‐
cation option is effective. This is based on historical practice. For
example, a typical implementation of man pipes its output through more
−s to squeeze excess white space for terminal users. When man is piped
to lp, however, it is undesirable for this squeezing to happen.
The −p allows arbitrary commands to be executed at the start of each
file. Examples are:
more −p G file1 file2
Examine each file starting with its last screenful.
more −p 100 file1 file2
Examine each file starting with line 100 in the current position
(usually the third line, so line 98 would be the first line writ‐
more −p /100 file1 file2
Examine each file starting with the first line containing the
string "100" in the current position
The more utility, available in BSD and BSD-derived systems, was chosen
as the prototype for the POSIX file display program since it is more
widely available than either the public-domain program less or than pg,
a pager provided in System V. The 4.4 BSD more is the model for the
features selected; it is almost fully upwards-compatible from the 4.3
BSD version in wide use and has become more amenable for vi users. Sev‐
eral features originally derived from various file editors, found in
both less and pg, have been added to this volume of POSIX.1‐2008 as
they have proved extremely popular with users.
There are inconsistencies between more and vi that result from histori‐
cal practice. For example, the single-character commands h, f, b, and
<space> are screen movers in more, but cursor movers in vi. These
inconsistencies were maintained because the cursor movements are not
applicable to more and the powerful functionality achieved without the
use of the control key justifies the differences.
The tags interface has been included in a program that is not a text
editor because it promotes another degree of consistent operation with
vi. It is conceivable that the paging environment of more would be
superior for browsing source code files in some circumstances.
The operating mode referred to for block-mode terminals effectively
adds a <newline> to each Synopsis line that currently has none. So, for
example, d<newline> would page one screenful. The mode could be trig‐
gered by a command line option, environment variable, or some other
method. The details are not imposed by this volume of POSIX.1‐2008
because there are so few systems known to support such terminals. Nev‐
ertheless, it was considered that all systems should be able to support
more given the exception cited for this small community of terminals
because, in comparison to vi, the cursor movements are few and the com‐
mand set relatively amenable to the optional <newline> characters.
Some versions of more provide a shell escaping mechanism similar to the
ex ! command. The standard developers did not consider that this was
necessary in a paginator, particularly given the wide acceptance of
multiple window terminals and job control features. (They chose to
retain such features in the editors and mailx because the shell inter‐
action also gives an opportunity to modify the editing buffer, which is
not applicable to more.)
The −p (position) option replaces the + command because of the Utility
Syntax Guidelines. The +command option is no longer specified by
POSIX.1‐2008 but may be present in some implementations. In early pro‐
posals, it took a pattern argument, but historical less provided the
more general facility of a command. It would have been desirable to use
the same −c as ex and vi, but the letter was already in use.
The text stating ``from a non-rewindable stream ... implementations may
limit the amount of backwards motion supported'' would allow an imple‐
mentation that permitted no backwards motion beyond text already on the
screen. It was not possible to require a minimum amount of backwards
motion that would be effective for all conceivable device types. The
implementation should allow the user to back up as far as possible,
within device and reasonable memory allocation constraints.
Historically, non-printable characters were displayed using the ARPA
standard mappings, which are as follows:
1. Printable characters are left alone.
2. Control characters less than \177 are represented as followed by
the character offset from the '@' character in the ASCII map; for
example, \007 is represented as 'G'.
3. \177 is represented as followed by '?'.
The display of characters having their eighth bit set was less stan‐
dard. Existing implementations use hex (0x00), octal (\000), and a
meta-bit display. (The latter displayed characters with their eighth
bit set as the two characters "M−", followed by the seven-bit display
as described previously.) The latter probably has the best claim to
historical practice because it was used with the −v option of 4 BSD and
4 BSD-derived versions of the cat utility since 1980.
No specific display format is required by POSIX.1‐2008. Implementations
are encouraged to conform to historic practice in the absence of any
strong reason to diverge.
Chapter 2, Shell Command Language, ctags, ed, ex, vi
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Chapter 8, Environment
Variables, Section 9.2, Regular Expression General Requirements, Sec‐
tion 9.3, Basic Regular Expressions, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technology
-- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base
Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of Electri‐
cal and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. (This is
POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and
The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard
is the referee document. The original Standard can be obtained online
at http://www.unix.org/online.html .
Any typographical or formatting errors that appear in this page are
most likely to have been introduced during the conversion of the source
files to man page format. To report such errors, see https://www.ker‐
IEEE/The Open Group 2013 MORE(1P)