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Summary:

This week I want to share a simple tip that will only take a moment – and essentially no syntax to memorize! I’d like to tell you about Unix’ Man Pages, or rather, the manual built into the OS. You can gain insight into how to […]

terminal.appThis week I want to share a simple tip that will only take a moment – and essentially no syntax to memorize! I’d like to tell you about Unix’ Man Pages, or rather, the manual built into the OS. You can gain insight into how to use various commands, their purpose, options when running them, and really how to build your commands in the CLI.

In order to use the man pages, just preface the command you wish to find out more about, with ‘man‘. So maybe you want to get a better feel for the options available to you when running a ls command for listing items. Simply type, man ls. When you’re done reading the manual, just type a ‘q‘ for quit and you’ll be returned to the command line and ready for action.

And don’t be shy to see where man will work – man man tells you about the manual for instance! This will hopefully be one of those little tips (clearly for the new to Unix user) that you take away and can really build your knowledge from experimentation. Go forth and learn!

  1. And if you’re not sure what command you’re looking for, use man -k searchterm where searchterm is the part of the command or command description you’re searching for. This is the same as typing apropos searchterm, but a bit easier to remember, especially if you can’t remember how to spell apropos. This is all in the man man page, but who reads that? :)

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  2. à propos bien sur :)

    “apropos” means “about”

    à propos de quelque chose.

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  3. Grey Poupon a la Citroën. Or something like that. ;)

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  4. There’s an application that will open manual pages in a separate window with excellent results. It’s called “ManOpen” and it can be called as a regular Mac GUI app AND a command-line tool. So you can have your manual pages open while slaving away in the terminal.

    http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/2734
    http://www.clindberg.org

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  5. I’ve known about man since my Unix days in the 80s, but I’m clearly missing something. Every time I type `man’ in my Mac terminal, I get a message like these:
    “No manual entry for ls”
    “No manual entry for man”

    What is the magic trick to fill up the man entries?

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  6. [...] man (manual): The online manual will describe most commands that you are interested in. For example typing man ls will give you the manual page about the ls command. [...]

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