UNIX Primer

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The Manual

Sometimes, we need more information about a particular command or feature. Luckily, UNIX-like systems come with a system of online manual entries which contain information about the various features and usage of most commands. These are sometimes referred to as the 'man' pages.

The 'man' pages are an online user's manual. If you would like details about a particular command or subject, type 'man subject' where subject is the name of the command or feature about which you want information. If no 'man' file is found for that subject, try typing 'man -k keyword' where keyword is a single word or phrase that might identify what you are looking for. This will return a list of results, which you can then read individually by typing 'man subject', replacing 'subject' with one of the resulting entry names.

You can also search for a word or phrase in an opened man page by typing '/' then the word or phrase you wish to find.

Now that you know this command, many new options are open to you. You can discover new commands on your own and experiment with them, or you can discover how to get even more out of commands of which you are already aware. Take a moment to glance at the 'man' entries for some of these commands (eg. 'man ls', 'man cp', etc).

Related Commands:

man Manual Displays the manual entry for a given subject.
man <subject_name>
man -k <keyword>
  • If there is more than one entry with the same name as listed by 'man -k', you can distinguish which one you want to view using the '-s #' option, where # is the section number appearing in parentheses next to the entry name you wish to choose.

Designed by D. Kaminsky
Edited by Diana Palsetia
© University of Pennsylvania, 2008