MAN.OPTIONS(1) General Commands Manual MAN.OPTIONS(1)

NAME

man.optionsassignment of option letters in manual page utilities

DESCRIPTION

This manual page lists option letters used in many different versions of the man, apropos, whatis, mandoc, makewhatis, mandb, makemandb, catman, and manpath utilities. Option letters used by groff, nroff, troff, and roff are also included because beginning with Version 7 AT&T UNIX, many versions of man(1) pass on unrecognized options to these programs.
For each option letter, information is first grouped into paragraphs, each paragraph describing similar functionality and starting with one line briefly summarizing that functionality.
For each program using the letter for that functionality, one line is provided, giving the name of the program, a colon, the system where this letter first appeared for this functionality in this program, optionally a comma and a list of other system versions introducing the same, a semicolon, and a list of current systems supporting it. If a system appears before the semicolon, it is not repeated afterwards.
Entries are sorted by historical precedence, except that obsolete options are moved to the end. Dates are commit dates where known, and release dates otherwise.
 
 
-a
display all matching manual pages
 
man: 4.3BSD-Tahoe (June 1988), Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, man-db, man-1.6, illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
only display items that match all keywords
 
apropos: man-db (Aug 29, 2007)
use all directories and files for mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
[superseded by -T ascii] ASCII output mode
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
 
-B
use specified browser
 
man: man-1.6 (June 24, 2005)
 
 
-b
print a backtrace with each warning or error message
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
[obsolete hardware] report whether the phototypesetter is busy
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
 
-C
alternate configuration file
 
apropos, whatis: 4.4BSD-Lite1 (April 22, 1994), man-db (Feb 22, 2003); OpenBSD, NetBSD
 
man: NetBSD 1.0 (Oct 26, 1994), man-1.5e (not before 1993, not after 1998); OpenBSD
 
mandb, catman, manpath: man-db (Feb 22, 2003)
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
[obsolete] enable compatibility mode
 
groff: before groff-0.5 (before August 3, 1990)
 
 
-c
do not use a pager
 
man: 4.3BSD-Reno (June 1990); OpenBSD, NetBSD
 
apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
process given catpath
 
makewhatis: (not before 1992, not after 1995)
recreate databases from scratch
 
mandb: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
produce a catpath as opposed to a manpath
 
manpath: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
internal option for use by catman(1)
 
man: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
reformat source page even if cat page exists
 
man: man-1.5e (not before 1993, not after 1998)
disable terminal color output in grotty(1)
 
groff: groff-1.18.0 (Oct 4, 2001)
recreate nroff versions from SGML sources
 
catman: Solaris 9-11
[obsolete] postprocess with col(1)
 
man: AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983)
 
 
-D
reset whatever was set with MANOPT
 
man: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
print debugging info in addition to manual page
 
man: man-1.5e (not before 1993, not after 1998)
set default input encoding for preconv(1)
 
groff: groff-1.20 (August 20, 2008)
display all files added to mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
 
 
-d
define a user-defined string
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
print debugging information
 
man: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6, illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
manpath: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db
 
apropos, whatis: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994); FreeBSD
 
mandb, catman: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
remove and re-add a file to mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 2.7 (Feb 3, 2000)
[superseded by -l] interpret arguments as file names
 
man: AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983)
 
 
-E
inhibit all error messages
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
select output encoding
 
man: man-db (Dec 23, 2001)
 
 
-e
preprocess with eqn(7)
 
man: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
adjust text to left and right margins
 
nroff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
use exact matching
 
apropos, whatis: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
restrict search by section extension
 
man: man-db-2.3.5 (April 21, 1995)
 
 
-F
use alternate font directory
 
troff: 4.2BSD (September 1983)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
preformat only, do not display
 
man: man-1.5g (April 7, 1999)
force searching dirs, do not use index (default)
 
man: illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
 
-f
whatis(1) mode
 
man: 4BSD (November 16, 1980), Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); OpenBSD, FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6
 
apropos, whatis: man-db (Dec 2, 2010), OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
set the default font family
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
force formatting even if cat page is newer
 
catman: FreeBSD (March 15, 1995)
update only the entries for the given file
 
mandb: man-db (Feb 21, 2003)
force rebuilding the database from scratch
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
locate manual page related to given file name
 
man: illumos, Solaris 9-11
[obsolete hardware] do not feed out paper nor stop phototypesetter
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
 
-G
preprocess with grap(1)
 
groff: groff-1.16 (May 1, 2000)
 
 
-g
produce a global manpath
 
manpath: man-db-2.2a7 (Nov 16, 1994)
preprocess with grn(1)
 
groff: groff-1.16 (Feb 20, 2000)
[obsolete hardware] output to a GCOS phototypesetter
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
[obsolete hardware] output to a DASI 300 terminal in 12-pitch mode
 
man: PWB/UNIX 1.0 (July 1, 1977)
 
 
-H
read hyphenation patterns from the given file
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
produce HTML output
 
man: man-db-1.3.12 to 1.3.17 (not before 1996, not after 2001)
use program to render HTML files as text
 
man: man-1.6 (June 24, 2005)
 
 
-h
print a help message and exit
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
man: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6
 
manpath: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db
 
apropos, whatis, mandb, catman: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
display the SYNOPSIS lines only
 
man: 4.3BSD-Net/2 (August 20, 1991); OpenBSD, NetBSD
 
apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (Sep 3, 2014)
turn on HTML formatting
 
apropos: NetBSD (Apr 2, 2013)
[obsolete] replace spaces by tabs in the output
 
roff, nroff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
 
-I
input file search path for soelim(1)
 
groff: groff-1.12 (Sep 11, 1999)
respect case when matching manual page names
 
man, catman: man-db (Apr 21, 2002)
input options, in particular default operating system name
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.2 (May 24, 2012)
 
man, apropos, whatis: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
 
 
-i
read standard input after the input files are exhausted
 
nroff, troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
ignore case when matching manual page names
 
man, catman: man-db (Apr 21, 2002)
turn on terminal escape code formatting
 
apropos: NetBSD (March 29, 2013)
 
 
-J
preprocess with gideal(1)
 
groff: groff-1.22.3 (June 17, 2014)
 
 
-j
preprocess with chem(1)
 
groff: groff-1.22 (Jan 22, 2011)
 
 
-K
source code full text search
 
man: man-1.5e (not before 1993, not after 1998), man-db (June 28, 2009); Solaris 11
input encoding
 
groff: groff-1.20 (Dec 31, 2005)
 
man, apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (Oct 30, 2014)
 
 
-k
apropos(1) mode
 
man: 4BSD (November 16, 1980), Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); POSIX, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, man-db, man-1.6, illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
ignore formatting errors
 
catman: NetBSD (April 26, 1994)
preprocess with preconv(1)
 
groff: groff-1.20 (Dec 31, 2005)
[obsolete hardware] display on a Tektronix 4014 terminal
 
man: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
 
-L
pass argument to the spooler
 
groff: groff-0.6 (Sep 14, 1990)
use alternate locale(1)
 
man, apropos, whatis: before man-db-2.2a13 (before Dec 15, 1994)
print list of locales
 
manpath: FreeBSD (Nov 23, 1999)
use locale(1) specified in the environment
 
catman: FreeBSD (May 18, 2002)
 
 
-l
spool the output
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
interpret arguments as file names
 
man: before man-2.2a7 (before Nov 16, 1994), OpenBSD 5.7 (Aug 30, 2014)
 
apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (Aug 30, 2014)
do not trim output to the terminal width
 
apropos, whatis: man-db (Aug 19, 2007)
only parse NAME sections
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
legacy mode: search Nm,Nd, no context or formatting
 
apropos: NetBSD (March 29, 2013)
list all manual pages matching name within the search path
 
man: illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
 
-M
override manual page search path
 
man: 4.3BSD (June 1986), Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, man-db, man-1.6, illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
apropos, whatis: 4.3BSD (June 1986), before man-db-2.2a14 (before Dec 16, 1994); OpenBSD, illumos
 
catman: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994); NetBSD (July 27, 1993), Solaris 9-11
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
prepend to macro file search path
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
do not show the context of the match
 
apropos: NetBSD (May 22, 2016)
 
 
-m
specify input macro language
 
nroff, troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 4.8 (April 6, 2009)
augment manual page search path
 
man, apropos, whatis: 4.3BSD-Reno (June 1990); OpenBSD, NetBSD
 
catman: NetBSD (Apr 4, 1999)
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
override operating system
 
man: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); man-db, man-1.6
 
apropos, whatis, manpath: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
override architecture
 
man: FreeBSD (Jan 11, 2002)
show the context of the match
 
apropos: NetBSD (May 22, 2016)
 
 
-N
do not allow newlines between eqn(7) delimiters
 
groff: groff-1.01 (Feb 21, 1991)
 
 
-n
specify a page number for the first page
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
nroff(1) output mode
 
man: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
do not create the whatis(1) database
 
catman: NetBSD (July 27, 1993)
print commands instead of executing them
 
catman: FreeBSD (May 18, 2002), Solaris 9-11
limit the number of results
 
apropos: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
dry run simulating mandoc.db(5) creation
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
 
 
-O
output options
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 4.8 (Oct 27, 2009)
 
man, apropos, whatis: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
 
 
-o
select pages by numbers
 
nroff, troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
force use of non-localized manual pages
 
man: FreeBSD (June 7, 1999)
optimize index for speed and disk space
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
 
 
-P
pass argument to postprocessor
 
groff: groff-0.6 (Sep 14, 1990)
use specified pager
 
man: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6
turn on pager formatting
 
apropos: NetBSD (Apr 2, 2013)
 
 
-p
preprocess with pic(1)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
use the given list of preprocessors
 
man: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6
dry run, display commands instead of executing them
 
catman: NetBSD (July 27, 1993), FreeBSD (March 15, 1995 to May 18, 2002), Solaris 9-11
print warnings when building mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 2.7 (April 23, 2000)
do not look for deleted manual pages
 
mandb: man-db (June 28, 2001)
print the search path for manual pages
 
man: NetBSD (June 14, 2011)
turn on pager formatting and pipe through pager
 
apropos: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
[obsolete hardware] set phototypesetter point size
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
 
-Q
print only fatal error messages
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Aug 29, 2012)
quick mode of mandoc.db(5) creation
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
 
 
-q
invoke the simultaneous input-output mode of the .rd request
 
nroff, troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
issue no warnings
 
manpath: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db
 
mandb: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
print only warnings and errors, no status updates
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Aug 29, 2012)
 
 
-R
postprocess with refer(1)
 
groff: groff-1.02 (June 2, 1991)
recode to the specified encoding
 
man: man-db (Dec 31, 2007)
 
 
-r
set number register
 
nroff, troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
scan for and remove junk files
 
catman: FreeBSD (March 31, 1995)
set less(1) prompt
 
man: man-db-2.3.5 (April 21, 1995)
use regular expression matching
 
apropos, whatis: man-db-2.3.5 (April 21, 1995)
turn off formatting
 
apropos: NetBSD (Feb 10, 2013)
check for formatting errors, do not display
 
man: illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
 
-S
manual section search list
 
man: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6
safer mode
 
groff: groff-1.10 (May 17, 1994)
restrict architecture
 
man: OpenBSD 2.3 (March 9, 1998), NetBSD (May 27, 2000)
 
apropos: OpenBSD 4.5 (Dec 24, 2008), NetBSD (May 8, 2009)
 
whatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
 
 
-s
preprocess with soelim(1)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
silent mode, do not echo commands
 
catman: NetBSD (April 26, 1994)
restrict section
 
makewhatis: man-1.5g (not before 1993, not after 1999)
 
man: OpenBSD 2.3 (March 9, 1998), NetBSD (June 12, 2000); illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
apropos: man-db (Nov 16, 2003), OpenBSD 4.5 (Dec 24, 2008), NetBSD (May 8, 2009); illumos
 
whatis: man-db (Nov 16, 2003), OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014); illumos
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
do not look for stray cats
 
mandb: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
[SysV compat, recommends -S] manual section search list
 
man: man-db (Jan 1, 2008)
[superseded by -h] display the SYNOPSIS lines only
 
man: PWB/UNIX 1.0 (July 1, 1977)
[obsolete hardware] pause before each page for paper manipulation
 
roff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
[obsolete hardware] troff(1) output mode, small format
 
man: AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983)
 
 
-T
select terminal output format
 
nroff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
man: AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983), man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994), OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 4.8 (April 6, 2009)
 
apropos, whatis: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
use UTF-8 for mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 5.6 (April 18, 2014)
[superseded by -m] use other macro package
 
man, catman: Solaris 9-11
 
 
-t
troff(1) output mode
 
man: PWB/UNIX 1.0 (July 1, 1977), Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979), 2BSD (May 10, 1979), AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983), Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db, man-1.6, illumos, Solaris 9-11
 
catman: Solaris 9-11
preprocess with tbl(7)
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
check manual pages in the hierarchy
 
mandb: man-db-1.3.12 to 1.3.17 (not before 1996, not after 2001)
check files for problems related to mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 2.7 (April 23, 2000)
 
 
-U
unsafe mode
 
groff: groff-1.12 (Dec 13, 1999)
 
 
-u
update database
 
makewhatis: (not before 1992, not after 1995)
create user databases only
 
mandb: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
update database cache (requires suid)
 
man: before man-db-2.2a10 (before Dec 6, 1994)
remove files from mandoc.db(5)
 
makewhatis: OpenBSD 3.4 (July 9, 2003)
 
 
-V
print the pipeline on stdout instead of executing it
 
groff: groff-0.6 (Sep 2, 1990)
print version information
 
man, apropos, whatis, mandb, catman, manpath: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
 
 
-v
print version number
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
verbose mode
 
catman: FreeBSD (March 15, 1995)
 
makewhatis: man-1.5g (not before 1993, not after 1999)
 
apropos, whatis: man-db (Dec 29, 2002)
print the name of every parsed file
 
makemandb: NetBSD (Feb 7, 2012)
[obsolete hardware] produce output on the Versatec printer
 
man: PWB/UNIX 1.0 (July 1, 1977)
 
 
-W
disable the named warning
 
groff: groff-0.5 (August 14, 1990)
list pathnames without additional information
 
man: man-1.5e (not before 1993, not after 1998)
list pathnames of cat files
 
man: man-db (Aug 13, 2002)
minimum message level to display
 
mandoc: OpenBSD 4.8 (April 6, 2009)
 
man, apropos, whatis: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
 
 
-w
list pathnames
 
man: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979), AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983), Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, man-db, man-1.6
 
apropos, whatis, mandoc: OpenBSD 5.7 (August 27, 2014)
enable the named warning
 
groff: groff-0.5 (August 14, 1990)
only create the whatis(1) database
 
catman: NetBSD (July 27, 1993), Solaris 9-11
use wildcard matching
 
apropos, whatis: man-db-2.3.5 (April 21, 1995)
use manpath obtained from man --path
 
makewhatis: man-1.5g (not before 1993, not after 1999)
update the whatis(1) database
 
man: illumos
[obsolete hardware] wait until the phototypesetter is available
 
troff: Version 7 AT&T UNIX (January 1979)
 
 
-X
display with gxditview(1)
 
groff: groff-1.06 (Sep 1, 1992)
 
man: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
 
 
-y
use the non-compacted version of the macros
 
man: AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983)
 
 
-Z
do not run preprocessors
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
man: man-db-2.2a5 (Nov 10, 1994)
 
 
-z
suppress formatted output from troff(1), print only error messages
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
 
-7
ASCII output mode
 
man: man-db-2.3.5 (April 21, 1995)
 
 
-?
print a help message and exit
 
groff: probably before groff-0.4 (before July 14, 1990)
 
man, manpath: Eaton (before July 7, 1993; 1990/91?); FreeBSD, man-db
 
apropos, whatis, mandb, catman: man-db probably before 2.2a4 (before Nov 8, 1994)
Multi-letter options:
 
 
-hp
[obsolete hardware] output to a Hewlett Packard terminal
 
man: PWB/UNIX 1.0 (July 1, 1977)
 
 
-12
[obsolete hardware] use 12-pitch for certain terminals
 
man: AT&T System III UNIX (June 1980), AT&T System V UNIX (January 1983)
 
 
-450
[obsolete hardware] output to a DASI 450 terminal
 
man: PWB/UNIX 1.0 (July 1, 1977)
In Version 3 AT&T UNIX, man(1) had no options.
 
The syntax was: man name [section]
In Version 4 AT&T UNIX,
 
the syntax changed to: man [section] [name ...]

AUTHORS

This information was assembled by Ingo Schwarze <schwarze@openbsd.org> using
July 4, 2017 OpenBSD 5.8