MANSEARCH(3) Library Functions Manual MANSEARCH(3)


mansearchsearch manual page databases


#include <stdint.h>
#include <manconf.h>
#include <mansearch.h>
mansearch(const struct mansearch *search, const struct manpaths *paths, int argc, char *argv[], struct manpage **res, size_t *sz);


The mansearch() function returns information about manuals matching a search query from a mandoc.db(5) database.
The query arguments are as follows:
const struct mansearch *search
Search options, defined in <mansearch.h>.
const struct manpaths *paths
Directories to be searched, defined in <manconf.h>.
int argc, char *argv[]
Search criteria, usually taken from the command line.
The output arguments are as follows:
struct manpage **res
Returns a pointer to an array of result structures defined in <mansearch.h>. The user is expected to call free(3) on the file, names, and output fields of all structures, as well as the res array itself.
size_t *sz
Returns the number of result structures contained in res.


For each manual page tree, the search is done in two steps. In the first step, a list of pages matching the search criteria is built. In the second step, the requested information about these pages is retrieved from the database and assembled into the res array.
All function mentioned here are defined in the file mansearch.c.

Finding matches

Command line parsing is done by the function exprcomp() building a singly linked list of expr structures, using the helper functions expr_and() and exprterm().

Assembling the results

The names, sections, and architectures of the manuals found are assembled into the names field of the result structure by the function buildnames().


The manual page database.


apropos(1), mandoc.db(5), makewhatis(8)


The mansearch() subsystem first appeared in OpenBSD 5.6.


A module to search manual page databases was first written by Kristaps Dzonsons <> in 2011, at first using the Berkeley DB; he rewrote it for SQLite3 in 2012, and Ingo Schwarze <> removed the dependency on SQLite3 in 2016.
March 30, 2017 OpenBSD 5.8