Whenever we use man command it opens the manual corresponding to the command(if exists). Operations on it are almost same as that of the less command(like search forward using / or backward using ? or browse forward using d etc). I am just curious whether man command internally invokes less command to display the manual contents?

2 Answers 2


By default, yes. This can be overridden via $PAGER and $MANPAGER in turn.


I would like to complement Ignacio's accepted answer.

Even the man utility has a manual that can be displayed by the man utility: man man.

The part answering your question:

Controlling formatted output

   -P pager, --pager=pager
          Specify which output pager to use.  By default, man uses less
          -s.  This option overrides the $MANPAGER environment variable,
          which in turn overrides the $PAGER environment variable.  It
          is not used in conjunction with -f or -k.

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