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Linux and Unix more command tutorial with examples

Tutorial on using more, a UNIX and Linux command for viewing the contents of a file or files one screen at a time. Examples of viewing a file, viewing multiple files, searching using regular expressions and opening the file in a text editor.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Table of contents

Terminal showing more man page

What is the more command in UNIX?

The more command is a command line utility for viewing the contents of a file or files once screen at a time. It supports navigating forwards and backwards through a file and is primarily used for viewing the contents of a file. It also supports searching for strings or regular expressions and opening the file at the current point in a text editor.

How to view the contents of a file

To view the contents of a file pass the name of the file to more. This will open the file in more at the start of the file and fit the first page within the screen size available.

more /usr/share/dict/british
A
a
AA
AAA
Aachen
--More--(0%)

The line at the bottom shows that the file is being viewed within the more program. As more moves through the file the percentage value on the bottom line will also update reflecting how far through the file the current page is.

How to view the contents of multiple files

To view the contents of multiple files using more pass the names of the files or a pattern to the more command. This will open a buffer for each file and show the first file. A banner is shown to indicate the file being shown.

more /usr/share/dict/*
::::::::::::::
/usr/share/dict/american-english
::::::::::::::
A

To move to the next file press :n. This moves the viewer to the start of the next file.

::::::::::::::
/usr/share/dict/british
::::::::::::::
A
a

To move back a file press :p. This moves to the start of the previous file.

How to navigate within more

To move forward a page within more the SPACE key may be used. Additionally the z key may be used. This moves forward a page based on the current screen size.

To move forward one line press the RETURN key. Optionally a number n may be pressed before the RETURN key to move forward by n lines.

To move backwards by a page press b or CTRL-B. Some versions of more support moving backwards by one line with the k key but your mileage may vary here.

How to open a file at a line number

To open a file at a line number pass the + option along with a line number

more +2654 /usr/share/dict/british

The more viewer will open at line 2654.

To open a file at the first occurrence of a search string pass the + option followed by a search pattern. The search pattern should begin with a / and can be a regular expression.

more +/^eat /usr/share/dict/british

The pager will move to the first occurrence of the search pattern.

How to search within more

To search within more press the / key followed by the phrase to be searched for. The search pattern accepts regular expressions. The following searches for the phrase ‘eat’. This will search lines for instances of the phrases and scroll the page to the first occurrence.

more /usr/share/dict/british
/eat

In this file the first occurrence is the word ‘aleatory’. To search for words starting with ‘eat’ a regular expression may be used.

more /usr/share/dict/british
/^eat

Now the word ‘eat’ is found.

To search for the next occurrence of a regular expresssion press the n key.

more /usr/share/dict/british
/eat
# first match is aleatory
# press 'n'
# second match is amphitheatre

How to display the file that more is viewing

To display the file that more is viewing press :f. The file will be shown at the bottom along with the current position in the file.

more /usr/share/dict/british :f “/usr/share/dict/british” line 34298

How to edit a file being viewed with more

To edit a file being viewed with more press v. This will launch the text editor that is set in the $EDITOR shell variable at the line being viewed. Once the file is save it returns to the more viewer. If no $EDITOR variable is found vi will be used.

To understand what the editor variable is echo it at a shell prompt. In the following example it is vim.

echo $EDITOR
vim

If the $EDITOR variable is not set or is set incorrectly it may be set temporarily as follows.

export EDITOR=vim

To set the $EDITOR variable permanently add the following to your .bashrc file if you are using bash or .zshrc file if you are using zsh.

export EDITOR=vim

Getting help within more

To access the help menu press h within more.

How to exit more

To exit from more press q or Q. This returns you to the terminal prompt.

Further reading

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