packages icon

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

      most - browse or page through a text file

      most [ -1 ] [ -b ] [ -C ] [ -c ] [ -d ] [ -M ] [ -r ] [ -s ] [ -t ] [
      -u ] [ -v ] [ -w ] [ -z ] [ +/string ] [ +line-number ] [ +d ] [ +s ] [
      +u ] [ file... ]

      most is a paging program that displays, one windowful at a time, the
      contents of a file on a terminal.  It pauses after each windowful and
      prints on the window status line the screen the file name, current
      line number, and the percentage of the file so far displayed.

      Unlike other paging programs, most is capable of displaying an
      arbitrary number of windows as long as each window occupies at least
      two screen lines.  Each window may contain the same file or a
      different file.  In addition, each window has its own mode.  For
      example, one window may display a file with its lines wrapped while
      another may be truncating the lines. Windows may be `locked' together
      in the sense that if one of the locked windows scrolls, all locked
      windows will scroll.  most is also capable of ignoring lines that are
      indented beyond a user specified value.  This is useful when viewing
      computer programs to pick out gross features of the code.  See the
      `:o' command for a description of this feature.

      In addition to displaying ordinary text files, most can also display
      binary files as well as files with arbitrary ascii characters.  When a
      file is read into a buffer, most examines the first 32 bytes of the
      file to determine if the file is a binary file and then switches to
      the appropriate mode.  However, this feature may be disabled with the
      -k option.  See the description of the -b, -k, -v, and -t options for
      further details.

      Text files may contain combinations of underscore and backspace
      characters causing a printer to underline or overstrike.  When most
      recognizes this, it inserts the appropriate escape sequences to
      achieve the desired effect.  In addition, some files cause the printer
      to overstrike some characters by embedding carriage return characters
      in the middle of a line.  When this occurs, most displays the
      overstruck character with a bold attribute.  This feature facilitates
      the reading of UNIX man pages or a document produced by runoff.  In
      particular, viewing this document with most should illustrate this
      behavior provided that the underline characters have not been
      stripped.  This may be turned off with the -v option.

      By default, lines with more characters than the terminal width are not
      wrapped but are instead truncated. When truncation occurs, this is
      indicated by a `$' in the far right column of the terminal screen.
      The RIGHT and LEFT arrow keys may be used to view lines which extend

                                    - 1 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

      past the margins of the screen.  The -w option may be used to override
      this feature.  When a window is wrapped, the character `\' will appear
      at the right edge of the window.

      Commands are listed below.

      most has supported both 256-color and 24 bit truecolor terminals since
      version 5.2.  Not all terminals are capable of generating arbitrary 24
      bit colors. If your terminal supports 24 bit colors, but most does not
      detect it, then set the environment variable


      to force 24 bit truecolors to be used.

      -1   VT100 mode.  This is meaningful only on VMS systems.  This option
           should be used if the terminal is strictly a VT100.  This implies
           that the terminal does not have the ability to delete and insert
           multiple lines.  VT102s and above have this ability.

      -b   Binary mode.  Use this switch when you want to view files
           containing 8 bit characters.  most will display the file 16 bytes
           per line in hexadecimal notation. A typical line looks like:

              01000000 40001575 9C23A020 4000168D     ....@..u.#. @...

           When used with the -v option, the same line looks like:

              ^A^@^@^@  @^@^U u 9C #A0    @^@^V8D     ....@..u.#. @...

      -C   Disable color support.

      -c   Make searches case-sensitive

      -d   Omit the backslash mark used to denote a wrapped line.

      -M   Disable the use of mmap.

      -r   Default to using regexp searches

      -s   Squeeze-mode.  Replace multiple blank lines with a single blank

      -t   Display tabs as ^I.  If this option is immediately followed by an
           integer, the integer sets the tab width, e.g., -t4

      -u   Disable UTF-8 mode even if the locale dictates it

                                    - 2 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

      +u   Force UTF-8 mode.  By default most will use the current locale to
           determine if UTF-8 mode should be used.  The +u and -u switches
           allow the behavior to be overridden

      -v   Display control characters as in `^A' for control A.  Normally
           most does not interpret control characters.

      -w   Wrap lines

      -z   Disable gunzip-on-the-fly

           Start up at the line containing the first occurrence of string

           Start up at the specified line-number

      +d   This switch should only be used if you want the option to delete
           a file while viewing it.  This makes it easier to clean unwanted
           files out of a directory. The file is deleted with the
           interactive key sequence `:D' and then confirming with `y'.

      +s   Secure Mode-- no edit, cd, shell, and reading files not already
           listed on the command line.

      The commands take effect immediately; it is not necessary to type a
      carriage return.  In the following commands, i is a numerical argument
      (1 by default).

           Display another windowful, or jump i windowfuls if i is

           Display another line, or i more lines, if specified.

      UP_ARROW, ^, CTRL-P
           Display previous line, or i previous lines, if specified.

      T, ESCAPE<
           Move to top of buffer.

      B, ESCAPE>
           Move to bottom of buffer.

           Scroll window left 60i columns to view lines that are beyond the
           right margin of the window.

                                    - 3 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

           Scroll window right 60i columns to view lines that are beyond the
           left margin of the window.

           Skip back i windowfuls and then print a windowful.

      R, CTRL-R
           Redraw the window.

      J, G If  i  is  not  specified, then prompt for a line number then
           jump to that line otherwise just jump to line i.

      %    If i is not specified, then prompt for a percent number then jump
           to that percent of the file otherwise just jump to i percent of
           the file.

      W, w If  the  current  screen  width  is 80, make it 132 and vice-
           versa.  For other values, this command is ignored.

           Exit from most.  On VMS, ^Z also exits.

      h, CTRL-H, HELP, PF2
           Help.  Give a description of all the most commands.  The most
           environment variable MOST_HELP must be set for this to be

      f, /, CTRL-F, FIND, GOLD PF3
           Prompt  for  a  string  and search forward from the current line
           for ith distinct line containing the string.  CTRL-G aborts.

      ?    Prompt for a string and search backward for the ith distinct line
           containing the string.  CTRL-G aborts.

      n    Search for the next i lines containing an occurrence of the last
           search string in the direction of the previous search.

           Set a mark on the current line for later reference.

           Set a mark on the current line but return to previous mark.  This
           allows the user to toggle back and forth between two positions in
           the file.

      l, L Toggle locking for this window.  The window is locked if there is
           a `*' at the left edge of the status line.  Windows locked
           together, scroll together.

                                    - 4 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

      CTRL-X 2, CTRL-W 2, GOLD X
           Split this window in half.

           Move to other window.

      CTRL-X 0, CTRL-W 0, GOLD V
           Delete this window.

      CTRL-X 1, CTRL-W 1, GOLD O
           Delete all other windows, leaving only one window.

      E, e Edit this file.

      $, ESC $
           This is system dependent.  On VMS, this causes most to spawn a
           subprocess.  When the user exits the process, most is resumed.
           On UNIX systems, most simply suspends itself.

      :n   Skip to the next filename given in the command line.  Use the
           arrow keys to scroll forward or backward through the file list.
           `Q' quits most and any other key selects the given file.

      :c   Toggle case sensitive search.

      :D   Delete current file.  This command is only meaningful with the +d

      :o, :O
           Toggle various options.  With this key sequence, most displays a
           prompt asking the user to hit one of: bdtvw.  The `b', `t', `v',
           and `w' options have the same meaning as the command line
           switches.  For example, the `w' option will toggle wrapping on
           and off for the current window.

           The `d' option must be used with a prefix integer i.  All lines
           indented beyond i columns will not be displayed.  For example,
           consider the fragment:

    int main(int argc, char **argv)
                int i;
                for (i = 0; i < argc, i++)
                    fprintf(stdout,"%i: %s\n",i,argv[i]);
                return 0;
           The key sequence `1:od' will cause most to display the file
           ignoring all lines indented beyond the first column.  So for the
           example above, most would display:

                                    - 5 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

              int main(int argc, char **argv)...
           where the `...' indicates lines that follow are not displayed.

      CTRL-G aborts the commands requiring the user to type something in at
      a prompt.  The back-quote key has a special meaning here.  It is used
      to quote certain characters.  This is useful when search for the
      occurrence of a string with a control character or a string at the
      beginning of a line.  In the latter case, to find the occurrence of
      `The' at the beginning of a line, enter `^JThe where ` quotes the

      most uses the following environment variables:

           This  variable  sets  commonly used switches.  For example, some
           people prefer to use most with the -s option so that excess blank
           lines are not displayed.  On VMS this is normally done done in
           the through the line:

    $ define MOST_SWITCHES "-s"

           Either  of  these environment variables specify an editor for
           most to invoke to edit a file. The value can contain %s and %d
           formatting descriptors that represent the file name and line
           number, respectively.  For example, if JED is your editor, then
           set MOST_EDITOR to 'jed %s -g %d'.

           This variable may be used to specify an alternate help file.

           Set this variable to specify the initialization file to load
           during startup.  The default action is to load the system
           configuration file and then a personal configuration file called
           .mostrc on Unix, and most.rc on other systems.

      When most starts up, it tries to read a system configuration file and
      then a personal configuration file. These files may be used to specify
      key-bindings and colors.

      To bind a key to a particular function use the syntax:

          setkey function-name key-sequence

                                    - 6 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

      The setkey command requires two arguments.  The function-name argument
      specifies the function that is to be executed as a response to the
      keys specified by the key-sequence argument are pressed.  For example,

          setkey   "up"     "^P"

      indicates that when Ctrl-P is pressed then the function up is to be

      Sometimes, it is necessary to first unbind a key-sequence before
      rebinding it in order via the unsetkey function:

          unsetkey "^F"

      Colors may be defined through the use of the color keyword in the the
      configuration file using the syntax:


      Here, OBJECT-NAME can be any one of the following items:

           status           -- the status line
           underline        -- underlined text
           overstrike       -- overstruck text
           normal           -- anything else

      See the sample configuration files for more information.

      Almost all of the known bugs or limitations of most are due to a
      desire to read and interpret control characters in files.  One problem
      concerns the use of backspace characters to underscore or overstrike
      other characters.  most makes an attempt to use terminal escape
      sequences to simulate this behavior.  One side effect is the one does
      not always get what one expects when scrolling right and left through
      a file.  When in doubt, use the -v and -b options of most.

      The regular-expression searches may fail to find strings that involve
      backspace/underscore used for highlighting.  The regular-expression
      syntax is described in the S-Lang Library documentation.

      John E. Davis <>

      Over the years, many people have contributed to most in one way or
      another, e.g., via code patches, bug-fixes, comments, or criticisms.
      I am particularly grateful to the very early adopters of the program
      who took a chance with a fledgling software project headed by someone
      learning the underlying language.  These include:

                                    - 7 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024

 MOST(1)                                                             MOST(1)
                                30 July 2022

      Mats Akerberg, Henk D. Davids, Rex O. Livingston, and Mark Pizzolato
      contributed to the early VMS versions of most.  In particular, Mark
      worked on it to get it ready for DECUS.

      Foteos Macrides adapted most for use in cswing and gopher.  A few
      features of the present version of most was inspired from his work.

      I am grateful to Robert Mills for re-writing the search routines to
      use regular expressions.

      Sven Oliver Moll came up with the idea of automatic detection of
      zipped files.

      I would also like to thank Shinichi Hama for his valuable criticisms
      of most.

      Javier Kohen was instrumental in the support for UTF-8.

      Thanks to David W. Sanderson for adapting the early documentation to
      nroff man page source format.

                                    - 8 -      Formatted:  February 28, 2024