most: an alternative and powerful pager program

April 20th, 2007 edited by lucas

Entry submitted by Emmanuel Bouthenot. DPOTD needs your help, please contribute !

Most is a powerful “pager”, similar to more and less. It is written in C using the slang library. It can display:

  • compressed (bzip, gzip) files on the fly
  • manpages with fancy output
  • one or multiples files in windowed mode
  • arbitrary binary files


To use most as the default pager you can add this into your start-up user script (~/.bashrc, ~/.zshrc, etc.)

[ -x /usr/bin/most ] && export PAGER=most

You could also set it up to replace more and less:

[ -x /usr/bin/most ] && alias more=’most’ && alias less=’most’


Manpage view :
most - manpage view

Windowed view of compressed files :
most - Windowed view of compressed files

Binary file view:
most - Binary file view

Most has been available in Debian and Ubuntu for a long time now, and is well maintained.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

13 Responses

  1. bartman Says:

    This program has got the most bizarre set of keyboard combination of
    keyboard shortcuts. Some read like vi and some like emacs.

  2. Jbd Says:

    To configure most as your system-wide pager, you can use as root :

    update-alternatives –config pager and select most

  3. arno. Says:

    in /usr/share/doc/most/ , there is a configuration file lesskeys.rc that can used to get back most of less keyboard behaviour

  4. jam Says:

    Nice program - reads binary files and archives without asking any questions :). Thanks for this post, lucas!

  5. Rogg Says:

    Reminds me of Vern de Buergs ‘list’ for Dos and OS/2 from years ago.

  6. Mohammed Sameer Says:

    Nice one. Too bad it can’t handle debs. Will have to dig farther I guess

  7. jkohen Says:

    I added full UTF-8 support to most, but I’m not sure I agree with the assertion that it’s well maintained. I know upstream works on it every now and then, but the version in Debian/unstable, which I must say I use daily, is quite buggy and hasn’t changed since I last work on it over a year ago.

  8. Matthew Flaschen Says:

    Thanks. Colored man pages and on-the-fly decoding of compressed files are both great.

  9. Yaroslav Halhenko Says:

    unfortunately search seems to don’t care about regular expressions such as \W…

  10. Dnas Says:

    Hmm, aren’t most of the features of most (haha) covered by less?

    It’s got things like split windows over less, but the viewing of bzipped files, etc. are common to both.

    See “INPUT PREPROCESSOR” in less man page.

  11. Chris Says:

    For colourful manual pages add these to your ~/.bashrc:

    export PAGER=’/usr/bin/most -s’
    export BROWSER=’/usr/bin/most -s’

    I find it somewhat easier on the eyes to read long manual pages this way.

  12. jishin Says:

    You can give MOST use LESS-alike keybindins which is great.

    I put instructions here

  13. Kevin Mitchell Says:

    The lesskeys.rc file doesn’t contain bindings for HOME and END.

    setkey bob “^[[7~”
    setkey eob “^[[8~”
    in my ~/.mostrc worked for me