What are the differences between most, more and less?

  • I'm now using Arch Linux, and find a command most works like more and less. To understand the differences between them is a confusing problem. The question Isn't less just more? mentions the differences between less and more. Do you know the differences on color performance, shortcuts and ability moving forward and backward?

    according to the man page it's pretty much like `less` but can do multiple windows

    it seems `less` can't perform color. Run `ls | less` and I get something unreadable.

    @MaxfanZone: Try `ls --color=yes | less -R`. `ls` usually disables its text coloring when it's piping to something. `less` needs `-R` to pass ANSI escape characters to the screen or `-r` to pass escape all characters to the screen.

    @EvanTeitelman: Thanks, that worked, I didn't add -R to less.

    In the special case of the man command, you can set the PAGER environment variable to any one of these pagers or to anything else that works to use as the pager for man pages. Here's one I wrote that uses your favorite browser as a pager so you don't have to use a new set of key bindings. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/54584985/kman

    **`most` works *more* *or* *less* like `more` and `less`** - FTFY.

    **TL;DR** use `less` because `more` is useless.

    Of course there is also `pg`.

  • Correct answer

    7 years ago


    more is an old utility. When the text passed to it is too large to fit on one screen, it pages it. You can scroll down but not up.

    Some systems hardlink more to less, providing users with a strange hybrid of the two programs that looks like more and quits at the end of the file like more but has some less features such as backwards scrolling. This is a result of less's more compatibility mode. You can enable this compatibility mode temporarily with LESS_IS_MORE=1 less ....

    more passes raw escape sequences by default. Escape sequences tell your terminal which colors to display.


    less was written by a man who was fed up with more's inability to scroll backwards through a file. He turned less into an open source project and over time, various individuals added new features to it. less is massive now. That's why some small embedded systems have more but not less. For comparison, less's source is over 27000 lines long. more implementations are generally only a little over 2000 lines long.

    In order to get less to pass raw escape sequences, you have to pass it the -r flag. You can also tell it to only pass ANSI escape characters by passing it the -R flag.

    See less FAQs for more details: http://www.greenwoodsoftware.com/less/faq.html


    most is supposed to be more than less. It can display multiple files at a time. By default, it truncates long lines instead of wrapping them and provides a left/right scrolling mechanism. most's website has no information about most's features. Its manpage indicates that it is missing at least a few less features such as log-file writing (you can use tee for this though) and external command running.

    By default, most uses strange non-vi-like keybindings. man most | grep '\<vi.?\>' doesn't return anything so it may be impossible to put most into a vi-like mode.

    most has the ability to decompress gunzip-compressed files before reading. Its status bar has more information than less's.

    most passes raw escape sequences by default.

    My head... all these double-entendres...

    “`less` is more, but more `more` than `more` is, so `more` is less `less`, so use more `less` if you want less `more`. (...) If `less` is more than `more`, `most` is more than `less`.” —Slackware Linux Essentials

    @AlberteRomero LOL

    @AlberteRomero That's it, more or less, at least most-ly,. LOL I really like the horizonital scroll in most.

    I just tried `most` because it colours man pages nicely, however I don't think it supports regular expression searches. Also, having to mess around with a `~.mostrc` file to get *vi-like* keybindings leaves me wanting `less`. Sometimes `less` is `more` than `most` :)

    Just wait til you see `notquite`

    @J.A.Corbal Fantastic. I was reading this in public and could not stop laughing. No one around me would get it. So I just kept laughing `more`.

    @J.A.Corbal this makes a lot more sense thanks to your `code highlighting`

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