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Is there an easy way to turn off all styling on man pages? Colors, bold, italics, everything... If not, what is an uneasy way?

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Weird, all the answers work for Ubuntu, but not Gentoo... –  phunehehe May 27 '11 at 5:58
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3 Answers 3

man's output is formatted by groff, and more specifically the last step is post-processing by grotty, which is responsible for turning the device-independent output of groff into something that can be displayed on a terminal.

So, the easiest option is to force grotty to use the simplest tty available, with no fancy formatting capabilities, that is the "dumb" terminal:

env TERM=dumb man ping
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Like I said, I didn't spend long ;-). This is much better, but I would enhance it with PAGER="less -d" TERM=dumb man ping. –  bahamat May 16 '11 at 15:47
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At least with the default Ubuntu setup (this may vary between man implementations), man generates control characters only if its standard output is connected to a terminal (even with TERM=dumb). So pipe its output manually into your pager (or into a file).

man man | less
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Granted, I didn't spend long trying this, but the only way I found works, but also disables any type of pagination*.

export PAGER=cat
man man

Or,

PAGER=cat man man

Or create a bash function in your .bash_profile,

function boringman()
{
    PAGER=cat man $*
}

However, depending on your terminal settings this might not work for you.

If you wanted to get really fancy, you can combine man2html, lynx and more or less. Set PAGER to something like man2html --some --options | lynx -stdin -dump | less --some --options. I don't know enough about man2thml to describe correctly how to do it, so I'll leave that as an exercise for you. It's a little overkill, but you get pagination.

*The control characters are actually preserved, just not displayed. Piping this output through more or less proves the point.

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