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Is it possible for less output to set the tab width to a number X as it is for cat?

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You don't need to change the tabs length setting to output a file with reduced tab size. Just use expand instead of cat, like so: expand -4 residuum.txt. – dotancohen Jul 30 '14 at 16:49
up vote 33 down vote accepted

Yes, it is possible with less -x or less --tabs, e.g. less -x4 will set the tabwidth to 4.

You can configure defaults with the LESS environment variable, e.g. LESS="-x4".

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Thanks for your fast response! Didn't find the option. I'll accept your answer as soon as it is possible :)! – polym Jul 30 '14 at 14:32

The less-specific answer has already been given, but a generic solution (for any pager) is to expand the tabs (with space characters) with the expand command before feeding to the pager:

expand -t4 file | pager
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Ah ok :), good to know! Works like a charm. – polym Jul 30 '14 at 14:37

Instead of setting the tab width in command line (before you open less). You can also set the tab width within less by typing -x4

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