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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. This Question has mentioned the differences between less and more. Do you know the differences on color performance, shortcuts and ability moving forward and backward?

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according to the man page it's pretty much like less but can do multiple windows – Bratchley Jun 29 '13 at 12:53
it seems less can't perform color. Run ls | less and I get something unreadable. – Maxfan Zone Jun 29 '13 at 13:10
@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. – Evan Teitelman Jun 29 '13 at 13:12
@EvanTeitelman: Thanks, that worked, I didn't add -R to less. – Maxfan Zone Jun 29 '13 at 13:21
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. dl.dropbox.com/u/54584985/kman – Joe Jul 5 '13 at 20:59
up vote 95 down vote accepted


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.


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.

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My head... all these double-entendres... – Wutaz Jun 29 '13 at 17:34
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 – J. A. Corbal Jun 30 '13 at 20:22
@AlberteRomero LOL – Barranka Jul 5 '13 at 17:39
@AlberteRomero That's it, more or less, at least most-ly,. LOL I really like the horizonital scroll in most. – Joe Jul 5 '13 at 20:39
Just for the sake of completeness — most can be put in vi-like mode, it's just called less-like. There should be lesskeys.rc file in the most sources (and it comes shipped in most most packages) — just copy it into ~/.mostrc file, and you're done. – kirushik Jan 26 '15 at 20:36

Short answer:

Just use less and forget about more

Longer version:

more is old utility

You can't browse step wise with more, you can use space to browse page wise, or enter line by line, that is about it.

less is more + more additional features

You can browse page wise, line wise both up and down, search

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If "more" is lacking for you and you know a few vi commands use "less" – Jonathan.Brink Aug 9 '15 at 20:38

There is one single application whereby I prefer more to less:

To check my LATEST modified log files (in /var/log/), I use ls -AltF | more.

While 'less' deletes the screen after exiting with 'q', 'more' leaves those files and directories listed by 'ls' on the screen, sparing me memorizing their names for examination.

(Should anybody know a parameter or configuration enabling 'less' to keep it's text after exiting, that would render this post obsolete.)

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The parameter you want is -X (long form: --no-init). From less' manpage: Disables sending the termcap initialization and deinitialization strings to the terminal. This is sometimes desirable if the deinitialization string does something unnecessary, like clearing the screen. – Janek Warchoł Mar 9 at 10:18
FWIW, less --version gives me: less 458 (GNU regular expressions) Copyright (C) 1984-2012 Mark Nudelman – Janek Warchoł Mar 9 at 10:20

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