Can you please indicate me how do you find programs in the terminal without knowing the exact name?

As far as I remember, there was a command line tool that helps the user to find out other programs / command line tools associated to some key words. For example I am logged in an unknown system and I want to open a pdf, I don't know what pdf reader is installed and hence cannot open the pdf from the command line. I thought there was a command line tool that I can call with some keyword, say "pdf" and it shows me for example 7 programs that are in some way associated with "pdf", say mupdf, etc.

Or how do you do when you don't know the system you're working on or if you forgot what you installed?

I searched on google but always landed on something like How to find application's path from command line? which is not what I am asking.



I think about apropos:

From man:

apropos - search the manual page names and descriptions


$ apropos pdf
dvipdf (1)           - Convert TeX DVI file to PDF using ghostscript and dvips
evince-thumbnailer (1) - create png thumbnails from PostScript and PDF documents
fix-qdf (1)          - repair PDF files in QDF form after editing
ghostscript (1)      - Ghostscript (PostScript and PDF language interpreter and previewer)
gs (1)               - Ghostscript (PostScript and PDF language interpreter and previewer)
gsnd (1)             - Run ghostscript (PostScript and PDF engine) without display
pdf2dsc (1)          - generate a PostScript page list of a PDF document
pdf2ps (1)           - Ghostscript PDF to PostScript translator
pdfdetach (1)        - Portable Document Format (PDF) document embedded file extractor (version 3.03)
pdffonts (1)         - Portable Document Format (PDF) font analyzer (version 3.03)
pdfimages (1)        - Portable Document Format (PDF) image extractor (version 3.03)
pdfinfo (1)          - Portable Document Format (PDF) document information extractor (version 3.03)
pdfseparate (1)      - Portable Document Format (PDF) page extractor
pdftocairo (1)       - Portable Document Format (PDF) to PNG/JPEG/TIFF/PDF/PS/EPS/SVG using cairo
pdftohtml (1)        - program to convert PDF files into HTML, XML and PNG images
pdftoppm (1)         - Portable Document Format (PDF) to Portable Pixmap (PPM) converter (version 3.03)
pdftops (1)          - Portable Document Format (PDF) to PostScript converter (version 3.03)
pdftotext (1)        - Portable Document Format (PDF) to text converter (version 3.03)
pdfunite (1)         - Portable Document Format (PDF) page merger
ps2ascii (1)         - Ghostscript translator from PostScript or PDF to ASCII
ps2pdf (1)           - Convert PostScript to PDF using ghostscript
ps2pdf12 (1)         - Convert PostScript to PDF 1.2 (Acrobat 3-and-later compatible) using ghostscript
ps2pdf13 (1)         - Convert PostScript to PDF 1.3 (Acrobat 4-and-later compatible) using ghostscript
ps2pdf14 (1)         - Convert PostScript to PDF 1.4 (Acrobat 5-and-later compatible) using ghostscript
ps2pdfwr (1)         - Convert PostScript to PDF without specifying CompatibilityLevel, using ghostscript
qpdf (1)             - PDF transformation software
snmpdf (1)           - display disk space usage on a network entity via SNMP
  • 3
    Note that this seems to do exactly the same as man -k pdf mentioned in the comments. – Mark Perryman Jan 13 '17 at 13:08
  • @MarkPerryman: probably because, as the man page for man says at least on Linux, '-k / Equivalent to apropos'. – dave_thompson_085 Jan 13 '17 at 15:43

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