The less manpage says you can use CtrlLeft and CtrlRight to move the cursor by one word when performing line editing (e.g. entering a search string):

     (That is, CONTROL and LEFTARROW simultaneously.)  Move the
     cursor one word to the left.

When I try this, it instead enters the printed representation of the control sequence my terminal sent. CtrlLeft enters ESC[1;5D and Ctrl-Right enters ESC[1;5C.

My terminal is configured to send ^[[1;5D and ^[[1;5C for CtrlLeft and CtrlRight, respectively, and I put this in my ~/.inputrc so Readline would perform word-wise jumps when I'm in the shell (Bash),

# Ctrl-Left
"\033[1;5D": backward-word
# Ctrl-Right
"\033[1;5C": forward-word

Presumably less is expecting some different control sequence? I'm a little hesitant to change the escape sequences my terminal is sending just to satisfy less, for fear it would trip up Vim or Readline, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

1 Answer 1


Configure less's key bindings so that the sequence \e[1;5D runs word-left and \e[1;5C runs `word-right.

In the file ~/.lesskey, add

\e[1;5D    word-left
\e[1;5C    word-right

If there is already a #line-edit section, add the requisite lines.

Then run lesskey. This companion program transforms ~/.lesskey (in human-readable syntax) into the binary format ~/.less that less uses.

  • Slight correction: at least on my version of Less, I had to put these bindings in the line-edit section (rather than command), or lesskey would complain.
    – ivan
    Jun 21, 2017 at 2:24

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