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. The question Isn't less just more? mentions 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
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    it seems less can't perform color. Run ls | less and I get something unreadable. – Chongxu Ren Jun 29 '13 at 13:10
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    @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. – user26112 Jun 29 '13 at 13:12
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    @EvanTeitelman: Thanks, that worked, I didn't add -R to less. – Chongxu Ren Jun 29 '13 at 13:21
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    most works more or less like more and less - FTFY. – sampathsris Sep 26 '17 at 7:01


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.

See less FAQs for more details: http://www.greenwoodsoftware.com/less/faq.html


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
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    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
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    @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
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    @JonasWielicki done: unix.stackexchange.com/questions/271251/… – kirushik Mar 21 '16 at 13:51
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    Just wait til you see notquite – vol7ron Jun 22 '17 at 2:04

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. – Jan Warchoł Mar 9 '16 at 10:18
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    FWIW, less --version gives me: less 458 (GNU regular expressions) Copyright (C) 1984-2012 Mark Nudelman – Jan Warchoł Mar 9 '16 at 10:20

more, less and most are a terminal pagers or paging programs used to view the contents of text file.

more: more is a very basic,oldest and popular pager. more is originally allowing only forward navigation through a file, though newer implementations do allow for limited backward movement. i.e. more can move forwards and backwards in text files but cannot move backwards in pipes.

less: less is a more advanced pager that allows movement forward and backward, and contains extra functions such as search. less does not have to read the entire input file before starting, so with large input files it starts up faster than text editors like vi.

most: less is more than more, most is more than less. Whereas the other pagers can only display one file at a time, most is capable of viewing any number of files,

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