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How to generate a list of all available man pages on a system?

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type "man man" it will set you free. – Chris Nov 5 '10 at 13:52

5 Answers 5

up vote 19 down vote accepted


apropos .


man -k .

where . is a regex that means: "any character".

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Also handy: apropos -s 1 . to limit it to section 1 (user commands), for example. – Dennis Williamson Nov 5 '10 at 16:19
I was going to suggest looking at how bash and zsh provide completion, but this is a lot simpler (less portable though, as not all systems accept a regexp as the argument to apropos). – Gilles Nov 5 '10 at 20:42

Here's my favourite:

whatis -r .

… and if you just want to see all the man pages in a particular section use the -s flag.

For example, if you just wanted to get a list of all man pages for all executable commands (section 1):

whatis -s 1 -r .
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# Shell script to list pathname of all available man pages  
mandirs="\`man -w | sed 's/:/ /g'\`"  
find $mandirs -type f  

This produces a list of all man files, using the list of man directories that is produced by "man -w", however, cYrus's any-character-regex solution is much better, pipe though awk to get a clean list of just the page names:

apropos . | awk '{print $1}'


man -k . | awk '{print $1}'
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That way you'll loose the man section and thus create duplicates. For the latter pipe through sort -u. – cYrus Nov 5 '10 at 14:54
$ man -k . -s <section-NR>

For example to show all section 2 pages:

$ man -k . -s 2
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I was hoping man 2 -k '.' would work as well. But it doesn't – abc Aug 7 '14 at 22:45
Try again and specify the section after option -k as indicated above ... – Aaron Sep 11 '14 at 15:17

Look in the paths listed in /etc/man.config, with the additional directories as added by the FHS or FSSTND directive as appropriate.

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And then? I think it's better to read paths from MANPATH variable. But it's awful, because there is a huge number of subdirs and it contains different file extensions like 1 or gz. By the way, many systems have no man.config in /etc – psihodelia Nov 5 '10 at 13:43
@psihodelia: On my system it's /etc/manpath.config and $MANPATH is null. – Dennis Williamson Nov 5 '10 at 16:24

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