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I'm using emacs-shell. I'm sick of typing various commands like man and git diff which use a pager without me telling it to. I think this is influencable by the shell and I want to turn it off so I can use emacs as the pager.

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PAGER? –  Tom Apr 9 '12 at 18:40
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Emacs have already a man mode just M-x man and you can use magit git mode for emacs. there is a less implementation on emacswiki that can give you an idea for other pager based commands.

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You can set the environment variable PAGER to cat:

 (setenv "PAGER" "cat")
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