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In my research it sounds like less is a console only program and isn't going to be accepting mouse events any time soon. gnome-terminal appears to have an interesting feature when you're on an alternate screen (like when you less on a file). It maps scrolling up and down to Up Arrow and Down Arrow respectively. This makes it look like less is reacting to the scroll wheel (and it is with the terminal's translation).

So I'm wondering if it's at all possible to have this sort of "alternate screen"-only mappings within xterm?

My end game is to be able to use the scroll wheel in less and preferably I'd like to not have to modify the less source or xterm source. I guess I could be convinced to switch terminals, but I wanted to find out if it would be possible with xterm and this seemed like it could maybe be feasible?

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Consider colas.nahaboo.net/mouse-wheel-scroll/#xterm –  Dan D. Dec 7 '13 at 4:49

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