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



apropos .


man -k .

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

  • 3
    Also handy: apropos -s 1 . to limit it to section 1 (user commands), for example. 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). Nov 5 '10 at 20:42
  • neither of those work in cygwin for me
    – Wyatt Ward
    Jun 18 '16 at 22:03
$ man -k . -s <section-NR>

For example to show all section 2 pages:

$ man -k . -s 2
  • I was hoping man 2 -k '.' would work as well. But it doesn't 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
  • This answer is definitely more useful
    – Lucius Hu
    Jun 18 '19 at 7:14
  • Specifying the section number doesn’t work for me. Jul 8 '19 at 20:14

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 .
# 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}'
  • 1
    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
  • @cYrus or just modify it to man -k . | awk '{print $1,$2}' to keep the section
    – villapx
    Apr 11 '18 at 13:17

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

  • 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
  • 1
    @psihodelia: On my system it's /etc/manpath.config and $MANPATH is null. Nov 5 '10 at 16:24

On macOS, you can use

man -k .


apropos .


whatis .

However, on macOS, the man -k, apropos and whatis commands do not support filtering by section.

So, you can use the following pipeline to do that

man -k . | grep \(1\) | less

You can replace 1 with the manual section of your choice.

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