When searching for terms in less, I'd like to see lines above and below a search result. Can less be configured to do this?

Simple less usage is: - Open file - Search by typing "/" - Move to new search matches with "n" But each match is shown on the first line of the terminal. You can not see the lines that came just before a search result without moving the view back a few lines. It's tedious to do that as you skim through a file.


You can use the -j option. From within less, type - then j then enter a number of lines below the top of the screen for the target line to be displayed (e.g. 12).

You can start less using this option:

less -j12

or set the LESS environment variable to include it:

export LESS=-j12

My $LESS is:


You can include setting the environment variable in your ~/.bashrc file to make it persistent.

  • 28
    -j.5 causes "middle of screen". Mar 15 '11 at 0:26

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