How can I enable the scrolling of "less" output (rather than the terminal window itself) using the scroll wheel on OSX?

3 Answers 3


Update: Seems that this is now supported automatically in OS X Yosemite or newer. Just use less and scroll.

For earlier versions of OS X:

You can't scroll using the mouse wheel without any hacks. One of these makes use of a SIMBL plugin called MouseTerm, which reports the mouse events to your Terminal:

MouseTerm is a SIMBL plugin for Mac OS X's Terminal.app that passes mouse events to the terminal, allowing you to use mouse shortcuts within applications that support them.

To get started, first install SIMBL (MouseTerm won't work without it!). Once you've done that, open the .dmg file, run Install, and restart Terminal.app. To uninstall, run Uninstall from the .dmg.

The FAQ mentions less as a good place to try mouse reporting.

  • As an update to this question, I have since learned that "less" belongs to a family of applications called pagers. You can set your default pager in your .bashrc file in most Unices, and there are options outside of less that do support scrolling with the mouse wheel. mcview is one example, but there are others as well.
    – user72923
    Mar 10, 2014 at 2:37
  • less -r works without anything additional like SIMBL. Mar 25, 2016 at 22:00
  • (It could well be that OSX Terminal has evolved since this answer was posted. I'm running Yosemite) Mar 25, 2016 at 22:05
  • Yeah, it works now, even without -r.
    – slhck
    Mar 28, 2016 at 15:13


Ended up just using mcview for my viewer, for which mouse scrolling in the terminal worked out of the box. I've also read that most can support scrolling behavior.


I tried less -r as given in this answer and it worked great (scrolling with the standard trackpad gesture.)

See also this similar question which discusses some limitations.

Actually, looking more carefully at the second link, it's really the absence of -X that's critical to being able to have scrolling behavior (which means that if you want fancy scrolling, you can't keep the output in the terminal history after less quits.)

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