Less Command – Search Navigation

Once you’ve opened a log file (or any file) using less file-name, use the following keys to search. Please note that the match will be highlighted automatically by default.

Forward Search

  • / – search for a pattern which will take you to the next occurrence.
  • n – for next match in forward
  • N – for previous match in backward

Backward Search

  • ? – search for a pattern which will take you to the previous occurrence.
  • n – for next match in backward direction
  • N – for previous match in forward direction

Less Command – Screen Navigation

Use the following screen navigation commands while viewing large log files.

  • CTRL+F – forward one window
  • CTRL+B – backward one window
  • CTRL+D – forward half window
  • CTRL+U – backward half window

Less Command – Line navigation

In a smaller chunk of data, where you want to locate particular error, you may want to navigate line by line using these keys:

  • j – navigate forward by one line
  • k – navigate backward by one line

Less Command – Other Navigations

The following are other navigation operations that you can use inside the less pager.

  • G – go to the end of file
  • g – go to the start of file
  • q or ZZ – exit the less pager

Simulate tail -f inside less pager – Press F

Once you’ve opened a file using less command, any content that is appended to the file after that will not be displayed automatically. However, you can press F less command will show the status ‘waiting for data‘. This is as similar to ‘tail -f’.

Also, refer to our earlier article about how to view multiple logs files using tail -f.

Less Command – Count magic

Similar to Vim editor navigation command, you can give 10j to scroll 10 lines down, or 10k to go up by 10 lines.

  • 10j – 10 lines forward.
  • 10k – 10 lines backward.
  • CTRL+G – show the current file name along with line, byte and percentage statistics.

Other useful Less Command Operations

  • v – using the configured editor edit the current file.
  • h – summary of less commands
  • &pattern – display only the matching lines, not all.