Kingsly Kingsly - 10 months ago 39
Linux Question

Show special characters in Unix while using 'less' Command

I would like to know how to view special characters while using 'less' command. For instance I want to see the non-printable characters with a special notation. For instance in 'vi' editor I use "set list on" to see the line termination characters represented by dollar '$' character. Similarly I would want to do this using 'less' command.

I referred Unix less manual, but to no avail.

Answer Source

less will look in its environment to see if there is a variable named LESS

You can set LESS in one of your ~/.profile (.bash_rc, etc, etc) and then anytime you run less from the comand line, it will find the LESS.

Try adding this

 export LESS="-CQaix4"

This is the setup I use, there are some behaviors embedded in that may confuse you, so ...

You can find out about what all of these mean from the help function in less, just tap the 'h' key and nose around, or run less --help.


I looked at the help, and noticed there is also an -r option

-r  -R  ....  --raw-control-chars  --RAW-CONTROL-CHARS
                Output "raw" control characters.

I agree that cat may be the most exact match to your stated needs.

 cat -vet file | less

Will add '$' at end of each line and convert tab char to visual '^I'.

 cat --help
    -e                       equivalent to -vE
    -E, --show-ends          display $ at end of each line
    -t                       equivalent to -vT
    -T, --show-tabs          display TAB characters as ^I
    -v, --show-nonprinting   use ^ and M- notation, except for LFD and TAB

I hope this helps.