Quick Launch Command Manual Pages from the Terminal Help Menu
The next time you’re stuck trying to figure out a terminal command, or maybe you’re just trying to learn a new one, don’t be afraid to ask for help… from the OS X Terminal apps very own Help menu. Yes seriously, that’s because the Help menu of Terminal app can serve as a man (manual) page launcher for any installed command, service, or binary, as long as it has an accompanying man page, you’re good to access it from the help menu.
Even better, you can launch into a manual page this way entirely through a keystroke sequence. This is the quickest way to use the great instant man page trick that is hidden away in the Help feature of Terminal.app:
- From the Terminal app, hit Command+Shift+/ to open the Help menu via the Help keystroke shortcut which is universal in all Mac apps
- Type the command or service to open a man page, use the arrow keys to navigate to the appropriate item, then hit Return to launch the appropriate manual page into a new window
Here we use the Help search to find a man page on ‘launchctl’ but you can try any command you want:
Manual pages launched this way are custom styled in a black text on yellow background window, making them easy to read and very easy to identify:
Of course, you can also click into the Help menu and search for a manual page that way too, then use the cursor to select command man pages, but for many command line users the aforementioned keystroke approach will probably be preferable since you can keep your hands on the keyboard longer and be a bit speedier that way.
If the Help menu approach just isn’t for you, remember that you can also open manual pages directly by right-clicking on a command name within the Terminal, which also offers an option to launch into a man page for that chosen command. Or you can go the old fashioned route and type ‘man [command]‘ like some kind of unix dinosaur, and that’s ok too.