How to Set and Use Environment Variables in Bash

In Bash, the man command is your friendly neighborhood guide to all things shell commands! It provides detailed information about commands, including their usage, options, and examples. Here's how to get the most out of it:

Basic Usage

Just type man followed by the command you want to learn about. For example:

man ls

This will display the manual page for the ls command, which shows you how to list directory contents, available options like displaying hidden files, and even some historical context.

Searching Within a Manual

If the manual page is long and you're looking for something specific, you can use the / key to search. Type your search term followed by /:

man ls /sort

This will jump to the section of the ls manual that explains sorting options.

Getting Help for Options

Want to know what a specific option for a command does? Append the option after the command name:

man ls -l

This shows the manual page for ls with the -l (long format) option explained, including what additional information it displays.

Navigating in man pages

  1. Use the arrow keys to scroll up and down.
  2. Press 'q' to exit the manual page.
  3. Type '/' followed by a keyword and press Enter to search for a specific term.
  4. Press 'n' to go to the next occurrence of the search term.

help Command

The help command is a built-in Bash command that provides information about various built-in shell commands. It's a quick reference for shell built-ins.

help [command_name]
help cd

This will display information about the cd command, including its usage and options.


help only works with built-in Bash commands. It won't provide information for external commands or utilities.

Exploring Related Commands

Often, manual pages mention other related commands. You can easily access their manuals by pressing h while viewing a manual page. This brings up a list of all the commands mentioned, and you can choose one to learn more about it.

Additional Tips:

If you're not sure about the command you're looking for, you can use the apropos command, which searches the manual page names and descriptions for a given keyword.

apropos keyword

To get a concise summary of a command without entering the full manual page, you can use the whatis command.

whatis command_name

These commands are valuable resources for understanding how to use various commands and utilities in a Unix-like shell environment.


To obtain help with Bash shell commands, users can utilize the built-in help command for quick reference to Bash built-ins and the man command to access comprehensive manual pages providing detailed information about both built-in and external commands. Additionally, the apropos and whatis commands offer efficient ways to search for commands and obtain concise summaries.