Sixteen years into the 21st century I remain baffled that we still have to go out of our way if we want to see a man page

  • rendered in a proportional font (that is, not Courier or similar)
  • with links to other referenced pages

There are tantalizing web sites with HTML man pages that have links, like this, but I haven't found such a site with pages updated for the current version of macOS. And of course a web site won't show man pages for software you've installed via Homebrew, etc.

Is there a solution to this problem? I've looked and looked. This

function manp {
  man -t "$1" | open -f -a /Applications/Preview.app/

renders a page and shows it in Preview (after you wait for a PostScript interpreter to convert it to PDF), but you don't get live links.

The man page for man says:


Man will find HTML pages if they live in directories named as expected to be ".html", thus a valid name for an HTML version of the ls(1) man page would be /usr/share/man/htmlman1/ls.1.html.

I could write a script to convert all of the man pages everywhere on my system to HTML, but I bet someone has already done this. And I bet they have also solved the problem of rendering SEE ALSO references as links, which the man command apparently doesn't do.

2 Answers 2


Install Bwana which allows you to browse the man pages in your favourite browser.

To quote the page above "Just type "man:" followed by the man page you're looking for into your browser's URL field. Hit enter and let Bwana do the rest." It has live links.

  • Unfortunately Bwana is apparently broken for macOS 10.12 and is not being maintained currently. Another version of bwana offers better formatting but has the same problems.
    – daveyost
    Dec 23, 2016 at 2:15
  • I'm using it on macOS 10.12 and it works fine. Bwana version 2.7
    – PeterVP
    Dec 23, 2016 at 12:28

bcat lets you pipe stdout to your default browser. An alternative to your Preview function would be:

bman () 
    : Display man page in default browser
    man $* | col -b | bcat

...or simply set man's pager:

export MANPAGER='col -b | bcat'
man grep

bcat works with any command that writes to stdout:

pbpaste  | bcat
make test | bcat
tail -n 1000 -f /var/log/messages | bcat


It's a ruby-gem, so installation is as easy as:

gem install bcat

If "on the fly" conversion isn't sufficient, and you want to produce HTML all at once, or in advance, this post on Unix.se has a number of suggestions (sadly one of my favourite tools, the mighty pandoc, won't work for this...)

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