macOS has whois command available. Running it without any argument shows the following:

usage: whois [-aAbfgiIklmPQrRS] [-c country-code | -h hostname] [-p port] name ...

Here, the -c, -h, and -p options have description. However, no description is available for the rest of the shown options -aAbfgiIklmPQrRS.

How can I find the documentation for the same?

3 Answers 3


You can read the man page for whois command by running the following in the Terminal:

man whois

The man page for a command is the all-encompassing document, listing all the available options for the command. Man pages are generally available for all the available external commands. To locate installed man page(s) for a command, run the following:

man -aw <command>

To read a specific man page for a command, (in case more than one are listed on running the above) use the absolute path for the man page.

While viewing the man page for a command, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts to navigate:

  • j: Scroll down one line at a time.

  • k: Scroll up one line at a time.

  • f or Space: Scroll down one page at a time.

  • b: Scroll up one page at a time.

  • /search: To search for the keyword search. Use n to navigate to the next match.

  • q: Quit the man page viewer and return to the shell.

  • 1
    Addendum to the shortcuts: /search only searches forwards, and you can also issue empty / "searches" to go the next match. If you use ?search, you can search backwards, and bare ? goes to the previous match. / and ? inter-operate; after issuing either /search or ?search, both bare / and bare ? will use search.
    – HTNW
    Apr 23, 2019 at 17:21
  • 3
    Plus one for the mini-primer on how to use less.
    – fd0
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:09
  • While I agree with @fd0 , mentioning that this behavior is specific to less (and is essentially up to MANPAGER) might be worthwile Apr 23, 2019 at 22:50
  • @fd0, beat me to it. I was going to suggest "man less" to learn about pagination, searching, and stuff. :-) Oct 4, 2022 at 17:21

Right-click on the name of the command and choose Open man Page
or ⌃⇧⌘? with the name of the command selected.

This opens the manual for the command in a new tab or window. You can browse this document using the scroll wheel as normal and perform regular operations like ⌘F for find.

This shortcut is also available on Touch Bar without needing to select the command name first.

Touch Bar screenshot

  • 4
    Holy crap, I never knew that, great tip! (Yeah I know this type of comment is frowned upon but just once maybe?) Apr 23, 2019 at 14:39

If you are keyboard ninja and do not wish to use the Mouse/Trackpad, there's an easy way to locate the man page(s) for a command.

Invoke the search under Terminal's Help menu by using the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + /, and type in the command. The search looks for the man pages corresponding to the search term and lists them under Man Pages section.

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Select and press Enter for the desired item to view the man page in the main window.

  • 1
    That's technically even one keystroke less than using the man in the shell
    – Lars Beck
    Apr 24, 2019 at 5:08

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