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Apple has some custom URLs defined and one of them is x-man-page. If you open a particular man page with it, it displays it in a nice yellow window (a provided profile for Terminal) with black text.

open x-man-page://man

enter image description here

Side note: You can even put this on a web-page and it will automatically open the man page in the URL. It was "categorized" as a security issue (Stack Exchange prohibits the URL), but at most it's a nuisance. Same goes for the dictionary app: open x-dictionary:apple, but I digress...

What's nice about it is that it's a separate window and it has it's own predefined profile that can be customized (but I like the default)*. This is the same functionality if you select a command in Terminal with your mouse, right click and select "Open man page".

I would like to this to work in iTerm2

Using RCDefault App I set the application for x-man-page and when I issue the command, it does open a new iTerm tab, but it displays nothing.

Does anyone know how to get iTerm2 to respond to this?


*I liked it so much, I wrote this function in my .bash_profile so that if I type man <command> it shows up as if I typed open x-man-page://<command>

function man {
if [ $# -eq 1 ] ; then
  open x-man-page://$1 ;
elif [ $# -eq 2 ] ; then
  open x-man-page://$1/$2 ;
fi
}
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    An alternative is to use the app ManOpen that shows a man page in a separate nicely formatted window. In macports port install ManOpen does this - But seemingly not on Monterey - I have used it for 15+ years. The original site appears to be missing as well but there are forks on GitHub
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 23:42

2 Answers 2

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It doesn't seem like iTerm actually supports a graphical manpage viewer like Terminal does.

That said, you can force iTerm to open that URL scheme by doing this:

open -a iTerm x-man-page://ls

But when I do that all iTerm does is open a new terminal. It seems like it should at least open up a new terminal with the manpage shown, but it doesn't work for me. This feature doesn't seem to be mentioned in iTerm's documentation either. It's a mystery why it registers that URL scheme. My guess is that this was an older feature that's no longer supported and it's a bug that it still registers for the x-man-page scheme.

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What the "manpage viewer" does is basically just running the command man -P ul SECTION NAME in the man page profile and just terminate. The x-man-page url scheme is bound to Terminal.app in LaunchServices, possibly with a corresponding AE handler in the app. I don't think changing it would be easy. If you can program the iTerm to open a similarly formatted link in the aforementioned way, and make it a "service" that appears in the context menu, you would mostly achieve what you wanted.

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