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Git uses less by default if there is no explicit pager specification

+1 vote
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After using "git diff", I believe that Git (1.7.7.6) uses "less" by default if there is no explicit pager specification (via $PAGER or Git's core.pager).

1) Am I correct?
2) I dislike defaulting to using a pager (partly because I dislike "less" in particular).
3) In any case, using a pager by default doesn't seem to be documented, either on the main "git" manual page or in "git-config".

posted Aug 16, 2013 by Sheetal Chauhan

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2 Answers

+1 vote

1) Am I correct?

Yes.

2) a) I dislike defaulting to using a pager

I think you're a part of a minority in this case -- when you work with Git in a shell, having to append " | mypetpager" onto the end of each Git command producing a lengthy output quickly becomes tedious up to a point of creating specific aliases etc. And Git's awareness of the interactivity of the user's terminal does not ends here: if it detects the prospective output would fit into a single screenful, it does not pipe it through less, so when Git is used *interactively,* it's behaviour is just natural -- you have paging exactly when you would need it.

2) b) (partly because I dislike "less" in particular).

I'm not sure what's wrong with less, really: it supports searching in both directions, has control over line wrapping, supports ANSI color codes and even a mode analogous to tail -f -- the latter feature is not applicable here but I'm trying to show that this tool is of general use to a typical command-line-savvy power user.

Also I think less is considered no less standard than cat on a typical contemporary Unix-like system so lots of power users just have finger memory for it, like they do for their text editor of choice.

In either case, alternatives exist (I'm able to recall most off the top of my mind).

answer Aug 16, 2013 by Majula Joshi
+1 vote

It is not clear to me from the above what will improve your situation, but if you are asking how to turn off git's default paging, then setting

 core.pager = cat

will achieve that.

You can easily test that, for example:

git -c core.pager=cat log
answer Aug 17, 2013 by Naveena Garg
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