tabs Man page

tabs General Commands Manual tabs


tabs – set tabs on a terminal


tabs [options]] [tabstop-list]


The tabs program clears and sets tab-stops on the terminal. This uses
the terminfo clear_all_tabs and set_tab capabilities. If either is
absent, tabs is unable to clear/set tab-stops. The terminal should be
configured to use hard tabs, e.g.,

stty tab0


General Options
Tell tabs which terminal type to use. If this option is not
given, tabs will use the $TERM environment variable. If that is
not set, it will use the ansi+tabs entry.

-d The debugging option shows a ruler line, followed by two data
lines. The first data line shows the expected tab-stops marked
with asterisks. The second data line shows the actual tab-stops,
marked with asterisks.

-n This option tells tabs to check the options and run any debugging
option, but not to modify the terminal settings.

-V reports the version of ncurses which was used in this program, and

The tabs program processes a single list of tab stops. The last option
to be processed which defines a list is the one that determines the
list to be processed.

Implicit Lists
Use a single number as an option, e.g., “-5” to set tabs at the given
interval (in this case 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, etc.). Tabs are repeated up
to the right margin of the screen.

Use “-0” to clear all tabs.

Use “-8” to set tabs to the standard interval.

Explicit Lists
An explicit list can be defined after the options (this does not use a
“-“). The values in the list must be in increasing numeric order, and
greater than zero. They are separated by a comma or a blank, for exam‐

tabs 1,6,11,16,21
tabs 1 6 11 16 21
Use a ‘+’ to treat a number as an increment relative to the previous
value, e.g.,

tabs 1,+5,+5,+5,+5
which is equivalent to the 1,6,11,16,21 example.

Predefined Tab-Stops
X/Open defines several predefined lists of tab stops.

-a Assembler, IBM S/370, first format

-a2 Assembler, IBM S/370, second format

-c COBOL, normal format

-c2 COBOL compact format

-c3 COBOL compact format extended


-p PL/I


-u UNIVAC 1100 Assembler

X/Open describes a +m option, to set a terminal’s left-margin. Very
few of the entries in the terminal database provide this capability.

The -d (debug) and -n (no-op) options are extensions not provided by
other implementations.

Documentation for other implementations states that there is a limit on
the number of tab stops. While some terminals may not accept an arbi‐
trary number of tab stops, this implementation will attempt to set tab
stops up to the right margin of the screen, if the given list happens
to be that long.


tset, infocmp, ncurses(3NCURSES), terminfo(5).

This describes ncurses version 6.0 (patch 20160213).


Ils en parlent aussi

AltYo: a drop-down terminal – Tuxdiary
Never use hard tabs – Open Source Hacker