Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I copy & paste without decorations?


There are a couple ways to do this:

  • Use the bookmark hotkeys to mark lines and then press c to copy to the local system keyboard. The system clipboard is accessed using commands like pbcopy and xclip. See the Tuning section for more details.

    If a system clipboard is not available, the OSC 52 terminal escape sequence will be tried. If your terminal supports this escape sequence, the selected text will be copied to the clipboard, even if you are on an SSH connection.

  • Press CTRL + l to temporarily switch to “lo-fi” mode where the contents of the current view are printed to the terminal. This option is useful when you are logged into a remote host.

Q: How can I force a format for a file?


The log format for a file is automatically detected and cannot be forced.


Add some of the log file lines to the sample array and then startup lnav to get a detailed explanation of where the format patterns are not matching the sample lines.


The first lines of the file are matched against the regular expressions defined in the format definitions. The order of the formats is automatically determined so that more specific formats are tried before more generic ones. Therefore, if the expected format is not being chosen for a file, then it means the regular expressions defined by that format are not matching the first few lines of the file.

See Format Order When Scanning a File for more information.

Q: How can I search backwards, like pressing ? in less?


Searches in lnav runs in the background and do not block input waiting to find the first hit. While the search prompt is open, pressing CTRL + j will jump to the previous hit that was found. A preview panel is also opened that shows the hits that have been found so far.

After pressing Enter at the search prompt, the view will jump to the first hit that was found. Then, you can press n to move to the next search hit and N to move to the previous one. If you would like to add a hotkey for jumping to the previous hit by default, enter the following configuration command:

:config /ui/keymap-defs/default/x3f/command :prompt --alt search ?

Q: Why isn’t my log file highlighted correctly?


Q: Why isn’t a file being displayed?


Plaintext files are displayed separately from log files in the TEXT view.


Press the t key to switch to the text view. Or, open the files configuration panel by pressing TAB to cycle through the panels, and then press / to search for the file you’re interested in. If the file is a log, a new log format will need to be created or an existing one modified.


If a file being monitored by lnav does not match a known log file format, it is treated as plaintext and will be displayed in the TEXT view.