tabs - set tabs on a terminal
tabs [-v[n]] [-ahuUV] file...
The tabs program clears and sets tab-stops on the termi-
nal. 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.,
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
-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
-n This option tells tabs to check the options and run
any debugging option, but not to modify the terminal
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.
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
Use "-0" to clear all tabs.
Use "-8" to set tabs to the standard interval.
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 example,
tabs 1 6 11 16 21
Use a '+' to treat a number as an increment relative to
the previous value, e.g.,
which is equivalent to the 1,6,11,16,21 example.
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
-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 termi-
nals may not accept an arbitrary 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(1), infocmp(1m), curses(3x), terminfo(5).
This describes ncurses version 5.9 (patch 20130309).
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