How do I prevent 'git diff' from using a pager?

Is there a command line switch to pass to git diff and other commands that use the less pager by default?

I know I can pipe it to cat, but that removes all the syntax highlighting.

I know I can set the pager in the global .gitconfig to cat by GITPAGER=cat (or something like that); but I want to have pager sometimes (depending on the size of the diff).

But, I would prefer a command line switch if there is one; and I am not able to find one, going through the man pages.

--no-pager to Git will tell it to not use a pager. Passing the option -F to less will tell it to not page if the output fits in a single screen.


git --no-pager diff

Other options from the comments include:

# Set an evaporating environment variable to use 'cat' for your pager
GIT_PAGER=cat git diff

# Tells 'less' not to paginate if less than a page
export LESS="-F -X $LESS"
# ...then Git as usual
git diff

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As a previous answer mentioned, passing the -F option to less causes it to quit if the content is less than one screen. However, after doing so, the screen is reset, and you end up not seeing the content.

The -X option does away with that behaviour. So, I use the following to enable conditional paging based on the amount of content:

git config --global --replace-all core.pager "less -F -X"

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git config --global core.pager cat

to get rid of a pager for all commands for all repositories.

You can also disable paging for single Git subcommands by using pager.<cmd> setting instead of core.pager, and you can change your settings per Git repository (omit --global).

See man git-config and search for pager.<cmd> for details.

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You can disable/enable pagers for specific outputs in the global configuration as well:

git config --global pager.diff false

Or to set the core.pager option, just provide an empty string:

git config --global core.pager ''

This is better in my opinion than setting it to cat as you say.

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  • Note: core.pager 'less -+F -+X' would be a more recent way to remove those options. See my answer below.
  • "less -+F -+X" is the magical setting to remove the annoying "...skipping..." markers in long logs. Thanks a lot for those options, you saved my day!
  • related:…
  • See related question on using less with git (it varies dependent on less version):…
  • Thanks, I guess I can alias git --no-pager to gitc in .bashrc, right?
  • Or use GIT_PAGER or PAGER environment variables, or core.pager git config variable.
  • Keep in mind that you must add --add-pager before your command, as in "git --no-pager log --format=blah"
  • Also, if your terminal clears the screen after exiting less you'll want to add -E to your less options to make -F usable.
  • Note that if you want to include --no-pager in an alias, you have to prefix the command with it, and to avoid an error, you have to make an alias like this: git config '!git --no-pager foo'. Somewhat confusing. Simply aliasing to '--no-pager foo' won't work.
  • Note: I had to use git config --global --add core.pager "less -F -X" in git, the one above didn't work.
  • Great! Also to make it behave so not only with git but all programs add something like export LESS="-RFX" to your .bashrc or .zshrc