Emacs provides a nice manual viewer which could be used for obtaining documentation for C syscalls (at point with Man-default-man-entry. However, it always starts searching manuals from section 0. How can I configure man viewer so that it will start from section 2, then 3, and then 0?

man 1 perror doesn't make much sense

1 Answer 1


Emacs defers to the external man command's section choice in the absence of a specific section value.

You can edit the SECTION definition in /etc/manpath.config to modify the default priority order.

You can override that value with the MANSECT environment variable.

Finally, you can override all of that by passing a --sections=list option to the command itself.

(See man man for details.)

For the final approach, you can set the Man-switches variable in Emacs. e.g.:

(setq Man-switches "--sections=2,3,1,n,l,8,3posix,3pm,3perl,5,4,9,6,7")

Note that Emacs re-uses man page buffers where possible, so kill the existing buffers before testing this.

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