Manual browser: tabs(1)

TABS(1) General Commands Manual TABS(1)


tabsset terminal tabs


tabs [-n|-a|-a2|-c|-c2|-c3|-f|-p|-s|-u] [+m[n]] [-T type]

tabs [-T type] [+[n]] n1[,n2,...]


The tabs utility displays a series of characters that first clears the hardware terminal tab settings and then initializes the tab stops at the specified positions and optionally adjusts the margin.

The phrase "tab-stop position N" means that, from the start of a line of output, tabbing to position N shall cause the next character output to be in the (N+1)th column on that line.

The following options are supported:

Specifies repetitive tab stops separated by a uniform number of columns, n, where n is a single digit decimal number. The default usage of tabs with no arguments is equivalent to tabs -8. When -0 is used, the tab stops are cleared and no new ones set.
Assembler, applicable to some mainframes. Equivalent to tabs 1,10,16,36,72 .
Assembler, applicable to some mainframes. Equivalent to tabs 1,10,16,40,72
COBOL, normal format. Equivalent to tabs 1,8,12,16,20,55
COBOL, compact format (columns 1 to 6 omitted). Equivalent to tabs 1,6,10,14,49
COBOL, compact format (columns 1 to 6 omitted), with more tabs than -c2. Equivalent to tabs 1,6,10,14,18,22,26,30,34,38,42,46,50,54,58,62,67
FORTRAN. Equivalent to tabs 1,7,11,15,19,23
PL/1. Equivalent to tabs 1,5,9,13,17,21,25,29,33,37,41,45,49,53,57,61
SNOBOL. Equivalent to tabs 1,10,55
-T type
Indicates the type of terminal.
Assembler, applicable to some mainframes. Equivalent to tabs 1,12,20,44


The COLUMNS and TERM environment variables affect the execution of tabs as described in environ(7).

The -T option overrides TERM. If neither TERM nor the -T option are present, tabs will fail.


The tabs utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


The tabs utility conforms to IEEE Std 1003.1 (“POSIX.1”).


A tabs utility first appeared in PWB UNIX. This implementation was introduced in NetBSD 6.0.


Roy Marples <>
April 5, 2012 NetBSD 7.0