Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: version 2.9.3
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nano - Nano's ANOther editor, an enhanced free Pico clone
[options] [[+line[,column]] file]...
nano is a small and friendly editor. It copies the look and feel
of Pico, but is free software, and implements several features that Pico
lacks, such as: opening multiple files, scrolling per line, undo/redo,
syntax coloring, line numbering, and soft-wrapping overlong lines.
When giving a filename on the command line, the cursor can be put on a
specific line by adding the line number with a plus sign (+) before
the filename, and even in a specific column by adding it with a comma.
As a special case: if instead of a filename a dash (-) is given,
nano will read data from standard input.
Entering text and moving around in a file is straightforward: typing the
letters and using the normal cursor movement keys. Commands are entered
by using the Control (^) and the Alt or Meta (M-) keys.
Typing ^K deletes the current line and puts it in the cutbuffer.
Consecutive ^Ks will put all deleted lines together in the cutbuffer.
Any cursor movement or executing any other command will cause the next
^K to overwrite the cutbuffer. A ^U will paste the current
contents of the cutbuffer at the current cursor position.
When a more precise piece of text needs to be cut or copied, one can mark
its start with ^6, move the cursor to its end (the marked text will be
highlighted), and then use ^K to cut it, or M-6 to copy it to the
cutbuffer. One can also save the marked text to a file with ^O, or
spell check it with ^T.
Since nano-2.7.0, text can also be selected by holding Shift and moving the
cursor with the arrow keys. Holding down the Alt key too will increase the
The two lines at the bottom of the screen show some important commands;
the built-in help (^G) lists all the available ones.
The default key bindings can be changed via a nanorc file -- see
- -A, --smarthome
Make the Home key smarter. When Home is pressed anywhere but at the
very beginning of non-whitespace characters on a line, the cursor will
jump to that beginning (either forwards or backwards). If the cursor is
already at that position, it will jump to the true beginning of the
- -B, --backup
When saving a file, back up the previous version of it, using the current
filename suffixed with a tilde (~).
- -C directory, --backupdir=directory
Make and keep not just one backup file, but make and keep a uniquely
numbered one every time a file is saved -- when backups are enabled (-B).
The uniquely numbered files are stored in the specified directory.
- -D, --boldtext
Use bold text instead of reverse video text.
- -E, --tabstospaces
Convert typed tabs to spaces.
- -F, --multibuffer
Read a file into a new buffer by default.
- -G, --locking
Use vim-style file locking when editing files.
- -H, --historylog
Save the last hundred search strings and replacement strings and
executed commands, so they can be easily reused in later sessions.
- -I, --ignorercfiles
Don't look at the system's nanorc nor at the user's nanorc.
- -K, --rebindkeypad
Interpret the numeric keypad keys so that they all work properly. You
should only need to use this option if they don't, as mouse support
won't work properly with this option enabled.
- -L, --nonewlines
Don't add newlines to the ends of files.
- -M, --trimblanks
Snip trailing whitespace from the wrapped line when automatic
hard-wrapping occurs or when text is justified.
- -N, --noconvert
Disable automatic conversion of files from DOS/Mac format.
- -O, --morespace
Use the blank line below the title bar as extra editing space.
- -P, --positionlog
For the 200 most recent files, log the last position of the cursor,
and place it at that position again upon reopening such a file.
(The old form of this option, --poslog, is deprecated.)
- -Q "characters", --quotestr="characters"
Set the quoting string for justifying. The default is
"^([ \t]*[#:>\|}])+" if extended regular expression support is
available, or "> " otherwise. Note that \t stands for a
- -R, --restricted
Restricted mode: don't read or write to any file not specified on the
command line; don't read any nanorc files nor history files;
don't allow suspending nor spell checking;
don't allow a file to be appended to, prepended to, or saved under a
different name if it already has one; and don't use backup files.
This restricted mode is also accessible by invoking nano
with any name beginning with 'r' (e.g. "rnano").
- -S, --smooth
Use smooth scrolling: text will scroll line-by-line, instead of the
usual chunk-by-chunk behavior.
- -T number, --tabsize=number
Set the size (width) of a tab to number columns. The value of
number must be greater than 0. The default value is 8.
- -U, --quickblank
Do quick status-bar blanking: status-bar messages will disappear after 1
keystroke instead of 25. Note that option -c (--constantshow)
- -V, --version
Show the current version number and exit.
- -W, --wordbounds
Detect word boundaries differently by treating punctuation
characters as part of a word.
- -X "characters", --wordchars="characters"
Specify which other characters (besides the normal alphanumeric ones)
should be considered as part of a word. This overrides option
- -Y name, --syntax=name
Specify the name of the syntax highlighting to use from among the ones
defined in the nanorc files.
- -a, --atblanks
When doing soft line wrapping, wrap lines at whitespace
instead of always at the edge of the screen.
- -c, --constantshow
Constantly show the cursor position on the status bar.
Note that this overrides option -U (--quickblank).
- -d, --rebinddelete
Interpret the Delete key differently so that both Backspace and Delete
work properly. You should only need to use this option if Backspace
acts like Delete on your system.
- -g, --showcursor
Make the cursor visible in the file browser, putting it on the
highlighted item. Useful for braille users.
- -h, --help
Show a summary of the available command-line options and exit.
- -i, --autoindent
Indent new lines to the previous line's indentation. Useful when
editing source code.
- -k, --cutfromcursor
Make the 'Cut Text' command (normally ^K) cut from the current cursor
position to the end of the line, instead of cutting the entire line.
- -l, --linenumbers
Display line numbers to the left of the text area.
- -m, --mouse
Enable mouse support, if available for your system. When enabled, mouse
clicks can be used to place the cursor, set the mark (with a double
click), and execute shortcuts. The mouse will work in the X Window
System, and on the console when gpm is running. Text can still be
selected through dragging by holding down the Shift key.
- -n, --noread
Treat any name given on the command line as a new file. This allows
nano to write to named pipes: it will start with a blank buffer,
and will write to the pipe when the user saves the "file". This way
nano can be used as an editor in combination with for instance
gpg without having to write sensitive data to disk first.
- -o directory, --operatingdir=directory
Set the operating directory. This makes nano set up something
similar to a chroot.
- -p, --preserve
Preserve the XON and XOFF sequences (^Q and ^S) so they will be caught
by the terminal.
- -q, --quiet
Obsolete option. Recognized but ignored.
- -r number, --fill=number
Hard-wrap lines at column number. If this value is 0 or less, wrapping
will occur at the width of the screen less number columns, allowing
the wrap point to vary along with the width of the screen if the screen
is resized. The default value is -8. This option conflicts with
-w (--nowrap) -- the last one given takes effect.
- -s program, --speller=program
Use this alternative spell checker command.
- -t, --tempfile
Save a changed buffer without prompting (when exiting with ^X).
- -u, --unix
Save a file by default in Unix format. This overrides nano's
default behavior of saving a file in the format that it had.
(This option has no effect when you also use --noconvert.)
- -v, --view
Just view the file and disallow editing: read-only mode.
- -w, --nowrap
Disable the hard-wrapping of long lines. This option conflicts with
-r (--fill) -- the last one given takes effect.
- -x, --nohelp
Don't show the two help lines at the bottom of the screen.
- -z, --suspend
Enable the suspend ability.
- -$, --softwrap
Enable 'soft wrapping'. This will make nano attempt to display the
entire contents of any line, even if it is longer than the screen width, by
continuing it over multiple screen lines. Since
'$' normally refers to a variable in the Unix shell, you should specify
this option last when using other options (e.g. 'nano -wS$') or pass it
separately (e.g. 'nano -wS -$').
- -b, -e, -f, -j
Ignored, for compatibility with Pico.
Several of the above options can be switched on and off also while
nano is running. For example, M-L toggles the
hard-wrapping of long lines, M-$ toggles soft-wrapping,
M-# toggles line numbers, M-M toggles the mouse,
M-I auto-indentation, and M-X the help lines.
See at the end of the ^G help text for a complete list.
nano will read two configuration files: first the system's
nanorc (if it exists), and then the user's nanorc (if it
exists), either ~/.nanorc or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/nano/nanorc
or ~/.config/nano/nanorc, whichever is encountered first. See
for more information on the possible contents of those files.
If no alternative spell checker command is specified on the command
line nor in one of the nanorc files, nano will check the
SPELL environment variable for one.
In some cases nano will try to dump the buffer into an emergency
file. This will happen mainly if nano receives a SIGHUP or
SIGTERM or runs out of memory. It will write the buffer into a file
named nano.save if the buffer didn't have a name already, or will
add a ".save" suffix to the current filename. If an emergency file with
that name already exists in the current directory, it will add ".save"
plus a number (e.g. ".save.1") to the current filename in order to make
it unique. In multibuffer mode, nano will write all the open
buffers to their respective emergency files.
are not yet covered by the general undo system. So after a justification
that is not immediately undone, earlier edits
cannot be undone any more. The workaround is, of course, to exit without
The recording and playback of keyboard macros works correctly only on a
terminal emulator, not on a Linux console (VT), because the latter is a
Please report any other bugs that you encounter via:
/usr/share/doc/nano/ (or equivalent on your system)
Chris Allegretta and others (see the files AUTHORS and
THANKS for details). This manual page was originally written by
Jordi Mallach for the Debian system (but may be used by others).
- INITIALIZATION FILE
- SEE ALSO
This document was created by
using the manual pages.
Time: 06:09:03 GMT, September 23, 2018