nano - Nano's ANOther editor, an enhanced free Pico clone
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,
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
current line and puts it in the cutbuffer. Consecutive ^K
s 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
will paste the current contents of the cutbuffer at the current
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
spell check it with ^T
On some terminals, text can be selected also by holding down Shift while using
the arrow keys. Holding down the Alt key too will increase the stride. Any
cursor movement without Shift being held will cancel such a selection.
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 nanorc(5)
- -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
- -B, --backup
- When saving a file, back up the previous version of it,
using the current filename suffixed with a tilde ( ~).
- -C 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
- -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
- -I, --ignorercfiles
- Don't look at the system's nanorc nor at the user's
- -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 automatically add a newline when a file does not end
- -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
- -O, --morespace
- Use the blank line below the title bar as extra editing
- -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
- -Q "regex",
- Set the regular expression for matching the quoting part of
a line. This is used when justifying. The default value is
"^([ \t]*([#:>|}]|//))+". Note that \t
stands for an actual Tab.
- -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'
- -S, --smooth
- Use smooth scrolling: text will scroll line-by-line,
instead of the usual chunk-by-chunk behavior.
- -T number,
- Set the size (width) of a tab to number columns. The
value of number must be greater than 0. The default value is
- -U, --quickblank
- Do quick status-bar blanking: status-bar messages will
disappear after 1 keystroke instead of 25. Note that option -c
(--constantshow) overrides this.
- -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",
- Specify which other characters (besides the normal
alphanumeric ones) should be considered as part of a word. This overrides
option -W (--wordbounds).
- -Y 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
- -i, --autoindent
- Automatically indent a newly created line to the same
number of tabs and/or spaces as the previous line (or as the next line if
the previous line is the beginning of a paragraph).
- -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
- -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,
- 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,
- 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
- -s program,
- Use this alternative spell checker command.
- -t, --tempfile
- Save a changed buffer without prompting (when exiting with
- -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
- -w, --nowrap
- Disable the hard-wrapping of long lines. This option
conflicts with -r (--fill) -- the last one given takes
- -x, --nohelp
- Don't show the two help lines at the bottom of the
- -y, --afterends
- Make Ctrl+Right stop at word ends instead of
- -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,
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.
will read two configuration files: first the system's nanorc
(if it exists), and then the user's nanorc
(if it exists), either
, 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
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
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.
Justifications ( ^J
) 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 saving.
The recording and playback of keyboard macros works correctly only on a terminal
emulator, not on a Linux console (VT), because the latter does not by default
distinguish modified from unmodified arrow keys.
Please report any other bugs that you encounter via:
When nano crashes, it will save any modified buffers to emergency .save files.
If you are able to reproduce the crash and you want to get a backtrace, define
the environment variable NANO_NOCATCH
(or equivalent on your system)
Chris Allegretta and others (see the files AUTHORS
details). This manual page was originally written by Jordi Mallach for the
Debian system (but may be used by others).