Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: version 5.6.1
nano - Nano's ANOther editor, inspired by Pico
nano [options] [[+[crCR](/|?)string] file]...
Since version 4.0, nano
• does not automatically hard-wrap lines that become overlong,
• includes the line below the title bar in the editing area,
• does linewise (smooth) scrolling.
If you want the old, Pico behavior back, you can use --breaklonglines,
--emptyline, and --jumpyscrolling (or -bej for short).
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.
(Negative numbers count from the end of the file or line.)
The cursor can be put on the first or last occurrence of a specific string
by specifying that string after +/ or +? before the filename.
The string can be made case sensitive and/or caused to be interpreted as a
regular expression by inserting c and/or r after the + sign.
These search modes can be explicitly disabled by using the uppercase variant
of those letters: C and/or R. When the string contains spaces,
it needs to be enclosed in quotes. To give an example: to open a file at
the first occurrence of the word "Foo", one would do:
nano +c/Foo file
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.
deletes the current line and puts it in the cutbuffer.
s will put all deleted lines together in the cutbuffer.
Any cursor movement or executing any other command will cause the next
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.
On some terminals, text can be selected also by holding down Shift while
using the arrow keys. Holding down the Ctrl or Alt key too will increase
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
- -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
For the interface, use bold instead of reverse video. This will be overridden
by setting the options titlecolor, statuscolor, keycolor,
functioncolor, numbercolor, and/or selectedcolor in your
nanorc file. See nanorc(5).
- -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.
- -J number, --guidestripe=number
Draw a vertical stripe at the given column, to help judge the width of the
text. (The color of the stripe can be changed with set stripecolor
in your nanorc file.)
- -K, --rawsequences
Interpret escape sequences directly (instead of asking ncurses to
translate them). If you need this option to get your keyboard to work
properly, please report a bug. Using this option disables nano's
- -L, --nonewlines
Don't automatically add a newline when a text does not end with one.
(This can cause you to save non-POSIX text 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, --bookstyle
When justifying, treat any line that starts with whitespace as the
beginning of a paragraph (unless auto-indenting is on).
- -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.
- -Q "regex", --quotestr="regex"
Set the regular expression for matching the quoting part of a line.
The default value is "^([ \t]*([!#%:;>|}]|//))+".
(Note that \t stands for an actual Tab.)
This makes it possible to rejustify blocks of quoted text when composing
email, and to rewrap blocks of line comments when writing source code.
- -R, --restricted
Restricted mode: don't read or write to any file not specified on the
command line. This means: don't read or write history files;
don't allow suspending; don't allow 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 make backup files.
Restricted mode can also be activated by invoking nano
with any name beginning with 'r' (e.g. "rnano").
- -S, --softwrap
Display over multiple screen rows lines that exceed the screen's width.
(You can make this soft-wrapping occur at whitespace instead of rudely at
the screen's edge, by using also --atblanks.)
(The old short option, -$, is deprecated.)
- -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
Make status-bar messages disappear after 1 keystroke instead of after 20.
Note that options -c (--constantshow)
and -_ (--minibar) override 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", --wordchars="characters"
Specify which other characters (besides the normal alphanumeric ones)
should be considered as part of a word. When using this option, you
probably want to omit -W (--wordbounds).
- -Y name, --syntax=name
Specify the name of the syntax highlighting to use from among the ones
defined in the nanorc files.
- -Z, --zap
Let an unmodified Backspace or Delete erase the marked region
(instead of a single character, and without affecting the cutbuffer).
- -a, --atblanks
When doing soft line wrapping, wrap lines at whitespace
instead of always at the edge of the screen.
- -b, --breaklonglines
Automatically hard-wrap the current line when it becomes overlong.
(This option is the opposite of -w (--nowrap) --
the last one given takes effect.)
- -c, --constantshow
Constantly show the cursor position on the status bar.
Note that this overrides option -U (--quickblank).
- -d, --rebinddelete
Interpret the Delete and Backspace keys differently so that both Backspace
and Delete work properly. You should only use this option when on your
system either Backspace acts like Delete or Delete acts like Backspace.
- -e, --emptyline
Do not use the line below the title bar, leaving it entirely blank.
- -f file, --rcfile=file
Read only this file for setting nano's options, instead of reading
both the system-wide and the user's nanorc files.
- -g, --showcursor
Make the cursor visible in the file browser (putting it on the
highlighted item) and in the help viewer. Useful for braille users
and people with poor vision.
- -h, --help
Show a summary of the available command-line options and exit.
- -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).
- -j, --jumpyscrolling
Scroll the buffer contents per half-screen instead of per line.
- -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.
(Any line with an anchor additionally gets a mark in the margin.)
- -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, --indicator
Display a "scrollbar" on the righthand side of the edit window.
It shows the position of the viewport in the buffer
and how much of the buffer is covered by the viewport.
- -r number, --fill=number
Set the target width for justifying and automatic hard-wrapping at this
number of columns. If the value is 0 or less, wrapping will occur
at the width of the screen minus 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.
- -s program [argument ...], --speller=program [argument ...]
Use this command to perform spell checking and correcting, instead of
using the built-in corrector that calls hunspell(1) or spell(1).
- -t, --saveonexit
Save a changed buffer without prompting (when exiting with ^X).
(The old form of the long option, --tempfile, is deprecated.)
- -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.
This mode allows the user to open also other files for viewing,
unless --restricted is given too.
- -w, --nowrap
Do not automatically hard-wrap the current line when it becomes overlong.
This is the default. (This option is the opposite of -b
(--breaklonglines) -- the last one given takes effect.)
- -x, --nohelp
Don't show the two help lines at the bottom of the screen.
- -y, --afterends
Make Ctrl+Right and Ctrl+Delete stop at word ends instead of beginnings.
- -z, --suspendable
Allow the user to suspend the editor (with ^Z by default).
- -%, --stateflags
Use the top-right corner of the screen for showing some state flags:
I when auto-indenting, M when the mark is on, L when
hard-wrapping (breaking long lines), R when recording a macro,
and S when soft-wrapping.
When the buffer is modified, a star (*) is shown after the
filename in the center of the title bar.
- -_, --minibar
Suppress the title bar and instead show information about
the current buffer at the bottom of the screen, in the space
for the status bar. In this "minibar" the file name is shown
on the left, followed by an asterisk if the buffer has been modified.
On the right are displayed the current line and column number, the
code of the character under the cursor (in Unicode format: U+xxxx),
the same flags as are shown by --stateflags, and a percentage
that expresses how far the cursor is into the file (linewise).
When a file is loaded or saved, and also when switching between buffers,
the number of lines in the buffer is displayed after the file name.
This number is cleared upon the next keystroke, or replaced with an
[i/n] counter when multiple buffers are open.
The line plus column numbers and the character code are displayed only when
--constantshow is used, and can be toggled on and off with M-C.
The state flags are displayed only when --stateflags is used.
- -!, --magic
When neither the file's name nor its first line give a clue,
try using libmagic to determine the applicable syntax.
Several of the above options can be switched on and off also while
is running. For example, M-L
hard-wrapping of long lines, M-S
toggles line numbers, M-M
toggles the mouse,
auto-indentation, and M-X
the help lines.
See at the end of the ^G
help text for a complete list.
The M-X toggle is special: it works in all menus except
the help viewer and the linter. All other toggles work in
the main menu only.
is given, nano
will read just the specified file
for setting its options and syntaxes and key bindings. Without that option,
will read two configuration files: first the system's
(if it exists), and then the user's nanorc
exists), either ~/.nanorc
, whichever is encountered first. See
for more information on the possible contents of those files.
See /usr/share/nano/ and /usr/share/nano/extra/
for available syntax-coloring definitions.
If no alternative spell checker command is specified on the command
line nor in one of the nanorc
will check the
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.
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.
/usr/share/doc/nano/ (or equivalent on your system)