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Starting off this is the man page for reference:


nano − Nano’s ANOther editor, an enhanced free Pico clone SYNOPSIS


This manual page briefly documents the nano command.

nano is a small, free and friendly editor which aims to replace Pico, the default editor included in the non-free Pine package. Rather than just copying Pico’s look and feel, nano also implements some missing (or disabled by default) features in Pico, such as “search and replace” and “go to line and column number”. OPTIONS


Places cursor at line number LINE and column number COLUMN (at least one of which must be specified) on startup, instead of the default of line 1, column 1.


Same as -h (−−help).

−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 line.

−B (−−backup)

When saving a file, back up the previous version of it to the current filename suffixed with a ~.

−C dir (−−backupdir=dir)

Set the directory where nano puts unique backup files if file backups are enabled.

−D (−−boldtext)

Use bold text instead of reverse video text.

−E (−−tabstospaces)

Convert typed tabs to spaces.

−F (−−multibuffer)

Enable multiple file buffers, if available.

−H (−−historylog)

Log search and replace strings to ~/.nano_history, so they can be retrieved in later sessions, if nanorc support is available.

−I (−−ignorercfiles)

Don’t look at SYSCONFDIR/nanorc or ~/.nanorc, if nanorc support is available.

−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.

−N (−−noconvert)

Disable automatic conversion of files from DOS/Mac format.

−O (−−morespace)

Use the blank line below the titlebar as extra editing space.

−Q str (−−quotestr=str)

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 Tab.

−R (−−restricted)

Restricted mode: don’t read or write to any file not specified on the command line; read any nanorc files; allow suspending; allow a file to be appended to, prepended to, or saved under a different name if it already has one; or use backup files or spell checking. Also accessible by invoking nano with any name beginning with ’r’ (e.g. “rnano”).

−S (−−smooth)

Enable smooth scrolling. Text will scroll line-by-line, instead of the usual chunk-by-chunk behavior.

−T cols (−−tabsize=cols)

Set the size (width) of a tab to cols columns. The value of cols must be greater than 0. The default value is 8.

−U (−−quickblank)

Do quick statusbar blanking. Statusbar messages will disappear after 1 keystroke instead of 25. Note that -c overrides this.

−V (−−version)

Show the current version number and exit.

−W (−−wordbounds)

Detect word boundaries more accurately by treating punctuation characters as part of a word.

−Y str (−−syntax=str)

Specify a specific syntax highlighting from the nanorc to use, if available.

−c (−−const)

Constantly show the cursor position. Note that this overrides -U.

−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.

−h (−−help)

Show a summary of command line options and exit.

−i (−−autoindent)

Indent new lines to the previous line’s indentation. Useful when editing source code.

−k (−−cut)

Enable cut from cursor to end of line.

−l (−−nofollow)

If the file being edited is a symbolic link, replace the link with a new file instead of following it. Good for editing files in /tmp, perhaps?

−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.

−o dir (−−operatingdir=dir)

Set operating directory. 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)

Do not report errors in the nanorc file and ask them to be acknowledged by pressing Enter at startup.

−r cols (−−fill=cols)

Wrap lines at column cols. If this value is 0 or less, wrapping will occur at the width of the screen less cols 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 prog (−−speller=prog)

Enable alternative spell checker command.

−t (−−tempfile)

Always save changed buffer without prompting. Same as Pico’s -t option.

−u (−−undo)

Enable experimental generic-purpose undo code. By default, the undo and redo shortcuts are Meta-U and Meta-E, respectively.

−v (−−view)

View file (read only) mode.

−w (−−nowrap)

Disable wrapping of long lines.

−x (−−nohelp)

Disable help screen at bottom of editor.

−z (−−suspend)

Enable suspend ability.

−$ (−−softwrap)

Enable ’soft wrapping’. nano will attempt to display the entire contents of a line, even if it is longer than the screen width. 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 −$’).

−a, −b, −e, −f, −g, −j

Ignored, for compatibility with Pico. INITIALIZATION FILE

nano will read initialization files in the following order: SYSCONFDIR/nanorc, then ~/.nanorc. Please see nanorc(5) and the example file nanorc.sample, both of which should be provided with nano. NOTES

If no alternative spell checker command is specified on the command line or 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 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. BUGS

Please send any comments or bug reports to

The nano mailing list is available from

To subscribe, email to with a subject of “subscribe”. HOMEPAGE SEE ALSO


/usr/share/doc/nano/ (or equivalent on your system) AUTHOR

Chris Allegretta, et al (see AUTHORS and THANKS for details). This manual page was originally written by Jordi Mallach, for the Debian system (but may be used by others).

Basic Text Editing in Nano

Main nano help text

The nano editor is designed to emulate the functionality and ease-of-use of
the UW Pico text editor.  There are four main sections of the editor.  The top
line shows the program version, the current filename being edited, and whether
or not the file has been modified.  Next is the main editor window showing the
file being edited.  The status line is the third line from the bottom and
shows important messages.  The bottom two lines show the most commonly used
shortcuts in the editor.

The notation for shortcuts is as follows: Control-key sequences are notated
with a caret (^) symbol and can be entered either by using the Control (Ctrl)
key or pressing the Escape (Esc) key twice.  Escape-key sequences are notated
with the Meta (M-) symbol and can be entered using either the Esc, Alt, or
Meta key depending on your keyboard setup.  Also, pressing Esc twice and then
typing a three-digit decimal number from 000 to 255 will enter the character
with the corresponding value.  The following keystrokes are available in the
main editor window.  Alternative keys are shown in parentheses:

^G      (F1)            Display this help text
^X      (F2)            Close the current file buffer / Exit from nano
^O      (F3)            Write the current file to disk
^J      (F4)            Justify the current paragraph

^R      (F5)            Insert another file into the current one
^W      (F6)            Search for a string or a regular expression
^Y      (F7)            Move to the previous screen
^V      (F8)            Move to the next screen

^K      (F9)            Cut the current line and store it in the cutbuffer
^U      (F10)           Uncut from the cutbuffer into the current line
^C      (F11)           Display the position of the cursor
^T      (F12)           Invoke the spell checker, if available

^_      (F13)   (M-G)   Go to line and column number
^\      (F14)   (M-R)   Replace a string or a regular expression
^^      (F15)   (M-A)   Mark text at the cursor position
        (F16)   (M-W)   Repeat last search

M-^             (M-6)   Copy the current line and store it in the cutbuffer
M-}                     Indent the current line
M-{                     Unindent the current line

^F                      Move forward one character
^B                      Move back one character
^Space                  Move forward one word
M-Space                 Move back one word
^P                      Move to the previous line
^N                      Move to the next line

^A                      Move to the beginning of the current line
^E                      Move to the end of the current line
M-(             (M-9)   Move to the beginning of the current paragraph
M-)             (M-0)   Move to the end of the current paragraph
M-\             (M-|)   Move to the first line of the file
M-/             (M-?)   Move to the last line of the file

M-]                     Move to the matching bracket
M--             (M-_)   Scroll up one line without scrolling the cursor
M-+             (M-=)   Scroll down one line without scrolling the cursor

M-<             (M-,)   Switch to the previous file buffer
M->             (M-.)   Switch to the next file buffer

M-V                     Insert the next keystroke verbatim
^I                      Insert a tab at the cursor position
^M                      Insert a newline at the cursor position
^D                      Delete the character under the cursor
^H                      Delete the character to the left of the cursor
M-T                     Cut from the cursor position to the end of the file

M-J                     Justify the entire file
M-D                     Count the number of words, lines, and characters
^L                      Refresh (redraw) the current screen

M-X                     Help mode enable/disable
M-C                     Constant cursor position display enable/disable
M-O                     Use of one more line for editing enable/disable
M-S                     Smooth scrolling enable/disable
M-P                     Whitespace display enable/disable
M-Y                     Color syntax highlighting enable/disable

M-H                     Smart home key enable/disable
M-I                     Auto indent enable/disable
M-K                     Cut to end enable/disable
M-L                     Long line wrapping enable/disable
M-Q                     Conversion of typed tabs to spaces enable/disable

M-B                     Backup files enable/disable
M-F                     Multiple file buffers enable/disable
M-M                     Mouse support enable/disable
M-N                     No conversion from DOS/Mac format enable/disable
M-Z                     Suspension enable/disable

HowTo Nano for nubs

Nano IS a text editor NOT a word processor.

A word processor: Microsoft word, and more. A word processor has spell check and other tool to help the user write papers.

A text editor: vi, vim, nano, and more. A text editor has no spell checker and as well as no word processor tools, it just us to edit text.

How to run nano type nano at the prompt (

lairstation3:~$  nano

) hit the enter key q The user should be able to start typing as soon as the text editor starts. The top of the screen should look like this. (

GNU nano 2.0.9		New Buffer


That show you are in nano.

To save the user file. ( Part1 hit the “ctrl + x” at the same time to start to save. Part2 Then type “y” or “yes” to save the file. )

Next the user can change the name of the file.

The prompt will look like this. (

File Name to Write: []

Part3 Type the name of the file. Then hit the ”enter” key. (

	done the text editor will exit when you hit enter.
documentation/nano.txt · Last modified: 2010/02/11 14:42 by ccheney