nano Command Manual

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This manual documents GNU nano, a small and friendly text editor.


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1 Introduction

GNU nano is a small and friendly text editor. Besides basic text editing, nano offers many extra features, like an interactive search-and-replace, go-to-line-and-column-number, auto-indentation, feature toggles, internationalization support, and filename tab completion.


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1.1 Overview

The original goal for nano was a complete bug-for-bug compatible emulation of Pico, but nano’s current goal is to be as compatible as possible while offering a superset of Pico’s functionality. See See Pico Compatibility, for more info.

The usual way to invoke nano is:

nano [OPTION]… [FILE]

But it is also possible to edit several files in a row. Additionally, the cursor can be put on a desired line number by adding this number with a plus sign before any filename, and even in a desired column by adding it with a comma. So the complete synopsis is:

nano [OPTION]… [[+LINE] FILE]…

nano [OPTION]… [[+,COLUMN] FILE]…

nano [OPTION]… [[+LINE,COLUMN] FILE]…

Email bug reports to nano@nano-editor.org.


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1.2 Command Line Options

nano takes the following options from the command line:

+<line>,<column>

Start at line number <line> and column number <column> (at least one of which must be specified) instead of the default of line 1, column 1.

-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 support for them has been compiled in).

-G, --locking

Enable vim-style file locking when editing files.

-H, --historylog

Log search and replace strings to ~/.nano/search_history, so they can be retrieved in later sessions.

-I, --ignorercfiles

Don’t look at the system’s nanorc file 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.

-N, --noconvert

Disable automatic conversion of files from DOS/Mac format.

-O, --morespace

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

-P, --poslog

Log for each file the last location of the cursor, and read it back upon reopening the file and place it there again.

-Q <str>, --quotestr=<str>

Set the quoting string for justifying. The default value is

^([ \t]*[|>:}#])+

if extended regular expression support is available, or "> " otherwise. Note that \t above stands for a literal Tab character.

-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

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

-T <number>, --tabsize=<number>

Set the displayed tab length to <number> columns. The value of <number> 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 parts of words.

-Y <name>, --syntax=<name>

Specify a specific syntax from the nanorc files to use for highlighting. See See Syntax Highlighting, for more info.

-c, --const

Constantly display the cursor position and line number on the statusbar. 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

Automatically indent new lines to the same number of spaces and tabs as the previous line.

-k, --cut

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, --nofollow

When writing files, if the given file is a symbolic link, it is removed and a new file is created.

-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 <dir>, --operatingdir=<dir>

Set operating directory. Makes nano set up something similar to a chroot.

-p, --preserve

Preserve the ^Q (XON) and ^S (XOFF) sequences so data being sent to the editor can be stopped and started.

-q, --quiet

Do not report errors in the nanorc file nor ask them to be acknowledged by pressing Enter at startup.

-r <number>, --fill=<number>

Hard-wrap lines at column <number> (by inserting a newline character). If the given value is 0 or less, wrapping will occur at the width of the screen minus the given amount, allowing the wrapping width to vary along with the width of the screen if and when it is resized. The default value is -8. This option conflicts with -w – the last one given takes effect.

-s <program>, --speller=<program>

Invoke the given program as the spell checker. By default, nano uses the command specified in the SPELL environment variable, or, if SPELL is not set, its own interactive spell checker that requires the spell program to be installed on your system.

-t, --tempfile

Don’t ask whether or not to save the current contents of the file when exiting, assume yes. This is most useful when using nano as the composer of a mailer program.

-v, --view

Don’t allow the contents of the file to be altered. Note that this option should NOT be used in place of correct file permissions to implement a read-only file.

-w, --nowrap

Don’t hard-wrap long lines at any length. This option conflicts with -r – the last one given takes effect.

-x, --nohelp

Expert Mode: don’t show the Shortcut Lists at the bottom of the screen. This affects the location of the statusbar as well, as in Expert Mode it is located at the very bottom of the editor.

Note: When accessing the help system, Expert Mode is temporarily disabled to display the help-system navigation keys.

-z, --suspend

Enable the ability to suspend nano using the system’s suspend keystroke (usually ^Z).

-$, --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 -$).

-a, -b, -e, -f, -g, -j

Ignored, for compatibility with Pico.


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2 Editor Basics


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2.1 Entering Text

nano is a "modeless" editor. All keystrokes, with the exception of Control and Meta key sequences, enter text into the file being edited. All key sequences in nano are entered using the keyboard.


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2.2 Special Functions

Special functions use the Control key (Ctrl), displayed in the help and shortcut lists as ^; the Meta key (Alt or Cmd), displayed as M-; or the Escape key (Esc).


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2.3 The Cutbuffer

Text can be cut from a file, a whole line at a time, by using the ’Cut Text’ command (default key binding: ^K). The cut line is stored in the cutbuffer. Consecutive strokes of ^K will add each cut line to this buffer, but a ^K after any other keystroke will overwrite the entire cutbuffer.

The contents of the cutbuffer can be pasted back into the file with the ’Uncut Text’ command (default key binding: ^U).

A line of text can be copied into the cutbuffer (without cutting it) with the ’Copy Text’ command (default key binding: M-6).


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2.4 The Mark

Text can be selected by first ’setting the Mark’ (default key bindings: ^6 and M-A) and then moving the cursor to the other end of the portion to be selected. The selected portion of text will be highlighted in reverse video (or in bold if you set the boldtext option). This selection can now be cut or copied in its entirety with a single ^K or M-6. Or the selection can be used to limit the scope of a search-and-replace (^\) or spell-checking session (^T).

Cutting or copying selected text will toggle the mark off automatically. If necessary, it can be toggled off manually with another ^6 or M-A.


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2.5 The Titlebar

The titlebar is the line displayed at the top of the editor. There are three sections: left, center and right. The section on the left displays the version of nano being used. The center section displays the current filename, or "New Buffer" if the file has not yet been named. The section on the right will display "Modified" if the file has been modified since it was last saved or opened.

Special modes: When nano is in "File browser" mode, the center section will display the current directory instead of the filename. See See The File Browser, for more info.


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2.6 The Statusbar

The statusbar is the third line from the bottom of the screen, or the bottom line in Expert Mode. See See Expert Mode, for more info. It shows important and informational messages. Any error messages that occur from using the editor will appear on the statusbar. Any questions that are asked of the user will be asked on the statusbar, and any user input (search strings, filenames, etc.) will be input on the statusbar.


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2.7 Shortcut Lists

The Shortcut Lists are the two lines at the bottom of the screen which show some of the more commonly used functions in the editor.


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2.8 Using the Mouse

When mouse support has been configured and enabled, a single mouse click places the cursor at the indicated position. Clicking a second time in the same position toggles the mark. Clicking in the shortcut list executes the selected shortcut. To be able to select text with the left button, or paste text with the middle button, hold down the Shift key during those actions.

The mouse will work in the X Window System, and on the console when gpm is running.


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3 Online Help

The online help system in nano is available by pressing ^G. It is fairly self-explanatory, documenting the various parts of the editor and available keystrokes. Navigation is via the ^Y (Page Up) and ^V (Page Down) keys. ^X exits the help system.


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4 Feature Toggles

Toggles allow you to change certain aspects of the editor that would normally be done via command-line options. They are invoked via Meta key sequences. See See Special Functions, for more info. The following global toggles are available:

Backup Files Toggle (Meta-B)

toggles the -B (--backup) command line option.

Constant Cursor Position Display Toggle (Meta-C)

toggles the -c (--const) command line option.

Multiple File Buffers Toggle (Meta-F)

toggles the -F (--multibuffer) command line option.

Smart Home Key Toggle (Meta-H)

toggles the -A (--smarthome) command line option.

Auto Indent Toggle (Meta-I)

toggles the -i (--autoindent) command line option.

Cut To End Toggle (Meta-K)

toggles the -k (--cut) command line option.

Long Line Wrapping Toggle (Meta-L)

toggles the -w (--nowrap) command line option.

Mouse Support Toggle (Meta-M)

toggles the -m (--mouse) command line option.

No Conversion From DOS/Mac Format Toggle (Meta-N)

toggles the -N (--noconvert) command line option.

More Space For Editing Toggle (Meta-O)

toggles the -O (--morespace) command line option.

Whitespace Display Toggle (Meta-P)

toggles whitespace-display mode. See See Whitespace, for more info.

Tabs to Spaces Toggle (Meta-Q)

toggles the -E (--tabstospaces) command line option.

Smooth Scrolling Toggle (Meta-S)

toggles the -S (--smooth) command line option.

Expert/No Help Toggle (Meta-X)

toggles the -x (--nohelp) command line option.

Color Syntax Highlighting Toggle (Meta-Y)

toggles color syntax highlighting if you have color syntaxes in your nanorc. See See Syntax Highlighting, for more info.

Suspend Toggle (Meta-Z)

toggles the -z (--suspend) command line option.

Soft Wrapping Toggle (Meta-$)

toggles the -$ (--softwrap) command line option.


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5 Nanorc Files

The nanorc files contain the default settings for nano. They should be in Unix format, not in DOS or Mac format. During startup, nano will first read the system-wide settings, from /etc/nanorc (the exact path might be different), and then the user-specific settings, from ~/.nanorc.

A nanorc file accepts a series of "set" and "unset" commands, which can be used to configure nano on startup without using command-line options. Additionally, there are some commands to define syntax highlighting and to rebind keys – See Syntax Highlighting, and See Rebinding Keys. nano will read one command per line.

Options in nanorc files take precedence over nano’s defaults, and command-line options override nanorc settings. Options are also unset by default, except for those that take arguments.

Quotes inside string parameters don’t have to be escaped with backslashes. The last double quote in the string will be treated as its end. For example, for the "brackets" option, ""')>]}" will match ", ', ), >, ], and }.


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5.1 Settings

The supported settings in a nanorc file are:

set/unset allow_insecure_backup

When backing up files, allow the backup to succeed even if its permissions can’t be (re)set due to special OS considerations. You should NOT enable this option unless you are sure you need it.

set/unset autoindent

Use auto-indentation.

set/unset backup

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

set backupdir "directory"

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

set/unset backwards

Do backwards searches by default.

set/unset boldtext

Use bold instead of reverse video for the titlebar, statusbar, key combos, and selected text. This can be overridden for the first three by setting the options "titlecolor", "statuscolor", and "keycolor".

set brackets "string"

Set the characters treated as closing brackets when justifying paragraphs. This may not include blank characters. Only closing punctuation (see "punct"), optionally followed by the specified closing brackets, can end sentences. The default value is

""')>]}"

set/unset casesensitive

Do case-sensitive searches by default.

set/unset const

Constantly display the cursor position in the status bar.

set/unset cut

Use cut-to-end-of-line by default, instead of cutting the whole line.

set fill "n"

Hard-wrap lines at column number "n". If "n" is 0 or less, the maximum line length will be the screen width less "n" columns. The default value is -8.

set functioncolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for the function descriptions in the two help lines at the bottom of the screen. See "set titlecolor" for more details.

set/unset historylog

Enable the use of ~/.nano/search_history for saving and reading search/replace strings.

set keycolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for the shortcut key combos in the two help lines at the bottom of the screen. See "set titlecolor" for more details.

set/unset locking

Enable vim-style lock-files for when editing files.

set matchbrackets "string"

Set the opening and closing brackets that can be found by bracket searches. This may not include blank characters. The opening set must come before the closing set, and the two sets must be in the same order. The default value is

"(<[{)>]}"

set/unset morespace

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

set/unset mouse

Enable mouse support, so that mouse clicks can be used to place the cursor, set the mark (with a double click), or execute shortcuts.

set/unset multibuffer

Allow inserting files into their own buffers.

set/unset noconvert

Don’t convert files from DOS/Mac format.

set/unset nofollow

Don’t follow symlinks when writing files.

set/unset nohelp

Don’t display the help lists at the bottom of the screen.

set/unset nonewlines

Don’t add newlines to the ends of files.

set/unset nowrap

Don’t hard-wrap text at all.

set operatingdir "directory"

nano will only read and write files inside "directory" and its subdirectories. Also, the current directory is changed to here, so files are inserted from this directory. By default, the operating directory feature is turned off.

set/unset poslog

Save the cursor position of files between editing sessions.

set/unset preserve

Preserve the XON and XOFF keys (^Q and ^S).

set punct "string"

Set the characters treated as closing punctuation when justifying paragraphs. This may not include blank characters. Only the specified closing punctuation, optionally followed by closing brackets (see "brackets"), can end sentences. The default value is "!.?".

set/unset quickblank

Do quick statusbar blanking. Statusbar messages will disappear after 1 keystroke instead of 25.

set/unset quiet

When set, nano will not report errors in the nanorc file nor ask them to be acknowledged by pressing Enter at startup. If this option is used, it should be placed at the top of the file to be fully effective.

set quotestr "string"

The email-quote string, used to justify email-quoted paragraphs. This is an extended regular expression if your system supports them, otherwise a literal string. The default value is

"^([ \\t]*[#:>\\|}])+"

if you have extended regular expression support, and "> " otherwise. Note that ’\\t’ stands for a literal Tab character.

set/unset 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.

set/unset 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.

set/unset regexp

Do extended regular expression searches by default.

set/unset 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.

set/unset smooth

Use smooth scrolling by default.

set/unset softwrap

Enable soft line wrapping for easier viewing of very long lines.

set speller "spellprog"

Use spelling checker "spellprog" instead of the built-in one, which calls "spell".

set statuscolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for the statusbar. See "set titlecolor" for more details.

set/unset suspend

Allow nano to be suspended.

set tabsize "n"

Use a tab size of "n" columns. The value of "n" must be greater than 0. The default value is 8.

set/unset tabstospaces

Convert typed tabs to spaces.

set/unset tempfile

Save automatically on exit, don’t prompt.

set titlecolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for the titlebar. Valid color names for foreground and background are: white, black, red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, and cyan. And either "fgcolor" or ",bgcolor" may be left out.

set/unset view

Disallow file modification.

set whitespace "string"

Set the two characters used to indicate the presence of tabs and spaces. They must be single-column characters. The default pair for a UTF-8 locale is "»·", and for other locales ">.".

set/unset wordbounds

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


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5.2 Syntax Highlighting

Coloring the different syntactic elements of a file can be defined via the following commands in a nanorc file:

syntax "str" ["fileregex" …]

Defines a syntax named "str" which can be activated via the -Y/–syntax command-line option, or will be automatically activated if the current filename matches the extended regular expression "fileregex". All following "color" and "icolor" statements will apply to this "str" syntax until a new syntax is defined.

The "none" syntax is reserved; specifying it on the command line is the same as not having a syntax at all. The "default" syntax is special: it takes no "fileregex", and applies to files that don’t match any other syntax’s "fileregex".

linter program [arg …]

For the currently defined syntax, use the given program to invoke the linter (this overrides the speller function when defined).

header "regex" …

For the currently defined syntax, add one or more regexes which will be compared against the very first line of the file to be edited, to determine whether this syntax should be used for that file.

magic ["regex" …]

For the currently defined syntax, add one or more regexes which will be compared against the result of querying the magic database about the file to be edited, to determine whether this syntax should be used for that file. This functionality only works when libmagic is installed on the system and will be silently ignored otherwise.

color fgcolor,bgcolor "regex" …

For the currently defined syntax, display all expressions matching the extended regular expression "regex" with foreground color "fgcolor" and background color "bgcolor", at least one of which must be specified. Valid colors for foreground and background are: white, black, red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, and cyan. You may use the prefix "bright" to get a stronger color highlight for the foreground. If your terminal supports transparency, not specifying a "bgcolor" tells nano to attempt to use a transparent background.

icolor fgcolor,bgcolor "regex" …

Same as above, except that the expression matching is case insensitive.

color fgcolor,bgcolor start="sr" end="er"

Display expressions which start with the extended regular expression "sr" and end with the extended regular expression "er" with foreground color "fgcolor" and background color "bgcolor", at least one of which must be specified. This allows syntax highlighting to span multiple lines. Note that all subsequent instances of "sr" after an initial "sr" is found will be highlighted until the first instance of "er".

icolor fgcolor,bgcolor start="sr" end="er"

Same as above, except that the expression matching is case insensitive.

include "syntaxfile"

Read in self-contained color syntaxes from "syntaxfile". Note that "syntaxfile" can only contain the above commands, from "syntax" to "icolor".

extendsyntax str directive [arg …]

Extend the syntax previously defined as str to include new information. Allows you to add a new color, icolor, magic, header, or linter directive to an already defined syntax. Useful when you want to add to definitions from the system-installed syntax definitions (which are normally not writable).


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5.3 Rebinding Keys

Key bindings may be reassigned via the following two commands in a nanorc file:

bind key function menu

Rebinds key to function in the context of menu (or in all menus where the function exists by using all).

unbind key menu

Unbinds key from menu (or from all menus where it exists by using all).

The format of key should be one of:

^

followed by an alpha character or the word "Space". Example: ^C

M-

followed by a printable character or the word "Space". Example: M-C

F

followed by a numeric value from 1 to 16. Example: F10

Valid names for the function to be bound are:

help

Invokes the help viewer.

cancel

Cancels the current command.

exit

Exits from the program (or from the help viewer or the file browser).

writeout

Writes the current buffer to disk.

insert

Inserts a file into the current buffer (or into a new buffer when multibuffer is enabled).

whereis

Searches for text in the current buffer – or for filenames matching a string in the current list in the file browser

searchagain

Repeats the last search command.

replace

Interactively replaces text within the current buffer.

cut

Cuts and stores the current line (or the marked region).

copytext

Copies the current line (or the marked region) without deleting it.

uncut

Copies the currently stored text into the current buffer at the current cursor position.

mark

Sets the mark at the current position, to start selecting text.

cutrestoffile

Cuts all text from the cursor position till the end of the buffer.

curpos

Shows the current cursor position: the line, column, and character positions.

wordcount

Counts the number of words, lines and characters in the current buffer.

speller

Invokes a spell-checking program (or a linting program, if the current syntax highlighting defines one).

justify

Justifies the current paragraph.

fulljustify

Justifies the entire current buffer.

indent

Indents (shifts to the right) the currently marked text.

unindent

Unindents (shifts to the left) the currently marked text.

left

Goes left one position (in the editor or browser).

right

Goes right one position (in the editor or browser).

up

Goes one line up (in the editor or browser).

down

Goes one line down (in the editor or browser).

scrollup

Scrolls up one line of text from the current position.

scrolldown

Scrolls down one line of text from the current position.

nextword

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the next word.

prevword

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the previous word.

home

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line.

end

Moves the cursor to the end of the current line.

beginpara

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current paragraph.

endpara

Moves the cursor to the end of the current paragraph.

prevpage

Goes up one screenful.

nextpage

Goes down one screenful.

firstline

Goes to the first line of the file.

lastline

Goes to the last line of the file.

gotoline

Goes to a specific line (and column if specified).

gototext

Switches from targetting a line number to searching for text.

findbracket

Moves the cursor to the bracket (brace, parenthesis, etc.) that matches (pairs) with the one under the cursor.

prevbuf

Switches to editing/viewing the previous buffer when using multibuffer mode.

nextbuf

Switches to editing/viewing the next buffer when using multibuffer mode.

verbatim

Inserts the next character verbatim into the file.

tab

Inserts a tab at the current cursor location.

enter

Inserts a new line below the current one.

delete

Deletes the character under the cursor.

backspace

Deletes the character before the cursor.

undo

Undoes the last performed text action (add text, delete text, etc).

redo

Redoes the last undone action (i.e., it undoes an undo).

refresh

Refreshes the screen.

suspend

Suspends the editor (if the suspending function is enabled, see the "suspendenable" entry below).

casesens

Toggles case sensitivity in searching (search/replace menus only).

regexp

Toggles whether searching/replacing is based on literal strings or regular expressions.

backwards

Toggles whether searching/replacing goes forward or backward.

prevhistory

Shows the previous history entry in the prompt menus (e.g. search).

nexthistory

Shows the next history entry in the prompt menus (e.g. search).

flipreplace

Toggles between searching for something and replacing something.

flipexecute

Toggles between inserting a file and executing a command.

flipnewbuffer

Toggles between inserting into the current buffer and into a new empty buffer.

dosformat

When writing a file, switches to writing a DOS format (CR/LF).

macformat

When writing a file, switches to writing a Mac format.

append

When writing a file, appends to the end instead of overwriting.

prepend

When writing a file, ’prepends’ (writes at the beginning) instead of overwriting.

backup

When writing a file, creates a backup of the current file.

tofiles

Starts the file browser, allowing to select a file from a list.

gotodir

Goes to a directory to be specified, allowing to browse anywhere in the filesystem.

firstfile

Goes to the first file when using the file browser (reading or writing files).

lastfile

Goes to the last file when using the file browser (reading or writing files).

nohelp

Toggles the presence of the two-line list of key bindings at the bottom of the screen.

constupdate

Toggles the constant display of the current line, column, and character positions.

morespace

Toggles the presence of the blank line which ’separates’ the titlebar from the file text.

smoothscroll

Toggles smooth scrolling (when moving around with the arrow keys).

softwrap

Toggles the displaying of overlong lines on multiple screen lines.

whitespacedisplay

Toggles the showing of whitespace.

nosyntax

Toggles syntax highlighting.

smarthome

Toggles the smartness of the Home key.

autoindent

Toggles whether new lines will contain the same amount of whitespace as the preceding line.

cuttoend

Toggles whether cutting text will cut the whole line or just from the current cursor position to the end of the line.

nowrap

Toggles whether long lines will be hard-wrapped to the next line.

tabstospaces

Toggles whether typed tabs will be converted to spaces.

backupfile

Toggles whether a backup will be made of the file to be edited.

multibuffer

Toggles the use of multiple file buffers (if available).

mouse

Toggles mouse support.

noconvert

Toggles automatic conversion of files from DOS/Mac format.

suspendenable

Toggles whether the suspend sequence (normally ^Z) will suspend the editor window.

Valid names for menu are:

main

The main editor window where text is entered and edited.

search

The search menu (AKA whereis).

replace

The ’search to replace’ menu.

replacewith

The ’replace with’ menu, which comes up after ’search to replace’.

gotoline

The ’goto line (and column)’ menu.

writeout

The ’write file’ menu.

insert

The ’insert file’ menu.

extcmd

The menu for inserting output from an external command, reached from the insert menu.

help

The help-viewer menu.

spell

The interactive spell checker Yes/no menu.

linter

The linter menu.

browser

The file browser for inserting or writing a file.

whereisfile

The ’search for a file’ menu in the file browser.

gotodir

The ’go to directory’ menu in the file browser.

all

A special name that encompasses all menus. For bind it means all menus where the specified function exists; for unbind it means all menus where the specified key exists.


Next: , Previous: Nanorc Files, Up: Top   [Contents]

6 The File Browser

When reading or writing files, pressing ^T will invoke the file browser. Here, one can navigate directories in a graphical manner in order to find the desired file.

Basic movement in the file browser is accomplished with the arrow keys, page up, and page down. More advanced movement is accomplished by searching via ^W (or ’w’) and changing directories via ^_ (or ’g’). The behavior of the Enter (or ’s’) key varies by what is currently selected. If the currently selected object is a directory, the file browser will enter and display the contents of the directory. If the object is a file, this filename and path are copied to the statusbar, and the file browser exits.


Next: , Previous: The File Browser, Up: Top   [Contents]

7 Pico Compatibility

nano attempts to emulate Pico as closely as possible, but there are certain differences between the editors:

Search and Replace History

As of version 1.1.99pre1 of nano, text entered as search or replace strings will be stored and can be accessed with the up/down arrow keys. Previously, nano offered a more consistent, but incompatible with Pico, method for entering search and replace strings. In the old method, previous entries would be displayed by default as editable text in front of the cursor, as opposed to being bracketed and uneditable as it is in Pico. The old behavior could be made compatible with Pico via the -p option, but recent versions of Pico use the -p option to preserve the XON and XOFF sequences within the editor. Since, with the new method, search and replace strings can still be edited by simply hitting the up arrow key once, the old method was removed completely.

Writing, Appending, or Prepending Selected Text to Files

Text selected using the marking key (^^) can be written out, appended, or prepended to a new or existing file using the WriteOut key (^O).

Toggles

Many options which alter the functionality of the program can be "toggled" on or off using Meta key sequences, meaning the program does not have to be restarted to turn a particular feature of the editor on or off. Please see the internal help function (^G) for a list of what functions can be toggled for a particular version of nano. See See Feature Toggles, for more info.

Cursor Position Display

The output of the "Display Cursor Position" in nano displays the current line position of the cursor, as well as the column and total character position.

Interactive Replace and Spell Checker

It is worth noting that nano’s replace function is interactive, i.e. it does not stop after one search string was found and automatically replaced. The nano implementation will pause at each found search string and query whether to replace this instance or not. The internal spell checker operates similarly. Note that there is no way to force these functions to behave in the Pico fashion. As of version 1.1.99pre1, misspelled words are sorted and trimmed for uniqueness in the internal spell checker such that the words ’apple’ and ’Apple’ will be prompted for correction separately.


Previous: Pico Compatibility, Up: Top   [Contents]

8 Building and Configure Options

Building nano from source is fairly straightforward if you are familiar with compiling programs with autoconf support:

The possible options to ./configure are:

--disable-browser

Disable the mini file browser when reading or writing files.

--disable-color

Disable support for the syntax coloring of files. This also eliminates the -Y command-line option, which chooses a specific syntax.

--disable-extra

Disable extra features. At the moment, this is just easter-egg-type stuff.

--disable-help

Disable the help function. Doing this makes the binary much smaller, but makes it difficult for new users to learn more than very basic things about using the editor.

--disable-histories

Disable the code for the handling of the history files: the search and replace strings that were used, and the cursor position at which each file was closed. This also eliminates the -H and -P command-line options, which switch on the logging of search/replace strings and cursor positions.

--disable-justify

Disable the justify and unjustify functions.

--disable-libmagic

Disable the use of the library of magic-number tests (for determining the file type and thus which syntax to use for colouring – often the tests on filename extension and header line will be enough).

--disable-mouse

Disable all mouse functionality. This also eliminates the -m command-line option, which enables the mouse functionality.

--disable-multibuffer

Disable support for opening multiple files at a time and switching between them on the fly. This also eliminates the -F command-line option, which switches the use of multiple file buffers on.

--disable-nanorc

Disable support for reading the nanorc files at startup. With such support, you can store custom settings in a system-wide and a per-user nanorc file rather than having to pass command-line options to get the desired behavior. See See Nanorc Files, for more info. Disabling this also eliminates the -I and -q command-line options; the first inhibits the reading of nanorcfiles, and the second suppresses warnings about errors in those files.

--disable-operatingdir

Disable setting the operating directory. This also eliminates the -o command-line option, which sets the operating directory.

--disable-speller

Disable use of the spell checker. This also eliminates the -s command-line option, which allows specifying an alternate spell checker.

--disable-tabcomp

Disable the tab completion code when reading or writing files.

--disable-wrapping

Disable hard-wrapping of overlong lines. This also eliminates the -w command-line option, which enables long-line wrapping.

--enable-tiny

This option disables all the above. It also disables some of the larger internals of the editor, like the marking code and the cut-to-end-of-line code. It also disables the function toggles. By using the enabling counterpart of the above options together with –enable-tiny, specific features can be switched back on.

--enable-debug

Enable support for runtime debug output. This can get pretty messy, so chances are you only want this feature when you’re working on the nano source.

--disable-nls

Disables Native Language support. This will disable the use of any available GNU nano translations.

--disable-wrapping-as-root

Disable hard-wrapping of overlong lines by default when nano is run as root.

--enable-utf8

Enable support for reading and writing Unicode files. This will require either a wide version of curses, or a UTF-8-enabled version of Slang.

--disable-utf8

Disable support for reading and writing Unicode files. Normally the configure script auto-detects whether to enable UTF-8 support or not. You can use this or the previous option to override that detection.

--with-slang

Compile nano against Slang instead of against ncurses or other curses libraries.

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