nano: man page


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


       nano [OPTIONS] [[+LINE,COLUMN] FILE]…


       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”.



              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 back-

              wards).  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  prop-

              erly.  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)


-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


       -d (–rebinddelete)

              Interpret  the D

   -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


       -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.

       -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, allow-

              ing 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


       -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.

       -a, -b, -e, -f, -g, -j

Ignored, for compatibility with Pico.


       nano  will  read  initialization  files   in   the   following   order:

       SYSCONFDIR/nanorc,  then ~/.nanorc.  Please see nanorc(5) and the exam-

       ple file nanorc.sample, both of which should be provided with nano.


       If no alternative spell checker command is  specified  on  the  command

       line  or in one of the nanorc files, nano will check the SPELL environ-

       ment 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.


       Please send any comments or bug reports to

       The nano mailing list is available from

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