pico Man page

NANO(1) General Commands Manual NANO(1)


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


nano [options] [[+line,column] file]…


nano is a small, free and friendly editor which aims to replace Pico,
the default editor included in the non-free Pine package. On top of
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”.

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 deletes the current line and puts it in the cutbuffer. Consecutive
^Ks will put all deleted lines together in the cutbuffer. Any cursor
movement or executing any other command will cause the next ^K to over‐
write the cutbuffer. A ^U will paste the current contents of the cut‐
buffer 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.

The two lines at the bottom of the screen show the most important com‐
mands; the built-in help (^G) lists all the available ones. The
default key bindings can be changed via the .nanorc file — see


Places the cursor on line number line and at column number col‐
umn (at least one of which must be specified) on startup,
instead of the default 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 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, 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. The uniquely numbered files are stored in the
specified directory.

-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 com‐
piled 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 nor at ~/.nanorc.

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

-P, –positionlog
For the 200 most recent files, log the last position of the cur‐
sor, and place it at that position again upon reopening such a
file. (The old form of this option, –poslog, is deprecated.)

-Q “characters”, –quotestr=”characters”
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; 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 size (width) of a tab 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 part of a word.

-Y name, –syntax=name
Specify the name of the syntax highlighting to use from among
the ones defined in the nanorc files.

-c, –constantshow
Constantly show the cursor position. Note that this overrides

-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 the available command-line options and exit.

-i, –autoindent
Indent new lines to the previous line’s indentation. Useful
when editing source code.

-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.

-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, –quiet
Do not report errors in the nanorc files nor ask them to be
acknowledged by pressing Enter at startup.

-r number, –fill=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 col‐
umns, 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 — the last one given takes

-s program, –speller=program
Use this alternative spell checker command.

-t, –tempfile
Always save a changed buffer without prompting. Same as Pico’s
-t option.

-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
View-file (read-only) mode.

-w, –nowrap
Disable the hard-wrapping of long lines. This option conflicts
with -r — the last one given takes effect.

-x, –nohelp
Don’t show the two help lines at the bottom of the screen.

-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$’) or pass it separately (e.g. ‘nano -wS -$’).

-a, -b, -e, -f, -g, -j
Ignored, for compatibility with Pico.

nano will read initialization files in the following order: the sys‐
tem’s nanorc (if it exists), and then the user’s ~/.nanorc (if it
exists). Please see nanorc(5) 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 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 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.


Justifications (^J) and reindentations (M-{ and M-}) are not yet cov‐
ered by the general undo system. So after a justification that is not
immediately undone, or after any reindentation, earlier edits cannot be
undone any more. The workaround is, of course, to exit without saving.

Please report any other bugs that you encounter via https://savan‐



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


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

February 2016 version 2.5.3 NANO(1)

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