This guide covers basic operations in nano, and is meant to be very concise. For more information about nano check out: https://www.nano-editor.org.
In nano's help text, the Ctrl key is represented by a caret (
^), so Ctrl + W is shown as
^W, and so on. The Alt key is represented by
M("Meta"), so Alt + W is shown as
Opening and creating files
To open or create files, type:
Prior to version 4.0, when editing configuration files, always pass nano the
-woption. Without this option, long lines are wrapped by inserting newlines - this will often break configuration files.
Nano is a modeless editor: start typing immediately to insert text. To edit a configuration file, such as /etc/fstab, for example:
Saving and exiting
To save the changes, press Ctrl + O. To exit nano, type Ctrl + X.
Trying to exit with unsaved changes, it will ask to save. Press N to discard changes. Press Y to save - it will then ask for a filename, type it in and press Enter. If save is confirmed accidentally, cancel by pressing Ctrl + C when prompted for a filename.
Cutting and pasting
To cut a single line, use Ctrl + K (hold down Ctrl and then press K). The line disappears. To paste it, move the cursor to where to paste, and punch Ctrl + U. The line reappears.
To move multiple lines, simply cut them with several Ctrl + K in a row, then paste with a single Ctrl + U.
For more fine-grained control, mark the text: move the cursor to the beginning of what should be cut, hit Ctrl + 6 (or Alt + A). Now move the cursor to the end of the text to be cut: the marked text gets highlighted (to cancel at this point, simply hit Ctrl + 6 again). Press Ctrl + K to cut the marked text. Use Ctrl + U to paste.
Searching for text
Searching for a string is easy, but think "WhereIs" instead of "Search". Simply hit Ctrl + W, type in the search string, and press Enter. To search for the same string again, hit Alt + W.
Read /etc/nanorc for options.
This page is based on a document formerly found on our main website gentoo.org.
The following people contributed to the original document: Sherman Boyd
They are listed here because wiki history does not allow for any external attribution. If you edit the wiki article, please do not add yourself here; your contributions are recorded on each article's associated history page.