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nnn - Man Page

The unorthodox terminal file manager.

Examples (TL;DR)


nnn[-aAcCdDeEfgHJKnQrRSuUVxh] [-b key] [-F val] [-l val] [-p file] [-P key] [-s name] [-t secs] [-T key] [PATH]


nnn (Nnn's Not Noice) is a performance-optimized, feature-packed fork of noice http://git.2f30.org/noice/ with seamless desktop integration, simplified navigation, type-to-nav mode with dir auto-enter, disk usage analyzer mode, bookmarks, contexts, application launcher, familiar navigation shortcuts, subshell spawning and much more. It remains a simple and efficient file manager that stays out of your way.

nnn opens the current working directory if PATH is not specified. If PATH is specified and it exists, nnn will open it. If the PATH doesn't exist and ends with a /, nnn will attempt to create the directory tree and open it. Otherwise, PATH is considered a path to a regular file and nnn attempts to create the complete directory tree to the file, open the parent directory and prompt to create the new file in it with the base filename.


Press ‘?’ in nnn to see the list of keybinds.


nnn supports the following options:

auto-setup temporary NNN_FIFO (described in Environment section)

disable directory auto-enter on unique filter match

-b key
specify bookmark key to open

use bsdtar for archives (default: atool)

indicates that the opener is a cli-only opener (overrides -e)

8-color scheme - color directories by context, disable file colors

detail mode

show directories in context color with NNN_FCOLORS set

open text files in $VISUAL (else $EDITOR, fallback vi) [preferably CLI]

use $EDITOR for internal undetached edits

use readline history file

-F val
fifo notification mode
0: notify as previewer, 1: notify as explorer

use regex filters instead of substring match

show hidden files

show current file information in info bar (may be slow)

disable auto-advance on selection
(eg. selecting an entry will no longer move cursor to the next entry)

test for keybind collision and exit

-l val
number of lines to move per mouse wheel scroll

start in type-to-nav mode

open files only on Enter key

-p file
copy (or pick) selection to file, or stdout if file='-'

-P key
specify plugin key to run

disable confirmation on quit with multiple contexts active

show cp, mv progress
(Linux-only, needs advcpmv; '^T' shows the progress on BSD/macOS)

disable rollover at edges (eg. pressing down while on the last
entry will no longer move cursor to the first entry and vice-versa)

-s name
load a session by name

persistent session

-t secs
idle timeout in seconds to lock terminal

-T key
sort order
keys: 'a'u / 'd'u / 'e'xtension / 'r'everse / 's'ize / 't'ime / 'v'ersion
capitalize to reverse (except 'r')

use selection if available, don't prompt to choose between selection and hovered entry

show user and group names in status bar

show version and exit

show notifications on selection cp, mv, rm completion (requires .ntfy plugin)
copy path to system clipboard on selection (requires .cbcp plugin)
show xterm title (if non-picker mode)

show program help and exit


There is no configuration file. Associated files are at


Configuration is done using a few optional (set if you need) environment variables. See Environment section.

nnn uses xdg-open (on Linux), open(1) (on macOS), cygstart on (Cygwin) and open on (Haiku) as the desktop opener. It's also possible to specify a custom opener. See Environment section.


Open multiple locations with 4 contexts. The status is shown in the top left corner:

- the current context is in reverse video
- other active contexts are underlined
- rest are inactive

A new context copies the state of the previous context. Each context can have its own color. See Environment section.


Sessions are a way to save and restore states of work. A session stores the settings and contexts. Sessions can be loaded at runtime or with a program option.

- When a session is loaded at runtime, the last working state is saved automatically to a dedicated "auto session" session file. Session option restore would restore the "auto session".
- The persistent session option is global. If it is used, the last active session will be updated with the final state at program quit.
- The "auto session" is used in persistent session mode if no session is active.
- Listing input stream and opening a bookmark by key have a higher priority to session options (-s/-S).

All the session files are located by session name in the directory


"@" is the "auto session" file.


Filters are strings (or regex patterns) to find matching entries in the current directory instantly (search-as-you-type). Matches are case-insensitive by default. The last filter in each context is persisted at runtime or in saved sessions.
When there's a unique match and it's a directory, nnn auto enters the directory. Use the relevant program option to disable this.

Special keys at filter prompt:

-------- + ---------------------------------------
  Key    |                Function
-------- + ---------------------------------------
 ^char   | Usual keybind functionality
 Esc     | Exit filter prompt but skip dir refresh
 Alt+Esc | Unfilter, quit context
-------- + ---------------------------------------

Special keys at empty filter prompt:

------ + ---------------------------------------
  Key  |                Function
------ + ---------------------------------------
   ?   | Show help and config screen
   /   | Toggle between string and regex
   :   | Toggle case-sensitivity
  ^L   | Clear filter (if prompt is non-empty)
       | OR apply last filter
  Bksp | Stay at filter prompt and refresh dir
  Del  | Stay at filter prompt and refresh dir
------ + ---------------------------------------

Common regex use cases:

(1) To list all matches starting with the filter expression,
start the expression with a '^' (caret) symbol.
(2) Type '\.mkv' to list all MKV files.
(3) Use '.*' to match any character (sort of fuzzy search).
(4) Exclude filenames having 'nnn' (compiled with PCRE lib): '^(?!nnn)'

In the type-to-nav mode directories are opened in filter mode, allowing continuous navigation.

Additional special keys at empty filter prompt in type-to-nav mode:

------ + ------------------------
  Key  |         Function
------ + ------------------------
   '   | Go to first non-dir file
   +   | Toggle file selection
   ,   | Mark CWD
   -   | Go to last visited dir
   .   | Show hidden files
   ;   | Run a plugin by its key
   =   | Launch a GUI application
   >   | Export file list
   @   | Visit start dir
   ]   | Show command prompt
   `   | Visit /
   ~   | Go HOME
------ + ------------------------


nnn allows file selection across directories and contexts!

There are 3 groups of keybinds to add files to selection:

(1) hovered file selection toggle
- deselects if '+' is visible before the entry, else adds to selection
(2) add a range of files to selection
- repeat the range key on the same entry twice to clear selection completely
(3) add all files in the current directory to selection

A selection can be edited, copied, moved, removed, archived or linked.

Absolute paths of the selected files are copied to .selection file in the config directory. The selection file is shared between multiple program instances. Selection from multiple instances are not merged. The last instance writing to the file overwrites earlier contents. If you have 2 instances of nnn open in 2 panes of a terminal multiplexer, you can select in one pane and use the selection in the other pane. The selection gets cleared in the nnn instance where the selection was made on mv/rm (but not on cp).

nnn clears the selection after a successful operation with the selection. Plugins are allowed to define the behaviour individually.

To edit the selection use the _edit selection_ key. Editing doesn't end the selection mode. You can add more files to the selection and edit the list again. If no file is selected in the current session, this option attempts to list the selection file.

nnn can show the total size of non-filtered selected files listed in a directory. For directories, only the size of the directory is added by default. To add the size of the contents of a directory, switch to du mode.

Find and List

There are two ways to search and list:

- feed a list of file paths as input
- search using a plugin (e.g. finder) and list the results

File paths must be NUL-separated ('\0'). Paths and can be relative to the current directory or absolute. Invalid paths in the input are ignored. Input processing limit is 16,384 paths or 64 MiB (max_paths x max_path_len) of data.

To list the input stream, start nnn by writing to its standard input. E.g., to list files in current directory larger than 1M:

    find -maxdepth 1 -size +1M -print0 | nnn

or redirect a list from a file:

    nnn < files.txt

Handy bash/zsh shell function to list files by mime-type in current directory:

    # to show video files, run: list video

    list ()
        find . -maxdepth 1 | file -if- | grep "$1" | awk -F: '{printf "%s ", $1}' | nnn

A temporary directory will be created containing symlinks to the given paths. Any action performed on these symlinks will be performed only on their targets, after which they might become invalid.

Right arrow or 'l' on a symlink in the listing dir takes to the target file. Press '-' to return to the listing dir. Press 'Enter' to open the symlink.

Listing input stream can be scripted. It can be extended to pick (option -p) selected entries from the listed results.


There are 2 ways (can be used together) to manage bookmarks.

(1) Bookmark keys: See NNN_BMS under ENVIORNMENT section on how to set
bookmark keys.

The select bookmark key b lists all the bookmark keys set in NNN_BMS
in the bookmarks prompt.

(2) Symlinked bookmarks: A symlinked bookmark to the current directory can
be created with the B key (or manually under ~/.config/nnn/bookmarks).

Pressing 'Enter' at the bookmarks prompt takes to this directory.
If NNN_BMS is not set, the select bookmark key directly opens it.

On entering a bookmark, the directory where the select bookmark key was pressed is set as the previous directory. Press '-' to return to it.


The minimum file size unit is byte (B). The rest are K, M, G, T, P, E, Z, Y (powers of 1024), same as the default units in ls.


The SHELL, VISUAL (else EDITOR) and PAGER environment variables are used. A single combination of arguments is supported for SHELL and PAGER.

NNN_OPTS: binary options to nnn

    export NNN_OPTS="cEnrx"

NNN_OPENER: specify a custom file opener.

    export NNN_OPENER=nuke

    NOTE: 'nuke' is a file opener available in the plugin repository.

NNN_BMS: bookmark string as key_char:location pairs separated by ;:

    export NNN_BMS="d:$HOME/Docs;u:/home/user/Cam Uploads;D:$HOME/Downloads/"

These bookmarks are listed in the help and config screen (key ?).

NNN_PLUG: directly executable plugins as key_char:plugin pairs separated by ;:

    export NNN_PLUG='f:finder;o:fzopen;p:mocplay;d:diffs;t:nmount;v:imgview'

    1. To run a plugin directly, press ; followed by the key.
    2. Alternatively, combine with Alt (i.e. Alt+key).
    3. To skip directory refresh after running a plugin, prefix with -.

    export NNN_PLUG='p:-plugin'

To assign keys to arbitrary non-background cli commands and invoke like
plugins, add ! before the command.

    export NNN_PLUG='x:!chmod +x "$nnn";g:!git log;s:!smplayer "$nnn"'

    To pick and run an unassigned plugin, press Enter at the plugin prompt.
    To run a plugin at startup, use the option `-P` followed by the plugin key.

    1. Place $nnn (or exported variables) in double quotes ("$nnn")
    2. Use single quotes for $NNN_PLUG so "$nnn" is not interpreted
    3. (Again) add ! before the command
    4. To disable directory refresh after running a command as plugin,
       prefix with -!
    5. To skip user confirmation after command execution, suffix with *
       Note: Do not use * with programs those run and exit e.g. cat

        export NNN_PLUG='y:-!sync*'

    6. To run a GUI app as plugin, add a & after !.

        export NNN_PLUG='m:-!&mousepad "$nnn"'

    7. To show the output of run-and-exit commands which do not need user input,
       add | (pipe) after !
       Note: This option is incompatible with & (terminal output is masked
       for GUI programs) and ignores * (output is already paged for user).

        export NNN_PLUG='m:-!|mediainfo "$nnn";t:-!|tree -ps;l:-!|ls -lah --group-directories-first'

    ------------------------------------ + -------------------------------------------------
                Key:Command              |                   Description
    ------------------------------------ + -------------------------------------------------
    c:!convert "$nnn" png:- | xclip      | Copy image to clipboard
       -sel clipboard -t image/png*      |
    C:!cp -rv "$nnn" "$nnn".cp*          | Create a copy of the hovered file
    e:-!sudo -E vim "$nnn"*              | Edit file as root in vim
    g:-!git diff                         | Show git diff
    h:-!hx "$nnn"*                       | Open hovered file in hx hex editor
    k:-!fuser -kiv "$nnn"*               | Interactively kill process(es) using hovered file
    l:-!git log                          | Show git log
    n:-!vi /home/user/Dropbox/dir/note*  | Take quick notes in a synced file/dir of notes
    p:-!less -iR "$nnn"*                 | Page through hovered file in less
    s:-!&smplayer -minigui "$nnn"        | Play hovered media file, even unfinished download
    x:!chmod +x "$nnn"                   | Make the hovered file executable
    y:-!sync*                            | Flush cached writes
    ------------------------------------ + -------------------------------------------------

    Online docs: https://github.com/jarun/nnn/tree/master/plugins

NNN_ORDER: directory-specific sort key.

    export NNN_ORDER='t:/home/user/Downloads;S:/tmp'

    NOTE: Sort keys can be a/d/e/r/s/t/v (see program option -T).
          Capitalize to reverse (except 'r').
          Path must be absolute.

          Timestamps for entries modified/created within 5 minutes are shown in reverse.

NNN_COLORS: string of color numbers for each context, e.g.:

    # 8 color numbers:
    # 0-black, 1-red, 2-green, 3-yellow, 4-blue (default), 5-magenta, 6-cyan, 7-white
    export NNN_COLORS='1234'

    # xterm 256 color numbers (converted to hex, 2 symbols per context):
    # see https://user-images.githubusercontent.com/1482942/93023823-46a6ba80-f5e1-11ea-9ea3-6a3c757704f4.png
    export NNN_COLORS='#0a1b2c3d'

    # both (256 followed by 8 as fallback, separated by ';')
    export NNN_COLORS='#0a1b2c3d;1234'

    NOTE: If only 256 colors are specified and the terminal doesn't support, default is used.

NNN_FCOLORS: specify file-type specific colors:

    export NNN_FCOLORS='c1e2272e006033f7c6d6abc4'

    Specify file-specific colors in xterm 256 color hex numbers (2 symbols per color).
    Order is strict, use 00 to omit/use default terminal color. Defaults:

    ------------------------- + --- + -------------
              Order           | Hex |    Color
    ------------------------- + --- + -------------
    Block device              | c1  | DarkSeaGreen1
    Char device               | e2  | Yellow1
    Directory                 | 27  | DeepSkyBlue1
    Executable                | 2e  | Green1
    Regular                   | 00  | Normal
    Hard link                 | 60  | Plum4
    Symbolic link             | 33  | Cyan1
    Missing OR file details   | f7  | Grey62
    Orphaned symbolic link    | c6  | DeepPink1
    FIFO                      | d6  | Orange1
    Socket                    | ab  | MediumOrchid1
    Unknown OR 0B regular/exe | c4  | Red1
    ------------------------- + --- + -------------

    If the terminal supports xterm 256 colors or more, file-specific colors will be rendered.
    To force the 8-color scheme use option -C.
    If xterm 256 colors aren't supported, 8-color scheme will be used.

NNN_ARCHIVE: archive extensions to be handled silently (default: bzip2, (g)zip, tar).

    export NNN_ARCHIVE="\\.(7z|bz2|gz|tar|tgz|zip)$"

    NOTE: Non-default formats may require a third-party utility.

NNN_ARCHMNT: optional archive mounter utility (default: archivemount).

    export NNN_ARCHIVE='fuse-archive'

NNN_SSHFS: specify custom sshfs command with options:

    export NNN_SSHFS='sshfs -o reconnect,idmap=user,cache_timeout=3600'

    NOTE: The options must be comma-separated without any space between them.

NNN_RCLONE: pass additional options to rclone command:

    export NNN_RCLONE='rclone mount --read-only --no-checksum'

    NOTE: The options must be preceded by "rclone" and max 5 flags are supported.

NNN_TRASH: trash (instead of rm -rf) files to desktop Trash.

    export NNN_TRASH=n
    # n=1: trash-cli, n=2: gio trash

NNN_SEL: absolute path to custom selection file.

    export NNN_SEL='/tmp/.sel'

NNN_FIFO: path of a named pipe to write the hovered file path:

    export NNN_FIFO='/tmp/nnn.fifo'

    1. Overridden by a temporary path with -a option.
    2. If the FIFO file doesn't exist it will be created,
       but not removed (unless it is generated by -a option).

    Online docs: https://github.com/jarun/nnn/wiki/Live-previews

NNN_LOCKER: terminal locker program.

    export NNN_LOCKER='bmon -p wlp1s0'
    export NNN_LOCKER='cmatrix'

NNN_TMPFILE: always cd on quit and write the command in the file specified.

    export NNN_TMPFILE='/tmp/.lastd'

NNN_HELP: run a program and show the output on top of the program help page.

    export NNN_HELP='fortune'

NNN_MCLICK: key emulated by a middle mouse click.

    export NNN_MCLICK='^R'

    NOTE: Only the first character is considered if not a Ctrl+key combo.

nnn: this is a special variable.

    Set to the hovered file name before starting the command prompt or spawning a shell.

NO_COLOR: disable ANSI color output (overridden by NNN_COLORS).


Arun Prakash Jana <engineerarun@gmail.com>,
Lazaros Koromilas <lostd@2f30.org>,
Dimitris Papastamos <sin@2f30.org>.




August 27, 2023