nanorc man page

nanorc — GNU nano's configuration file

Description

The nanorc file contains the default settings for nano, a small and friendly editor.  The file 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 on your system), and then the user-specific settings, either from ~/.nanorc or from $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/nano/nanorc or from ~/.config/nano/nanorc, whichever is encountered first.

Options

The configuration 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 the two separate sections on those.  nano reads one command per line.

Options in nanorc files take precedence over nano's defaults, and command-line options override nanorc settings.  Also, options that do not take an argument are unset by default.  So using the unset command is only needed when wanting to override a setting of the system's nanorc file in your own nanorc.  Options that take an argument cannot be unset.

Below, the string parameters need to be enclosed in double quotes. Quotes inside these 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 }.

The supported commands and arguments are:

set afterends

Make Ctrl+Right stop at word ends instead of beginnings.

set 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 atblanks

When soft line wrapping is enabled, make it wrap lines at blank characters (tabs and spaces) instead of always at the edge of the screen.

set autoindent

Automatically indent a newly created line to the same number of tabs and/or spaces as the previous line (or as the next line if the previous line is the beginning of a paragraph).

set backup

When saving a file, create a backup file by adding a tilde (~) to the file's name.

set 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 with set backup or --backup or -B. The uniquely numbered files are stored in the specified directory.

set boldtext

Use bold instead of reverse video for the title bar, status bar, key combos, function tags, line numbers, and selected text.  This can be overridden by setting the options titlecolor, statuscolor, keycolor, functioncolor, numbercolor, and selectedcolor.

set brackets string

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

set casesensitive

Do case-sensitive searches by default.

set constantshow

Constantly display the cursor position in the status bar. This overrides the option quickblank.

set cutfromcursor

Use cut-from-cursor-to-end-of-line by default, instead of cutting the whole line. (The old form of this option, 'set cut', is deprecated.)

set errorcolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Use this color combination for the status bar when an error message is displayed. See set titlecolor for valid color names.

set fill number

Hard-wrap lines at column number number.  If number is 0 or less, the maximum line length will be the screen width less number columns. The default value is -8.  This option conflicts with nowrap -- the last one given takes effect.

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 historylog

Save the last hundred search strings and replacement strings and executed commands, so they can be easily reused in later sessions.

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 linenumbers

Display line numbers to the left of the text area.

set 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 morespace

Use the blank line below the title bar as extra editing space.

set 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.

set multibuffer

When reading in a file with ^R, insert it into a new buffer by default.

set noconvert

Don't convert files from DOS/Mac format.

set nohelp

Don't display the two help lines at the bottom of the screen.

set nonewlines

When a file does not end with a newline, don't automatically add one.

set nopauses

Don't pause between warnings at startup.  This means that only the last one will be visible (when there are multiple ones).

set nowrap

Don't hard-wrap text at all.  This option conflicts with fill -- the last one given takes effect.

set numbercolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for line numbers. See set titlecolor for more details.

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 positionlog

Save the cursor position of files between editing sessions. The cursor position is remembered for the 200 most-recently edited files.

set 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 specfified closing punctuation, optionally followed by closing brackets (see brackets), can end sentences.  The default value is "!.?".

set quickblank

Do quick status-bar blanking: status-bar messages will disappear after 1 keystroke instead of 25.  The option constantshow overrides this.

set quiet

Obsolete option.  Recognized but ignored.

set quotestr regex

The email-quote string, used to justify email-quoted paragraphs.  This is an extended regular expression.  The default value is "^([ \t]*([#:>|}]|//))+".  Note that \t stands for an actual Tab character.

set 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 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 regexp

Do extended regular expression searches by default.

set selectedcolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for selected text. See set titlecolor for more details.

set showcursor

Put the cursor on the highlighted item in the file browser, to aid braille users.

set 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 smooth

Use smooth scrolling by default.

set softwrap

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

set speller program

Use the given program to do spell checking and correcting, instead of the built-in corrector that calls spell.

set statuscolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for the status bar. See set titlecolor for more details.

set suspend

Allow nano to be suspended.

set tabsize number

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

set tabstospaces

Convert typed tabs to spaces.

set tempfile

Save automatically on exit, don't prompt.

set titlecolor fgcolor,bgcolor

Specify the color combination to use for the title bar. Valid names for the foreground and background colors are: white, black, blue, green, red, cyan, yellow, magenta, and normal -- where normal means the default foreground or background color. The name of the foreground color may be prefixed with bright. And either "fgcolor" or ",bgcolor" may be left out.

set trimblanks

Remove trailing whitespace from wrapped lines when automatic hard-wrapping occurs or when text is justified. (The old form of this option, 'set justifytrim', is deprecated.)

set 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 set noconvert.)

set 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 wordbounds

Detect word boundaries differently by treating punctuation characters as parts of words.

set wordchars string

Specify which other characters (besides the normal alphanumeric ones) should be considered as parts of words.  This overrides the option wordbounds.

Syntax Highlighting

Coloring the different syntactic elements of a file is done via regular expressions (see the color command below). This is inherently imperfect, because regular expressions are not powerful enough to fully parse a file.  Nevertheless, regular expressions can do a lot and are easy to make, so they are a good fit for a small editor like nano.

For each kind of file a separate syntax can be defined via the following commands:

syntax name ["fileregex" ...]

Start the definition of a syntax with this name. All subsequent color and other such commands will be added to this syntax, until a new syntax command is encountered.

When nano is run, this syntax will be automatically activated if the current filename matches the extended regular expression fileregex.  Or the syntax can be explicitly activated by using the -Y or --syntax command-line option followed by the name.

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

header "regex" ...

If from all defined syntaxes no fileregex matched, then compare this regex (or regexes) against the first line of the current file, to determine whether this syntax should be used for it.

magic "regex" ...

If no fileregex matched and no header regex matched either, then compare this regex (or regexes) against the result of querying the magic database about the current file, to determine whether this syntax should be used for it. (This functionality only works when libmagic is installed on the system and will be silently ignored otherwise.)

linter program [arg ...]

Use the given program to run a syntax check on the current buffer. (This overrides the speller function.)

comment "string"

Use the given string for commenting and uncommenting lines. If the string contains a vertical bar or pipe character (|), this designates bracket-style comments; for example, "/*|*/" for CSS files.  The characters before the pipe are prepended to the line and the characters after the pipe are appended at the end of the line.  If no pipe character is present, the full string is prepended; for example, "#" for Python files.  If empty double quotes are specified, the comment/uncomment function is disabled; for example, "" for JSON. The default value is "#".

color fgcolor,bgcolor "regex" ...

Display all pieces of text that match the extended regular expression regex with foreground color fgcolor and background color bgcolor, at least one of which must be specified.  Valid names for foreground and background colors are: white, black, blue, green, red, cyan, yellow, magenta, and normal -- where normal means the default foreground or background color. 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 matching is case insensitive.

color fgcolor,bgcolor start="fromrx" end="torx"

Display all pieces of text whose start matches extended regular expression fromrx and whose end matches extended regular expression torx with foreground color fgcolor and background color bgcolor, at least one of which must be specified.  This means that, after an initial instance of fromrx, all text until the first instance of torx will be colored.  This allows syntax highlighting to span multiple lines.

icolor fgcolor,bgcolor start="fromrx" end="torx"

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

include "syntaxfile"

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

extendsyntax name command [arg ...]

Extend the syntax previously defined as name with another command.  This allows adding a new color, icolor, header, magic, comment, or linter command to an already defined syntax -- useful when you want to slightly improve a syntax defined in one of the system-installed files (which normally are not writable).

Note: the formatter command has been removed.  It was superseded by a more general mechanism: the filtering of buffer or marked text through an external command.  Such filtering is done by typing ^R^X and then preceding your formatter command with the pipe symbol (|).  It has the added advantage that the operation can be undone.

If you use such a formatting command regularly, you could assign the relevant series of keystrokes to a single key in your nanorc:

bind  M-F  "^R^X|yourformatcommand^M"  main

(Note that the ^R, ^X, and ^M are each a single, literal control character.  You can enter them by preceding each with M-V.)

Rebinding Keys

Key bindings can be changed via the following three commands:

bind key function menu

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

bind key "string" menu

Makes the given key produce the given string in the given menu (or in all menus where the key exists when all is used). The string can consist of text or commands or a mix of them. (To enter a command into the string, precede its keystroke with M-V.)

unbind key menu

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

The format of key should be one of:
^

followed by a Latin letter, by one of several ASCII characters (@, ], \, ^, or _), or by the word "Space". Example: ^C.

M-

followed by any ASCII character except [, or by the word "Space". Example: M-C.

F

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

the word "Ins" or the word "Del".

Valid function names 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, asking for a name.

savefile

Writes the current file to disk without prompting.

insert

Inserts a file into the current buffer (at the current cursor position), or into a new buffer when option multibuffer is set.

whereis

Starts a forward search for text in the current buffer -- or for filenames matching a string in the current list in the file browser.

wherewas

Starts a backward search for text in the current buffer -- or for filenames matching a string in the current list in the file browser.

findprevious

Searches the next occurrence in the backward direction.

findnext

Searches the next occurrence in the forward direction.

replace

Interactively replaces text within the current buffer.

cut

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

copy

Copies the current line (or the marked region) without deleting it. (The old form 'copytext' is deprecated.)

paste

Pastes the currently stored text into the current buffer at the current cursor position. (The old form 'uncut' is deprecated.)

cutwordleft

Cuts from the cursor position to the beginning of the preceding word. (This function is not bound by default.  If your terminal produces ^H for <Ctrl+Backspace>, you can make <Ctrl+Backspace> delete the word to the left of the cursor by rebinding ^H to this function.)

cutwordright

Cuts from the cursor position to the beginning of the next word. (This function is bound by default to <Ctrl+Delete>.)

cutrestoffile

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

mark

Sets the mark at the current position, to start selecting text. Or, when it is set, unsets the mark.

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 linting program, if the active syntax defines such a thing).

linter

A synonym of speller (for when the speller has not been configured).

justify

Justifies the current paragraph.  A paragraph is a group of contiguous lines that, apart from possibly the first line, all have the same indentation.  The beginning of a paragraph is detected by either this lone line with a differing indentation or by a preceding blank line.

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.

comment

Comments or uncomments the current line or marked lines, using the comment style specified in the active syntax.

complete

Completes the fragment before the cursor to a full word found elsewhere in the current buffer.

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 the viewport up one row (meaning that the text slides down) while keeping the cursor in the same text position, if possible.

scrolldown

Scrolls the viewport down one row (meaning that the text slides up) while keeping the cursor in the same text position, if possible.

prevword

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the previous word.

nextword

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the next 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.

prevblock

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current or preceding block of text. (Blocks are separated by one or more blank lines.)

nextblock

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the next block of text.

pageup

Goes up one screenful.

pagedown

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).  Negative numbers count from the end of the file (and end of the line).

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 multiple buffers are open.

nextbuf

Switches to editing/viewing the next buffer when multiple buffers are open.

verbatim

Inserts the next keystroke 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.

recordmacro

Starts the recording of keystrokes -- the keystrokes are stored as a macro.  When already recording, the recording is stopped.

runmacro

Replays the keystrokes of the last recorded macro.

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 whether searching/replacing ignores or respects the case of the given characters.

regexp

Toggles whether searching/replacing uses literal strings or regular expressions.

backwards

Toggles whether searching/replacing goes forward or backward.

prevhistory

Retrieves the previous (older) entry at a prompt.

nexthistory

Retrieves the next (newer) entry at a prompt.

flipreplace

Toggles between searching for something and replacing something.

flipgoto

Toggles between searching for text and targeting a line number. (The form 'gototext' is deprecated.)

flipexecute

Toggles between inserting a file and executing a command.

flippipe

When executing a command, toggles whether the current buffer (or marked region) is piped to the command.

flipnewbuffer

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

flipconvert

When reading in a file, toggles between converting and not converting it from DOS/Mac format.  Converting is the default.

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.

discardbuffer

When about to write a file, discard the current buffer without saving. (This function is bound by default only when option --tempfile is in effect.)

browser

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.

constantshow

Toggles the constant display of the current line, column, and character positions. (The form 'constupdate' is deprecated.)

smoothscroll

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

softwrap

Toggles the displaying of overlong lines on multiple screen lines.

linenumbers

Toggles the display of line numbers in front of the text.

whitespacedisplay

Toggles the showing of whitespace.

nosyntax

Toggles syntax highlighting.

smarthome

Toggles the smartness of the Home key.

autoindent

Toggles whether a newly created line will contain the same amount of leading whitespace as the preceding line -- or as the next line if the preceding line is the beginning of a paragraph.

cutfromcursor

Toggles whether cutting text will cut the whole line or just from the current cursor position to the end of the line. (The form 'cuttoend' is deprecated.)

nowrap

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

tabstospaces

Toggles whether typed tabs will be converted to spaces.

mouse

Toggles mouse support.

suspendenable

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

Valid menu sections 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'.

yesno

The 'yesno' menu, where the Yes/No/All/Cancel question is asked.

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.

Files

/etc/nanorc

System-wide configuration file.

~/.nanorc or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/nano/nanorc or ~/.config/nano/nanorc

Per-user configuration file.

See Also

nano(1)

Author

Chris Allegretta and others (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 others).

Referenced By

nano(1).

version 3.0 September 2018