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), and then the user-specific settings, from ~/.nanorc.

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 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 autoindent

Use auto-indentation.

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 backwards

Do backwards searches by default.

set boldtext

Use bold instead of reverse video for the titlebar, statusbar, key combos, and selected text.  This can be overridden for the first three by setting the options titlecolor, statuscolor, and keycolor.

set brackets string

Set the characters treated as closing brackets when justifying paragraphs.  This may not include blank characters.  Only closing punctuation (see 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. (The old form of this option, 'set const', is deprecated.)

set cut

Use cut-to-end-of-line by default, instead of cutting the whole line.

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.

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

Enable the use of ~/.nano/search_history for saving and reading search/replace strings.

set justifytrim

When justifying text, trailing whitespace will automatically be removed.

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 titlebar 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

Don't automatically add a newline to the ends of files.

set nowrap

Don't hard-wrap text at all.

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. (The old form of this option, 'set poslog', is deprecated.)

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 statusbar blanking.  Statusbar messages will disappear after 1 keystroke instead of 25.

set quiet

nano will not report errors in the nanorc file nor ask them to be acknowledged by pressing Enter at startup.  If this is used, it should be placed at the top of the file to be fully effective.

set quotestr string

The email-quote string, used to justify email-quoted paragraphs.  This is an extended regular expression if your system supports them, otherwise a literal string.  The default value is "^([ \t]*[#:>\|}])+" if you have extended regular expression support, and "> " otherwise.  Note that '\t' stands for a literal 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 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 spellprog

Use spelling checker spellprog instead of the built-in one, which calls spell.

set statuscolor fgcolor,bgcolor

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

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.

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.

A separate syntax can be defined for each kind of file via the following commands:

syntax "str" ["fileregex" ...]

Defines a syntax named str which can be activated via the -Y/--syntax command-line option, or will be automatically activated if the current filename matches the extended regular expression fileregex.  All subsequent color, icolor, header and other such statements will apply to this str syntax until a new syntax command is encountered.

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

linter program [arg ...]

Use the given program to run a syntax check on the current file (this overrides the speller function when defined).

formatter program [arg ...]

Use the given program to automatically reformat text. Useful in certain programming languages (e.g. Go).

header regex ...

Add one or more regexes which will be compared against the very first line of the file to be edited, to determine whether this syntax should be used for that file.

magic regex ...

Add one or more regexes which will be compared against the result of querying the magic database about the file to be edited, to determine whether this syntax should be used for that file.  This functionality only works when libmagic is installed on the system and will be silently ignored otherwise.

comment string

Use the given string for commenting and uncommenting lines.  A vertical bar or pipe character (|) 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 entire string is prepended; for example, "#" for Python files.  If empty double quotes are specified, the comment/uncomment function is disabled; for example, "" for JSON.  Double quotes or backslashes may be escaped with a backslash; for example, ".\"" for man page source.

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 colors for foreground and background are: white, black, red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, and cyan.  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 text matching is case insensitive.

color fgcolor,bgcolor start="sr" end="er"

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

icolor fgcolor,bgcolor start="sr" end="er"

Same as above, except that the text 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 str directive [arg ...]

Extend the syntax previously defined as str to include new information.  This allows you to add a new color, icolor, header, magic, comment, linter, or formatter directive to an already defined syntax -- useful when you want to slightly improve a syntax defined in one of the system-installed files (which are normally not writable)

Rebinding Keys

Key bindings can be changed via the following two 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).

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 an alpha character or the word "Space". Example: ^C

M-

followed by a printable character or the word "Space". Example: M-C

F

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

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 or warning.

insert

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

whereis

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

searchagain

Repeats the last search command without prompting. (The form 'research' is deprecated.)

findprevious

As searchagain, but always in the backward direction.

findnext

As searchagain, but always in the forward direction.

replace

Interactively replaces text within the current buffer.

cut

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

copytext

Copies the current line (or the marked region) without deleting it.

uncut

Copies the currently stored text into the current buffer at the current cursor position.

mark

Sets the mark at the current position, to start selecting text.

cutwordleft

Cuts from the cursor position to the beginning of the preceding word.

cutwordright

Cuts from the cursor position to the beginning of the next word.

cutrestoffile

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

curpos

Shows the current cursor position: the line, column, and character positions. (The form 'cursorpos' is deprecated.)

wordcount

Counts the number of words, lines and characters in the current buffer.

speller

Invokes a spell-checking program (or a linting program, if the current syntax highlighting defines one).

linter

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

justify

Justifies the current paragraph.

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 up one line of text from the current position.

scrolldown

Scrolls down one line of text from the current position.

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.

prevpage

Goes up one screenful.

nextpage

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).

gototext

Switches from targeting a line number to searching for text.

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.

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 case sensitivity in searching (search/replace menus only).

regexp

Toggles whether searching/replacing is based on literal strings or regular expressions. (The form 'regex' is deprecated.)

backwards

Toggles whether searching/replacing goes forward or backward.

prevhistory

Shows the previous history entry in the prompt menus (e.g. search).

nexthistory

Shows the next history entry in the prompt menus (e.g. search).

flipreplace

Toggles between searching for something and replacing something. (The form 'dontreplace' is deprecated.)

flipexecute

Toggles between inserting a file and executing a command.

flipnewbuffer

Toggles between inserting into the current buffer and into a new empty buffer. (The form 'newbuffer' is deprecated.)

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.)

tofiles

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.

constupdate

Toggles the constant display of the current line, column, and character positions.

morespace

Toggles the presence of the blank line which 'separates' the titlebar from the file text.

smoothscroll

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

softwrap

Toggles the displaying of overlong lines on multiple screen lines.

whitespacedisplay

Toggles the showing of whitespace.

nosyntax

Toggles syntax highlighting.

smarthome

Toggles the smartness of the Home key.

autoindent

Toggles whether new lines will contain the same amount of whitespace as the preceding line.

cuttoend

Toggles whether cutting text will cut the whole line or just from the current cursor position to the end of the line.

nowrap

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

tabstospaces

Toggles whether typed tabs will be converted to spaces.

backupfile

Toggles whether a backup will be made of the file being edited.

multibuffer

Toggles whether a file is inserted into the current buffer or read into a new buffer.

mouse

Toggles mouse support.

noconvert

Toggles automatic conversion of files from DOS/Mac format.

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'. (The form 'replace2' is deprecated.)

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

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 2.7.4 January 2017