Nano: lightweight and flexible text editor

Nano, improved version of Pico, is a friendly, lightweight and flexible text editor, it is ideal to make simple edits. Nano is a modeless text editor (no need to run any command or key combination to start editing the selected file). Once started it shows in the first line: the current version, the name of the file being edited and whether it has been modified or not; then the file in question, in the third line from the bottom up the important messages and in the last 2 lines the most common shortcuts, see figure. The main keys for Nano are: Ctrl (^) and Esc (M), ie with Esc or Ctrl and another key combination we can execute an action. Within its essential features we can mention:

  • Clean interface
  • Low learning curve
  • Internationalization
  • Syntax highlighting for C, C++, Python, Perl, Ruby, HTML, TeX and other
  • Searches / replacement by keywords or regular expressions
  • Forward / back one screen
  • File Explorer
  • Edit multiple files
  • Mouse support
  • Help integrated into the editor
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General syntax


Open the apache2.conf file and go to 20 line, column 23

nano +20,23 /etc/apache2/apache2.conf 

Edit file1.txt

nano file1.txt

Make relevant modifications and

Save the changes

Ctrl o

Nano it will request confirmation on the file that you want to modify, press:


Copy the current line and store it in the buffer

Esc 6

Cut the current line and store it in the buffer

Ctrl k

Paste what is in the buffer

Ctrl u

Use the mouse to select various lines

Esc a

To copy / cut / paste the selected lines use

Esc 6/Ctrl k/Ctrl u



Go to the first line of the file

Esc \

Go to the last line of the file

Esc /

Go to line 10, column 20

Esc g

Nano will request the line and column number to which you want to go, type:


Go to the beginning of the current line

Ctrl a

Go to the end of the current line

Ctrl e

Moving to matching braces

Esc ]

Advance one screen

Ctrl v

Go back one screen

Ctrl y

Advanced options

Search by keywords

Ctrl w

Search using regular expressions

Ctrl w Esc r

Repeat last search

Esc w

Enable / disable the mouse support

Esc m

Launch integrated help

Ctrl g

Further reading