What is GNU Nano Editor in Linux

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GNU nano is a built-in text editor for major Linux distributions, providing similar options to edit and modify files as its competitors VIM and Emacs.

Although, its competitors are way more advanced in count of features and functionalities. However, many users still prefer to use Nano as their default text editor.

Tutorial Details

DescriptionGNU Nano Editor
Difficulty LevelLow
Root or Sudo PrivilegesMaybe
Host System and ArchitectureUbuntu 22.10 (x64)
OS Compatibility Ubuntu, Manjaro, Fedora, etc.
Prerequisitesnano
Internet RequiredNo
Discussed Tools in this Article

Opening the Nano Editor

To open a nano editor simply execute the following command with or without specifying the file.

$ nano

Getting Started

You will interact with the following window when you open the Nano editor.

GNU nano editor in Linux
GNU nano editor in Linux

Now you can type your content inside this file and use the Ctrl+x keyboard shortcut to save the file.

While processing, it will ask to save the modified buffer. Input “y” for “yes“.

Save modified buffer
Save modified buffer

At last, it will ask you to specify the file name; type your filename with the extension and press the enter key.

Naming the new file in nano editor
Naming the new file in nano editor

In future if you want to open the same file than specify the path of this file to the nano command as shown.

$ nano file.txt

Output:

Opening the save text file in nano editor
Opening the saved text file in the nano editor

If you modify this saved file, after typing your first new content inside this file, you will get “*” in front of the file name.

Modifying the saved file in nano editor
Modifying the saved file in nano editor

A lot of things you can do with nano editor by using the keyboard shortcut mentioned below.

Keyboard Shortcuts

File handling

Ctrl+S   Save current file
Ctrl+OOffer to write file (“Save as”)
Ctrl+RInsert a file into current one
Ctrl+XClose buffer, exit from nano

Editing

Ctrl+K   Cut current line into cutbuffer
Alt+6Copy current line into cutbuffer
Ctrl+UPaste contents of cutbuffer
Alt+TCut until end of buffer
Ctrl+]Complete current word
Alt+3Comment/uncomment line/region
Alt+UUndo last action
Alt+ERedo last undone action

Search and replace

Ctrl+Q   Start backward search
Ctrl+WStart forward search
Alt+QFind next occurrence backward
Alt+WFind next occurrence forward
Alt+RStart a replacing session

Deletion

Ctrl+HDelete character before cursor      
Ctrl+DDelete character under cursor
Alt+BspDelete word to the left
Ctrl+Del   Delete word to the right
Alt+DelDelete current line

Moving around

Ctrl+B   One character backward
Ctrl+FOne character forward
Ctrl+←One word backward
Ctrl+β†’One word forward
Ctrl+ATo start of line
Ctrl+ETo end of line
Ctrl+POne line up
Ctrl+NOne line down
Ctrl+↑To previous block
Ctrl+↓To next block
Ctrl+YOne page up
Ctrl+VOne page down
Alt+\To top of buffer
Alt+/To end of buffer

Special movement

Alt+G    Go to the specified line
Alt+]Go to the complementary bracket
Alt+↑Scroll the viewport up
Alt+↓Scroll the viewport down
Alt+<Switch to preceding buffer
Alt+>Switch to the succeeding buffer

Operations

Ctrl+T   Execute some command
Ctrl+JJustify paragraph or region
Alt+JJustify entire buffer
Alt+BRun a syntax check
Alt+FRun a formatter/fixer/arranger
Alt+:Start/stop recording of macro
Alt+;Replay macro

Information

Ctrl+C   Report cursor position
Alt+DReport line/word/character count
Ctrl+GDisplay help text

Various

Alt+ATurn the mark on or off
TabIndent marked region
Shift+Tab   Unindent marked region
Alt+VEnter next keystroke verbatim
Alt+NTurn line numbers on or off
Alt+PTurn visible whitespace on or off
Alt+XHide or unhide the help lines
Ctrl+LRefresh the screen

I hope you understand the usage of the nano editor; if you still have a doubt, do let us know in the comment section.

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