nano – Character Terminal Text Editor

The nano command is a text editor for the Linux terminal. It is a user-friendly and intuitive command-line tool that allows users to create, edit, and modify text files in a terminal environment. It is designed to be simple and easy to use, making it an ideal choice for beginners.


To open a file in nano, simply type nano followed by the file name. If the file does not exist, nano will create a new file with the specified name. Once the file is open, you can begin editing the text.

Basic Editing Commands

  • Ctrl + G: Display the help menu
  • Ctrl + O: Save the file
  • Ctrl + X: Exit the editor
  • Ctrl + K: Cut the current line
  • Ctrl + U: Paste the cut line
  • Ctrl + W: Search for a word or phrase
  • Ctrl + C: Display the current line number and column position
  • Ctrl + J: Justify the current paragraph
  • Ctrl + T: Check the spelling of the current file

Specific Use Cases

  • Creating a new file: To create a new file, type nano followed by the desired file name. For example, nano newfile.txt.
  • Editing an existing file: To edit an existing file, type nano followed by the file name. For example, nano existingfile.txt.
  • Editing a file as root: To edit a file as root, use the sudo command followed by nano and the file name. For example, sudo nano /etc/fstab.
  • Using syntax highlighting: To enable syntax highlighting, use the -Y flag followed by the language. For example, nano -Y sh will enable syntax highlighting for a shell script.


The following table lists all available options for the nano command:

Option Description
-B Make a backup of the file before saving
-c Constantly display the cursor position
-E Disable conversion of tabs to spaces
-H Enable smart home key
-i Automatically indent new lines
-k Enable cut to end-of-line
-m Enable mouse support
-n Disable automatic line numbering
-N Enable line numbering
-O Use the original file’s owner and group
-q Disable the use of the cursor keys for scrolling
-r Read-only mode
-s Smooth scrolling
-S Enable soft wrapping of long lines
-t Convert tabs to spaces
-T Disable backup files
-u Disable undo
-v View mode (read-only)
-w Write the file to a specific location
-x Enable encryption
-Y Enable syntax highlighting

Troubleshooting tips

  • If you’re having trouble saving a file, make sure that you have write permissions for the directory in which the file is located.
  • If you accidentally cut a line and want to undo it, use the Ctrl + U command to paste the cut line back into the file.
  • If you’re having trouble finding a specific word or phrase, use the Ctrl + W command to search for it.


  • nano is a great text editor for beginners, but it may not be suitable for more advanced users who require more powerful features.
  • nano is included in most Linux distributions by default, so it is readily available for use without any additional installation steps.