nanorc(5) -- Linux man page



nanorc - GNU nano's rcfile  


This manual page documents GNU nano's rcfile.

nano is a small, free and friendly editor which aims to replace Pico, the default editor included in the non-free Pine package. Rather than just copying Pico's look and feel, nano also implements some missing (or disabled by default) features in Pico, such as "search and replace" and "go to line number".

The nanorc file contains the default settings for nano. During startup, nano will first read its system-wide settings from $SYSCONFDIR/nanorc, and then user-specific settings from ~/.nanorc.



The configuration file accepts a series of "set" and "unset" commands, which can be used to configure nano on startup without using the command-line options. Additionally, the "syntax" and "color" keywords are used to define syntax highlighting rules for different text patterns. GNU nano will read one command per line.

Options in rcfiles take precedence over nano's defaults, and command line options override rcfile settings.

Options are unset by default, except for options that take an argument.

The supported commands and arguments are:

set/unset autoindent
Use auto-indentation.
set/unset backup
Create backup files in filename~.
set/unset const
Constantly display the cursor position in the status bar.
set/unset cut
Use cut to end of line with ^K by default.
set fill n
Wrap lines at column number n. If n is 0 or less, the line length will be the screen width less n. The default value is -8.
set/unset historylog
Enable ~/.nano_history for saving and reading search/replace strings.
set/unset keypad
Use alternate keypad routines.
set/unset multibuffer
Allow inserting files into their own buffers.
set/unset noconvert
Don't convert files from DOS/Mac format.
set/unset nofollow
Don't follow symlinks when writing files.
set/unset nohelp
Don't display the help lists at the bottom of the screen.
set/unset nowrap
Don't wrap text at all.
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 dir. By default the operating directory feature is turned off.
set/unset preserve
Preserve the XON and XOFF keys (^Q and ^S).
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

        set quotestr "^([ \t]*[|>:}#])+"

if you have regexps, otherwise set quotestr "> ". Note that '\t' above stands for a literal Tab character.

set/unset regexp
Do regular expression searches by default.
set/unset smooth
Use smooth scrolling by default.
set speller spellprog
Use spelling checker spellprog instead of the built-in one, which calls spell.
set/unset suspend
Allow nano to be suspended with ^Z.
set tabsize n
Use a tab size of n instead of the default (8); must be greater than 0.
set/unset tempfile
Save automatically on exit, don't prompt.
set/unset view
Disallow file modification.
syntax str [fileregex ... ]
Defines a syntax named str which can be activated via the -Y flag, or will be automatically activated if the current filename matches fileregex. All following color statements will apply to syntax until a new syntax is defined.
color fgcolor[,bgcolor] regex ...
For the currently defined syntax, display all expressions matching regex with foreground color fgcolor and optional background color bgcolor. Legal colors for foreground and background color are: white, black, red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, and cyan. You may use the prefix "bright" to force a stronger color highlight. If your terminal supports transparency, not specifying a bgcolor tells nano to attempt to use a transparent background.
color fgcolor[,bgcolor] start=sr end=er
Display expressions which start with sr and end with er with foreground color fgcolor and optional background color bgcolor. This allows syntax highlighting to span multiple lines. Note that all subsequent instances of sr after an initial sr is found will be highlighted until the first instance of er.



System-wide configuration file
Per-user configuration file



/usr/share/doc/nano/examples/nanorc.sample (or equivalent on your system)  


Chris Allegretta <>, et al (see AUTHORS and THANKS for details). This manual page was written by Jordi Mallach <>.