Nano Save and Exit: A Step-by-Step Guide

Nano is used as a default text or source code editor in almost all Linux distributions. Creating or editing text files is a common task while dealing with the command line. Vim and Emacs are two of the most potent and well-liked command-line editors. Both have a deep learning curve that is intimidating for new users. Nano is an editor that's basic and simple enough for people who need it.

GNU Nano is a user-friendly command-line text editor for Linux and Unix operating systems. It has all the features of a standard text editor, including spell-checking, multiple buffers, syntax highlighting, support for regular expressions in search and replace, UTF-8 encoding, and more. If you're new to Linux and using the Nano text editor, understanding how to save your work and exit Nano editor is important.

This guide will walk you through the process, ensuring you grasp the fundamental steps to Nano save and exit gracefully. We will also demonstrate commands about how to exit Nano in Linux. So, let's explore the commonly used Nano editor commands for Nano save and exit.

Nano Create a File 

To access an existing file or initiate the creation of a new one, simply type “nano” followed by the desired file name:

$ sudo nano file_name

The above command opens a new editing window, allowing you to make modifications to the file. Once you have made changes to the file, exit Nano editor. At the bottom of the window, you'll find a collection of fundamental command shortcuts associated with the Nano editor.

Each command is prefixed with caret (^) or M characters. The caret (^) signifies the Ctrl key. For instance, the ^J command can be performed by pressing the Ctrl and J keys simultaneously. Conversely, the letter M represents the Alt key.

To view a comprehensive list of all commands available, type “Ctrl+g” and “Ctrl+x” to exit Nano. This will provide you with a reference for utilizing the various functionalities of the Nano editor.

How to Save File Changes in Nano Editor (Nano Save File)

To save changes made to the file, use “Ctrl+O” in the Nano editor. If the file does not exist, it creates a new file upon saving changes. 

After making changes in the desired file, press “Ctrl+O.” A confirmation prompt appears inside the Nano editor. To save changes, press the “Enter” key, or you can cancel it by pressing “Ctrl+C.”

How to Exit Nano Editor (Nano Save and Exit)

Once you're done making changes to a file, use “Ctrl + x” (exit Nano) to exit the Nano editor. This command will get you back to the terminal. 

If there are unsaved patches in your system, a prompt will appear and ask you if you want to save changes. You can choose to save by typing “yes.” if you don’t want to save changes, type “no” or cancel the exit operation by pressing “Ctrl+C.”

To exit Nano, press “Ctrl+x.” If there are unsaved alterations, a prompt will inquire whether you wish to save the changes. 

You are required to write permissions to save changes to the file using Nano. In the case of creating a new file, writing permission for the directory where the file is being generated is important. Hence, Nano save and exit are the two commands that help you perform the basic Nano editor operations based on the necessary permissions.

Useful Nano Editor Commands, Including Save and Exit Nano

Below, we have listed some useful commands that help you in using Nano Editor:

^G: Access the Nano Help menu

^W: Search for text in Nano

^C: Identify the current cursor line

^A: Move the cursor at the beginning of the line

^E: Move the cursor at the end of the line

^Y: Move down a page

^V: Move up a page

^_: Move to a specific line (^^V to the top, ^^Y to the bottom)

^D: Delete the character under the cursor

^K: Delete the entire line

^O: Save the file in Nano (prompted for file name)

^X: Exit Nano (prompted to save if changes exist and exit Nano editor) Ctrl+X (Exit Nano)

In the above commands, the caret ^ symbol is equivalent to the Ctrl key. These Nano commands are also useful to save changes and exit Nano if you are using a Linux VPS server on your machine.


Utilizing the command line, you can easily complete the Nano save and exit functionalities by using the keyboard shortcuts “Ctrl+O” or ^O to save changes in a file and “Ctrl+X” or ^X (Exit Nano) to exit Nano editor. However, as we mentioned earlier, the successful execution of the above commands depends on having the required write permissions for the files and directories involved. This ensures that any alterations made in the Nano editor are saved, and the editor is exited properly.

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