How to Show Line Numbers in Nano Editor

How to Show Line Numbers in Nano Editor

Would you like to have line numbers for Nano? Now you can  display line numbers in the nano editor by continuing to read on.


Numerous Unix-based systems come with a text editor called the Nano editor. It’s a compact, light-weight, user-friendly editor that works well for basic text file modifications. You might be wondering how to display line numbers in Nano if you’re new to using the text editor. When working with large files or trying to locate a single line of code, this can be useful.


In the Nano editor, display all line numbers on the left side.


In cases where precise line identification is crucial, like debugging or code collaboration, Nano’s display of line numbers on the left side of the editor enhances readability and editing convenience. The Nano editor can be made more user-friendly and efficient by allowing users to rapidly access certain nano line numbers by looking to the left.


Making Use of Shortcut Keys


When using the Arrow keys to go up or down the file, the original Nano editor displayed the line number at the bottom. On the other hand, the second option shows the nano line numbers on the left side of the Nano editor in a column format.


Let’s now examine several shortcut keys for the line numbers displayed by nano.




In the Nano editor, the current line number can be seen at the bottom by pressing ALT+C. On the other hand, if the line numbers are already visible, you can hide them by using the same shortcut. To use the ALT+C shortcut, first open a sample file in Nano, such as this one:



$ sudo nano


After that, use ALT+C to see the outcome:


Importantly, the information bar remains at the bottom until we restart Nano or use ALT+C to deactivate it. The data dynamically refreshes while it’s still on the screen while we move the pointer over it.




Similar to this, pressing CTRL+C will also display line numbers at the bottom of Nano when using the nano show nano line numbers key combination.


As a result, we see the line number in the same format that ALT+C enabled. However, the CTRL+C shortcut offers a static snapshot rather than updating when the cursor is moved, in contrast to ALT+C. In addition, the information bar vanishes after a little while.




Alternatively, we can reveal all line numbers in Nano at once by using the shortcut key ALT+N. To see the line numbers in our script, let’s hit ALT+N.


Consequently, we see the file’s nano line numbers shown in a column format on the window’s left side.




In a similar vein, you may use the shortcut ALT+SHIFT+# to change how line numbers appear in Nano.


As a result, we see the line numbers in the same format that ALT+N activates. Both shortcuts are essentially interchangeable with one another.


Employing the -c Option


Apart from the shortcut keys, Nano provides a range of command-line parameters to ensure that line numbers in a file are consistently shown. As an illustration, the -c option, which is the same as –constantshow, guarantees that line numbers are visible at all times during the editing session.


To put this into practice, we give the Nano command, which opens the script, the -c option:


$ sudo nano -c


Let’s now analyze the result:


This is the same as pressing the ALT+C key combination to launch Nano with line numbers without flags.


Employing the -l Option


Another command-line option that tells Nano to display line numbers in a column format is -l, which stands for –linenumbers.


$ sudo nano -l


In Nano, only show the current line number.


When opening a file in nano, use the -c or –constantshow option to see the current line numbers:


nano -c filename


Here, by default, Nano does not display all line numbers on the left side. Rather, when you travel across different lines, it dynamically displays the current line number information at the bottom of the editor.


When you move the pointer to different lines using the arrow keys, the line numbers at the bottom change to reflect the new line number. The information about the cursor position also contains the row number (line number). In essence, when you move about the nano editor, you receive real-time input on the current line number.


Use the shortcut to see the current line number in Nano.


You can use the shortcut Ctrl+C to rapidly display the current line number in nano with line numbers. The editor’s bottom display, which shows the line number and current cursor position, can be toggled by pressing Ctrl+C. This enables you to view the line number in the Nano editor while you are navigating across different lines.


Display the current line number in the Nano editor.


If you have accidentally opened the file with the -c option, don’t worry. With a small annoyance, you can still accomplish the same result from within the Nano editor.


To see the current cursor position in Nano while viewing a file, just press Ctrl+C. This will display the information at the bottom of the window.


It won’t show you the line numbers as you move through lines like the previous option did. Rather, each time you want to see the current line number, you’ll have to hit Ctrl+C. It’s not the most practical method, I admit.


Modify Nano’s configuration such that the bottom line number is always displayed.


This effectively confirms the original method, removing the need to constantly open files with nano -c. It is entirely up to you whether or not to make this change permanent. Edit the nanorc file to achieve this. It will be created if it doesn’t already exist.


nano ~/.nanorc


Include the line that follows:


set constantshow


If you change your mind later, go back into the file and remove the `set constantshow} line.


Permanently display the number of each line in Nano


You can alter the nanorc configuration file in Nano to permanently display line numbers. Take these actions:


Launch the nanorc file or create one.


In order to activate line numbers, add the following line:


set linenumbers


After making your edits, quit nano.


By default, Nano shows the line numbers for each line each time you open it. You can remove the `set linenumbers` line from the nanorc file and edit it again if you ever want to disable line numbers.


In summary


There are four simple ways to set line numbers in your nano editor. It is crucial for users to have line numbers so they can refer to the line they are currently working on. Giving them access will enable them to comprehend and identify any errors in the lines. We have covered the explanation of nano display line number commands in this article. If you have any questions you can use the comment box. 


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