How to show line numbering in nano when opening a file

  • Is there a way to tell nano to automatically show line numbering each time I open a file?

    `set linenumbers` in nanorc does the trick

    CTRL+3 then SHIFT+3 will show line numbers CTRL+3 then SHIFT+3 will hide the line numbers

    Starting from nano 2.7.1 you can open file with `-l` (`--linenumbers`) flag to display lilne numbers beside the text.

  • fossfreedom

    fossfreedom Correct answer

    9 years ago

    The keyboard combination to display the current line number whilst you are using nano is CTRL+C.

    Alternatively, to display the line & column number position you could just use the -c parameter when launching nano i.e:

    nano -c [filename]

    To make this permanent, nano uses a configuration in your home folder ~/.nanorc

    Thus to display line numbers always when using nano...

    nano ~/.nanorc

    (don't worry if its empty - this file doesn't exist by default)

    type set constantshow

    N.B. the deprecated syntax set const is shown in the animation


    enter image description here


    Since you are using line numbers remember you can use ALT+G to jump to a specific line number.

    If you are in a tty, an alternative to CTRL+C is F11 and an alternative to ALT+G is F13 (which doesn't exist on my keyboard) or Ctrl+_ (Ctrl+Shift+-).

    Note that `-c` might not behave the way people are expecting. It won't prefix each line with the number (like `less -N`), it just makes the status box at the bottom of the screen permanent.

    I agree with @IanDunn, this is the wrong answer. Add `set linenumbers` instead (only works in recent versions).

    The permanent solution listed here no longer works in ubuntu 16.04+. Does anyone have an updated solution to permanently activating this setting in Ubuntu 16.04+ ?

  • Accidentally found nice shortcut: Alt+#, which in some keyboard layouts can be done with Alt+Shift+3.

    click me gently

    doesnt work for me on ubuntu16.04 with GNU nano 2.5.3

    does not work with mac keyboard on ssh'd ubuntu terminal

    Add `set linenumbers` to `.nanorc` to make it permanent. If the shortcut doesn't work try `Modifier key + #`.

    It works on Raspbian

    @Gregor Godier Thanks alot this is great with `set linenumbers` in nanorc

    New versions can be downloaded from here:

    Stumbled across this keyboard shortcut when making a typo and was pleasantly surprised :D

    great, works on Ubuntu 18.04

  • Compile Nano from source:

    git clone git://;cd nano;./;./configure;sudo make install 

    Then add the following to your .nanorc file:

    set linenumbers

    You can use Meta+# to turn line numbers on and off from within Nano.

    Actually like that. See you did 2 commits, was the 2nd one, (size increase..) because of the 1st one?

    Yes, that was because of the first one.

    I do like this better than set const or now set constantshow so took the liberty to put in a ppa using 2.6.2 release for ubuntu 16.04. If you wish me to credit or whatever differently let me know..

    Oh cool, thanks for that! I don't mind getting or not getting credited, it just makes me happy to see people finding something I did useful, besides most of the code there belongs to the maintainers of nano, not me.

    Sweet. I've submitted a request to merge this into nano at nano's savannah page:

    Don't worry, I'm already working with Benno on merging this:

    This has been merged upstream and will be available in the next release of Nano

    available with `nano 2.7.1+`

    this implies that you have to compile from source to set `set linenumbers`

    Which was and may still be correct when it comes to Ubuntu

    In my case, set linenumbers is enough, without recompiling nano from source

  • If nano -c filename does not work, use nano filename then Ctrl +_. It will ask you for the line number to go to.

    I'm using SSH and that keyboard shortcut makes the text smaller :(

    That's because you are effectively zooming out with `Ctrl`+`-`. Instead you need `Ctrl`+`Shift`+`-` to get the underscore.

  • If you have already opened the file with nano you press


    (not simultaneusly, press control and w, then without letting go control and letting go w, press t)

    This command will require column and line, you enter them this way:

    10,23 (enter)

    and you will end up in line 10 character 23.

    If you are at the top of the file and you only want to find the line:

    Ctrl+w+t and then 10

    If you are at a acertain line and you want to find the column:

    Ctrl+w+t and then ,23

    If you haven't opened the file yet, you can do this:

    nano +10,23 file (enter)

    and the file will open with cursor in the line 10, chanracter 23, so you can try also:

    nano +10 file (enter)

    nano +,23 file (enter) (Note that this will send you to the character 23 of the first line only)

    This may be the correct way to find the line in the terminal however it does not answer the question on how to make it automatically show on opening.

    This is the only thing that worked for me to find a line number....none of the above worked in my instance of nano.

    Same as Ctrl+G?

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM