Writing Text Files in PICO

The Pico editor is so named because it is as small an editor as possible while still being useful. Pico contains only the most basic commands needed to compose and edit text. It's strength comes from it's simplicity. The majority of commands available in Pico are listed at the bottom of the screen. Below is the bottom menu displayed once inside the message text area.

^G Get Help ^O WriteOut ^R Read File ^Y Prev Pg ^K Cut Text ^C Cur Pos
^X Exit ^J Justify ^W Where is ^V Next Pg ^U UnCut Text ^T To Spell

All commands starting with " ^" refer to using the control key, thus " ^G" means to hold down the control key and press the letter " G". To invoke the Pico editor at the Unix prompt enter the command "pico filename", where filename is the name of the file you wish to edit.

Pico supports the arrow or cursor keys for moving in the file. Thus you can use the up, down, left, and right arrows. Below is a summary of pico commands (include a few not found in Pico's menu):

  • ^A -- (not listed) Move to beginning of line.
  • ^E -- (not listed) Move to end of line
  • ^G-- Get Help. This gives a description on using Pico
  • ^X -- Exit. This ends the editing session and saves the file.
  • ^R -- Read File. This prompts for a file and includes the file into the message body.
  • ^K -- The deletes the entire line that the cursor is on
  • ^U -- This undeletes the last line deleted
  • ^W -- This searches for the a string in the file and places the cursor there
  • ^V -- This moves the cursor down one screen
  • ^Y -- This moves the cursor back one screen
  • ^J -- Justify the paragraph the cursor is in.
  • ^C -- Cancel the message and do not send.
  • ^_ -- Invoke an alternate editor on the message text. This can be useful if you know another editor such as emacs.

To move a block of lines from one location to another enter ^K (delete line) command for each line you wish to move, then position the cursor at the line you wish to add the text. Then enter ^U to undelete the lines, ^U will save all lines in a paste buffer if ^K is entered repeatedly.

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