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How Docs


Use the Text Editor Pico

NOTE: This document refers to software or hardware that is not currently supported by the University of Wyoming Information Technology Client Support Services. Although the information is believed to be correct, be aware that since no support is available, this information may be out-of-date or possibly no longer valid.


Pico is an easy to use screen oriented text editor on FRONTIER (formerly ASUWlink).

Starting Pico

To start Pico, simply enter Pico, along with the name of a file to edit, at the FRONTIER shell prompt:

frontier:~> pico <filename>

The Pico screen is divided into three parts. The first and top part, a single line, is Pico’s status line, and it contains information about the version of Pico being used and the name of the file being edited.

The bottom part of the screen, consisting of the last three lines of the screen, displays a menu of Pico commands and any informative messages from Pico. The carot symbol (^) represents pressing the <Ctrl> key.

The middle part of the screen will display the file being edited.

Moving Around In Pico

Pico uses the arrow keys to move around. In addition, the following control key sequences are used (where a control key sequence means the <Ctrl> key is held down, while another key is pressed):

<Ctrl>+A - moves to the beginning of the current line
<Ctrl>+E - moves to the end of the current line
<Ctrl>+V - moves forwards in the file a screen’s worth of text at a time
<Ctrl>+Y - moves backwards in the file a screen’s worth of text at a time

Searches will move you to the location of the search text. <Ctrl>+W will initiate a search. Pico responds in the message area at the bottom of the screen, asking for text to search with. If found, Pico will place the cursor at the start of the search text. Searches are not case sensitive.

Using <Ctrl>+Y or <Ctrl>+V while executing a search with <Ctrl>+W will move to the first or last line of the file respectively.

Adding and Deleting Text

New text may be entered by simply typing. Pico uses the following commands for making deletions or restores:

Backspace - deletes the character to the left of the cursor
<Ctrl>+D – deletes the character under the cursor
<Ctrl>+K – deletes the current line
<Ctrl>+U - restores the most recently cut text at the current cursor position

Pico also supports block cutting and pasting. To perform a block cut, first position the cursor at the start of the text to be cut or copied. At this position a mark must be set. This is done with the key sequence <Ctrl>+^ To perform this key sequence, first hold down the <Ctrl> key, next hold down the shift key (so that both the control and shift keys are held down), then press the 6 key on the main part of the keyboard (do not use the numeric keypad 6). Pico will display a message saying the mark has been set.

Next, move around in the file (using either the arrow keys or <Ctrl>+Y or <Ctrl>+V ) to the end of the text to be cut or copied; as this is done the text will become highlighted. To cut, or delete, the text, press <Ctrl>+K. To paste the text elsewhere, move to the desired location and press <Ctrl>+U to paste in the cut text.

Exiting Pico

Use <Ctrl>+X to exit Pico. If you have made changes to the file, Pico will display a message asking if the changes should be saved. If you answer N (for "no"), Pico will exit without saving changes. If you answer Y (for yes), Pico will prompt for a name to save the file under. Simply pressing the Enter or Return key will save the file under its current name; alternatively the file may be saved under a different name by entering in a new name.

Miscellaneous Commands

To read in an external file at the current cursor position, press <Ctrl>+R. Pico will ask for the name of the file to be inserted.

To update changes to the file without exiting Pico, press <Ctrl>+O. As with <Ctrl>+X, the exit command, Pico will allow renaming of the file at this point.

To justify text (i.e., reformat to fit the edges of the screen), press <Ctrl>+J.


Help is available within Pico by typing <Ctrl>+g. Use <Ctrl>+V and <Ctrl>+Y to move forward and backwards respectively within the help information.

Some individual Pico commands have their own help text, and are also accessed by <Ctrl>+G.

Type <Ctrl>+X to exit the help screen and return to the file.


Reviewed: 0706 By: CD

Additional help with the installation and configuration of
UW-supported software is available:
Contact the IT Help Desk at 766-HELP (4357), option 1
Contact the IT Help Desk at 766-HELP (4357), option 1
Come to the student computer lab in the lobby of the
Information Technology Center.

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