Getting Started with Pico

Pico is a simple full screen ASCII editor for UNIX systems developed at the University of Washington. It is the editor used within the Pine Mailer, making it easy to learn and use.

Although we will cover only the basics of the Pico editor, you are invited to use the online help to explore the other features of Pico on your own. If you are using a personal computer to login, be sure your software supports VT-100 emulation.



The circumflex (^) denotes a CONTROL key press. Examples are shown in Courier typeface; user input is shown in boldface.


Starting Pico

To start Pico with a blank page, at the unix % prompt type:
    % pico

To start Pico with an existing file, at the unix % prompt type:

    % pico <filename>

You will either be presented with a blank page or the first page of text from your existing document as shown in Figure 1.


UW PICO(tm) 2.9 File: data
data list /1 id 1-3 sex 6 birthwt 7-12 (2)
list cases from 1 to 2
begin data
123 0245311
124 0167932
125 1342597
126 0189421
end data
select if id=123
write outfile=new /1 id 1-3 sex 6 birthwt 7-12 (2)
[ Read 11 Lines ]
^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

Figure 1.

Notice that the bottom of the screen shows the options available to you such as Get Help, Exit, and so forth. Also, note that the cursor (arrow) keys can be used to move around on the page and the backspace key will (if properly set up) erase characters. ^G will provide more information on the menu options.


Moving the Cursor

Assume we have either entered some text or started Pico with an existing document. If the termcap entry for your terminal supports the cursor keypad, you can move the cursor around a character or line at a time using the arrow keys. If you do not have arrow keys or UNIX does not support them on your terminal, you can use the following Control-Key sequences to move the cursor:

        (previous line)
(backward) ^B ^F (forward)
(next line)

If you want to move greater distances, you can use the following Control-Key sequences:

    ^A   Move to the beginning of the current line.
    ^E   Move to the end of the current line.
    ^V   Move forward a page of text.
    ^Y   Move backward a page of text.


Deleting Text

To delete individual characters or lines of text, use the following:
    <BACKSPACE>   Delete the character left of the cursor position.
    ^D   Delete the character at the cursor position.
    ^K   Delete (kill) the entire line at the cursor position.
To undelete lines in which the ^K command was used:
    ^U   Undelete last deleted line[s] at the cursor position.

Input and Output

The following are helpful commands for reading in a file and outputting a file:


    ^R   Insert an external file at the current cursor position.
    ^O   Output the current buffer to a file and save it.


Other Useful Commands

These commands, although not totally necessary, may come in handy:
    ^W   Search for (where is) specific text., ignoring case.
    ^L   Refresh the display.
    ^J   Justify the text in the current paragraph.
    ^T   Invoke the spelling checker.
    ^C   Report the cursor position.
    ^G   Get online help.


Quitting Pico

When you are done editing and ready to leave Pico, do the following:

    ^X   Exit Pico with the option to save the current file.
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Article ID: 643
Created: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 3:42pm
Modified: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:11am