How to reinstall nano text editor on Mac

If you’ve recently tried using nano from the command line on MacOS, you might have noticed that the pico text editor is launched via a symbolic link for /usr/bin/nano to pico instead. This is because the latest versions of macOS have removed the nano text editor from the command line for some reason and replaced nano with pico instead.

If you prefer to use the Nano text editor, you can bring Nano back to the command line by manually installing it yourself.

The easiest way to install nano text editor on macOS is to use Homebrew.

How to Install Nano Text Editor on MacOS

If you don’t already have Homebrew installed, you’ll need to do that first. Easy to install on the Mac, Homebrew offers simple package management and a wealth of command-line tools, apps, and utilities that many Unix and Linux users will be familiar with.

Assuming you have homebrew installed, installing nano on Mac is super easy.

In the terminal, enter the following syntax:

brew install nano

Once nano has finished installing, you can launch nano from the command line as usual with:

nano

And there you go, you’re again using the nano text editor at the command line.

The replacement of nano with pico came by default with macOS 12.3 and later, where you’ll also notice that Python 2 has been removed, but you can make Python 3 the default on the Mac if you wish. While the exact reasons for these changes are unclear, online speculation suggests that it could be to get away from GNU licensing issues or potential security issues. Luckily, thanks to Homebrew, it’s easy to add and replace obsolete or missing command-line tools that you may be familiar with and use as part of your workflow, whether it’s Nano, Python, or something else.

For what it’s worth, Nano is based on Pico, so many users won’t even notice the difference between the two text editors as the commands, keystrokes, UI, etc. are also the same, but Nano allows for some customization that Pico does not offer.

Have you noticed that nano has been quietly replaced by pico? Did you replace and install nano or will you stick with pico or choose something completely different like emacs or vim?

About Willie Ash

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