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nnn (type less, do more)

Latest release Homebrew Arch Linux Debian Buster+ Fedora 27+ openSUSE Leap 15.0+ Ubuntu Artful+

Availability Build Status License

nnn video

nnn in action (Thanks Luke Smith for the video!)

nnn is one of the fastest and most lightweight file managers you have ever used. It comes in a ~50KB binary using ~3.5MB resident memory at runtime.

nnn works seamlessly with your DE and favourite GUI utilities. It runs on Linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi, BSD, Cygwin, Linux subsystem for Windows and Termux on Android.

Have as many scripts as you want to extend the power of nnn! Pick from the scripts repository or add your own.

Quickstart and see how nnn simplifies long desktop sessions. Visit the wiki page hacking nnn for more use cases.

Love smart and efficient utilities? Explore my repositories. Buy me a cup of coffee if they help you.

Donate via PayPal!



  • Modes
    • Detail (default), light
    • Disk usage analyzer (block/apparent)
    • File picker, vim (or neovim) plugin
  • Navigation
    • Navigate-as-you-type with auto-select directory
    • Wild load for navigate-as-you-type
    • 4 contexts (aka tabs aka workspaces)
    • Bookmarks; pin and visit a directory
    • Familiar, easy shortcuts (arrows, ~, -, @)
  • Sorting
    • Ordered pure numeric names by default (visit /proc)
    • Sort by file name, modification time, size
    • Version (aka natural) sort
  • Search
    • Instant filtering with search-as-you-type
    • Regex and substring match
  • Mimes
    • Open with desktop opener or specify a custom app
    • Create, list, extract archive (needs (p)atool)
    • Open all text files in EDITOR (optional)
  • Information
    • Detailed file information (stat and file)
    • Media information (needs mediainfo/exiftool)
  • Convenience
    • Create, rename files and directories
    • Select files across dirs; all/range selection
    • Copy, move, delete, archive, link selection
    • FreeDesktop compliant trash (needs trash-cli)
    • Show copy, move progress on Linux (needs avdcpmv)
    • Script to view directory and file diff for selection
    • Transfer files using lftp
    • Batch rename (needs vidir)
    • Per-context directory color (default: blue)
    • Spawn a shell in the current directory
    • Launch applications, run a command
    • Run custom scripts in the current directory
    • Repository of custom scripts
    • Run current file as executable
    • Change directory at exit (easy shell integration)
    • Edit file in EDITOR or open in PAGER
    • Take quick notes
    • Terminal locker integration
    • Shortcut reference a keypress away
  • Unicode support
  • Follows Linux kernel coding style
  • Highly optimized, static analysis integrated code
  • Minimal library dependencies
  • Available on many distros


Library dependencies

nnn needs a curses library with wide character support (like ncursesw), libreadline and standard libc. It's possible to drop libreadline using the Makefile target norl.

Utility dependencies

External dependency Operation
xdg-open (Linux), open(1) (macOS), cygstart (Cygwin) desktop opener
file determine file type
coreutils (cp, mv, rm), findutils (xargs) copy, move and remove files
trash-cli trash files (default: delete)
mediainfo or exiftool multimedia file details
atool, patool (integration) create, list and extract archives
fzy app launcher with drop-down menu
vidir (from moreutils) batch rename dir entries
vlock (Linux), bashlock (macOS), lock(1) (BSD) terminal locker
advcpmv (Linux) (integration) copy, move progress
$EDITOR (overridden by $VISUAL, if defined) edit files (fallback vi)
$PAGER (less, most) page through files (fallback less)
$SHELL spawn a shell, run script (fallback sh)

From a package manager

Release packages

Packages for Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu are available with the latest stable release.

From source

To cook yourself, download the latest stable release or clone this repository (risky). Then install the dependencies and compile (e.g. on Ubuntu 16.04):

$ sudo apt-get install pkg-config libncursesw5-dev libreadline6-dev
$ make
$ sudo make install

PREFIX is supported, in case you want to install to a different location.

Shell completion

Option completion scripts for Bash, Fish and Zsh can be found in respective subdirectories of scripts/auto-completion/. Please refer to your shell's manual for installation instructions.


  1. Install the utilities required for your regular activities.
  2. Configure cd on quit.
  3. Optionally open all text files in EDITOR (fallback vi): export NNN_USE_EDITOR=1
  4. Run n.
  5. To use nnn as a GUI app launcher with fuzzy selection menu, drop nlaunch somewhere in your $PATH.
  6. Don't memorize keys. Arrows, / and q suffice. Press ? for help on keyboard shortcuts anytime.


Cmdline options

usage: nnn [-b key] [-d] [-e] [-i] [-l] [-n]
           [-p file] [-s] [-S] [-v] [-w] [-h] [PATH]

The missing terminal file manager for X.

positional args:
  PATH   start dir [default: current dir]

optional args:
 -b key  open bookmark key
 -d      show hidden files
 -e      use exiftool for media info
 -i      nav-as-you-type mode
 -l      light mode
 -n      use version compare to sort
 -p file selection file (stdout if '-')
 -s      string filters [default: regex]
 -S      du mode
 -v      show version
 -w      wild load
 -h      show help

Keyboard shortcuts

Press ? in nnn to see the list anytime.

          ↑ k  Up          PgUp ^U  Scroll up
          ↓ j  Down        PgDn ^D  Scroll down
          ← h  Parent dir        ~  Go HOME
        ↵ → l  Open file/dir     @  Start dir
    Home g ^A  First entry       -  Last visited dir
     End G ^E  Last entry        .  Toggle show hidden
            /  Filter       Ins ^T  Toggle nav-as-you-type
            b  Pin current dir  ^B  Go to pinned dir
       Tab ^I  Next context      d  Toggle detail view
         , ^/  Leader key  N LeadN  Enter context N
          Esc  Exit prompt      ^L  Redraw/clear prompt
           ^G  Quit and cd       q  Quit context
         Q ^Q  Quit              ?  Help, config
           ^O  Open with...      n  Create new/link
            D  File details     ^R  Rename entry
     ⎵ ^K / Y  Select entry/all  r  Batch rename
         K ^Y  Toggle selection  y  List selection
            P  Copy selection    X  Delete selection
            V  Move selection   ^X  Delete entry
            f  Create archive  m M  Brief/full mediainfo
           ^F  Extract archive   F  List archive
            e  Edit in EDITOR    p  Open in PAGER
           ^J  Disk usage        S  Apparent du
           ^W  Random  s  Size   t  Time modified
         ! ^]  Spawn SHELL       C  Execute entry
         R ^V  Run/pick script   L  Lock terminal
           ^P  Prompt  ^N  Note  =  Launcher

Help & settings, file details, media info and archive listing are shown in the PAGER. Use the PAGER-specific keys in these screens.

Leader key

The Leader key provides a powerful multi-functional navigation mechanism. It is case-sensitive and understands contexts, bookmarks and location shortcuts.

Key Function
1-4 Go to/create selected context
>, . Go to next active context
<, , Go to previous active context
key Go to bookmarked location
~ Go to HOME directory
- Go to last visited directory
@ Go to start directory
q Quit context


Contexts serve the purpose of exploring multiple directories simultaneously. 4 contexts are available. The status of the contexts are shown in the top left corner:

  • the current context is in reverse
  • other active contexts are underlined
  • rest are inactive

To switch to a context press the Leader key followed by the context number (1-4).

The first time a context is entered, it copies the state of the last visited context. Each context remembers its last visited directory.

When a context is quit, the next active context is selected. If the last active context is quit, the program quits.

Context-specific color

Each context can have its own directory color specified:

export NNN_CONTEXT_COLORS='1234'

colors: 0-black, 1-red, 2-green, 3-yellow, 4-blue (default), 5-magenta, 6-cyan, 7-white


Use ^K to copy the absolute path of the file under the cursor.

To copy multiple absolute file paths:

  • press ^Y to enter selection mode. In this mode it's possible to
    • cherry-pick individual files one by one by pressing ^K on each entry (works across directories and contexts); or,
    • navigate to another file in the same directory to select a range of files
  • press ^Y again to save the selection and exit selection mode.

NOTE: If you are on BSD/macOS, please check the BSD terminal issue with ^Y for workaround.

Selected files are visually indicated by a +.

The selection can now be listed, copied, moved, removed, archived or linked.

File paths are copied to the temporary file DIR/.nnncp, where DIR (by priority) is:

$HOME or,

The path is shown in the help and configuration screen.


Filters support regexes (default) to instantly (search-as-you-type) list the matching entries in the current directory.

Common use cases:

  • to list all matches starting with the filter expression, start the expression with a ^ (caret) symbol
  • type \.mkv to list all MKV files
  • use .* to match any character (sort of fuzzy search)

There is a program option to filter entries by substring match instead of regex.


In this mode directories are opened in filter mode, allowing continuous navigation. Works best with the arrow keys.

When there's a unique match and it's a directory, nnn auto selects the directory and enters it in this mode. To disable this behaviour,


This mode takes navigation to the next level when short, unique keypress sequences are possible. For example, to reach nnn development directory (located at ~/GitHub/nnn) from my $HOME (which is the default directory the terminal starts in), I use the sequence gn.

The wild load option can be extremely handy for users who use this mode constantly. The entries are unsorted when the directory loads. Applying filters sorts the entries (with directories on top). Directory color is disabled in this mode.

File indicators

The following indicators are used in the detail view:

Indicator File Type
/ Directory
* Executable
| Fifo
= Socket
@ Symbolic Link
@/ Symbolic Link to directory
b Block Device
c Character Device
? Unknown


nnn supports the following environment variables for configuration.

Example export Description
NNN_BMS='d:~/Documents;D:~/Docs archive/' specify bookmarks (max 10)
NNN_OPENER=mimeopen custom file opener
NNN_OPENER_DETACH=1 do not block when invoking file opener
NNN_CONTEXT_COLORS='1234' specify per context color [default: '4444' (all blue)]
NNN_IDLE_TIMEOUT=300 idle seconds before locking terminal [default: disabled]
NNN_COPIER='' system clipboard copier script [default: none]
NNN_SCRIPT=/home/user/scripts[/] path to script dir or a single script
NNN_NOTE=/home/user/Dropbox/Public/notes path to note file [default: none]
NNN_TMPFILE=/tmp/nnn file to write current open dir path to for cd on quit
NNN_USE_EDITOR=1 Open text files in $EDITOR ($VISUAL, if defined; fallback vi)
NNN_NO_AUTOSELECT=1 do not auto-select matching dir in nav-as-you-type mode
NNN_RESTRICT_NAV_OPEN=1 open files on , not or l
NNN_RESTRICT_0B=1 do not open 0-byte files
NNN_TRASH=1 trash files to the desktop Trash [default: delete]
NNN_OPS_PROG=1 show copy, move progress on Linux


$ nnn -h
$ man nnn

To lookup keyboard shortcuts at runtime, press ?.


nnn can invoke custom scripts in the current directory ($PWD for the script) with the currently selected file name as the argument.

Copy the scripts of your interest in the user-scripts directory and let nnn know the location:

export NNN_SCRIPT=/absolute/path/to/scripts_dir

Use the run/pick script shortcut to jump to the script directory and pick a script. Repeating the same shortcut cancels the operation and puts you back in the original directory.

In case you need only one script:

export NNN_SCRIPT=/absolute/path/to/script

If you have an interesting script feel free to raise a PR.


Tmux configuration

nnn might not handle keypresses correctly when used with tmux (see issue #104 for more details). Set TERM=xterm-256color to address it.

BSD terminal issue

TLDR: Use the keybind K to toggle selection if you are having issues with ^Y.

By default in OpenBSD & FreeBSD (and probably on macOS as well), stty maps ^Y to DSUSP. This means that typing ^Y will suspend nnn as if you typed ^Z (you can bring nnn back to the foreground by issuing fg) instead of entering multi-copy mode. You can check this with stty -a. If it includes the text dsusp = ^Y, issuing stty dsusp undef will disable this DSUSP and let nnn receive the ^Y instead.

Restrict file open

In order to disable opening files on accidental navigation key ( or l) press:


Use Enter to open files.

Restrict 0-byte files

Restrict opening 0-byte files due to unexpected behaviour; use edit or open with to open the file.

export NNN_RESTRICT_0B=1


nnn was initially forked from noice but is significantly different today. I chose to fork because:

  • one can argue my approach deviates from the goal of the original project - keep the utility suckless. noice was rudimentary. In my opinion evolution is the taste of time.
  • I would like to have a bit of control on what features are added in the name of desktop integration. A feature-bloat is the last thing in my mind. Check out nnn design considerations for more details.

Trivia: The name nnn stands for Noice is Not Noice, a noicer fork....



  1. Copyright © 2014-2016 Lazaros Koromilas
  2. Copyright © 2014-2016 Dimitris Papastamos
  3. Copyright © 2016-2019 Arun Prakash Jana

Contributions are welcome. Please visit the ToDo list.

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