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Updated: July 2014

mcedit (1)


mcedit - Internal file editor of GNU Midnight Commander.


Please see following description for synopsis


GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     mcedit - Internal file editor of GNU Midnight Commander.

     mcedit [-bcCdfhstVx?] [+lineno] [file1] [file2] ...

     mcedit [-bcCdfhstVx?] file1:lineno[:] file2:lineno[:] ...

     mcedit is a link to mc, the main GNU Midnight Commander exe-
     cutable. Executing GNU Midnight Commander  under  this  name
     requests staring the internal editor and opening files spec-
     ified on the command line. The editor is based on the termi-
     nal  version  of  cooledit  - standalone editor for X Window

          Go to the line specified by number (do not put a  space
          between  the  + sign and the number). Several line num-
          bers are allowed but the last one will be actual and it
          will be applied to the first file only.

     -b   Force black and white display.

     -c   Force  ANSI  color mode on terminals that don't seem to
          have color support.

     -C <keyword>=<fgcolor>,<bgcolor>,<attributes>:<keyword>= ...
          Specify  a different color set.  See the Colors section
          in mc(1) for more information.

     -d   Disable mouse support.

     -f   Display the compiled-in search path  for  GNU  Midnight
          Commander data files.

     -t   Force using termcap database instead of terminfo.  This
          option is only applicable if GNU Midnight Commander was
          compiled with S-Lang library with terminfo support.

     -V   Display the version of the program.

     -x   Force  xterm  mode.  Used when running on xterm-capable
          terminals (two screen modes, and  able  to  send  mouse
          escape sequences).

     The internal file editor is a full-featured windowed editor.
     It can edit several files at the same time. Maximim size  of
     each  file  is  64  megabytes. It is possible to edit binary
     files. The features it presently supports are:  block  copy,

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     move, delete, cut, paste; key for key undo; pull-down menus;
     file insertion; macro commands;  regular  expression  search
     and  replace; shift-arrow text highlighting (if supported by
     the terminal); insert-overwrite toggle; autoindent;  tunable
     tab size; syntax highlighting for various file types; and an
     option to pipe  text  blocks  through  shell  commands  like
     indent and ispell.

     Each  file  is opened in its own window in full-screen mode.
     Window control in mcedit is similar to the window control in
     other  multi-window  program:  double  click on window title
     maximizes the window to full-screen or restores window  size
     and  position;  left-click  on  window  title and mouse drag
     moves the window in editor  area;  left-click  on  low-right
     frame  corner  and  mouse  drag  resizes  the  window. These
     actions can be made using "Window" menu.

     The editor is easy to use and can be used without  learning.
     The pull-down menu is invoked by pressing F9.  You can learn
     other keys from the menu and from the button bar labels.

     In addition to that, Shift combined with  arrows  does  text
     highlighting (if supported by the terminal): Ctrl-Ins copies
     to the file ~/.cache/mc/mcedit/mcedit.clip, Shift-Ins pastes
     from   ~/.cache/mc/mcedit/mcedit.clip,   Shift-Del  cuts  to
     ~/.cache/mc/mcedit/mcedit.clip, and Ctrl-Del  deletes  high-
     lighted  text.  Mouse highlighting also works on some termi-
     nals.  To use the standard mouse support  provided  by  your
     terminal,  hold  the  Shift key.  Please note that the mouse
     support in the terminal doesn't  share  the  clipboard  with

     The  completion  key  (usually  Meta-Tab or Escape Tab) com-
     pletes the word under the cursor using the words used in the

     To  define  a macro, press Ctrl-R and then type out the keys
     you want to be executed.  Press Ctrl-R again when  finished.
     The  macro  can be assigned to any key by pressing that key.
     The macro is executed when you press the assigned key.

     The macro commands are stored in  section  [editor]  it  the
     file ~/.local/share/mc/mc.macros.

     External  scripts  (filters)  can  be  assigned into the any
     hotkey by edit mc.macros like following:


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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     This  means  that  ctrl-W  hotkey  initiates  the   Execute-
     Script(25)  action, then editor handler translates this into
     execution  of  ~/.local/share/mc/mcedit/macros.d/
     shell script.

     External         scripts         are        stored        in
     ~/.local/share/mc/mcedit/macros.d/  directory  and  must  be
     named  as  where XXXX is the number from 0 to
     9999.  See Menu File Edit for more detail  about  format  of
     the script.

     Following macro definition and directives can be used:

          If  this  directive  is set, then script starts without
          interactive subshell.

     %c   The cursor column position number.

     %i   The indent of blank space, equal the cursor column.

     %y   The syntax type of current file.

     %b   The block file name.

     %f   The current file name.

     %n   Only the current file name without extension.

     %x   The extension of current file name.

     %d   The current directory name.

     %F   The current file in the unselected panel.

     %D   The directory name of the unselected panel.

     %t   The currently tagged files.

     %T   The tagged files in the unselected panel.

     %u   and %U Similar to the %t and %T macros, but in addition
          the  files  are  untagged.  You can use this macro only
          once per menu  file  entry  or  extension  file  entry,
          because next time there will be no tagged files.

     %s   and  %S  The  selected files: The tagged files if there
          are any. Otherwise the current file.

     Feel free to edit this files, if you need.  Here is a sample
     external script:

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     l       comment selection
          TMPFILE=`mktemp ${MC_TMPDIR:-/tmp}/up.XXXXXX` || exit 1
          echo #if 0 > $TMPFILE
          cat %b >> $TMPFILE
          echo #endif >> $TMPFILE
          cat $TMPFILE > %b
          rm -f $TMPFILE

     If  some  keys  don't  work,  you  can use Learn Keys in the
     Options menu.

     mcedit can be used to  navigation  through  code  with  tags
     files  created  by  etags  or ctags commands. If there is no
     file TAGS code navigation would not work.   In  example,  in
     case of exuberant-ctags for C language command will be:

     ctags -e --language-force=C -R ./

     Meta-Enter  show list box to select item under cursor (cusor
     should stand at end of word).

     Meta-Minus where minus is symbol "-" go to previous function
     in navigation list (like a browser Back).

     Meta-Equal  where equal is symbol "=" go to next function in
     navigation list (like a browser Forward).

     mcedit supports syntax highlighting.  This means  that  key-
     words  and contexts (like C comments, string constants, etc)
     are highlighted in different colors.  The following  section
     explains  the format of the file ~/.config/mc/mcedit/Syntax.
     If this  file  is  missing,  system-wide  /usr/share/mc/syn-
     tax/Syntax  is used.  The file ~/.config/mc/mcedit/Syntax is
     rescanned on opening of a any new  editor  file.   The  file
     contains rules for highlighting, each of which is given on a
     separate line, and define which keywords will be highlighted
     to what color.

     The  file  is  divided  into sections, each beginning with a
     line with the file command.  The sections are  normally  put
     into separate files using the include command.

     The file command has three arguments.  The first argument is
     a regular expression that is applied to  the  file  name  to
     determine if the following section applies to the file.  The
     second argument is the description of the file type.  It  is
     used  in  cooledit;  future versions of mcedit may use it as
     well.  The third optional argument is a  regular  expression
     to  match  the first line of text of the file.  The rules in
     the following section apply if either the file name  or  the

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     first line of text matches.

     A section ends with the start of another section.  Each sec-
     tion is divided into contexts,  and  each  context  contains
     rules.  A context is a scope within the text that a particu-
     lar set of rules belongs to.  For instance, the text  within
     a  C  style  comment  (i.e.  between  /* and */) has its own
     color.  This is a context, although it has no further  rules
     inside  it  because  there  is probably nothing that we want
     highlighted within a C comment.

     A trivial C programming section might look like this:

     file .\*\\.c C\sProgram\sFile (#include|/\\\*)

     wholechars abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_

     # default colors
     define  comment   brown
     context default
       keyword  whole  if       yellow
       keyword  whole  else     yellow
       keyword  whole  for      yellow
       keyword  whole  while    yellow
       keyword  whole  do       yellow
       keyword  whole  switch   yellow
       keyword  whole  case     yellow
       keyword  whole  static   yellow
       keyword  whole  extern   yellow
       keyword         {        brightcyan
       keyword         }        brightcyan
       keyword         '*'      green

     # C comments
     context /\* \*/ comment

     # C preprocessor directives
     context linestart # \n red
       keyword  \\\n  brightred

     # C string constants
     context " " green
       keyword  %d    brightgreen
       keyword  %s    brightgreen
       keyword  %c    brightgreen
       keyword  \\"   brightgreen

     Each context starts with a line of the form:

     context [exclusive] [whole|wholeright|wholeleft  [linestart]
     delim    [linestart]    delim    [foreground]   [background]

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     The first context is an exception.  It must start  with  the

     context default [foreground] [background] [attributes]

     otherwise mcedit will report an error.  The linestart option
     specifies that delim must start at the beginning of a  line.
     The  whole option tells that delim must be a whole word.  To
     specify that a word must begin on the word boundary only  on
     the  left  side, you can use the wholeleft option, and simi-
     larly a word that must end on the word boundary is specified
     by wholeright.

     The  set  of  characters that constitute a whole word can be
     changed at any point in the file with  the  wholechars  com-
     mand.  The left and right set of characters can be set sepa-
     rately with

     wholechars [left|right] characters

     The exclusive option causes the text between the  delimiters
     to be highlighted, but not the delimiters themselves.

     Each rule is a line of the form:

     keyword [whole|wholeright|wholeleft [linestart] string fore-
     ground [background] [attributes]

     Context or keyword strings are interpreted, so that you  can
     include  tabs and spaces with the sequences \t and \s.  New-
     lines and backslashes are specified with \n and  \\  respec-
     tively.  Since whitespace is used as a separator, it may not
     be used as is.  Also, \* must be used to specify  an  aster-
     isk.   The * itself is a wildcard that matches any length of
     characters.  For example,

       keyword         '*'      green

     colors all C single character  constants  green.   You  also
     could use

       keyword         "*"      green

     to  color string constants, but the matched string would not
     be allowed to span across multiple newlines.   The  wildcard
     may  be used within context delimiters as well, but you can-
     not have a wildcard as the last or first character.

     Important to note is the line

       keyword  \\\n  brightgreen

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     This line defines a keyword  containing  the  backslash  and
     newline  characters.   Since the keywords are matched before
     the context delimiters, this keyword  prevents  the  context
     from ending at the end of the lines that end in a backslash,
     thus allowing C preprocessor directive  to  continue  across
     multiple lines.

     The possible colors are: black, gray, red, brightred, green,
     brightgreen,  brown,  yellow,  blue,  brightblue,   magenta,
     brightmagenta,  cyan,  brightcyan,  lightgray and white. The
     special keyword  "default"  means  the  terminal's  default.
     Another special keyword "base" means mc's main colors, it is
     useful as a placeholder if you want  to  specify  attributes
     without  modifying the background color. When 256 colors are
     available, they  can  be  specified  either  as  color16  to
     color255, or as rgb000 to rgb555 and gray0 to gray23.

     If  the  syntax file is shared with cooledit, it is possible
     to specify different colors for mcedit and cooledit by sepa-
     rating them with a slash, e.g.

     keyword  #include  red/Orange

     mcedit uses the color before the slash.  See cooledit(1) for
     supported cooledit colors.

     Attributes can be any of bold, underline, reverse and blink,
     appended by a plus sign if more than one are desired.

     Comments  may  be  put  on a separate line starting with the
     hash sign (#).

     If you are describing case insensitive language you need  to
     use caseinsensitive directive. It should be specified at the
     beginning of syntax file.

     Because of the simplicity of the implementation, there are a
     few  intricacies  that  will not be dealt with correctly but
     these are a minor irritation.  On the whole, a  broad  spec-
     trum  of quite complicated situations are handled with these
     simple rules.  It is a good idea to take a look at the  syn-
     tax  file  to see some of the nifty tricks you can do with a
     little imagination.  If you cannot get by with the  rules  I
     have coded, and you think you have a rule that would be use-
     ful, please email me with your request.  However, do not ask
     for  regular  expression  support,  because  this  is flatly

     A useful hint is to work with as much as possible  with  the
     things  you  can  do  rather than try to do things that this
     implementation cannot deal with.  Also remember that the aim
     of  syntax highlighting is to make programming less prone to

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     error, not to make code look pretty.

     The syntax highlighting can be toggled using  Ctrl-s  short-

     The  default  colors  may  be  changed  by  appending to the
     MC_COLOR_TABLE environment variable.  Foreground  and  back-
     ground colors pairs may be specified for example with:


     Most  options can now be set from the editors options dialog
     box.  See the  Options  menu.   The  following  options  are
     defined in ~/.config/mc/ini and have obvious counterparts in
     the dialog box.  You can modify them to  change  the  editor
     behavior,  by  editing the file.  Unless specified, a 1 sets
     the option to on, and a 0 sets it to off, as is usual.

          This option is ignored when invoking mcedit.

          Interpret the tab character as being  of  this  length.
          Default is 8. You should avoid using other than 8 since
          most other editors and text viewers assume a tab  spac-
          ing  of  8.  Use  editor_fake_half_tabs  to  simulate a
          smaller tab spacing.

          Never insert a tab space. Rather insert  spaces  (ascii
          20h) to fill to the desired tab size.

          Pressing  return  will tab across to match the indenta-
          tion of the first line above that has text on it.

          Make a single backspace delete all  the  space  to  the
          left  margin if there is no text between the cursor and
          the left margin.

          This will emulate a half tab for those who want to pro-
          gram  with  a tab spacing of 4, but do not want the tab
          size changed from 8 (so that the code will be formatted
          the  same when displayed by other programs). When edit-
          ing between  text  and  the  left  margin,  moving  and

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

          tabbing  will  be  as  though a tab space were 4, while
          actually using spaces and normal tabs  for  an  optimal
          fill.   When  editing  anywhere  else,  a normal tab is

          Possible values 0, 1 and 2.  The  save  mode  (see  the
          options  menu  also) allows you to change the method of
          saving a file.  Quick save (0) saves the file by  imme-
          diately,  truncating the disk file to zero length (i.e.
          erasing it) and the writing the editor contents to  the
          file.  This method is fast, but dangerous, since a sys-
          tem error during a file save will leave the  file  only
          partially  written,  possibly  rendering the data irre-
          trievable.  When  saving,  the  safe  save  (1)  option
          enables  creation  of  a  temporary file into which the
          file contents are first written.  In the  event  of  an
          problem, the original file is untouched.  When the tem-
          porary file is successfully written, it is  renamed  to
          the  name of the original file, thus replacing it.  The
          safest method is create backups (2).   Where  a  backup
          file  is  created before any changes are made.  You can
          specify your own backup file extension in  the  dialog.
          Note that saving twice will replace your backup as well
          as your original file.

          line length to wrap. 72 default.

          symbol for add  extension  to  name  of  backup  files.
          Default "~".

          show  state  line  of editor now it show number of file
          line (in future it can show things like folding, break-
          points, etc.). M-n toglle this option.

          Toggle  show  visible  trailing  spaces  (TWS), if edi-
          tor_visible_spaces=1 TWS showed as '.'

          Toggle show visible tabs, if editor_visible_tabs=1 tabs
          showed as '<---->'

          Do  not remove block selection after moving the cursor.

          Allow moving cursor beyond the end of line.

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

          Allow moving cursor after inserted block.

          enable syntax highlighting.

          show confirm dialog on save.

          to be described

          to be described

          save file position on exit.

          symbol representation of codepage name for  file  (i.e.
          CP1251, ~ - default).

          do UNDO for several of the same type of action (insert-
          ing/overwriting, deleting, navigating, typing)

          Search autocomplete candidates in  entire  of  file  or
          just from begin of file to cursor position (0)

          Spelling language (en, en-variant_0, ru, etc) installed
          with aspell package (a  full  list  can  be  get  using
          'aspell'  utility).   Use spell_language = NONE to dis-
          able aspell support. Default value is 'en'. Option must
          located in the [Misc] section.

     You can use scanf search and replace to search and replace a
     C format string.  First  take  a  look  at  the  sscanf  and
     sprintf  man pages to see what a format string is and how it
     works.  Here's an example: suppose that you want to  replace
     all  occurrences  of  an open bracket, three comma separated
     numbers, and a close bracket,  with  the  word  apples,  the
     third  number,  the word oranges and then the second number.
     You would fill in the Replace dialog box as follows:

     Enter search string
     Enter replace string
     apples %d oranges %d
     Enter replacement argument order

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)


     The last line specifies that the third and then  the  second
     number are to be used in place of the first and second.

     It  is  advisable to use this feature with Prompt On Replace
     on, because a match is thought to be found whenever the num-
     ber  of  arguments  found matches the number given, which is
     not always a real match. Scanf  also  treats  whitespace  as
     being elastic.  Note that the scanf format %[ is very useful
     for scanning strings, and whitespace.

     The editor also displays  non-us  characters  (160+).   When
     editing  binary files, you should set display bits to 7 bits
     in the Midnight Commander options menu to keep  the  spacing


          The help file for the program.


          The  default system-wide setup for GNU Midnight Comman-
          der, used only if the user's own ~/.config/mc/ini  file
          is missing.


          Global  settings  for the Midnight Commander.  Settings
          in this  file  affect  all  users,  whether  they  have
          ~/.config/mc/ini or not.


          The  default  system-wide syntax files for mcedit, used
          only    if     the     corresponding     user's     own
          ~/.local/share/mc/mcedit/ file is missing.


          User's  own  setup.   If  this file is present then the
          setup is loaded from here instead  of  the  system-wide
          setup file.


          User's own directory where block commands are processed
          and saved and user's own syntax files are located.

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GNU Midnight Commander                                  MCEDIT(1)

     This program is distributed under the terms of the GNU  Gen-
     eral  Public License as published by the Free Software Foun-
     dation.  See the built-in help of the Midnight Commander for
     details on the License and the lack of warranty.

     The   latest  version  of  this  program  can  be  found  at

     See  attributes(5)  for  descriptions   of   the   following

     |Availability   | file/mc          |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted      |
     cooledit(1), mc(1), gpm(1), terminfo(1), scanf(3).

     Paul Sheer ( is the original author of
     the Midnight Commander's internal editor.

     Bugs should be reported to

     This  software  was   built   from   source   available   at    The  original
     community source was downloaded  from   http://www.midnight-

     Further  information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at http://www.midnight-comman-

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