1. Getting Started
    1. Welcome to NEdit!
      1. Editing an Existing File
      2. Creating a New File
      3. Backup Files
      4. Shortcuts

Getting Started

Welcome to NEdit!

NEdit is a standard GUI (Graphical User Interface) style text editor for programs and plain-text files. Users of Macintosh and MS Windows based text editors should find NEdit a familiar and comfortable environment. NEdit provides all of the standard menu, dialog, editing, and mouse support, as well as all of the standard shortcuts to which the users of modern GUI based environments are accustomed. For users of older style Unix editors, welcome to the world of mouse-based editing!

Help sections of interest to new users are listed under the "Basic Operation" heading in the top-level Help menu:

Programmers should also read the introductory section under the "Features for Programming" section:

Programming with NEdit

If you get into trouble, the Undo command in the Edit menu can reverse any modifications that you make. NEdit does not change the file you are editing until you tell it to Save.

Editing an Existing File

To open an existing file, choose Open... from the file menu. Select the file that you want to open in the pop-up dialog that appears and click on OK. You may open any number of files at the same time. Each file will appear in its own editor window. Using Open... rather than re-typing the NEdit command and running additional copies of NEdit, will give you quick access to all of the files you have open via the Windows menu, and ensure that you don't accidentally open the same file twice. NEdit has no "main" window. It remains running as long as at least one editor window is open.

Creating a New File

If you already have an empty (Untitled) window displayed, just begin typing in the window. To create a new Untitled window, choose New from the File menu. To give the file a name and save its contents to the disk, choose Save or Save As... from the File menu.

Backup Files

NEdit maintains periodic backups of the file you are editing so that you can recover the file in the event of a problem such as a system crash, network failure, or X server crash. These files are saved under the name ~filename (on Unix) or _filename (on VMS), where filename is the name of the file you were editing. If an NEdit process is killed, some of these backup files may remain in your directory. (To remove one of these files on Unix, you may have to prefix the ~ (tilde) character with a (backslash) to prevent the shell from interpreting it as a special character.)


As you become more familiar with NEdit, substitute the control and function keys shown on the right side of the menus for pulling down menus with the mouse.

Dialogs are also streamlined so you can enter information quickly and without using the mouse*. To move the keyboard focus around a dialog, use the tab and arrow keys. One of the buttons in a dialog is usually drawn with a thick, indented, outline. This button can be activated by pressing return or enter. The Cancel or Dismiss button can be activated by pressing escape. For example, to replace the string "thing" with "things" type:


To open a file named "whole_earth.c", type:


(how much of the filename you need to type depends on the other files in the directory). See the section called Keyboard Shortcuts for more details.

* Users who have set their keyboard focus mode to "pointer" should set "Popups Under Pointer" in the Default Settings menu to avoid the additional step of moving the mouse into the dialog.

Send questions and comments to: nedit_support@fnal.gov.