I love the nano feature that enables you to open multiple files at once and the fact that switching between them is very easy:

nano file1 file2 etc.

However, when I try to open a new file while working on one with ^R, it just inserts the whole fine within the file I was working on after I enter it. What I want to know is how to open a separate tab with a different file. M-F just gives me an error that says "[No formatter is defined for this type of file]".

1 Answer 1


The M-F key combination must be used after first pressing ^R.

Unless you first press ^R, the M-R command is tied to "Invoke a program to format/arrange/manipulate the buffer". After pressing ^R, you'll see M-F at the bottom of the screen with the description "New Buffer".

So, to open a file in a new buffer in the nano editor, you do

some filename

You may add set multibuffer to your ~/.nanorc file. Doing so will change the default behaviour of ^R so that it always inserts the read file into a new buffer. Pressing M-F then would revert to the old behaviour to insert the file into the current buffer.

  • that bottom sequence would be nice to map Jul 17, 2022 at 0:32
  • @thinksinbinary See update.
    – Kusalananda
    Jul 17, 2022 at 5:58
  • thanks, i always love a good configuration change...i thought F5 asks for new buffer automatically, but its behavior changed so that it asks for an insert, there's an error here because F5 isn't even listed in the main help document. Jul 17, 2022 at 21:09

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