Editing text at the command line with micro

Using Tabs

A nifty feature of micro is the ability to have multiple files open at the same time. If you have one file open in micro, you can open another one in a tab by pressing Ctrl+E and then typing tab followed by the path to that file.

The idea is more or less like the tabs you find in a graphical editor. The tabs that you have open are listed along the top of the editor, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Tabs in micro are similar to what you would find in a graphical editor and allow you to have multiple files open at the same time.

You can switch between tabs by pressing Ctrl+E and then typing tabswitch followed by the number of the tab. The numbering of tabs starts from the left: The tab furthest to the left is 1, and the numbers increment as you move right. Or, you can click on a tab with your mouse. I prefer doing the latter.

Configuration Options

One of micro's selling points is that you can configure it to make the editor work the way that you want it to. The quickest way to do that is to open the file settings.json found in the .config/micro folder in your /home directory.

That file stores configuration information in a format called JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). If you're not familiar with it, JSON is a data format that both people and computers can easily read. Don't let that intimidate you. JSON uses what's called "attribute/value" pairs to store information. In micro's settings.json file, the attribute is a configuration option and the value is often either true or false. Sometimes, it's a number or something else specific to an option.

Micro has 60 configuration options. Those include options to automatically save files, to automatically match braces when writing in a markup or programming language, to display line numbers or a scrollbar, or to use tabs instead of spaces.

Figure 4 shows what my (rather basic) settings file looks like.

Figure 4: An example of a settings file.

You can find out more about the options by opening micro's command bar and typing help options.

Adding Plugins

Micro lives up to its billing as being extensible thanks to its support for plugins. At the time of writing, there are 27 plugins [3] that you can add to the editor. Those plugins run the gamut of tasks like correcting commonly misspelled words, adding bookmarks to a file, pretty-printing code, and adding support for the Go programming language (which is the language used to develop micro).

Install a plugin by running this command in a terminal window:

micro -plugin install <name of plugin>

Let's say you want to install the aspell plugin, which checks spelling as you type. To do that, run this command:

micro -plugin install aspell

Figure 5 shows the aspell plugin in action.

Figure 5: Micro's spellchecking plugin in action.

Some plugins, like aspell, run automatically. Others you need to launch yourself. To do that, open micro's command bar, type the name of the plugin to run, and press Enter.

Admittedly, 27 isn't all that many plugins. There's a chance you might not find one that suits your needs. However, if you have a few chops with the Lua programming language, you can write your own plugins. There's information about that in micro's code repository on GitHub [4].

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