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How To Fix ‘[Error writing /filename: Permission denied]’ in Nano Editor

Ubuntu 19

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to fix the error message ‘[Error writing /filename: Permission denied]’ that you may encounter while using the Nano Editor. This error typically occurs when you try to save a file but lack the necessary permissions.

Quick Answer

To fix the ‘[Error writing /filename: Permission denied]’ in Nano Editor, you can try using the sudo command to run Nano with elevated privileges, saving the file under a different name, checking and modifying file permissions using the chmod command, or switching to the root user.

Understanding the Error

Before we dive into the solutions, it’s important to understand what this error message means. The ‘Permission denied’ error in Nano Editor is a common issue that arises due to insufficient permissions. This means the current user does not have the necessary rights to write to the file or directory.

Solutions to Fix the Error

There are several ways to fix this error. We’ll go through each of them in detail.

Using sudo to Run Nano

One of the simplest ways to bypass this error is to use the sudo command. This command allows you to run programs with the security privileges of another user (by default, the superuser).

To do this, open a terminal and type:

sudo nano [filename]

Replace [filename] with the name of your file. You will be prompted to enter your password. Once done, you should be able to save the file without any issues.

Saving to a Different Filename

If the above solution doesn’t work, you can try saving the file under a different name. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press Ctrl-X to exit Nano.
  2. Press Y to confirm saving.
  3. Instead of pressing Enter to use the default name, type a different filename and press Enter.

After saving the file with a different name, you can move it to its desired location using the mv command:

sudo mv [oldfilename] [newfilename]

Checking and Modifying File Permissions

Another method to resolve this issue is to check and modify the file permissions. You can check the permissions of a file using the ls -l command:

ls -l [filename]

This command will display the permissions of the file. If you lack write permissions, you can change them using the chmod command:

sudo chmod 777 [filename]

This command changes the permissions of the file, granting read (r), write (w), and execute (x) permissions to all users. However, this setting is not secure for all files and should be used sparingly.

Switching to Root User

As a last resort, if you are the system administrator, you can switch to the root user. This user has full access to the system and can override all permission issues. To switch to the root user, type:

sudo su

You will be prompted for your password. Once entered, you can save the file in Nano without any permission issues. However, be very cautious when using the root user as it has unrestricted access to the system.


In conclusion, the ‘Permission denied’ error in Nano Editor is a common issue that can be resolved by using the sudo command, saving to a different filename, checking and modifying file permissions, or switching to the root user. Always remember to exercise caution when using elevated privileges to avoid potential harm to your system.

For more information on the Nano Editor, you can refer to the official Nano documentation. For more details about Linux file permissions, you can check out this comprehensive guide.

What is Nano Editor?

Nano Editor is a text editor for Unix-like operating systems that provides a simple and user-friendly interface for editing files.

How do I install Nano Editor?

Nano Editor is usually pre-installed on most Linux distributions. If it is not installed, you can use the package manager specific to your distribution to install it. For example, on Ubuntu, you can use the command sudo apt-get install nano.

How do I open a file in Nano Editor?

To open a file in Nano Editor, you can simply type nano [filename] in the terminal. Replace [filename] with the name of the file you want to open.

How do I save a file in Nano Editor?

To save a file in Nano Editor, you can press Ctrl-O and then press Enter. This will save the file with the same name. If you want to save the file with a different name, you can press Ctrl-O, type the new filename, and then press Enter.

How do I exit Nano Editor?

To exit Nano Editor, you can press Ctrl-X. If you have made any changes to the file, you will be prompted to save the changes before exiting.

Can I undo changes in Nano Editor?

Yes, Nano Editor supports undoing changes. You can press Ctrl-_ (Ctrl+Shift+-) to undo the last change. Repeat this command to undo multiple changes.

How do I search for text in Nano Editor?

To search for text in Nano Editor, you can press Ctrl-W and then type the text you want to search for. Press Enter to perform the search. Use Ctrl-W again to find the next occurrence.

Can I customize Nano Editor’s settings?

Yes, you can customize Nano Editor’s settings. The configuration file for Nano Editor is located at ~/.nanorc. You can modify this file to change various settings such as syntax highlighting, key bindings, and more.

How can I learn more about Nano Editor’s commands?

Nano Editor has a built-in help system. You can access it by pressing Ctrl-G. This will display a help menu with a list of commands and their descriptions. You can navigate through the help menu using the arrow keys and press Q to exit the help menu.

Is Nano Editor only available for Linux?

No, Nano Editor is available for various Unix-like operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and BSD. It can be installed and used on these systems with the same commands and functionality.

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