Beginning use of pico

Pico is a text editor from the people at the University of Washington who brought you the mail program, pine. When you are running pico, the top line of the screen shows the version of pico that you're using and the name of the file you're editing. The third line from the bottom of the screen is used by pico to give information (and error messages) to you and to get additional input from you. The bottom two lines of the screen contain a list of pico commands, showing both a command name and a key-stroke to type. (Remember that the notation "^X" means to type CTRL-X, that is, hold down the "CTRL" key with one finger and presss "x" with another.)

To use pico to edit a file, type a VMS command line with the word pico and the name of the file with a space between them and press the enter key. For example, if you want to edit example.txt, type the command:

       pico  example.txt
at the "$" prompt. You can start pico without specifying a file name, but I don't recommend doing so. (If you don't give a file name when you begin, you should be prompted for one when you write or exit.) Notice that we do not type a file version number on the pico command line.

Once you've started pico, most of the keys you type cause a character to be inserted into the file you're editing at the spot where you see the cursor. The character you type is inserted to the left of the one covered by the cursor.

If you press the backspace key, the character to the left of the cursor is removed. Pressing the backspace key when the cursor is at the beginning of a line removes a line break.

You can move the cursor around the screen by using the arrow keys.

The first commands you'll need to know are Get Help (^G), WriteOut (^O), and Exit (^X). Use WriteOut to save the file and Exit to end an editing session. If you're doing a lot of editing, do a WriteOut every few minutes so that if a disaster (a power failure, for example) happens, you won't have to start from scratch.

After you type ^O to do a WriteOut (i.e., to save your work), a menu at the bottom will list ^T, To files, as an option; do NOT type ^T -- pico, as installed on VMS, is abnormally terminated without saving anything if you type ^T.

When pico is ready to write information to the disk, it will show you the file name it is preparing to use. If the name displayed (it'll be near the bottom of the window) is the name you want to use, press the Enter key. If you want to use a different name, backspace over the one displayed, type the name you want, and press the Enter key. (Do not type ^T.)

Start with these pico commands:

Key-stroke  Command Name   What it does
==========  ============  ==============================
arrow-keys                Move the cursor one character
backspace                 Remove character to left of cursor
   ^G         Get Help    Get Help!
   ^X         Exit        Finish editing; return to "$" prompt
   ^O         WriteOut    Save the file, then continue editing.

Later you'll want to learn to insert another file (Read File), to use cut and paste, to use the spelling checker, to search for text, and to scroll through a file faster than a line at a time.

Using cut and paste lets you delete blocks of text, move blocks of text, and duplicate blocks of text. You'll do this: Put the cursor at one end of the block of text. Type ^^ (that's CTRL-^). Move to the other end of the block of text (use, say, the arrow keys). Press ^K (Cut Text) -- this removes the block of text to a buffer. If you wanted to delete the text, you're done. If you wanted to duplicate the text (i.e., keep it where it was and put another copy somewhere else), do an UnCut Text (^U) and move the cursor. If you wanted to move the text (i.e., remove it from where it was and put it somewhere else), just move the cursor. When you've placed the cursor so that the text should appear just before the cursor, do an UnCut Text. You can now move to another spot and do another UnCut to deposit another copy of the same text.

Modified: Sep 4, 1998; Oct 4, 1998, Aug 30, 1999
File time-stamp: Wednesday, 01-Sep-1999 17:17:59 EDT