dte text editor


dte [-HR] [-c command] [-t ctag] [-r rcfile] [[+line] file]...
dte [-h|-B|-K|-V|-b rcname|-s file]


-c command
Run command, after reading the rc file and opening any file arguments. See dterc for available commands.
-t ctag
Jump to source location of ctag. Requires tags file generated by ctags.
-r rcfile
Read configuration from rcfile instead of ~/.dte/rc.
-s file
Load file as a dte-syntax file and exit. Any errors encountered are printed to stderr and the exit status is set appropriately.
-b rcname
Dump the contents of the built-in rc or syntax file named rcname and exit.
Print a list of all built-in config names that can be used with the -b option and exit.
Don't load history files at startup or save history files on exit (see FILES section below). History features will work as usual but will be in-memory only and not persisted to the filesystem.
Don't read the rc file.
Start in a special mode that continuously reads input and prints the symbolic name of each pressed key.
Display the help summary and exit.
Display the version number and exit.

Key Bindings

There are 3 editor modes, each having a different set of key bindings. Normal mode bindings can be customized by using the bind command (see dterc) or displayed using the show bind command.

The key bindings listed below are in the same format as accepted by the bind command. In particular, key combinations are represented as follows:

Normal Mode

Normal mode is the mode the editor starts in. Pressing basic keys (i.e. without modifiers) simply inserts text into the buffer. There are also various key combinations bound by default:

S-up, S-down, S-left, S-right
Move cursor and select characters
C-S-left, C-S-right
Move cursor and select whole words
C-S-up, C-S-down
Move cursor and select whole lines
Copy current line or selection
Cut current line or selection
Enter command mode
Enter search mode
Search next
Search previous
Open new buffer
M-1, M-2 ... M-9
Switch to buffer 1 (or 2, 3, 4, etc.)
Close current buffer

Command Mode

Command mode allows running various editor commands using a language similar to Unix shell. The next and prev commands switch to the next/previous file. The open, save and quit commands should be self-explanatory. For a full list of available commands, see dterc.

The key bindings for command mode are:

up, down
Browse previous command history.
Auto-complete current command or argument
^A, home
Go to beginning of command line
^B, left
Move left
^C, ^G, Esc
Exit command mode
^D, delete
^E, end
Go to end of command line
^F, right
Move right
^K, M-delete
Delete to end of command line
Delete to beginning of command line
^W, M-C-? (Alt+Backspace)
Erase word

Search Mode

Search mode allows entering a regular expression to search in the current buffer.

The key bindings for search mode are mostly the same as in command mode, plus these additional keys:

Toggle case sensitive search option.
Reverse search direction.
Perform regex search.
Perform plain-text search (escapes the regex).


The following environment variables are inspected at startup:

User configuration directory. Defaults to $HOME/.dte if not set.
User home directory. Used when expanding ~/ in filenames and also to determine the default value for DTE_HOME.
Directory used to store lock files. Defaults to $DTE_HOME if not set.
Terminal identifier. Used to determine which terminal capabilities are supported.
Enables support for 24-bit terminal colors, if set to truecolor.


User configuration file. See dterc for a full list of available commands and options or run "dte -b rc" to see the built-in, default config.
User syntax files. These override the syntax files that come with the program. See dte-syntax for more information or run "dte -b syntax/dte" for a basic example.
History of edited files and cursor positions. Used only if the file-history option is enabled.
History of dterc commands used while in command mode.
History of search patterns used while in search mode.
List of files currently open in a dte process (if the lock-files option is enabled).

Exit Status

Program exited normally.
Command-line usage error (see "synopsis" above).
Input data error (e.g. data specified by the -s option).
Operating system error.
Input/output error.

Note: the above exit codes are set by the editor itself, with values in accordance with sysexits. The exit code may also be set to values in the range 0..125 by the quit command.


Open /etc/passwd with cursor on line 3:

Run several commands at startup:

Read a buffer from standard input:

Interactively filter a shell pipeline:


It's advised to NOT run shell pipelines with multiple interactive programs that try to control the terminal. For example:

A shell will run these processes in parallel and both dte and less will then try to control the terminal at the same time; clobbering the input/output of both.