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⚙️ Navigation Tools


Available tools

n-aliasesAliases, relegates editing to vared
n-cdDir stack and bookmarked directories, allows entering the selected directory
n-functionsFunctions, relegates editing to zed or vared
n-historyHistory, allows to edit and run commands from it
n-killProcesses list, allows sending a signal to the selected process
n-envEnvironment, relegates editing to vared
n-optionsOptions, allows toggling their state
n-panelizeLoads the output of a given command into the list for browsing

All tools support horizontal scroll with <, >, {, } , h, l or left and right cursors. Other keys are:

H, ?(from n-history) - run n-help
Ctrl-RStart n-history, the incremental, multi-keyword history searcher (Zsh binding)
Ctrl-ARotate entered words (1+2+3 -> 3+1+2)
Ctrl-FFix mode (approximate matching)
Ctrl-LRedraw of whole display
Ctrl-TBrowse themes (next theme)
Ctrl-GBrowse themes (previous theme)
Ctrl-UHalf page up
Ctrl-DHalf page down
Ctrl-PPrevious element (also done with vim's k)
Ctrl-NNext element (also done with vim's j)
[, ]Jump directory bookmarks in n-cd and typical signals in n-kill
g, GBeginning and end of the list
/Show incremental search
F3Show/hide incremental search
EscExit incremental search, clearing filter
Ctrl-W (in incremental search)Delete whole word
Ctrl-K (in incremental search)Delete whole line
Ctrl-O, oEnter uniq mode (no duplicate lines)
Ctrl-E, eEdit private history (when in private history view)
F1 (in n-history)Switch view
F2, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-/Search predefined keywords (defined in config files)

Set of tools like n-history – multi-word history searcher, n-cd – directory bookmark manager, n-kill – htop like kill utility, and more.

Based on n-list, a tool generates a selectable curses-based list of elements that has access to the current Zsh session, i.e. has broad capabilities to work together with it.

Feature highlights include incremental multi-word searching, approximate matching, ANSI coloring, themes, unique mode, horizontal scroll, grepping, advanced history management, and various integrations with Zsh.

Install Zsh Navigation Tools

Add the following to .zshrc. The config files will be in ~/.config/znt.

zi load z-shell/zsh-navigation-tools

History Widget

To have n-history as the incremental searcher bound to Ctrl-R copy znt-* files into the */site-functions dir (unless you do a single file install) and add:

autoload znt-history-widget
zle -N znt-history-widget
bindkey "^R" znt-history-widget

to .zshrc. This is done automatically when using the installer, zgen, antigen, or single file install. Two other widgets exist, and-cd-widget and znt-kill-widget, they too can be assigned to key combinations (autoload is done in .zshrc so no need for it):

zle -N znt-cd-widget
bindkey "^B" znt-cd-widget
zle -N znt-kill-widget
bindkey "^Y" znt-kill-widget


ZNT has configuration files located in ~/.config/znt. The files are:

n - aliases.conf;
n - cd.conf;
n - env.conf;
n - functions.conf;
n - history.conf;
n - kill.conf;
n - list.conf;
n - options.conf;
n - panelize.conf;

n-list.conf contains main configuration variables:

# Should the list (text, borders) be drawn in bold
local bold=0

# Main color pair (foreground/background)
local colorpair="white/black"

# Should draw the border?
local border=1

# Combinations of colors to try out with Ctrl-T and Ctrl-G
# The last number is the bold option, 0 or 1
local -a themes
"white/black/1" "green/black/0" "green/black/1" "white/blue/0"
"white/blue/1" "magenta/black/0" "magenta/black/1"

Read remaining configuration files to see what's in them. Nevertheless, a configuration can be also set from .zshrc.

There are 5 standard .zshrc configuration variables:

znt_history_active_text - underline or reverse - how should be active element highlighted
znt_history_nlist_coloring_pattern - pattern that can be used to colorize elements
znt_history_nlist_coloring_color - color with which to colorize
znt_history_nlist_coloring_match_multiple - should multiple matches be colorized (0 or 1)
znt_history_keywords (array) - search keywords activated with `Ctrl-X`, `F2` or `Ctrl-/`, e.g. ( "git" "vim" )

The above variables will work for the n-history tool. For other tools, change _history_ to e.g. _cd_, for the n-cd tool. The same works for all 8 tools.

The common configuration of the tools uses variables with _list_ in them:

znt_list_bold - should draw text in bold (0 or 1)
znt_list_colorpair - main pair of colors to be used, e.g "green/black"
znt_list_border - should draw borders around windows (0 or 1)
znt_list_themes (array) - list of themes to try out with Ctrl-T, e.g. ( "white/black/1" "green/black/0" )
znt_list_instant_select - should pressing enter in search mode leave tool (0 or 1)

If you used ZNT before v2.1.12, remove old configuration files ~/.config/znt/*.conf so that ZNT can update them to the latest versions that support integration with .zshrc.

If you used installer then run it again (after the removal of configuration files).


The function n-list is used as follows:

n-list {element1} [element2] ... [elementN]

This is all that is needed to be done to have the features like ANSI coloring, incremental multi-word search, unique mode, horizontal scroll, and non-selectable elements (grepping is done outside n-list, see the tools for how it can be done).

To set up non-selectable entries add their indices into the array NLIST_NONSELECTABLE_ELEMENTS:


The result is stored as $reply[REPLY] ($ isn't needed before REPLY because of the arithmetic context inside []). The returned array might be different from input arguments as n-list can process them via incremental search or uniq mode.

$REPLY is the index in that possibly processed array. If $REPLY equals -1 it means that no selection has been made (user quitted via q key). To set up entries that can be jumped to with [,] keys add their indices to the NLIST_HOP_INDEXES array:


n-list can automatically colorize entries according to a Zsh pattern. The following example will colorize all numbers with blue:

local NLIST_COLORING_COLOR=$'\x1b[00;34m'

n-list "This is a number 123" "This line too has a number: 456"

Blue is the default color, it doesn't have to be set. See the zshexpn man page for more information on Zsh patterns. Briefly, comparing to regular expressions, (#s) is ^, (#e) is $, # is *, ## is +.

The alternative will work when in parenthesis, i.e. (a|b). BTW by using this method you can colorize the output of the tools, via their config files (check out e.g. n-cd.conf, it is using this).


ZNT is fastest with Zsh before 5.0.6 and starting from 5.2


Zsh plugins may look scary, as they seem to have some "architecture". The plugin is:

  1. has its directory added to fpath
  2. has any first *.plugin.zsh file sourced

That's it. When one contributes to Oh-My-Zsh or creates a plugin for any plugin manager, he only needs to account for this. The same with doing any non-typical Zsh Navigation Tools installation.


Be aware of this

Fixing tmux, screen, and Linux vt

If TERM=screen-256color (often a case for tmux and screen sessions) then ncv terminfo capability will have 2nd bit set. This in general means that the underline won't work. To fix this by creating your own ncv=0-equipped terminfo file, run:

{ infocmp -x screen-256color; printf '\t%s\n' 'ncv@,'; } > /tmp/t && tic -x /tmp/t

A file will be created in the directory ~/.terminfo and will be automatically used, tmux and screen will work. Similar is for Linux virtual terminal:

{ infocmp -x linux; printf '\t%s\n' 'ncv@,'; } > /tmp/t && tic -x /tmp/t

It will not display underline properly, but will instead highlight by a color, which is quite nice. The same will not work for FreeBSD's vt, ZNT will detect if that vt is used and will revert to highlighting elements via reverse mode.