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Vim - The editor

Western Orthodox Editors Page

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The introductory paper Orthodox Editors introduced some ideas on which this page was build. Here is the abstract of the paper:

This paper tried to introduce a new concept: orthodox editors as a special category of editors that have command line set of command and respective glue macrolanguage. We have found two such families:

We define the notion of  "orthodox editors" as having at least three distinct features:

This article is a modest attempt to create a basic classification useful for further studying this important class of editors. The author argues that this class of editors can serve as viable mid-weight editors for programmers (see a companion paper A Note on Size-based Classification of Text Editors for discussion of this editor classification)

Read more

Why VIM is important

The selection of editor is of paramount importance for a programmer or Linux sysadmin. It is better to select the editor which

VIM satisfies those requirement and as such represents a huge step forward in comparison with "level 0" editors like nano. 

I would like to stress the currently vim  is probably the best implementation of vi philosophy.  It preserved two modes editing paradigm and all important achievements of the original vi including:

At the same time vim inherited the key deficiency of vi: it is impossible for a mere mortal to remember plethora of VIM commands.  Posts like 130+ essential vim commands are a cruel joke.  That also means that gvim -- GUI version of vim -- which resembles more typical Windows editor editing mode is preferable version to use.  It has better windows control, Perl interface (starting with version 5.x), folding (from  version 6).  It is definitely a preferable version of VIM to use, if you have an access to GUI.

Most sysadmins use minimal subset and only among programmer, who adopted VIM as "poor man IDE" we see real sophistication and mastery of VIM usage. that's bad that this is how it is. Please understand that advantages of VIM far outweigh  disadvantages and it makes sense to spend some time learning "level II" features of VIM. Among other things they can help you pass Rhcsa and similar exams ;-).

Again, VIM is a powerful and flexible editor with very few competitors among programmable editors.  It has complex semantic and some unique capabilities what are well worth studying and using.  And it is available on all Linux distributions as a default.  In essence, it is de facto standard among  editors for Linux syadmins.


Folding in VIM

Plain vanilla folding primitives in vim6 are too low level to be convenient for the most users. I highly recommend you to install allfold macros  developed by Marion Berryman. It's better to add basic script (allfold_basic.vim)  to plugin directory. It provides all the necessary folding functionality. He also provided more complex experimental script (allfold_full.vim)  that you can play with if you became addicted to this folding ;-).  Some ideas developed by Marion in those two scripts are really good !!!. Here is a short description of the plugin:

The allfold scripts implement a feature set which allows VIM users to view ALL interesting lines in a buffer and FOLD the rest away.  Lines are selected to be interesting in one of the two following ways:

1. They match a regular expression pattern.
2. They are in a block of lines delimited inclusively by a line that matches  a beginning RE pattern and a line that matches an ending RE pattern.

Sets of lines matching different selection criteria can be combined using logical "and" and "or" operations. The selections may be inverted so that lines not matching the selection criteria are actually selected.

Beyond these basics other features do such things as manipulating lists of selection commands and using the raw selection "bit-map" directly to enhance the capabilities and ease of use of the scripts.

I would change the mnemonic to include the word "all" to respect history of this command. For example:

command! -nargs=+ Allb :call AFB_fold_blocks(<f-args>)
command! -nargs=0 Allf :call AFB_freshen()
command! -nargs=+ Allg :call AFB_grab_view_map(<f-args>)
command! -nargs=0 Allh :call AFB_has_folds()
command! -nargs=? Alli :call AFB_invert(<f-args>)
command! -nargs=+ All :call AFB_fold_pattern(<f-args>)
command! -nargs=0 ALL :call AFB_fold_remove()
command! -nargs=0 Allu :call AFB_undo_prev()

Please note that in the definitions above "All" is command to fold text and "ALL" to unfold. Actually if no parameters supplied to All, it can unfold the text (remove folding).  This was the original Xedit semantic and it makes sense to preserve it.

Like in other orthodox editors the central idea of vi is the idea of the command line command set, the idea that as I stressed before is in some respects more powerful and convenient than getting the same functionality implicitly via cascading menus. An interesting and pretty logical extensions of this idea in vi is the ability to generate command-line command parameters (or even whole commands) using screen.

The main ideas vi is pretty close to the orthodox editors paradigm that I discussed on the main page of the section.

Some history

I would like to reproduce Bill's Joy recollection of how vi was really written  (from  Linux Magazine November 1999 FEATURES The Joy of Unix):

LM:: What inspired you to write vi?

BJ: What happened is that Ken Thompson came to Berkeley and brought this broken Pascal system, and we got this summer job to fix it. While we were fixing it, we got frustrated with the editor we were using which was named ed. ed is certainly frustrating.

We got this code from a guy named George Coulouris at University College in London called em -- Editor for Mortals -- since only immortals could use ed to do anything. By the way, before that summer, we could only type in uppercase. That summer we got lowercase ROMs for our terminals. It was really exciting to finally use lowercase.

LM: What year was that?

BJ: '76 or '77. It was the summer Carter was president. So we modified em and created en. I don't know if there was an eo or an ep but finally there was ex. [laughter] I remember en but I don't know how it got to ex. So I had a terminal at home and a 300 baud modem so the cursor could move around and I just stayed up all night for a few months and wrote vi.

LM: So you didn't really write vi in one weekend like everybody says?

BJ: No. It took a long time. It was really hard to do because you've got to remember that I was trying to make it usable over a 300 baud modem. That's also the reason you have all these funny commands. It just barely worked to use a screen editor over a modem. It was just barely fast enough. A 1200 baud modem was an upgrade. 1200 baud now is pretty slow.

9600 baud is faster than you can read. 1200 baud is way slower. So the editor was optimized so that you could edit and feel productive when it was painting slower than you could think. Now that computers are so much faster than you can think, nobody understands this anymore.

The people doing Emacs were sitting in labs at MIT with what were essentially fibre-channel links to the host, in contemporary terms. They were working on a PDP-10, which was a huge machine by comparison, with infinitely fast screens.

So they could have funny commands with the screen shimmering and all that, and meanwhile, I'm sitting at home in sort of World War II surplus housing at Berkeley with a modem and a terminal that can just barely get the cursor off the bottom line.

It was a world that is now extinct. People don't know that vi was written for a world that doesn't exist anymore -- unless you decide to get a satellite phone and use it to connect to the Net at 2400 baud, in which case you'll realize that the Net is not usable at 2400 baud. It used to be perfectly usable at 1200 baud. But these days you can't use the Web at 2400 baud because the ads are 24 kilobytes.

Peter Salus in his Open Source Library - Papers gives the following version of events:

The original UNIX editor was ed. It was a line editor of reluctant and recalcitrant style. When UNIX (version 4) got to Queen Mary College, London, in 1973, George Coulouris -- a Professor of Computing -- wasn't happy with it. So he wrote a screen editor, which he called "em," or "ed for mortals."

Coulouris went on sabbatical to Berkeley, where he installed em on "his" machine. A graduate student noticed it one day, and asked about it. Coulouris explained. He then went off to New Jersey to Bell Labs, and when he returned to Berkeley, he found that em had been transmuted into ex, a display editor that is a superset of ed and a number of extensions -- primarily the one that enables display editing.

At the beginning of 1978, the first Berkeley Software Distribution was available. It consisted of a tape of the Berkeley Pascal System and the ex text editor. The graduate student was Bill Joy, and the distribution cost $50. The next year Berkeley got some ADM-3a terminals, and Joy rewrote em to vi -- a truly visual editor.

In sum, ed came out of Bell Labs in New Jersey, went to Queen Mary College in London, from there to the University of California at Berkeley, and from there back to New Jersey, where it was incorporated into the next edition of UNIX.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov

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[Nov 12, 2018] Vim buffer FAQ

Notable quotes:
"... A buffer is a file loaded into memory for editing. All opened files are associated with a buffer. There are also buffers not associated with any file. ..."
Nov 12, 2018 |

Named Buffers

You can use a Named buffer with any of the Delete, Yank, or Put commands. Each of the 26 Named buffers is named by a letter of the alphabet. Each Named buffer can store a different block of text and you can recall each block as needed. Unlike the General-Purpose buffer, vim does not change the contents of a Named buffer unless you issue a command that specifically overwrites that buffer. The vim editor maintains the contents of the Named buffers throughout an editing session.

The vim editor stores text in a Named buffer if you precede a Delete or Yank command with a double quotation mark ( " ) and a buffer name (for example, " kyy yanks a copy of the current line into buffer k ). You can put information from the Work buffer into a Named buffer in two ways. First, if you give the name of the buffer as a lowercase letter, vim overwrites the contents of the buffer when it deletes or yanks text into the buffer. Second, if you use an uppercase letter for the buffer name, vim appends the newly deleted or yanked text to the end of the buffer. This feature enables you to collect blocks of text from various sections of a file and deposit them at one place in the file with a single command. Named buffers are also useful when you are moving a section of a file and do not want to give a Put command immediately after the corresponding Delete command, and when you want to insert a paragraph, sentence, or phrase repeatedly in a document.

If you have one sentence you use throughout a document, you can yank that sentence into a Named buffer and put it wherever you need it by using the following procedure: After entering the first occurrence of the sentence and pressing ESCAPE to return to Command mode, leave the cursor on the line containing the sentence. (The sentence must appear on a line or lines by itself for this procedure to work.) Then yank the sentence into Named buffer a by giving the " ayy command (or " a2yy if the sentence takes up two lines). Now anytime you need the sentence, you can return to Command mode and give the command " ap to put a copy of the sentence below the current line.

This technique provides a quick and easy way to insert text that you use frequently in a document. For example, if you were editing a legal document, you might store the phrase The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant in a Named buffer to save yourself the trouble of typing it every time you want to use it. Similarly, if you were creating a letter that frequently used a long company name, such as National Standards Institute , you might put it into a Named buffer.

Numbered Buffers

In addition to the 26 Named buffers and 1 General-Purpose buffer, 9 Numbered buffers are available. They are, in one sense, readonly buffers. The vim editor fills them with the nine most recently deleted chunks of text that are at least one line long. The most recently deleted text is held in " 1 , the next most recent in " 2 , and so on. If you delete a block of text and then give other vim commands so that you cannot reclaim the deleted text with an Undo command, you can use " 1p to paste the most recently deleted chunk of text below the location of the cursor. If you have deleted several blocks of text and want to reclaim a specific one, proceed as follows: Paste the contents of the first buffer with "1p . If the first buffer does not hold the text you are looking for, undo the paste operation with u and then give the period ( . ) command to repeat the previous command. The Numbered buffers work in a unique way with the period command: Instead of pasting the contents of buffer " 1 , the period command pastes the contents of the next buffer ( " 2 ). Another u and period would replace the contents of buffer " 2 with that of buffer " 3 , and so on through the nine buffers.

What is a Vim buffer?

A buffer is a file loaded into memory for editing. All opened files are associated with a buffer. There are also buffers not associated with any file.

:help windows-intro

How do I identify a buffer?

Vim buffers are identified using a name and a number. The name of the buffer is the name of the file associated with that buffer. The buffer number is a unique sequential number assigned by Vim. This buffer number will not change in a single Vim session.

:help buffers

How do I create a buffer?

When you open a file using any of the Vim commands, a buffer is automatically created. For example, if you use :edit file to edit a file, a new buffer is automatically created. An empty buffer can be created by entering :new or :vnew .

How do I add a new buffer for a file to the buffer list without opening the file?

You can add a new buffer for a file without opening it, using the ":badd" command. For example,

:badd f1.txt
:badd f2.txt

The above commands will add two new buffers for the files f1.txt and f2.txt to the buffer list.

:help :badd

How do I get a list of all the existing buffers?

You can get a list of all the existing buffers using the ":buffers" or ":ls" or ":files" command. This list is called the 'buffer list'.

To display all the buffers including unlisted buffers, use the ":buffers!" or ":ls!" or ":files!" command.

How do I delete a buffer?

You can delete a buffer using the ":bdelete" command. You can use either the buffer name or the buffer number to specify a buffer. For example,

:bdelete f1.txt
:bdelete 4

The above commands will delete the buffer named "f1.txt" and the fourth buffer in the buffer list. The ":bdelete" command will remove the buffer from the buffer list.

When a buffer is deleted, the buffer becomes an unlisted-buffer and is no longer included in the buffer list. But the buffer name and other information associated with the buffer is still remembered. To completely delete the buffer, use the ":bwipeout" command. This command will remove the buffer completely (i.e. the buffer will not become a unlisted buffer).

How do I delete multiple buffers?

You can delete multiple buffers in several ways:

:bdelete buf1.txt buf2.c buf3.h

In this example, after typing ":bdelete buf", you can press <Ctrl-A> to expand all the buffer names starting with 'buf'.

How do I remove a buffer from a window?

You can remove a buffer displayed in a window in several ways:

  1. Close the window or edit another buffer/file in that window.
  2. Use the ":bunload" command. This command will remove the buffer from the window and unload the buffer contents from memory. The buffer will not be removed from the buffer list.

:help :bunload

How do I edit an existing buffer from the buffer list?

You can edit or jump to a buffer in the buffer list in several ways:

  1. Use the ":buffer" command passing the name of an existing buffer or the buffer number. Note that buffer name completion can be used here by pressing the <Tab> key.
  2. You can enter the buffer number you want to jump/edit and press the Ctrl-^ key.
  3. Use the ":sbuffer" command passing the name of the buffer or the buffer number. Vim will split open a new window and open the specified buffer in that window.
  4. You can enter the buffer number you want to jump/edit and press the Ctrl-W ^ or Ctrl-W Ctrl-^ keys. This will open the specified buffer in a new window.

How do I browse through all the available buffers?

You can browse through the buffers in the buffer list in several ways:

  1. To jump to the first buffer in the buffer list, use the ":bfirst" or ":brewind" command.
  2. To jump to the first buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sbfirst" or ":sbrewind" command.
  3. To edit the next buffer in the buffer list, use the ":bnext" command., or the abbreviated ":bn"
  4. To open the next buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sbnext" command.
  5. To edit the previous buffer in the buffer list, use the ":bprevious" or ":bNext" command. or the abbreviated ":bp"
  6. To open the previous buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sbprevious" or ":sbNext" command.
  7. To open the last buffer in the buffer list, use the ":blast" command.
  8. To open the last buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sblast" command.

How do I open all the buffers in the buffer list?

You can open all the buffers present in the buffer list using the ":ball" or ":sball" commands.

How do I open all the loaded buffers?

You can open all the loaded buffers in the buffer list using the ":unhide" or ":sunhide" commands. Each buffer will be loaded in a separate new window.

How do I open the next modified buffer?

You can open the next or a specific modified buffer using the ":bmodified" command. You can open the next or a specific modified buffer in a new window using the ":sbmodified" command.

Is there a simpler way for using the buffers under gvim (GUI Vim)?

Yes, use the 'Buffers' menu to list all the buffers. You can select a buffer name to edit the buffer. You can also delete a buffer or browse the buffer list. Click the dashed line at the top of the menu to tear it off so you can always see a list of the buffers.

:help buffers-menu

Is there a Vim script that simplifies using buffers with Vim?

Yes, try the Buffer Explorer , minibufexpl or bufmru plugins.

Is it possible to save and restore the buffer list across Vim sessions?

Yes. To save and restore the buffer list across Vim session, include the '%' flag in the 'viminfo' option. Note that if Vim is invoked with a filename argument, then the buffer list will not be restored from the last session. To use buffer lists across sessions, invoke Vim without passing filename arguments.

We can save different buffer list for different folders, by setting a local 'viminfo' file.

The point is to overwrite the global setting by calling local setting after the 'viminfo' setting, for example.

set viminfo='1025,f1,%1024
call SetLocalOptions(".")

How do I remove all the entries from the buffer list?

You can remove all the entries in the buffer list by starting Vim with a file argument. You can also manually remove all the buffers using the ":bdelete" command.

What is a hidden buffer?

A hidden buffer is a buffer with some unsaved modifications and is not displayed in a window. Hidden buffers are useful, if you want to edit multiple buffers without saving the modifications made to a buffer while loading other buffers.

How do I load buffers in a window, which currently has a buffer with unsaved modifications?

By setting the option 'hidden', you can load a buffer in a window that currently has a modified buffer. Vim will remember your modifications to the buffer. When you quit Vim, you will be asked to save the modified buffers. It is important to note that, if you have the 'hidden' option set, and you quit Vim forcibly, for example using ":quit!", then you will lose all your modifications to the hidden buffers.

:help 'hidden'

Is it possible to unload or delete a buffer when it becomes hidden?

By setting the 'bufhidden' option to either 'hide' or 'unload' or 'delete', you can control what happens to a buffer when it becomes hidden. When 'bufhidden' is set to 'delete', the buffer is deleted when it becomes hidden. When 'bufhidden' is set to 'unload', the buffer is unloaded when it becomes hidden. When 'bufhidden' is set to 'hide', the buffer is hidden.

:help 'bufhidden'

How do I execute a command on all the buffers in the buffer list?

You can use the ":bufdo" command to execute a command on all the buffers in the buffer list.

:help :bufdo

When I open an existing buffer from the buffer list, if the buffer is already displayed in one of the existing windows, I want Vim to jump to that window instead of creating a new window for this buffer. How do I do this?

When opening a buffer using one of the split open buffer commands (:sbuffer, :sbnext), Vim will open the specified buffer in a new window. If the buffer is already opened in one of the existing windows, then you will have two windows containing the same buffer. You can change this behavior by setting the 'switchbuf' option to 'useopen'. With this setting, if a buffer is already opened in one of the windows, Vim will jump to that window, instead of creating a new window.

:help 'switchbuf'

What information is stored as part of a buffer?

Every buffer in the buffer list contains information about the last cursor position, marks, jump list, etc.

What is the difference between deleting a buffer and unloading a buffer?

When a buffer is unloaded, it is not removed from the buffer list. Only the file contents associated with the buffer are removed from memory. When a buffer is deleted, it is unloaded and removed from the buffer list. A deleted buffer becomes an 'unlisted' buffer.

Is it possible to configure Vim, by setting some option, to re-use the number of a deleted buffer for a new buffer?

No. Vim will not re-use the buffer number of a deleted buffer for a new buffer. Vim will always assign the next sequential number for a new buffer. The buffer number assignment is implemented this way, so that you can always jump to a buffer using the same buffer number. One method to achieve buffer number reordering is to restart Vim. If you restart Vim, it will re-assign numbers sequentially to all the buffers in the buffer list (assuming you have properly set 'viminfo' to save and restore the buffer list across Vim sessions).

:help buffers

How is a scratch (temporary) buffer created?

In any buffer (for example, after entering :new to create a new buffer), enter the following options to change the current buffer to a scratch buffer:

:setlocal buftype=nofile
:setlocal bufhidden=hide
:setlocal noswapfile

This creates a temporary buffer which is not associated with a file, which does not have an associated swap file, and which will be hidden when its window is closed. On exit, Vim discards any text in a scratch buffer without warning.

Also you can use scratch.vim for creating a scratch buffer.

How do I prevent a buffer from being added to the buffer list?

You can prevent a buffer from being added to the buffer list by resetting the 'buflisted' option.

:set nobuflisted

:help 'buflisted'

How do I determine whether a buffer is modified or not?

There are several ways to find out whether a buffer is modified or not. The simplest way is to look at the status line or the title bar. If the displayed string contains a '+' character, then the buffer is modified. Another way is to check whether the 'modified' option is set or not. If 'modified' is set, then the buffer is modified. To check the value of modified, use

:set modified?

You can also explicitly set the 'modified' option to mark the buffer as modified like this:

:set modified

:help 'modified'

How can I prevent modifications to a buffer?

You can prevent any modification to a buffer by re-setting the 'modifiable' option. To reset this option, use

:set nomodifiable

To again allow modifications to the buffer, use:

:set modifiable

:help 'modifiable'

How do I set options specific to the current buffer?

You can set Vim options which are specific to a buffer using the "setlocal" command. For example,

:setlocal textwidth=70

This will set the 'textwidth' option to 70 only for the current buffer. All other buffers will have the default or the previous 'textwidth' value.

How do I define mappings specific to the current buffer?

You can define mappings specific to the current buffer by using the keyword "<buffer>" in the map command. For example,

:map <buffer> ,w /[.,;]<CR>

:help map-local

How do I define abbreviations specific to the current buffer?

You can define abbreviations specific to the current buffer by using the keyword "<buffer>" in the :abbreviate command. For example,

:abb <buffer> FF for (i = 0; i < ; ++i)

:help abbreviate-local

[Oct 23, 2018] To switch from vertical split to horizontal split fast in Vim

Nov 24, 2013 |

ДМИТРИЙ МАЛИКОВ, Nov 24, 2013 at 7:55

How can you switch your current windows from horizontal split to vertical split and vice versa in Vim?

I did that a moment ago by accident but I cannot find the key again.

Mark Rushakoff

Vim mailing list says (re-formatted for better readability):

  • To change two vertically split windows to horizontal split: Ctrl - W t Ctrl - W K
  • Horizontally to vertically: Ctrl - W t Ctrl - W H


  • Ctrl - W t -- makes the first (topleft) window current
  • Ctrl - W K -- moves the current window to full-width at the very top
  • Ctrl - W H -- moves the current window to full-height at far left

Note that the t is lowercase, and the K and H are uppercase.

Also, with only two windows, it seems like you can drop the Ctrl - W t part because if you're already in one of only two windows, what's the point of making it current?

Too much php Aug 13 '09 at 2:17

So if you have two windows split horizontally, and you are in the lower window, you just use ^WL

Alex Hart Dec 7 '12 at 14:10

There are a ton of interesting ^w commands (b, w, etc)

holms Feb 28 '13 at 9:07

somehow doesn't work for me.. =/ –

Lambart Mar 26 at 19:34

Just toggle your NERDTree panel closed before 'rotating' the splits, then toggle it back open. :NERDTreeToggle (I have it mapped to a function key for convenience).

xxx Feb 19 '13 at 20:26

^w followed by capital H , J , K or L will move the current window to the far left , bottom , top or right respectively like normal cursor navigation.

The lower case equivalents move focus instead of moving the window.

respectTheCode, Jul 21 '13 at 9:55

1 Wow, cool! Thanks! :-) – infous Feb 6 at 8:46 it's much better since users use hjkl to move between buffers. – Afshin Mehrabani

In VIM, take a look at the following to see different alternatives for what you might have done:

:help opening-window

For instance:

Ctrl - W s
Ctrl - W o
Ctrl - W v
Ctrl - W o
Ctrl - W s

Anon, Apr 29 at 21:45

The command ^W-o is great! I did not know it. – Masi Aug 13 '09 at 2:20 add a comment | up vote 6 down vote The following ex commands will (re-)split any number of windows:

If there are hidden buffers, issuing these commands will also make the hidden buffers visible.

Mark Oct 22 at 19:31

When you have two or more windows open horizontally or vertically and want to switch them all to the other orientation, you can use the following:

[Oct 22, 2018] move selection to a separate file

Highly recommended!
Oct 22, 2018 |

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 13:29

With vim, how can I move a piece of text to a new file? For the moment, I do this:

Is there a more efficient way to do this?



some other text
some other other text




some other text
some other other text

Ingo Karkat, Jan 23, 2013 at 15:20

How about these custom commands:
:command! -bang -range -nargs=1 -complete=file MoveWrite  <line1>,<line2>write<bang> <args> | <line1>,<line2>delete _
:command! -bang -range -nargs=1 -complete=file MoveAppend <line1>,<line2>write<bang> >> <args> | <line1>,<line2>delete _

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 15:27

This is very ugly, but hey, it seems to do in one step exactly what I asked for (I tried). +1, and accepted. I was looking for a native way to do this quickly but since there does not seem to be one, yours will do just fine. Thanks! – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 15:27

Ingo Karkat ,Jan 23, 2013 at 16:15

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find this pretty elegant; you only need to type it once (into your .vimrc). – Ingo Karkat Jan 23 '13 at 16:15

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 16:21

You're right, "very ugly" shoud have been "very unfamiliar". Your command is very handy, and I think I definitely going to carve it in my .vimrc – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 16:21

embedded.kyle ,Jan 23, 2013 at 14:08

By "move a piece of text to a new file" I assume you mean cut that piece of text from the current file and create a new file containing only that text.

Various examples:

The above only copies the text and creates a new file containing that text. You will then need to delete afterward.

This can be done using the same range and the d command:

Or by using dd for the single line case.

If you instead select the text using visual mode, and then hit : while the text is selected, you will see the following on the command line:


Which indicates the selected text. You can then expand the command to:

:'<,'>w >> old_file

Which will append the text to an existing file. Then delete as above.

One liner:

:2,3 d | new +put! "

The breakdown:

greg0ire, Jan 23, 2013 at 14:09

Your assumption is right. This looks good, I'm going to test. Could you explain 2. a bit more? I'm not very familiar with ranges. EDIT: If I try this on the second line, it writes the first line to the other file, not the second line. – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 14:09

embedded.kyle ,Jan 23, 2013 at 14:16

@greg0ire I got that a bit backward, I'll edit to better explain – embedded.kyle Jan 23 '13 at 14:16

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 14:18

I added an example to make my question clearer. – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 14:18

embedded.kyle ,Jan 23, 2013 at 14:22

@greg0ire I corrected my answer. It's still two steps. The first copies and writes. The second deletes. – embedded.kyle Jan 23 '13 at 14:22

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 14:41

Ok, if I understand well, the trick is to use ranges to select and write in the same command. That's very similar to what I did. +1 for the detailed explanation, but I don't think this is more efficient, since the trick with hitting ':' is what I do for the moment. – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 14:41

Xyon ,Jan 23, 2013 at 13:32

Select the text in visual mode, then press y to "yank" it into the buffer (copy) or d to "delete" it into the buffer (cut).

Then you can :split <new file name> to split your vim window up, and press p to paste in the yanked text. Write the file as normal.

To close the split again, pass the split you want to close :q .

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 13:42

I have 4 steps for the moment: select, write, select, delete. With your method, I have 6 steps: select, delete, split, paste, write, close. I asked for something more efficient :P – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 13:42

Xyon ,Jan 23, 2013 at 13:44

Well, if you pass the split :x instead, you can combine writing and closing into one and make it five steps. :P – Xyon Jan 23 '13 at 13:44

greg0ire ,Jan 23, 2013 at 13:46

That's better, but 5 still > 4 :P – greg0ire Jan 23 '13 at 13:46 Based on @embedded.kyle's answer and this Q&A , I ended up with this one liner to append a selection to a file and delete from current file. After selecting some lines with Shift+V , hit : and run:
'<,'>w >> test | normal gvd

The first part appends selected lines. The second command enters normal mode and runs gvd to select the last selection and then deletes.

[Oct 22, 2018] Cut/copy and paste using visual selection

Oct 22, 2018 |
Visual selection is a common feature in applications, but Vim's visual selection has several benefits.

To cut-and-paste or copy-and-paste:

  1. Position the cursor at the beginning of the text you want to cut/copy.
  2. Press v to begin character-based visual selection, or V to select whole lines, or Ctrl-v or Ctrl-q to select a block.
  3. Move the cursor to the end of the text to be cut/copied. While selecting text, you can perform searches and other advanced movement.
  4. Press d (delete) to cut, or y (yank) to copy.
  5. Move the cursor to the desired paste location.
  6. Press p to paste after the cursor, or P to paste before.

Visual selection (steps 1-3) can be performed using a mouse.

If you want to change the selected text, press c instead of d or y in step 4. In a visual selection, pressing c performs a change by deleting the selected text and entering insert mode so you can type the new text.

Pasting over a block of text

You can copy a block of text by pressing Ctrl-v (or Ctrl-q if you use Ctrl-v for paste), then moving the cursor to select, and pressing y to yank. Now you can move elsewhere and press p to paste the text after the cursor (or P to paste before). The paste inserts a block (which might, for example, be 4 rows by 3 columns of text).

Instead of inserting the block, it is also possible to replace (paste over) the destination. To do this, move to the target location then press 1vp ( 1v selects an area equal to the original, and p pastes over it).

When a count is used before v , V , or ^V (character, line or block selection), an area equal to the previous area, multiplied by the count, is selected. See the paragraph after :help <LeftRelease> .

Note that this will only work if you actually did something to the previous visual selection, such as a yank, delete, or change operation. It will not work after visually selecting an area and leaving visual mode without taking any actions.

See also Comments

NOTE: after selecting the visual copy mode, you can hold the shift key while selection the region to get a multiple line copy. For example, to copy three lines, press V, then hold down the Shift key while pressing the down arrow key twice. Then do your action on the buffer.

I have struck out the above new comment because I think it is talking about something that may apply to those who have used :behave mswin . To visually select multiple lines, you type V , then press j (or cursor down). You hold down Shift only to type the uppercase V . Do not press Shift after that. If I am wrong, please explain here. JohnBeckett 10:48, October 7, 2010 (UTC)

If you just want to copy (yank) the visually marked text, you do not need to 'y'ank it. Marking it will already copy it.

Using a mouse, you can insert it at another position by clicking the middle mouse button.

This also works in across Vim applications on Windows systems (clipboard is inserted)

This is a really useful thing in Vim. I feel lost without it in any other editor. I have some more points I'd like to add to this tip:

You can replace a set of text in a visual block very easily by selecting a block, press c and then make changes to the first line. Pressing <Esc> twice replaces all the text of the original selection. See :help v_b_c .

On Windows the <mswin.vim> script seems to be getting sourced for many users.

Result: more Windows like behavior (ctrl-v is "paste", instead of visual-block selection). Hunt down your system vimrc and remove sourcing thereof if you don't like that behavior (or substitute <mrswin.vim> in its place, see VimTip63 .

With VimTip588 one can sort lines or blocks based on visual-block selection.

With reference to the earlier post asking how to paste an inner block

  1. Select the inner block to copy usint ctrl-v and highlighting with the hjkl keys
  2. yank the visual region (y)
  3. Select the inner block you want to overwrite (Ctrl-v then hightlight with hjkl keys)
  4. paste the selection P (that is shift P) , this will overwrite keeping the block formation

The "yank" buffers in Vim are not the same as the Windows clipboard (i.e., cut-and-paste) buffers. If you're using the yank, it only puts it in a Vim buffer - that buffer is not accessible to the Windows paste command. You'll want to use the Edit | Copy and Edit | Paste (or their keyboard equivalents) if you're using the Windows GUI, or select with your mouse and use your X-Windows cut-n-paste mouse buttons if you're running UNIX.

Double-quote and star gives one access to windows clippboard or the unix equivalent. as an example if I wanted to yank the current line into the clipboard I would type "*yy

If I wanted to paste the contents of the clippboard into Vim at my current curser location I would type "*p

The double-qoute and start trick work well with visual mode as well. ex: visual select text to copy to clippboard and then type "*y

I find this very useful and I use it all the time but it is a bit slow typing "* all the time so I am thinking about creating a macro to speed it up a bit.

Copy and Paste using the System Clipboard

There are some caveats regarding how the "*y (copy into System Clipboard) command works. We have to be sure that we are using vim-full (sudo aptitude install vim-full on debian-based systems) or a Vim that has X11 support enabled. Only then will the "*y command work.

For our convenience as we are all familiar with using Ctrl+c to copy a block of text in most other GUI applications, we can also map Ctrl+c to "*y so that in Vim Visual Mode, we can simply Ctrl+c to copy the block of text we want into our system buffer. To do that, we simply add this line in our .vimrc file:

map <C-c> "+y<CR>

Restart our shell and we are good. Now whenever we are in Visual Mode, we can Ctrl+c to grab what we want and paste it into another application or another editor in a convenient and intuitive manner.

[Oct 21, 2018] Common visual block selection scenarios

Notable quotes:
"... column oriented ..."
Oct 21, 2018 |
You are talking about text selecting and copying, I think that you should give a look to the Vim Visual Mode .

In the visual mode, you are able to select text using Vim commands, then you can do whatever you want with the selection.

Consider the following common scenarios:

You need to select to the next matching parenthesis.

You could do:

You want to select text between quotes:

You want to select a curly brace block (very common on C-style languages):

You want to select the entire file:

Visual block selection is another really useful feature, it allows you to select a rectangular area of text, you just have to press Ctrl - V to start it, and then select the text block you want and perform any type of operation such as yank, delete, paste, edit, etc. It's great to edit column oriented text.

[Oct 21, 2018] Moving lines between split windows in vim

Notable quotes:
"... "send the line I am on (or the test I selected) to the other window" ..."
Oct 21, 2018 |

brad ,Nov 24, 2015 at 12:28

I have two files, say a.txt and b.txt , in the same session of vim and I split the screen so I have file a.txt in the upper window and b.txt in the lower window.

I want to move lines here and there from a.txt to b.txt : I select a line with Shift + v , then I move to b.txt in the lower window with Ctrl + w , paste with p , get back to a.txt with Ctrl + w and I can repeat the operation when I get to another line I want to move.

My question: is there a quicker way to say vim "send the line I am on (or the test I selected) to the other window" ?

Chong ,Nov 24, 2015 at 12:33

Use q macro? q[some_letter] [whatever operations] q , then call the macro with [times to be called]@qChong Nov 24 '15 at 12:33

Anthony Geoghegan ,Nov 24, 2015 at 13:00

I presume that you're deleting the line that you've selected in a.txt . If not, you'd be pasting something else into b.txt . If so, there's no need to select the line first. – Anthony Geoghegan Nov 24 '15 at 13:00

Anthony Geoghegan ,Nov 24, 2015 at 13:17

This sounds like a good use case for a macro. Macros are commands that can be recorded and stored in a Vim register. Each register is identified by a letter from a to z. Recording

From Recording keys for repeated jobs - Vim Tips

To start recording, press q in Normal mode followed by a letter (a to z). That starts recording keystrokes to the specified register. Vim displays "recording" in the status line. Type any Normal mode commands, or enter Insert mode and type text. To stop recording, again press q while in Normal mode.

For this particular macro, I chose the m (for move) register to store it.

I pressed qm to record the following commands:

When I typed q to finish recording the macro, the contents of the m register were:


brad ,Nov 24, 2015 at 14:26

I asked to see if there is a command unknown to me that does the job: it seems there is none. In absence of such a command, this can be a good solution. – brad Nov 24 '15 at 14:26

romainl ,Nov 26, 2015 at 9:54

@brad, you can find all the commands available to you in the documentation. If it's not there it doesn't exist no need to ask random strangers. – romainl Nov 26 '15 at 9:54

brad ,Nov 26, 2015 at 10:17

@romainl, yes, I know this but vim documentation is really huge and, although it doesn't scare me, there is always the possibility to miss something. Moreover, it could also be that you can obtain the effect using the combination of 2 commands and in this case it would be hardly documented – brad Nov 26 '15 at 10:17

[Oct 21, 2018] How to move around buffers in vim?

Oct 21, 2018 |

user3721893 ,Jul 23, 2014 at 5:43

I normally work with more than 5 files at a time. I use buffers to open different files. I use commands such as :buf file1, :buf file2 etc. Is there a faster way to move to different files?

eckes ,Jul 23, 2014 at 5:49

What I use:

And have a short look on :he buffer

And the wiki entry on Easier Buffer Switching on the Vim Wiki:

SO already has a question regarding yours: How do you prefer to switch between buffers in Vim?

romainl ,Jul 23, 2014 at 6:13

A few mappings can make your life a lot easier.

This one lists your buffers and prompts you for a number:

nnoremap gb :buffers<CR>:buffer<Space>

This one lists your buffers in the "wildmenu". Depends on the 'wildcharm' option as well as 'wildmenu' and 'wildmode' :

nnoremap <leader>b :buffer <C-z>

These ones allow you to cycle between all your buffers without much thinking:

nnoremap <PageUp>   :bprevious<CR>
nnoremap <PageDown> :bnext<CR>

Also, don't forget <C-^> which allows you to alternate between two buffers.

mikew ,Jul 23, 2014 at 6:38

Once the buffers are already open, you can just type :b partial_filename to switch

So if :ls shows that i have my ~./vimrc open, then I can just type :b vimr or :b rc to switch to that buffer

Brady Trainor ,Jul 25, 2014 at 22:13

Below I describe some excerpts from sections of my .vimrc . It includes mapping the leader key, setting wilds tab completion, and finally my buffer nav key choices (all mostly inspired by folks on the interweb, including romainl). Edit: Then I ramble on about my shortcuts for windows and tabs.
" easier default keys {{{1

let mapleader=','
nnoremap <leader>2 :@"<CR>

The leader key is a prefix key for mostly user-defined key commands (some plugins also use it). The default is \ , but many people suggest the easier to reach , .

The second line there is a command to @ execute from the " clipboard, in case you'd like to quickly try out various key bindings (without relying on :so % ). (My nmeumonic is that Shift - 2 is @ .)

" wilds {{{1

set wildmenu wildmode=list:full
set wildcharm=<C-z>
set wildignore+=*~ wildignorecase

For built-in completion, wildmenu is probably the part that shows up yellow on your Vim when using tab completion on command-line. wildmode is set to a comma-separated list, each coming up in turn on each tab completion (that is, my list is simply one element, list:full ). list shows rows and columns of candidates. full 's meaning includes maintaining existence of the wildmenu . wildcharm is the way to include Tab presses in your macros. The *~ is for my use in :edit and :find commands.

" nav keys {{{1
" windows, buffers and tabs {{{2
" buffers {{{3

nnoremap <leader>bb :b <C-z><S-Tab>
nnoremap <leader>bh :ls!<CR>:b<Space>
nnoremap <leader>bw :ls!<CR>:bw<Space>
nnoremap <leader>bt :TSelectBuffer<CR>
nnoremap <leader>be :BufExplorer<CR>
nnoremap <leader>bs :BufExplorerHorizontalSplit<CR>
nnoremap <leader>bv :BufExplorerVerticalSplit<CR>
nnoremap <leader>3 :e#<CR>
nmap <C-n> :bn<cr>
nmap <C-p> :bp<cr>

The ,3 is for switching between the "two" last buffers (Easier to reach than built-in Ctrl - 6 ). Nmeuonic is Shift - 3 is # , and # is the register symbol for last buffer. (See :marks .)

,bh is to select from hidden buffers ( ! ).

,bw is to bwipeout buffers by number or name. For instance, you can wipeout several while looking at the list, with ,bw 1 3 4 8 10 <CR> . Note that wipeout is more destructive than :bdelete . They have their pros and cons. For instance, :bdelete leaves the buffer in the hidden list, while :bwipeout removes global marks (see :help marks , and the description of uppercase marks).

I haven't settled on these keybindings, I would sort of prefer that my ,bb was simply ,b (simply defining while leaving the others defined makes Vim pause to see if you'll enter more).

Those shortcuts for :BufExplorer are actually the defaults for that plugin, but I have it written out so I can change them if I want to start using ,b without a hang.

You didn't ask for this:

If you still find Vim buffers a little awkward to use, try to combine the functionality with tabs and windows (until you get more comfortable?).

" windows {{{3

" window nav
nnoremap <leader>w <C-w>
nnoremap <M-h> <C-w>h
nnoremap <M-j> <C-w>j
nnoremap <M-k> <C-w>k
nnoremap <M-l> <C-w>l
" resize window
nnoremap <C-h> <C-w><
nnoremap <C-j> <C-w>+
nnoremap <C-k> <C-w>-
nnoremap <C-l> <C-w>>

Notice how nice ,w is for a prefix. Also, I reserve Ctrl key for resizing, because Alt ( M- ) is hard to realize in all environments, and I don't have a better way to resize. I'm fine using ,w to switch windows.

" tabs {{{3

nnoremap <leader>t :tab
nnoremap <M-n> :tabn<cr>
nnoremap <M-p> :tabp<cr>
nnoremap <C-Tab> :tabn<cr>
nnoremap <C-S-Tab> :tabp<cr>
nnoremap tn :tabe<CR>
nnoremap te :tabe<Space><C-z><S-Tab>
nnoremap tf :tabf<Space>
nnoremap tc :tabc<CR>
nnoremap to :tabo<CR>
nnoremap tm :tabm<CR>
nnoremap ts :tabs<CR>

nnoremap th :tabr<CR>
nnoremap tj :tabn<CR>
nnoremap tk :tabp<CR>
nnoremap tl :tabl<CR>

" or, it may make more sense to use
" nnoremap th :tabp<CR>
" nnoremap tj :tabl<CR>
" nnoremap tk :tabr<CR>
" nnoremap tl :tabn<CR>

In summary of my window and tabs keys, I can navigate both of them with Alt , which is actually pretty easy to reach. In other words:

" (modifier) key choice explanation {{{3
"       KEYS        CTRL                  ALT            
"       hjkl        resize windows        switch windows        
"       np          switch buffer         switch tab      
" (resize windows is hard to do otherwise, so we use ctrl which works across
" more environments. i can use ',w' for windowcmds o.w.. alt is comfortable
" enough for fast and gui nav in tabs and windows. we use np for navs that 
" are more linear, hjkl for navs that are more planar.) 

This way, if the Alt is working, you can actually hold it down while you find your "open" buffer pretty quickly, amongst the tabs and windows.


There are many ways to solve. The best is the best that WORKS for YOU. You have lots of fuzzy match plugins that help you navigate. The 2 things that impress me most are

1) CtrlP or Unite's fuzzy buffer search

2) LustyExplorer and/or LustyJuggler

And the simplest :

:map <F5> :ls<CR>:e #

Pressing F5 lists all buffer, just type number.

[Oct 21, 2018] Favorite (G)Vim plugins/scripts?

Dec 27, 2009 |
What are your favorite (G)Vim plugins/scripts?

community wiki 2 revs ,Jun 24, 2009 at 13:35


The NERD tree allows you to explore your filesystem and to open files and directories. It presents the filesystem to you in the form of a tree which you manipulate with the keyboard and/or mouse. It also allows you to perform simple filesystem operations.

The tree can be toggled easily with :NERDTreeToggle which can be mapped to a more suitable key. The keyboard shortcuts in the NERD tree are also easy and intuitive.

Edit: Added synopsis

SpoonMeiser ,Sep 17, 2008 at 19:32

For those of us not wanting to follow every link to find out about each plugin, care to furnish us with a brief synopsis? – SpoonMeiser Sep 17 '08 at 19:32

AbdullahDiaa ,Sep 10, 2012 at 19:51

and NERDTree with NERDTreeTabs are awesome combination – AbdullahDiaa Sep 10 '12 at 19:51

community wiki 2 revs ,May 27, 2010 at 0:08

Tim Pope has some kickass plugins. I love his surround plugin.

Taurus Olson ,Feb 21, 2010 at 18:01

Surround is a great plugin for sure. – Taurus Olson Feb 21 '10 at 18:01

Benjamin Oakes ,May 27, 2010 at 0:11

Link to all his vim contributions: – Benjamin Oakes May 27 '10 at 0:11

community wiki SergioAraujo, Mar 15, 2011 at 15:35

Pathogen plugin and more things commented by Steve Losh

Patrizio Rullo ,Sep 26, 2011 at 12:11

Pathogen is the FIRST plugin you have to install on every Vim installation! It resolves the plugin management problems every Vim developer has. – Patrizio Rullo Sep 26 '11 at 12:11

Profpatsch ,Apr 12, 2013 at 8:53

I would recommend switching to Vundle . It's better by a long shot and truly automates. You can give vim-addon-manager a try, too. – Profpatsch Apr 12 '13 at 8:53

community wiki JPaget, Sep 15, 2008 at 20:47

Taglist , a source code browser plugin for Vim, is currently the top rated plugin at the Vim website and is my favorite plugin.

mindthief ,Jun 27, 2012 at 20:53

A more recent alternative to this is Tagbar , which appears to have some improvements over Taglist. This blog post offers a comparison between the two plugins. – mindthief Jun 27 '12 at 20:53

community wiki 1passenger, Nov 17, 2009 at 9:15

I love snipMate . It's simular to snippetsEmu, but has a much better syntax to read (like Textmate).

community wiki cschol, Aug 22, 2008 at 4:19

A very nice grep replacement for GVim is Ack . A search plugin written in Perl that beats Vim's internal grep implementation and externally invoked greps, too. It also by default skips any CVS directories in the project directory, e.g. '.svn'. This blog shows a way to integrate Ack with vim.

FUD, Aug 27, 2013 at 15:50 – FUD Aug 27 '13 at 15:50

community wiki Dominic Dos Santos ,Sep 12, 2008 at 12:44

A.vim is a great little plugin. It allows you to quickly switch between header and source files with a single command. The default is :A , but I remapped it to F2 reduce keystrokes.

community wiki 2 revs, Aug 25, 2008 at 15:06

I really like the SuperTab plugin, it allows you to use the tab key to do all your insert completions.

community wiki Greg Hewgill, Aug 25, 2008 at 19:23

I have recently started using a plugin that highlights differences in your buffer from a previous version in your RCS system (Subversion, git, whatever). You just need to press a key to toggle the diff display on/off. You can find it here: . Patches welcome!

Nathan Fellman, Sep 15, 2008 at 18:51

Do you know if this supports bitkeeper? I looked on the website but couldn't even see whom to ask. – Nathan Fellman Sep 15 '08 at 18:51

Greg Hewgill, Sep 16, 2008 at 9:26

It doesn't explicitly support bitkeeper at the moment, but as long as bitkeeper has a "diff" command that outputs a normal patch file, it should be easy enough to add. – Greg Hewgill Sep 16 '08 at 9:26

Yogesh Arora, Mar 10, 2010 at 0:47

does it support clearcase – Yogesh Arora Mar 10 '10 at 0:47

Greg Hewgill, Mar 10, 2010 at 1:39

@Yogesh: No, it doesn't support ClearCase at this time. However, if you can add ClearCase support, a patch would certainly be accepted. – Greg Hewgill Mar 10 '10 at 1:39

Olical ,Jan 23, 2013 at 11:05

This version can be loaded via pathogen in a git submodule: – Olical Jan 23 '13 at 11:05

community wiki 4 revs, May 23, 2017 at 11:45

  1. Elegant (mini) buffer explorer - This is the multiple file/buffer manager I use. Takes very little screen space. It looks just like most IDEs where you have a top tab-bar with the files you've opened. I've tested some other similar plugins before, and this is my pick.
  2. TagList - Small file explorer, without the "extra" stuff the other file explorers have. Just lets you browse directories and open files with the "enter" key. Note that this has already been noted by previous commenters to your questions.
  3. SuperTab - Already noted by WMR in this post, looks very promising. It's an auto-completion replacement key for Ctrl-P.
  4. Desert256 color Scheme - Readable, dark one.
  5. Moria color scheme - Another good, dark one. Note that it's gVim only.
  6. Enahcned Python syntax - If you're using Python, this is an enhanced syntax version. Works better than the original. I'm not sure, but this might be already included in the newest version. Nonetheless, it's worth adding to your syntax folder if you need it.
  7. Enhanced JavaScript syntax - Same like the above.
  8. EDIT: Comments - Great little plugin to [un]comment chunks of text. Language recognition included ("#", "/", "/* .. */", etc.) .

community wiki Konrad Rudolph, Aug 25, 2008 at 14:19

Not a plugin, but I advise any Mac user to switch to the MacVim distribution which is vastly superior to the official port.

As for plugins, I used VIM-LaTeX for my thesis and was very satisfied with the usability boost. I also like the Taglist plugin which makes use of the ctags library.

community wiki Yariv ,Nov 25, 2010 at 19:58

clang complete - the best c++ code completion I have seen so far. By using an actual compiler (that would be clang) the plugin is able to complete complex expressions including STL and smart pointers.

community wiki Greg Bowyer, Jul 30, 2009 at 19:51

No one said matchit yet ? Makes HTML / XML soup much nicer

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 91% ,Nov 24, 2011 at 5:18

Tomas Restrepo posted on some great Vim scripts/plugins . He has also pointed out some nice color themes on his blog, too. Check out his Vim category .

community wiki HaskellElephant ,Mar 29, 2011 at 17:59,

With version 7.3, undo branches was added to vim. A very powerful feature, but hard to use, until Steve Losh made Gundo which makes this feature possible to use with a ascii representation of the tree and a diff of the change. A must for using undo branches.

community wiki, Auguste ,Apr 20, 2009 at 8:05

Matrix Mode .

community wiki wilhelmtell ,Dec 10, 2010 at 19:11

My latest favourite is Command-T . Granted, to install it you need to have Ruby support and you'll need to compile a C extension for Vim. But oy-yoy-yoy does this plugin make a difference in opening files in Vim!

Victor Farazdagi, Apr 19, 2011 at 19:16

Definitely! Let not the ruby + c compiling stop you, you will be amazed on how well this plugin enhances your toolset. I have been ignoring this plugin for too long, installed it today and already find myself using NERDTree lesser and lesser. – Victor Farazdagi Apr 19 '11 at 19:16

datentyp ,Jan 11, 2012 at 12:54

With ctrlp now there is something as awesome as Command-T written in pure Vimscript! It's available at – datentyp Jan 11 '12 at 12:54

FUD ,Dec 26, 2012 at 4:48

just my 2 cents.. being a naive user of both plugins, with a few first characters of file name i saw a much better result with commandt plugin and a lots of false positives for ctrlp. – FUD Dec 26 '12 at 4:48

community wiki
,Mar 15, 2011 at 12:55

Conque Shell : Run interactive commands inside a Vim buffer

Conque is a Vim plugin which allows you to run interactive programs, such as bash on linux or powershell.exe on Windows, inside a Vim buffer. In other words it is a terminal emulator which uses a Vim buffer to display the program output.

community wiki 2 revs ,Nov 20, 2009 at 14:51

The vcscommand plugin provides global ex commands for manipulating version-controlled source files and it supports CVS,SVN and some other repositories.

You can do almost all repository related tasks from with in vim:
* Taking the diff of current buffer with repository copy
* Adding new files
* Reverting the current buffer to the repository copy by nullifying the local changes....

community wiki Sirupsen ,Nov 20, 2009 at 15:00

Just gonna name a few I didn't see here, but which I still find extremely helpful:

community wiki thestoneage ,Dec 22, 2011 at 16:25

One Plugin that is missing in the answers is NERDCommenter , which let's you do almost anything with comments. For example {add, toggle, remove} comments. And more. See this blog entry for some examples.

community wiki james ,Feb 19, 2010 at 7:17

I like taglist and fuzzyfinder, those are very cool plugin

community wiki JAVH ,Aug 15, 2010 at 11:54


This script is based on the eclipse Task List. It will search the file for FIXME, TODO, and XXX (or a custom list) and put them in a handy list for you to browse which at the same time will update the location in the document so you can see exactly where the tag is located. Something like an interactive 'cw'

community wiki Peter Hoffmann ,Aug 29, 2008 at 4:07

I really love the snippetsEmu Plugin. It emulates some of the behaviour of Snippets from the OS X editor TextMate, in particular the variable bouncing and replacement behaviour.

community wiki Anon ,Sep 11, 2008 at 10:20

Zenburn color scheme and good fonts - [Droid Sans Mono]( on Linux, Consolas on Windows.

Gary Willoughby ,Jul 7, 2011 at 21:21

Take a look at DejaVu Sans Mono too – Gary Willoughby Jul 7 '11 at 21:21

Santosh Kumar ,Mar 28, 2013 at 4:48

Droid Sans Mono makes capital m and 0 appear same. – Santosh Kumar Mar 28 '13 at 4:48

community wiki julienXX ,Jun 22, 2010 at 12:05

If you're on a Mac, you got to use peepopen , fuzzyfinder on steroids.

Khaja Minhajuddin ,Apr 5, 2012 at 9:24

Command+T is a free alternative to this: – Khaja Minhajuddin Apr 5 '12 at 9:24

community wiki Peter Stuifzand ,Aug 25, 2008 at 19:16

I use the following two plugins all the time:

Csaba_H ,Jun 24, 2009 at 13:47

vimoutliner is really good for managing small pieces of information (from tasks/todo-s to links) – Csaba_H Jun 24 '09 at 13:47

ThiefMaster ♦ ,Nov 25, 2010 at 20:35

Adding some links/descriptions would be nice – ThiefMaster ♦ Nov 25 '10 at 20:35

community wiki chiggsy ,Aug 26, 2009 at 18:22

For vim I like a little help with completions. Vim has tons of completion modes, but really, I just want vim to complete anything it can, whenver it can.

I hate typing ending quotes, but fortunately this plugin obviates the need for such misery.

Those two are my heavy hitters.

This one may step up to roam my code like an unquiet shade, but I've yet to try it.

community wiki Brett Stahlman, Dec 11, 2009 at 13:28

Txtfmt (The Vim Highlighter) Screenshots

The Txtfmt plugin gives you a sort of "rich text" highlighting capability, similar to what is provided by RTF editors and word processors. You can use it to add colors (foreground and background) and formatting attributes (all combinations of bold, underline, italic, etc...) to your plain text documents in Vim.

The advantage of this plugin over something like Latex is that with Txtfmt, your highlighting changes are visible "in real time", and as with a word processor, the highlighting is WYSIWYG. Txtfmt embeds special tokens directly in the file to accomplish the highlighting, so the highlighting is unaffected when you move the file around, even from one computer to another. The special tokens are hidden by the syntax; each appears as a single space. For those who have applied Vince Negri's conceal/ownsyntax patch, the tokens can even be made "zero-width".

community wiki 2 revs, Dec 10, 2010 at 4:37


"I map the "Command + /" keys so i can just comment stuff out while in insert mode imap :i

[Oct 21, 2018] Duplicate a whole line in Vim

Notable quotes:
"... Do people not run vimtutor anymore? This is probably within the first five minutes of learning how to use Vim. ..."
"... Can also use capital Y to copy the whole line. ..."
"... I think the Y should be "copy from the cursor to the end" ..."
"... In normal mode what this does is copy . copy this line to just below this line . ..."
"... And in visual mode it turns into '<,'> copy '> copy from start of selection to end of selection to the line below end of selection . ..."
"... I like: Shift + v (to select the whole line immediately and let you select other lines if you want), y, p ..."
"... Multiple lines with a number in between: y7yp ..."
"... 7yy is equivalent to y7y and is probably easier to remember how to do. ..."
"... or :.,.+7 copy .+7 ..."
"... When you press : in visual mode, it is transformed to '<,'> so it pre-selects the line range the visual selection spanned over ..."
Oct 21, 2018 |

sumek, Sep 16, 2008 at 15:02

How do I duplicate a whole line in Vim in a similar way to Ctrl + D in IntelliJ IDEA/Resharper or Ctrl + Alt + / in Eclipse?

dash-tom-bang, Feb 15, 2016 at 23:31

Do people not run vimtutor anymore? This is probably within the first five minutes of learning how to use Vim.dash-tom-bang Feb 15 '16 at 23:31

Mark Biek, Sep 16, 2008 at 15:06

yy or Y to copy the line
dd to delete (cutting) the line


p to paste the copied or deleted text after the current line
P to paste the copied or deleted text before the current line

camflan, Sep 28, 2008 at 15:55

Can also use capital Y to copy the whole line.camflan Sep 28 '08 at 15:55

nXqd, Jul 19, 2012 at 11:35

@camflan I think the Y should be "copy from the cursor to the end" nXqd Jul 19 '12 at 11:35

Amir Ali Akbari, Oct 9, 2012 at 10:33

and 2yy can be used to copy 2 lines (and for any other n) – Amir Ali Akbari Oct 9 '12 at 10:33

zelk, Mar 9, 2014 at 13:29

To copy two lines, it's even faster just to go yj or yk, especially since you don't double up on one character. Plus, yk is a backwards version that 2yy can't do, and you can put the number of lines to reach backwards in y9j or y2k, etc.. Only difference is that your count has to be n-1 for a total of n lines, but your head can learn that anyway. – zelk Mar 9 '14 at 13:29

DarkWiiPlayer, Apr 13 at 7:26

I know I'm late to the party, but whatever; I have this in my .vimrc:
nnoremap <C-d> :copy .<CR>
vnoremap <C-d> :copy '><CR>

the :copy command just copies the selected line or the range (always whole lines) to below the line number given as its argument.

In normal mode what this does is copy . copy this line to just below this line .

And in visual mode it turns into '<,'> copy '> copy from start of selection to end of selection to the line below end of selection .

yolenoyer, Apr 11 at 16:34

I like to use this mapping:
:nnoremap yp Yp

because it makes it consistent to use alongside the native YP command.

Gabe add a comment, Jul 14, 2009 at 4:45

I like: Shift + v (to select the whole line immediately and let you select other lines if you want), y, p

jedi, Feb 11 at 17:20

If you would like to duplicate a line and paste it right away below the current like, just like in Sublime Ctrl + Shift + D, then you can add this to your .vimrc file.

imap <S-C-d> <Esc>Yp

jedi, Apr 14 at 17:48

This works perfectly fine for me: imap <S-C-d> <Esc>Ypi insert mode and nmap <S-C-d> <Esc>Yp in normal mode – jedi Apr 14 at 17:48

Chris Penner, Apr 20, 2015 at 4:33

Default is yyp, but I've been using this rebinding for a year or so and love it:

" set Y to duplicate lines, works in visual mode as well. nnoremap Y yyp vnoremap Y y`>pgv

yemu, Oct 12, 2013 at 18:23

yyp - paste after

yyP - paste before

Mikk, Dec 4, 2015 at 9:09

@A-B-B However, there is a miniature difference here - what line will your cursor land on. – Mikk Dec 4 '15 at 9:09

theschmitzer, Sep 16, 2008 at 15:16

yyp - remember it with "yippee!"

Multiple lines with a number in between: y7yp

graywh, Jan 4, 2009 at 21:25

7yy is equivalent to y7y and is probably easier to remember how to do.graywh Jan 4 '09 at 21:25

Nefrubyr, Jul 29, 2014 at 14:09

y7yp (or 7yyp) is rarely useful; the cursor remains on the first line copied so that p pastes the copied lines between the first and second line of the source. To duplicate a block of lines use 7yyP – Nefrubyr Jul 29 '14 at 14:09

DarkWiiPlayer, Apr 13 at 7:28

@Nefrubyr or :.,.+7 copy .+7 :P – DarkWiiPlayer Apr 13 at 7:28

Michael, May 12, 2016 at 14:54

For someone who doesn't know vi, some answers from above might mislead him with phrases like "paste ... after/before current line ".
It's actually "paste ... after/before cursor ".

yy or Y to copy the line
dd to delete the line


p to paste the copied or deleted text after the cursor
P to paste the copied or deleted text before the cursor

For more key bindings, you can visit this site: vi Complete Key Binding List

ap-osd, Feb 10, 2016 at 13:23

For those starting to learn vi, here is a good introduction to vi by listing side by side vi commands to typical Windows GUI Editor cursor movement and shortcut keys. It lists all the basic commands including yy (copy line) and p (paste after) or P (paste before).

vi (Vim) for Windows Users

pjz, Sep 16, 2008 at 15:04


will yank the current line without deleting it


will delete the current line


will put a line grabbed by either of the previous methods

Benoit, Apr 17, 2012 at 15:17

Normal mode: see other answers.

The Ex way:

If you need to move instead of copying, use :m instead of :t .

This can be really powerful if you combine it with :g or :v :

Reference: :help range, :help :t, :help :g, :help :m and :help :v

Benoit, Jun 30, 2012 at 14:17

When you press : in visual mode, it is transformed to '<,'> so it pre-selects the line range the visual selection spanned over. So, in visual mode, :t0 will copy the lines at the beginning. – Benoit Jun 30 '12 at 14:17

Niels Bom, Jul 31, 2012 at 8:21

For the record: when you type a colon (:) you go into command line mode where you can enter Ex commands. Ex commands can be really powerful and terse. The yyp solutions are "Normal mode" commands. If you want to copy/move/delete a far-away line or range of lines an Ex command can be a lot faster. – Niels Bom Jul 31 '12 at 8:21

Burak Erdem, Jul 8, 2016 at 16:55

:t. is the exact answer to the question. – Burak Erdem Jul 8 '16 at 16:55

Aaron Thoma, Aug 22, 2013 at 23:31

Y is usually remapped to y$ (yank (copy) until end of line (from current cursor position, not beginning of line)) though. With this line in .vimrc : :nnoremap Y y$Aaron Thoma Aug 22 '13 at 23:31

Kwondri, Sep 16, 2008 at 15:37

If you want another way :-)

"ayy this will store the line in buffer a

"ap this will put the contents of buffer a at the cursor.

There are many variations on this.

"a5yy this will store the 5 lines in buffer a

see for more fun

frbl, Jun 21, 2015 at 21:04

Thanks, I used this as a bind: map <Leader>d "ayy"ap – frbl Jun 21 '15 at 21:04

Rook, Jul 14, 2009 at 4:37

Another option would be to go with:
nmap <C-d> mzyyp`z

gives you the advantage of preserving the cursor position.

,Sep 18, 2008 at 20:32

You can also try <C-x><C-l> which will repeat the last line from insert mode and brings you a completion window with all of the lines. It works almost like <C-p>

Jorge Gajon, May 11, 2009 at 6:38

This is very useful, but to avoid having to press many keys I have mapped it to just CTRL-L, this is my map: inoremap ^L ^X^L – Jorge Gajon May 11 '09 at 6:38

cori, Sep 16, 2008 at 15:06

1 gotcha: when you use "p" to put the line, it puts it after the line your cursor is on, so if you want to add the line after the line you're yanking, don't move the cursor down a line before putting the new line.

Ghoti, Jan 31, 2016 at 11:05

or use capital P - put before – Ghoti Jan 31 '16 at 11:05

[Oct 21, 2018] Indent multiple lines quickly in vi

Oct 21, 2018 |

Allain Lalonde, Oct 25, 2008 at 3:27

Should be trivial, and it might even be in the help, but I can't figure out how to navigate it. How do I indent multiple lines quickly in vi?

Greg Hewgill, Oct 25, 2008 at 3:28

Use the > command. To indent 5 lines, 5>> . To mark a block of lines and indent it, Vjj> to indent 3 lines (vim only). To indent a curly-braces block, put your cursor on one of the curly braces and use >% .

If you're copying blocks of text around and need to align the indent of a block in its new location, use ]p instead of just p . This aligns the pasted block with the surrounding text.

Also, the shiftwidth setting allows you to control how many spaces to indent.

akdom, Oct 25, 2008 at 3:31

<shift>-v also works to select a line in Vim. – akdom Oct 25 '08 at 3:31

R. Martinho Fernandes, Feb 15, 2009 at 17:26

I use >i} (indent inner {} block). Works in vim. Not sure it works in vi. – R. Martinho Fernandes Feb 15 '09 at 17:26

Kamran Bigdely, Feb 28, 2011 at 23:25

My problem(in gVim) is that the command > indents much more than 2 blanks (I want just two blanks but > indent something like 5 blanks) – Kamran Bigdely Feb 28 '11 at 23:25

Greg Hewgill, Mar 1, 2011 at 18:42

@Kamran: See the shiftwidth setting for the way to change that. – Greg Hewgill Mar 1 '11 at 18:42

Greg Hewgill, Feb 28, 2013 at 3:36

@MattStevens: You can find extended discussion about this phenomenon here: – Greg Hewgill Feb 28 '13 at 3:36

Michael Ekoka, Feb 15, 2009 at 5:42

When you select a block and use > to indent, it indents then goes back to normal mode. I have this in my .vimrc file:
vnoremap < <gv

vnoremap > >gv

It lets you indent your selection as many time as you want.

sundar, Sep 1, 2009 at 17:14

To indent the selection multiple times, you can simply press . to repeat the previous command. – sundar Sep 1 '09 at 17:14

masukomi, Dec 6, 2013 at 21:24

The problem with . in this situation is that you have to move your fingers. With @mike's solution (same one i use) you've already got your fingers on the indent key and can just keep whacking it to keep indenting rather than switching and doing something else. Using period takes longer because you have to move your hands and it requires more thought because it's a second, different, operation. – masukomi Dec 6 '13 at 21:24

Johan, Jan 20, 2009 at 21:11

A big selection would be:

It is really fast, and everything gets indented ;-)

asgs, Jan 28, 2014 at 21:57

I've an XML file and turned on syntax highlighting. Typing gg=G just puts every line starting from position 1. All the white spaces have been removed. Is there anything else specific to XML? – asgs Jan 28 '14 at 21:57

Johan, Jan 29, 2014 at 6:10

Amanuel Nega, May 19, 2015 at 19:51

I think set cindent should be in vimrc or should run :set cindent before running that command – Amanuel Nega May 19 '15 at 19:51

Amanuel Nega, May 19, 2015 at 19:57

I think cindent must be set first. and @asgs i think this only works for cstyle programming languages. – Amanuel Nega May 19 '15 at 19:57

sqqqrly, Sep 28, 2017 at 23:59

I use block-mode visual selection:

This is not a uni-tasker. It works:

oligofren, Mar 27 at 15:23

This is cumbersome, but is the way to go if you do formatting outside of core VIM (for instance, using vim-prettier instead of the default indenting engine). Using > will otherwise royally scew up the formatting done by Prettier. – oligofren Mar 27 at 15:23

sqqqrly, Jun 15 at 16:30

Funny, I find it anything but cumbersome. This is not a uni-tasker! Learning this method has many uses beyond indenting. – sqqqrly Jun 15 at 16:30

user4052054, Aug 17 at 17:50

I find it better than the accepted answer, as I can see what is happening, the lines I'm selecting and the action I'm doing, and not just type some sort of vim incantation. – user4052054 Aug 17 at 17:50

Sergio, Apr 25 at 7:14

Suppose | represents the position of the cursor in Vim. If the text to be indented is enclosed in a code block like:
int main() {

you can do >i{ which means " indent ( > ) inside ( i ) block ( { ) " and get:

int main() {

Now suppose the lines are contiguous but outside a block, like:


To indent lines 2 thru 4 you can visually select the lines and type > . Or even faster you can do >2j to get:


Note that >Nj means indent from current line to N lines below. If the number of lines to be indented is large, it could take some seconds for the user to count the proper value of N . To save valuable seconds you can activate the option of relative number with set relativenumber (available since Vim version 7.3).

Sagar Jain, Apr 18, 2014 at 18:41

The master of all commands is

This indents the entire file!

And below are some of the simple and elegant commands used to indent lines quickly in Vim or gVim.

To indent the current line

To indent the all the lines below the current line


To indent n lines below the current line


For example, to indent 4 lines below the current line


To indent a block of code, go to one of the braces and use command


These are the simplest, yet powerful commands to indent multiple lines.

rojomoke, Jul 30, 2014 at 15:48

This is just in vim, not vi . – rojomoke Jul 30 '14 at 15:48

Sagar Jain, Jul 31, 2014 at 3:40

@rojomoke: No, it works in vi as well – Sagar Jain Jul 31 '14 at 3:40

rojomoke, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:09

Not on my Solaris or AIX boxes it doesn't. The equals key has always been one of my standard ad hoc macro assignments. Are you sure you're not looking at a vim that's been linked to as vi ? – rojomoke Jul 31 '14 at 10:09

rojomoke, Aug 1, 2014 at 8:22

Yeah, on Linux, vi is almost always a link to vim. Try running the :ve command inside vi. – rojomoke Aug 1 '14 at 8:22

datelligence, Dec 28, 2015 at 17:28

I love this kind of answers: clear, precise and succinct. Worked for me in Debian Jessie. Thanks, @SJain – datelligence Dec 28 '15 at 17:28

kapil, Mar 1, 2015 at 13:20

To indent every line in a file type, esc then G=gg

zundarz, Sep 10, 2015 at 18:41

:help left

In ex mode you can use :left or :le to align lines a specified amount. Specifically, :left will Left align lines in the [range]. It sets the indent in the lines to [indent] (default 0).

:%le3 or :%le 3 or :%left3 or :%left 3 will align the entire file by padding with three spaces.

:5,7 le 3 will align lines 5 through 7 by padding them with 3 spaces.

:le without any value or :le 0 will left align with a padding of 0.

This works in vim and gvim .

Subfuzion, Aug 11, 2017 at 22:02

Awesome, just what I was looking for (a way to insert a specific number of spaces -- 4 spaces for markdown code -- to override my normal indent). In my case I wanted to indent a specific number of lines in visual mode, so shift-v to highlight the lines, then :'<,'>le4 to insert the spaces. Thanks! – Subfuzion Aug 11 '17 at 22:02

Nykakin, Aug 21, 2015 at 13:33

There is one more way that hasn't been mentioned yet - you can use norm i command to insert given text at the beginning of the line. To insert 10 spaces before lines 2-10:
:2,10norm 10i

Remember that there has to be space character at the end of the command - this will be the character we want to have inserted. We can also indent line with any other text, for example to indent every line in file with 5 underscore characters:

:%norm 5i_

Or something even more fancy:

:%norm 2i[ ]

More practical example is commenting Bash/Python/etc code with # character:

:1,20norm i#

To re-indent use x instead of i . For example to remove first 5 characters from every line:

:%norm 5x

Eliethesaiyan, Jun 13, 2016 at 14:18

this starts from the left side of the file...not the the current position of the block – Eliethesaiyan Jun 13 '16 at 14:18

John Sonderson, Jan 31, 2015 at 19:17

Suppose you use 2 spaces to indent your code. Type:
:set shiftwidth=2


You get the idea.

( Empty lines will not get indented, which I think is kind of nice. )

I found the answer in the (g)vim documentation for indenting blocks:

:help visual-block

If you want to give a count to the command, do this just before typing the operator character: "v{move-around}3>" (move lines 3 indents to the right).

Michael, Dec 19, 2014 at 20:18

To indent all file by 4:
esc 4G=G

underscore_d, Oct 17, 2015 at 19:35

...what? 'indent by 4 spaces'? No, this jumps to line 4 and then indents everything from there to the end of the file, using the currently selected indent mode (if any). – underscore_d Oct 17 '15 at 19:35

Abhishesh Sharma, Jul 15, 2014 at 9:22



14,21> shifts line number 14 to 21 to one tab

Increase the '>' symbol for more tabs


14,21>>> for 3 tabs

HoldOffHunger, Dec 5, 2017 at 15:50

There are clearly a lot of ways to solve this, but this is the easiest to implement, as line numbers show by default in vim and it doesn't require math. – HoldOffHunger Dec 5 '17 at 15:50

rohitkadam19, May 7, 2013 at 7:13

5== will indent 5 lines from current cursor position. so you can type any number before ==, it will indent number of lines. This is in command mode.

gg=G will indent whole file from top to bottom.

Kamlesh Karwande, Feb 6, 2014 at 4:04

I dont know why its so difficult to find a simple answer like this one...

I myself had to struggle a lot to know this its its very simple

edit your .vimrc file under home directory add this line

set cindent

in you file where you want to indent properly

in normal/command mode type

10==   (this will indent 10 lines from the current cursor location )
gg=G   (complete file will be properly indented)

Michael Durrant, Nov 4, 2013 at 22:57

Go to the start of the text

Eric Leschinski, Dec 23, 2013 at 3:30

How to indent highlighted code in vi immediately by a # of spaces:

Option 1: Indent a block of code in vi to three spaces with Visual Block mode:

  1. Select the block of code you want to indent. Do this using Ctrl+V in normal mode and arrowing down to select text. While it is selected, enter : to give a command to the block of selected text.
  2. The following will appear in the command line: :'<,'>
  3. To set indent to 3 spaces, type le 3 and press enter. This is what appears: :'<,'>le 3
  4. The selected text is immediately indented to 3 spaces.

Option 2: Indent a block of code in vi to three spaces with Visual Line mode:

  1. Open your file in VI.
  2. Put your cursor over some code
  3. Be in normal mode press the following keys:
    Vjjjj:le 3

    Interpretation of what you did:

    V means start selecting text.

    jjjj arrows down 4 lines, highlighting 4 lines.

    : tells vi you will enter an instruction for the highlighted text.

    le 3 means indent highlighted text 3 lines.

    The selected code is immediately increased or decreased to three spaces indentation.

Option 3: use Visual Block mode and special insert mode to increase indent:

  1. Open your file in VI.
  2. Put your cursor over some code
  3. Be in normal mode press the following keys:



    (press spacebar 5 times)

    Esc Shift+i

    All the highlighted text is indented an additional 5 spaces.

ire_and_curses, Mar 6, 2011 at 17:29

This answer summarises the other answers and comments of this question, and adds extra information based on the Vim documentation and the Vim wiki . For conciseness, this answer doesn't distinguish between Vi and Vim-specific commands.

In the commands below, "re-indent" means "indent lines according to your indentation settings ." shiftwidth is the primary variable that controls indentation.

General Commands

>>   Indent line by shiftwidth spaces
<<   De-indent line by shiftwidth spaces
5>>  Indent 5 lines
5==  Re-indent 5 lines

>%   Increase indent of a braced or bracketed block (place cursor on brace first)
=%   Reindent a braced or bracketed block (cursor on brace)
<%   Decrease indent of a braced or bracketed block (cursor on brace)
]p   Paste text, aligning indentation with surroundings

=i{  Re-indent the 'inner block', i.e. the contents of the block
=a{  Re-indent 'a block', i.e. block and containing braces
=2a{ Re-indent '2 blocks', i.e. this block and containing block

>i{  Increase inner block indent
<i{  Decrease inner block indent

You can replace { with } or B, e.g. =iB is a valid block indent command. Take a look at "Indent a Code Block" for a nice example to try these commands out on.

Also, remember that

.    Repeat last command

, so indentation commands can be easily and conveniently repeated.

Re-indenting complete files

Another common situation is requiring indentation to be fixed throughout a source file:

gg=G  Re-indent entire buffer

You can extend this idea to multiple files:

" Re-indent all your c source code:
:args *.c
:argdo normal gg=G

Or multiple buffers:

" Re-indent all open buffers:
:bufdo normal gg=G:wall

In Visual Mode

Vjj> Visually mark and then indent 3 lines

In insert mode

These commands apply to the current line:

CTRL-t   insert indent at start of line
CTRL-d   remove indent at start of line
0 CTRL-d remove all indentation from line

Ex commands

These are useful when you want to indent a specific range of lines, without moving your cursor.

:< and :> Given a range, apply indentation e.g.
:4,8>   indent lines 4 to 8, inclusive

Indenting using markers

Another approach is via markers :

ma     Mark top of block to indent as marker 'a'

...move cursor to end location

>'a    Indent from marker 'a' to current location

Variables that govern indentation

You can set these in your .vimrc file .

set expandtab       "Use softtabstop spaces instead of tab characters for indentation
set shiftwidth=4    "Indent by 4 spaces when using >>, <<, == etc.
set softtabstop=4   "Indent by 4 spaces when pressing <TAB>

set autoindent      "Keep indentation from previous line
set smartindent     "Automatically inserts indentation in some cases
set cindent         "Like smartindent, but stricter and more customisable

Vim has intelligent indentation based on filetype. Try adding this to your .vimrc:

if has ("autocmd")
    " File type detection. Indent based on filetype. Recommended.
    filetype plugin indent on


Amit, Aug 10, 2011 at 13:26

Both this answer and the one above it were great. But I +1'd this because it reminded me of the 'dot' operator, which repeats the last command. This is extremely useful when needing to indent an entire block several shiftspaces (or indentations) without needing to keep pressing >} . Thanks a long – Amit Aug 10 '11 at 13:26

Wipqozn, Aug 24, 2011 at 16:00

5>> Indent 5 lines : This command indents the fifth line, not 5 lines. Could this be due to my VIM settings, or is your wording incorrect? – Wipqozn Aug 24 '11 at 16:00

ire_and_curses, Aug 24, 2011 at 16:21

@Wipqozn - That's strange. It definitely indents the next five lines for me, tested on Vim 7.2.330. – ire_and_curses Aug 24 '11 at 16:21

Steve, Jan 6, 2012 at 20:13

>42gg Indent from where you are to line 42. – Steve Jan 6 '12 at 20:13

aqn, Mar 6, 2013 at 4:42

Great summary! Also note that the "indent inside block" and "indent all block" (<i{ >a{ etc.) also works with parentheses and brackets: >a( <i] etc. (And while I'm at it, in addition to <>'s, they also work with d,c,y etc.) – aqn Mar 6 '13 at 4:42

NickSoft, Nov 5, 2013 at 16:19

I didn't find a method I use in the comments, so I'll share it (I think vim only):
  1. Esc to enter command mode
  2. Move to the first character of the last line you want to ident
  3. ctrl - v to start block select
  4. Move to the first character of the first line you want to ident
  5. shift - i to enter special insert mode
  6. type as many spases/tabs as you need to indent to (2 for example
  7. press Esc and spaces will appear in all lines

This is useful when you don't want to change ident/tab settings in vimrc or to remember them to change it while editing.

To unindent I use the same ctrl - v block select to select spaces and delete it with d .

svec, Oct 25, 2008 at 4:21

Also try this for C-indenting indentation, do :help = for more info:


That will auto-indent the current code block you're in.

Or just:


to auto-indent the current line.

underscore_d, Oct 17, 2015 at 19:39

doesn't work for me, just dumps my cursor to the line above the opening brace of 'the current code block i'm in'. – underscore_d Oct 17 '15 at 19:39

John La Rooy, Jul 2, 2013 at 7:24

Using Python a lot, I find myself needing frequently needing to shift blocks by more than one indent. You can do this by using any of the block selection methods, and then just enter the number of indents you wish to jump right before the >

Eg. V5j3> will indent 5 lines 3 times - which is 12 spaces if you use 4 spaces for indents

Juan Lanus, Sep 18, 2012 at 14:12

The beauty of vim's UI is that it's consistent. Editing commands are made up of the command and a cursor move. The cursor moves are always the same:

So, in order to use vim you have to learn to move the cursor and remember a repertoire of commands like, for example, > to indent (and < to "outdent").
Thus, for indenting the lines from the cursor position to the top of the screen you do >H, >G to indent to the bottom of the file.

If, instead of typing >H, you type dH then you are deleting the same block of lines, cH for replacing it, etc.

Some cursor movements fit better with specific commands. In particular, the % command is handy to indent a whole HTML or XML block.
If the file has syntax highlighted ( :syn on ) then setting the cursor in the text of a tag (like, in the "i" of <div> and entering >% will indent up to the closing </div> tag.

This is how vim works: one has to remember only the cursor movements and the commands, and how to mix them.
So my answer to this question would be "go to one end of the block of lines you want to indent, and then type the > command and a movement to the other end of the block" if indent is interpreted as shifting the lines, = if indent is interpreted as in pretty-printing.

aqn, Mar 6, 2013 at 4:38

I would say that vi/vim is mostly consistent. For instance, D does not behave the same as S and Y! :) – aqn Mar 6 '13 at 4:38

Kent Fredric, Oct 25, 2008 at 9:16

Key-Presses for more visual people:
  1. Enter Command Mode:
  2. Move around to the start of the area to indent:
  3. Start a block:
  4. Move around to the end of the area to indent:
  5. (Optional) Type the number of indentation levels you want
  6. Execute the indentation on the block:

Shane Reustle, Mar 10, 2011 at 22:24

This is great, but it uses spaces and not tabs. Any possible way to fix this? – Shane Reustle Mar 10 '11 at 22:24

Kent Fredric, Mar 16, 2011 at 8:33

If its using spaces instead of tabs, then its probably because you have indentation set to use spaces. =). – Kent Fredric Mar 16 '11 at 8:33

Kent Fredric, Mar 16, 2011 at 8:36

When the 'expandtab' option is off (this is the default) Vim uses <Tab>s as much as possible to make the indent. ( :help :> ) – Kent Fredric Mar 16 '11 at 8:36

Shane Reustle, Dec 2, 2012 at 3:17

The only tab/space related vim setting I've changed is :set tabstop=3. It's actually inserting this every time I use >>: "<tab><space><space>". Same with indenting a block. Any ideas? – Shane Reustle Dec 2 '12 at 3:17

Kent Fredric, Dec 2, 2012 at 17:08

The three settings you want to look at for "spaces vs tabs" are 1. tabstop 2. shiftwidth 3. expandtab. You probably have "shiftwidth=5 noexpandtab", so a "tab" is 3 spaces, and an indentation level is "5" spaces, so it makes up the 5 with 1 tab, and 2 spaces. – Kent Fredric Dec 2 '12 at 17:08

mda, Jun 4, 2012 at 5:12

For me, the MacVim (Visual) solution was, select with mouse and press ">", but after putting the following lines in "~/.vimrc" since I like spaces instead of tabs:
set expandtab
set tabstop=2
set shiftwidth=2

Also it's useful to be able to call MacVim from the command-line (, so since I have the following helper directory "~/bin", where I place a script called "macvim":

#!/usr/bin/env bash
/usr/bin/open -a /Applications/MacPorts/ $@

And of course in "~/.bashrc":

export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin

Macports messes with "~/.profile" a lot, so the PATH environment variable can get quite long.

jash, Feb 17, 2012 at 15:16

>} or >{ indent from current line up to next paragraph

<} or <{ same un-indent

Eric Kigathi, Jan 4, 2012 at 0:41

A quick way to do this using VISUAL MODE uses the same process as commenting a block of code.

This is useful if you would prefer not to change your shiftwidth or use any set directives and is flexible enough to work with TABS or SPACES or any other character.

  1. Position cursor at the beginning on the block
  2. v to switch to -- VISUAL MODE --
  3. Select the text to be indented
  4. Type : to switch to the prompt
  5. Replacing with 3 leading spaces:

    :'<,'>s/^/ /g

  6. Or replacing with leading tabs:


  7. Brief Explanation:

    '<,'> - Within the Visually Selected Range

    s/^/ /g - Insert 3 spaces at the beginning of every line within the whole range


    s/^/\t/g - Insert Tab at the beginning of every line within the whole range

pankaj ukumar, Nov 11, 2009 at 17:33

do this
$vi .vimrc

and add this line

autocmd FileType cpp setlocal expandtab shiftwidth=4 softtabstop=4 cindent

this is only for cpp file you can do this for another file type also just by modifying the filetype...

SteveO, Nov 10, 2010 at 19:16

I like to mark text for indentation:
  1. go to beginning of line of text then type ma (a is the label from the 'm'ark: it could be any letter)
  2. go to end line of text and type mz (again z could be any letter)
  3. :'a,'z> or :'a,'z< will indent or outdent (is this a word?)
  4. Voila! the text is moved (empty lines remain empty with no spaces)

PS: you can use :'a,'z technique to mark a range for any operation (d,y,s///, etc) where you might use lines, numbers, or %

Paul Tomblin, Oct 25, 2008 at 4:08

As well as the offered solutions, I like to do things a paragraph at a time with >}

aqn, Mar 6, 2013 at 4:47

Yup, and this is why one of my big peeves is white spaces on an otherwise empty line: they messes up vim's notion of a "paragraph". – aqn Mar 6 '13 at 4:47

Daniel Spiewak, Oct 25, 2008 at 4:00

In addition to the answer already given and accepted, it is also possible to place a marker and then indent everything from the current cursor to the marker. Thus, enter ma where you want the top of your indented block, cursor down as far as you need and then type >'a (note that " a " can be substituted for any valid marker name). This is sometimes easier than 5>> or vjjj> .

user606723, Mar 17, 2011 at 15:31

This is really useful. I am going to have to look up what all works with this. I know d'a and y'a, what else? – user606723 Mar 17 '11 at 15:31

ziggy, Aug 25, 2014 at 14:14

This is very useful as it avoids the need to count how many lines you want to indent. – ziggy Aug 25 '14 at 14:14

[Oct 21, 2018] vim - how to move a block or column of text - Stack Overflow

Oct 21, 2018 |

how to move a block or column of text Ask Question up vote 23 down vote favorite 5 ,Mar 6, 2009 at 20:47

I have the following text as a simple case:

abc xxx 123 456
wer xxx 345 678676

what I need to move a block of text xxx to another location:

abc 123 xxx 456
wer 345 xxx 678676

I think I use visual mode to block a column of text, what are the other commands to move the block to another location?

Paul ,Mar 6, 2009 at 20:52

You should use blockwise visual mode ( Ctrl + v ). Then d to delete block, p or P to paste block.

Klinger ,Mar 6, 2009 at 20:53

Try the link .

Marking text (visual mode)

Visual commands

Cut and Paste

Kemin Zhou ,Nov 6, 2015 at 23:59

One of the few useful command I learned at the beginning of learning VIM is :1,3 mo 5 This means move text line 1 through 3 to line 5.

Júda Ronén ,Jan 18, 2017 at 21:20

And you can select the lines in visual mode, then press : to get :'<,'> (equivalent to the :1,3 part in your answer), and add mo N . If you want to move a single line, just :mo N . If you are really lazy, you can omit the space (e.g. :mo5 ). Use marks with mo '{a-zA-Z} . – Júda Ronén Jan 18 '17 at 21:20

Miles ,Jun 29, 2017 at 23:44

just m also works – Miles Jun 29 '17 at 23:44

John Ellinwood ,Mar 6, 2009 at 20:52

  1. In VIM, press Ctrl + V to go in Visual Block mode
  2. Select the required columns with your arrow keys and press x to cut them in the buffer.
  3. Move cursor to row 1 column 9 and press P (thats capital P) in command mode.
  4. Press Ctrl + Shift + b to get in and out of it. ( source )

SergioAraujo ,Jan 4 at 21:49

Using an external command "awk".

%!awk '{print $1,$3,$2,$4}' test.txt

With pure vim

:%s,\v(\w+) (\w+) (\w+) (\w+),\1 \3 \2 \4,g

Another vim solution using global command

:g/./normal wdwwP

[Oct 21, 2018] What is your most productive shortcut with Vim?

Notable quotes:
"... less productive ..."
"... column oriented ..."
Feb 17, 2013 |
I've heard a lot about Vim, both pros and cons. It really seems you should be (as a developer) faster with Vim than with any other editor. I'm using Vim to do some basic stuff and I'm at best 10 times less productive with Vim.

The only two things you should care about when you talk about speed (you may not care enough about them, but you should) are:

  1. Using alternatively left and right hands is the fastest way to use the keyboard.
  2. Never touching the mouse is the second way to be as fast as possible. It takes ages for you to move your hand, grab the mouse, move it, and bring it back to the keyboard (and you often have to look at the keyboard to be sure you returned your hand properly to the right place)

Here are two examples demonstrating why I'm far less productive with Vim.

Copy/Cut & paste. I do it all the time. With all the contemporary editors you press Shift with the left hand, and you move the cursor with your right hand to select text. Then Ctrl + C copies, you move the cursor and Ctrl + V pastes.

With Vim it's horrible:

Another example? Search & replace.

And everything with Vim is like that: it seems I don't know how to handle it the right way.

NB : I've already read the Vim cheat sheet :)

My question is: What is the way you use Vim that makes you more productive than with a contemporary editor?

community wiki 18 revs, 16 users 64%, Dec 22, 2011 at 11:43

Your problem with Vim is that you don't grok vi .

You mention cutting with yy and complain that you almost never want to cut whole lines. In fact programmers, editing source code, very often want to work on whole lines, ranges of lines and blocks of code. However, yy is only one of many way to yank text into the anonymous copy buffer (or "register" as it's called in vi ).

The "Zen" of vi is that you're speaking a language. The initial y is a verb. The statement yy is a synonym for y_ . The y is doubled up to make it easier to type, since it is such a common operation.

This can also be expressed as dd P (delete the current line and paste a copy back into place; leaving a copy in the anonymous register as a side effect). The y and d "verbs" take any movement as their "subject." Thus yW is "yank from here (the cursor) to the end of the current/next (big) word" and y'a is "yank from here to the line containing the mark named ' a '."

If you only understand basic up, down, left, and right cursor movements then vi will be no more productive than a copy of "notepad" for you. (Okay, you'll still have syntax highlighting and the ability to handle files larger than a piddling ~45KB or so; but work with me here).

vi has 26 "marks" and 26 "registers." A mark is set to any cursor location using the m command. Each mark is designated by a single lower case letter. Thus ma sets the ' a ' mark to the current location, and mz sets the ' z ' mark. You can move to the line containing a mark using the ' (single quote) command. Thus 'a moves to the beginning of the line containing the ' a ' mark. You can move to the precise location of any mark using the ` (backquote) command. Thus `z will move directly to the exact location of the ' z ' mark.

Because these are "movements" they can also be used as subjects for other "statements."

So, one way to cut an arbitrary selection of text would be to drop a mark (I usually use ' a ' as my "first" mark, ' z ' as my next mark, ' b ' as another, and ' e ' as yet another (I don't recall ever having interactively used more than four marks in 15 years of using vi ; one creates one's own conventions regarding how marks and registers are used by macros that don't disturb one's interactive context). Then we go to the other end of our desired text; we can start at either end, it doesn't matter. Then we can simply use d`a to cut or y`a to copy. Thus the whole process has a 5 keystrokes overhead (six if we started in "insert" mode and needed to Esc out command mode). Once we've cut or copied then pasting in a copy is a single keystroke: p .

I say that this is one way to cut or copy text. However, it is only one of many. Frequently we can more succinctly describe the range of text without moving our cursor around and dropping a mark. For example if I'm in a paragraph of text I can use { and } movements to the beginning or end of the paragraph respectively. So, to move a paragraph of text I cut it using { d} (3 keystrokes). (If I happen to already be on the first or last line of the paragraph I can then simply use d} or d{ respectively.

The notion of "paragraph" defaults to something which is usually intuitively reasonable. Thus it often works for code as well as prose.

Frequently we know some pattern (regular expression) that marks one end or the other of the text in which we're interested. Searching forwards or backwards are movements in vi . Thus they can also be used as "subjects" in our "statements." So I can use d/foo to cut from the current line to the next line containing the string "foo" and y?bar to copy from the current line to the most recent (previous) line containing "bar." If I don't want whole lines I can still use the search movements (as statements of their own), drop my mark(s) and use the `x commands as described previously.

In addition to "verbs" and "subjects" vi also has "objects" (in the grammatical sense of the term). So far I've only described the use of the anonymous register. However, I can use any of the 26 "named" registers by prefixing the "object" reference with " (the double quote modifier). Thus if I use "add I'm cutting the current line into the ' a ' register and if I use "by/foo then I'm yanking a copy of the text from here to the next line containing "foo" into the ' b ' register. To paste from a register I simply prefix the paste with the same modifier sequence: "ap pastes a copy of the ' a ' register's contents into the text after the cursor and "bP pastes a copy from ' b ' to before the current line.

This notion of "prefixes" also adds the analogs of grammatical "adjectives" and "adverbs' to our text manipulation "language." Most commands (verbs) and movement (verbs or objects, depending on context) can also take numeric prefixes. Thus 3J means "join the next three lines" and d5} means "delete from the current line through the end of the fifth paragraph down from here."

This is all intermediate level vi . None of it is Vim specific and there are far more advanced tricks in vi if you're ready to learn them. If you were to master just these intermediate concepts then you'd probably find that you rarely need to write any macros because the text manipulation language is sufficiently concise and expressive to do most things easily enough using the editor's "native" language.

A sampling of more advanced tricks:

There are a number of : commands, most notably the :% s/foo/bar/g global substitution technique. (That's not advanced but other : commands can be). The whole : set of commands was historically inherited by vi 's previous incarnations as the ed (line editor) and later the ex (extended line editor) utilities. In fact vi is so named because it's the visual interface to ex .

: commands normally operate over lines of text. ed and ex were written in an era when terminal screens were uncommon and many terminals were "teletype" (TTY) devices. So it was common to work from printed copies of the text, using commands through an extremely terse interface (common connection speeds were 110 baud, or, roughly, 11 characters per second -- which is slower than a fast typist; lags were common on multi-user interactive sessions; additionally there was often some motivation to conserve paper).

So the syntax of most : commands includes an address or range of addresses (line number) followed by a command. Naturally one could use literal line numbers: :127,215 s/foo/bar to change the first occurrence of "foo" into "bar" on each line between 127 and 215. One could also use some abbreviations such as . or $ for current and last lines respectively. One could also use relative prefixes + and - to refer to offsets after or before the curent line, respectively. Thus: :.,$j meaning "from the current line to the last line, join them all into one line". :% is synonymous with :1,$ (all the lines).

The :... g and :... v commands bear some explanation as they are incredibly powerful. :... g is a prefix for "globally" applying a subsequent command to all lines which match a pattern (regular expression) while :... v applies such a command to all lines which do NOT match the given pattern ("v" from "conVerse"). As with other ex commands these can be prefixed by addressing/range references. Thus :.,+21g/foo/d means "delete any lines containing the string "foo" from the current one through the next 21 lines" while :.,$v/bar/d means "from here to the end of the file, delete any lines which DON'T contain the string "bar."

It's interesting that the common Unix command grep was actually inspired by this ex command (and is named after the way in which it was documented). The ex command :g/re/p (grep) was the way they documented how to "globally" "print" lines containing a "regular expression" (re). When ed and ex were used, the :p command was one of the first that anyone learned and often the first one used when editing any file. It was how you printed the current contents (usually just one page full at a time using :.,+25p or some such).

Note that :% g/.../d or (its reVerse/conVerse counterpart: :% v/.../d are the most common usage patterns. However there are couple of other ex commands which are worth remembering:

We can use m to move lines around, and j to join lines. For example if you have a list and you want to separate all the stuff matching (or conversely NOT matching some pattern) without deleting them, then you can use something like: :% g/foo/m$ ... and all the "foo" lines will have been moved to the end of the file. (Note the other tip about using the end of your file as a scratch space). This will have preserved the relative order of all the "foo" lines while having extracted them from the rest of the list. (This would be equivalent to doing something like: 1G!GGmap!Ggrep foo<ENTER>1G:1,'a g/foo'/d (copy the file to its own tail, filter the tail through grep, and delete all the stuff from the head).

To join lines usually I can find a pattern for all the lines which need to be joined to their predecessor (all the lines which start with "^ " rather than "^ * " in some bullet list, for example). For that case I'd use: :% g/^ /-1j (for every matching line, go up one line and join them). (BTW: for bullet lists trying to search for the bullet lines and join to the next doesn't work for a couple reasons ... it can join one bullet line to another, and it won't join any bullet line to all of its continuations; it'll only work pairwise on the matches).

Almost needless to mention you can use our old friend s (substitute) with the g and v (global/converse-global) commands. Usually you don't need to do so. However, consider some case where you want to perform a substitution only on lines matching some other pattern. Often you can use a complicated pattern with captures and use back references to preserve the portions of the lines that you DON'T want to change. However, it will often be easier to separate the match from the substitution: :% g/foo/s/bar/zzz/g -- for every line containing "foo" substitute all "bar" with "zzz." (Something like :% s/\(.*foo.*\)bar\(.*\)/\1zzz\2/g would only work for the cases those instances of "bar" which were PRECEDED by "foo" on the same line; it's ungainly enough already, and would have to be mangled further to catch all the cases where "bar" preceded "foo")

The point is that there are more than just p, s, and d lines in the ex command set.

The : addresses can also refer to marks. Thus you can use: :'a,'bg/foo/j to join any line containing the string foo to its subsequent line, if it lies between the lines between the ' a ' and ' b ' marks. (Yes, all of the preceding ex command examples can be limited to subsets of the file's lines by prefixing with these sorts of addressing expressions).

That's pretty obscure (I've only used something like that a few times in the last 15 years). However, I'll freely admit that I've often done things iteratively and interactively that could probably have been done more efficiently if I'd taken the time to think out the correct incantation.

Another very useful vi or ex command is :r to read in the contents of another file. Thus: :r foo inserts the contents of the file named "foo" at the current line.

More powerful is the :r! command. This reads the results of a command. It's the same as suspending the vi session, running a command, redirecting its output to a temporary file, resuming your vi session, and reading in the contents from the temp. file.

Even more powerful are the ! (bang) and :... ! ( ex bang) commands. These also execute external commands and read the results into the current text. However, they also filter selections of our text through the command! This we can sort all the lines in our file using 1G!Gsort ( G is the vi "goto" command; it defaults to going to the last line of the file, but can be prefixed by a line number, such as 1, the first line). This is equivalent to the ex variant :1,$!sort . Writers often use ! with the Unix fmt or fold utilities for reformating or "word wrapping" selections of text. A very common macro is {!}fmt (reformat the current paragraph). Programmers sometimes use it to run their code, or just portions of it, through indent or other code reformatting tools.

Using the :r! and ! commands means that any external utility or filter can be treated as an extension of our editor. I have occasionally used these with scripts that pulled data from a database, or with wget or lynx commands that pulled data off a website, or ssh commands that pulled data from remote systems.

Another useful ex command is :so (short for :source ). This reads the contents of a file as a series of commands. When you start vi it normally, implicitly, performs a :source on ~/.exinitrc file (and Vim usually does this on ~/.vimrc, naturally enough). The use of this is that you can change your editor profile on the fly by simply sourcing in a new set of macros, abbreviations, and editor settings. If you're sneaky you can even use this as a trick for storing sequences of ex editing commands to apply to files on demand.

For example I have a seven line file (36 characters) which runs a file through wc, and inserts a C-style comment at the top of the file containing that word count data. I can apply that "macro" to a file by using a command like: vim +'so mymacro.ex' ./mytarget

(The + command line option to vi and Vim is normally used to start the editing session at a given line number. However it's a little known fact that one can follow the + by any valid ex command/expression, such as a "source" command as I've done here; for a simple example I have scripts which invoke: vi +'/foo/d|wq!' ~/.ssh/known_hosts to remove an entry from my SSH known hosts file non-interactively while I'm re-imaging a set of servers).

Usually it's far easier to write such "macros" using Perl, AWK, sed (which is, in fact, like grep a utility inspired by the ed command).

The @ command is probably the most obscure vi command. In occasionally teaching advanced systems administration courses for close to a decade I've met very few people who've ever used it. @ executes the contents of a register as if it were a vi or ex command.
Example: I often use: :r!locate ... to find some file on my system and read its name into my document. From there I delete any extraneous hits, leaving only the full path to the file I'm interested in. Rather than laboriously Tab -ing through each component of the path (or worse, if I happen to be stuck on a machine without Tab completion support in its copy of vi ) I just use:

  1. 0i:r (to turn the current line into a valid :r command),
  2. "cdd (to delete the line into the "c" register) and
  3. @c execute that command.

That's only 10 keystrokes (and the expression "cdd @c is effectively a finger macro for me, so I can type it almost as quickly as any common six letter word).

A sobering thought

I've only scratched to surface of vi 's power and none of what I've described here is even part of the "improvements" for which vim is named! All of what I've described here should work on any old copy of vi from 20 or 30 years ago.

There are people who have used considerably more of vi 's power than I ever will.

Jim Dennis, Feb 12, 2010 at 4:08

@Wahnfieden -- grok is exactly what I meant: (It's apparently even in the OED --- the closest we anglophones have to a canonical lexicon). To "grok" an editor is to find yourself using its commands fluently ... as if they were your natural language. – Jim Dennis Feb 12 '10 at 4:08

knittl, Feb 27, 2010 at 13:15

wow, a very well written answer! i couldn't agree more, although i use the @ command a lot (in combination with q : record macro) – knittl Feb 27 '10 at 13:15

Brandon Rhodes, Mar 29, 2010 at 15:26

Superb answer that utterly redeems a really horrible question. I am going to upvote this question, that normally I would downvote, just so that this answer becomes easier to find. (And I'm an Emacs guy! But this way I'll have somewhere to point new folks who want a good explanation of what vi power users find fun about vi. Then I'll tell them about Emacs and they can decide.) – Brandon Rhodes Mar 29 '10 at 15:26

Marko, Apr 1, 2010 at 14:47

Can you make a website and put this tutorial there, so it doesn't get burried here on stackoverflow. I have yet to read better introduction to vi then this. – Marko Apr 1 '10 at 14:47

CMS, Aug 2, 2009 at 8:27

You are talking about text selecting and copying, I think that you should give a look to the Vim Visual Mode .

In the visual mode, you are able to select text using Vim commands, then you can do whatever you want with the selection.

Consider the following common scenarios:

You need to select to the next matching parenthesis.

You could do:

You want to select text between quotes:

You want to select a curly brace block (very common on C-style languages):

You want to select the entire file:

Visual block selection is another really useful feature, it allows you to select a rectangular area of text, you just have to press Ctrl - V to start it, and then select the text block you want and perform any type of operation such as yank, delete, paste, edit, etc. It's great to edit column oriented text.

finnw, Aug 2, 2009 at 8:49

Every editor has something like this, it's not specific to vim. – finnw Aug 2 '09 at 8:49

guns, Aug 2, 2009 at 9:54

Yes, but it was a specific complaint of the poster. Visual mode is Vim's best method of direct text-selection and manipulation. And since vim's buffer traversal methods are superb, I find text selection in vim fairly pleasurable. – guns Aug 2 '09 at 9:54

Hamish Downer, Mar 16, 2010 at 13:34

I think it is also worth mentioning Ctrl-V to select a block - ie an arbitrary rectangle of text. When you need it it's a lifesaver. – Hamish Downer Mar 16 '10 at 13:34

CMS, Apr 2, 2010 at 2:07

@viksit: I'm using Camtasia, but there are plenty of alternatives: Apr 2 '10 at 2:07

Nathan Long, Mar 1, 2011 at 19:05

Also, if you've got a visual selection and want to adjust it, o will hop to the other end. So you can move both the beginning and the end of the selection as much as you like. – Nathan Long Mar 1 '11 at 19:05

community wiki
12 revs, 3 users 99%
,Oct 29, 2012 at 18:51

Some productivity tips:

Smart movements

Quick editing commands

Combining commands

Most commands accept a amount and direction, for example:

Useful programmer commands

Macro recording

By using very specific commands and movements, VIM can replay those exact actions for the next lines. (e.g. A for append-to-end, b / e to move the cursor to the begin or end of a word respectively)

Example of well built settings

# reset to vim-defaults
if &compatible          # only if not set before:
  set nocompatible      # use vim-defaults instead of vi-defaults (easier, more user friendly)

# display settings
set background=dark     # enable for dark terminals
set nowrap              # dont wrap lines
set scrolloff=2         # 2 lines above/below cursor when scrolling
set number              # show line numbers
set showmatch           # show matching bracket (briefly jump)
set showmode            # show mode in status bar (insert/replace/...)
set showcmd             # show typed command in status bar
set ruler               # show cursor position in status bar
set title               # show file in titlebar
set wildmenu            # completion with menu
set wildignore=*.o,*.obj,*.bak,*.exe,*.py[co],*.swp,*~,*.pyc,.svn
set laststatus=2        # use 2 lines for the status bar
set matchtime=2         # show matching bracket for 0.2 seconds
set matchpairs+=<:>     # specially for html

# editor settings
set esckeys             # map missed escape sequences (enables keypad keys)
set ignorecase          # case insensitive searching
set smartcase           # but become case sensitive if you type uppercase characters
set smartindent         # smart auto indenting
set smarttab            # smart tab handling for indenting
set magic               # change the way backslashes are used in search patterns
set bs=indent,eol,start # Allow backspacing over everything in insert mode

set tabstop=4           # number of spaces a tab counts for
set shiftwidth=4        # spaces for autoindents
#set expandtab           # turn a tabs into spaces

set fileformat=unix     # file mode is unix
#set fileformats=unix,dos    # only detect unix file format, displays that ^M with dos files

# system settings
set lazyredraw          # no redraws in macros
set confirm             # get a dialog when :q, :w, or :wq fails
set nobackup            # no backup~ files.
set viminfo='20,\"500   # remember copy registers after quitting in the .viminfo file -- 20 jump links, regs up to 500 lines'
set hidden              # remember undo after quitting
set history=50          # keep 50 lines of command history
set mouse=v             # use mouse in visual mode (not normal,insert,command,help mode

# color settings (if terminal/gui supports it)
if &t_Co > 2 || has("gui_running")
  syntax on          # enable colors
  set hlsearch       # highlight search (very useful!)
  set incsearch      # search incremently (search while typing)

# paste mode toggle (needed when using autoindent/smartindent)
map <F10> :set paste<CR>
map <F11> :set nopaste<CR>
imap <F10> <C-O>:set paste<CR>
imap <F11> <nop>
set pastetoggle=<F11>

# Use of the filetype plugins, auto completion and indentation support
filetype plugin indent on

# file type specific settings
if has("autocmd")
  # For debugging
  #set verbose=9

  # if bash is sh.
  let bash_is_sh=1

  # change to directory of current file automatically
  autocmd BufEnter * lcd %:p:h

  # Put these in an autocmd group, so that we can delete them easily.
  augroup mysettings
    au FileType xslt,xml,css,html,xhtml,javascript,sh,config,c,cpp,docbook set smartindent shiftwidth=2 softtabstop=2 expandtab
    au FileType tex set wrap shiftwidth=2 softtabstop=2 expandtab

    # Confirm to PEP8
    au FileType python set tabstop=4 softtabstop=4 expandtab shiftwidth=4 cinwords=if,elif,else,for,while,try,except,finally,def,class
  augroup END

  augroup perl
    # reset (disable previous 'augroup perl' settings)

    au BufReadPre,BufNewFile
    \ *.pl,*.pm
    \ set formatoptions=croq smartindent shiftwidth=2 softtabstop=2 cindent cinkeys='0{,0},!^F,o,O,e' " tags=./tags,tags,~/devel/tags,~/devel/C
    # formatoption:
    #   t - wrap text using textwidth
    #   c - wrap comments using textwidth (and auto insert comment leader)
    #   r - auto insert comment leader when pressing <return> in insert mode
    #   o - auto insert comment leader when pressing 'o' or 'O'.
    #   q - allow formatting of comments with "gq"
    #   a - auto formatting for paragraphs
    #   n - auto wrap numbered lists
  augroup END

  # Always jump to the last known cursor position. 
  # Don't do it when the position is invalid or when inside
  # an event handler (happens when dropping a file on gvim). 
  autocmd BufReadPost * 
    \ if line("'\"") > 0 && line("'\"") <= line("$") | 
    \   exe "normal g`\"" | 
    \ endif 

endif # has("autocmd")

The settings can be stored in ~/.vimrc, or system-wide in /etc/vimrc.local and then by read from the /etc/vimrc file using:

source /etc/vimrc.local

(you'll have to replace the # comment character with " to make it work in VIM, I wanted to give proper syntax highlighting here).

The commands I've listed here are pretty basic, and the main ones I use so far. They already make me quite more productive, without having to know all the fancy stuff.

naught101, Apr 28, 2012 at 2:09

Better than '. is g;, which jumps back through the changelist . Goes to the last edited position, instead of last edited line – naught101 Apr 28 '12 at 2:09

community wiki
5 revs, 4 users 53%
,Apr 12, 2012 at 7:46

The Control + R mechanism is very useful :-) In either insert mode or command mode (i.e. on the : line when typing commands), continue with a numbered or named register:

See :help i_CTRL-R and :help c_CTRL-R for more details, and snoop around nearby for more CTRL-R goodness.

vdboor, Jun 3, 2010 at 9:08

FYI, this refers to Ctrl+R in insert mode . In normal mode, Ctrl+R is redo. – vdboor Jun 3 '10 at 9:08

Aryeh Leib Taurog, Feb 26, 2012 at 19:06

+1 for current/alternate file name. Control-A also works in insert mode for last inserted text, and Control-@ to both insert last inserted text and immediately switch to normal mode. – Aryeh Leib Taurog Feb 26 '12 at 19:06

community wiki
, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:44

Vim Plugins

There are a lot of good answers here, and one amazing one about the zen of vi. One thing I don't see mentioned is that vim is extremely extensible via plugins. There are scripts and plugins to make it do all kinds of crazy things the original author never considered. Here are a few examples of incredibly handy vim plugins:


Rails.vim is a plugin written by tpope. It's an incredible tool for people doing rails development. It does magical context-sensitive things that allow you to easily jump from a method in a controller to the associated view, over to a model, and down to unit tests for that model. It has saved dozens if not hundreds of hours as a rails developer.


This plugin allows you to select a region of text in visual mode and type a quick command to post it to . This allows for easy pastebin access, which is incredibly handy if you're collaborating with someone over IRC or IM.


This plugin provides special functionality to the spacebar. It turns the spacebar into something analogous to the period, but instead of repeating actions it repeats motions. This can be very handy for moving quickly through a file in a way you define on the fly.


This plugin gives you the ability to work with text that is delimited in some fashion. It gives you objects which denote things inside of parens, things inside of quotes, etc. It can come in handy for manipulating delimited text.


This script brings fancy tab completion functionality to vim. The autocomplete stuff is already there in the core of vim, but this brings it to a quick tab rather than multiple different multikey shortcuts. Very handy, and incredibly fun to use. While it's not VS's intellisense, it's a great step and brings a great deal of the functionality you'd like to expect from a tab completion tool.


This tool brings external syntax checking commands into vim. I haven't used it personally, but I've heard great things about it and the concept is hard to beat. Checking syntax without having to do it manually is a great time saver and can help you catch syntactic bugs as you introduce them rather than when you finally stop to test.


Direct access to git from inside of vim. Again, I haven't used this plugin, but I can see the utility. Unfortunately I'm in a culture where svn is considered "new", so I won't likely see git at work for quite some time.


A tree browser for vim. I started using this recently, and it's really handy. It lets you put a treeview in a vertical split and open files easily. This is great for a project with a lot of source files you frequently jump between.


This is an unmaintained plugin, but still incredibly useful. It provides the ability to open files using a "fuzzy" descriptive syntax. It means that in a sparse tree of files you need only type enough characters to disambiguate the files you're interested in from the rest of the cruft.


There are a lot of incredible tools available for vim. I'm sure I've only scratched the surface here, and it's well worth searching for tools applicable to your domain. The combination of traditional vi's powerful toolset, vim's improvements on it, and plugins which extend vim even further, it's one of the most powerful ways to edit text ever conceived. Vim is easily as powerful as emacs, eclipse, visual studio, and textmate.


Thanks to duwanis for his vim configs from which I have learned much and borrowed most of the plugins listed here.

Tom Morris, Apr 1, 2010 at 8:50

The magical tests-to-class navigation in rails.vim is one of the more general things I wish Vim had that TextMate absolutely nails across all languages: if I am working on Person.scala and I do Cmd+T, usually the first thing in the list is PersonTest.scala. – Tom Morris Apr 1 '10 at 8:50

Gavin Gilmour, Jan 15, 2011 at 13:44

I think it's time FuzzyFinderTextmate started to get replaced with Gilmour Jan 15 '11 at 13:44

Nathan Long, Mar 1, 2011 at 19:07

+1 for Syntastic. That, combined with JSLint, has made my Javascript much less error-prone. See about how to set up JSLint to work with Syntastic. – Nathan Long Mar 1 '11 at 19:07

AlG, Sep 13, 2011 at 17:37

@Benson Great list! I'd toss in snipMate as well. Very helpful automation of common coding stuff. if<tab> instant if block, etc. – AlG Sep 13 '11 at 17:37

EarlOfEgo, May 12, 2012 at 15:13

I think nerdcommenter is also a good plugin: here . Like its name says, it is for commenting your code. – EarlOfEgo May 12 '12 at 15:13

community wiki
4 revs, 2 users 89%
,Mar 31, 2010 at 23:01

. Repeat last text-changing command

I save a lot of time with this one.

Visual mode was mentioned previously, but block visual mode has saved me a lot of time when editing fixed size columns in text file. (accessed with Ctrl-V).

vdboor, Apr 1, 2010 at 8:34

Additionally, if you use a concise command (e.g. A for append-at-end) to edit the text, vim can repeat that exact same action for the next line you press the . key at. – vdboor Apr 1 '10 at 8:34

community wiki
3 revs, 3 users 87%
,Dec 24, 2012 at 14:50


Go to last edited location (very useful if you performed some searching and than want go back to edit)

^P and ^N

Complete previous (^P) or next (^N) text.

^O and ^I

Go to previous ( ^O - "O" for old) location or to the next ( ^I - "I" just near to "O" ). When you perform searches, edit files etc., you can navigate through these "jumps" forward and back.

R. Martinho Fernandes, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:02

Thanks for gi ! Now I don't need marks for that! – R. Martinho Fernandes Apr 1 '10 at 3:02

Kungi, Feb 10, 2011 at 16:23

I Think this can also be done with `` – Kungi Feb 10 '11 at 16:23

Grant McLean, Aug 23, 2011 at 8:21

@Kungi `. will take you to the last edit `` will take you back to the position you were in before the last 'jump' - which /might/ also be the position of the last edit. – Grant McLean Aug 23 '11 at 8:21

community wiki
Ronny Brendel
, Mar 31, 2010 at 19:37

I recently (got) discovered this site:

It's pretty new and really really good. The guy who is running the site switched from textmate to vim and hosts very good and concise casts on specific vim topics. Check it out!

Jeromy Anglim, Jan 13, 2011 at 6:40

If you like vim tutorials, check out Derek Wyatt's vim videos as well. They're excellent. – Jeromy Anglim Jan 13 '11 at 6:40

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 67%
,Feb 27, 2010 at 11:20

CTRL + A increments the number you are standing on.

innaM, Aug 3, 2009 at 9:14

... and CTRL-X decrements. – innaM Aug 3 '09 at 9:14

SolutionYogi, Feb 26, 2010 at 20:43

It's a neat shortcut but so far I have NEVER found any use for it. – SolutionYogi Feb 26 '10 at 20:43

matja, Feb 27, 2010 at 14:21

if you run vim in screen and wonder why this doesn't work - ctrl+A, A – matja Feb 27 '10 at 14:21

hcs42, Feb 27, 2010 at 19:05

@SolutionYogi: Consider that you want to add line number to the beginning of each line. Solution: ggI1<space><esc>0qqyawjP0<c-a>0q9999@q – hcs42 Feb 27 '10 at 19:05

blueyed, Apr 1, 2010 at 14:47

Extremely useful with Vimperator, where it increments (or decrements, Ctrl-X) the last number in the URL. Useful for quickly surfing through image galleries etc. – blueyed Apr 1 '10 at 14:47

community wiki
3 revs
,Aug 28, 2009 at 15:23

All in Normal mode:

f<char> to move to the next instance of a particular character on the current line, and ; to repeat.

F<char> to move to the previous instance of a particular character on the current line and ; to repeat.

If used intelligently, the above two can make you killer-quick moving around in a line.

* on a word to search for the next instance.

# on a word to search for the previous instance.

Jim Dennis, Mar 14, 2010 at 6:38

Whoa, I didn't know about the * and # (search forward/back for word under cursor) binding. That's kinda cool. The f/F and t/T and ; commands are quick jumps to characters on the current line. f/F put the cursor on the indicated character while t/T puts it just up "to" the character (the character just before or after it according to the direction chosen. ; simply repeats the most recent f/F/t/T jump (in the same direction). – Jim Dennis Mar 14 '10 at 6:38

Steve K, Apr 3, 2010 at 23:50

:) The tagline at the top of the tips page at "Can you imagine how many keystrokes could have been saved, if I only had known the "*" command in time?" - Juergen Salk, 1/19/2001" – Steve K Apr 3 '10 at 23:50

puk, Feb 24, 2012 at 6:45

As Jim mentioned, the "t/T" combo is often just as good, if not better, for example, ct( will erase the word and put you in insert mode, but keep the parantheses! – puk Feb 24 '12 at 6:45

community wiki
, Aug 19, 2010 at 8:08


a. save session

:mks sessionname

b. force save session

:mks! sessionname

c. load session

gvim or vim -S sessionname

Adding and Subtracting

a. Adding and Subtracting

CTRL-A ;Add [count] to the number or alphabetic character at or after the cursor. {not in Vi

CTRL-X ;Subtract [count] from the number or alphabetic character at or after the cursor. {not in Vi}

b. Window key unmapping

In window, Ctrl-A already mapped for whole file selection you need to unmap in rc file. mark mswin.vim CTRL-A mapping part as comment or add your rc file with unmap

c. With Macro

The CTRL-A command is very useful in a macro. Example: Use the following steps to make a numbered list.

  1. Create the first list entry, make sure it starts with a number.
  2. qa - start recording into buffer 'a'
  3. Y - yank the entry
  4. p - put a copy of the entry below the first one
  5. CTRL-A - increment the number
  6. q - stop recording
  7. @a - repeat the yank, put and increment times

Don Reba, Aug 22, 2010 at 5:22

Any idea what the shortcuts are in Windows? – Don Reba Aug 22 '10 at 5:22

community wiki
8 revs, 2 users 98%
,Aug 18, 2012 at 21:44

Last week at work our project inherited a lot of Python code from another project. Unfortunately the code did not fit into our existing architecture - it was all done with global variables and functions, which would not work in a multi-threaded environment.

We had ~80 files that needed to be reworked to be object oriented - all the functions moved into classes, parameters changed, import statements added, etc. We had a list of about 20 types of fix that needed to be done to each file. I would estimate that doing it by hand one person could do maybe 2-4 per day.

So I did the first one by hand and then wrote a vim script to automate the changes. Most of it was a list of vim commands e.g.

" delete an un-needed function "
g/someFunction(/ d

" add wibble parameter to function foo "
%s/foo(/foo( wibble,/

" convert all function calls bar(thing) into method calls "
g/bar(/ normal nmaf(ldi(`aPa.

The last one deserves a bit of explanation:

g/bar(/  executes the following command on every line that contains "bar("
normal   execute the following text as if it was typed in in normal mode
n        goes to the next match of "bar(" (since the :g command leaves the cursor position at the start of the line)
ma       saves the cursor position in mark a
f(       moves forward to the next opening bracket
l        moves right one character, so the cursor is now inside the brackets
di(      delete all the text inside the brackets
`a       go back to the position saved as mark a (i.e. the first character of "bar")
P        paste the deleted text before the current cursor position
a.       go into insert mode and add a "."

For a couple of more complex transformations such as generating all the import statements I embedded some python into the vim script.

After a few hours of working on it I had a script that will do at least 95% of the conversion. I just open a file in vim then run :source fixit.vim and the file is transformed in a blink of the eye.

We still have the work of changing the remaining 5% that was not worth automating and of testing the results, but by spending a day writing this script I estimate we have saved weeks of work.

Of course it would have been possible to automate this with a scripting language like Python or Ruby, but it would have taken far longer to write and would be less flexible - the last example would have been difficult since regex alone would not be able to handle nested brackets, e.g. to convert bar(foo(xxx)) to foo(xxx).bar() . Vim was perfect for the task.

Olivier Pons, Feb 28, 2010 at 14:41

Thanks a lot for sharing that's really nice to learn from "useful & not classical" macros. – Olivier Pons Feb 28 '10 at 14:41

Ipsquiggle, Mar 23, 2010 at 16:55

%s/\(bar\)(\(.\+\))/\2.\1()/ would do that too. (Escapes are compatible with :set magic .) Just for the record. :) – Ipsquiggle Mar 23 '10 at 16:55

Ipsquiggle, Mar 23, 2010 at 16:56

Of if you don't like vim-style escapes, use \v to turn on Very Magic: %s/\v(bar)\((.+)\)/\2.\1()/Ipsquiggle Mar 23 '10 at 16:56

Dave Kirby, Mar 23, 2010 at 17:16

@lpsquiggle: your suggestion would not handle complex expressions with more than one set of brackets. e.g. if bar(foo(xxx)) or wibble(xxx): becomes if foo(xxx)) or wibble( which is completely wrong. – Dave Kirby Mar 23 '10 at 17:16

community wiki
2 revs
,Aug 2, 2009 at 11:17

Use the builtin file explorer! The command is :Explore and it allows you to navigate through your source code very very fast. I have these mapping in my .vimrc :
map <silent> <F8>   :Explore<CR>
map <silent> <S-F8> :sp +Explore<CR>

The explorer allows you to make file modifications, too. I'll post some of my favorite keys, pressing <F1> will give you the full list:

Svend, Aug 2, 2009 at 8:48

I always thought the default methods for browsing kinda sucked for most stuff. It's just slow to browse, if you know where you wanna go. LustyExplorer from's script section is a much needed improvement. – Svend Aug 2 '09 at 8:48

Taurus Olson, Aug 6, 2009 at 17:37

Your second mapping could be more simple: map <silent> <S-F8> :Sexplore<CR> – Taurus Olson Aug 6 '09 at 17:37

kprobst, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:53

I recommend NERDtree instead of the built-in explorer. It has changed the way I used vim for projects and made me much more productive. Just google for it. – kprobst Apr 1 '10 at 3:53

dash-tom-bang, Aug 24, 2011 at 0:35

I never feel the need to explore the source tree, I just use :find, :tag and the various related keystrokes to jump around. (Maybe this is because the source trees I work on are big and organized differently than I would have done? :) ) – dash-tom-bang Aug 24 '11 at 0:35

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 92%
,Jun 15, 2011 at 13:39

I am a member of the American Cryptogram Association. The bimonthly magazine includes over 100 cryptograms of various sorts. Roughly 15 of these are "cryptarithms" - various types of arithmetic problems with letters substituted for the digits. Two or three of these are sudokus, except with letters instead of numbers. When the grid is completed, the nine distinct letters will spell out a word or words, on some line, diagonal, spiral, etc., somewhere in the grid.

Rather than working with pencil, or typing the problems in by hand, I download the problems from the members area of their website.

When working with these sudokus, I use vi, simply because I'm using facilities that vi has that few other editors have. Mostly in converting the lettered grid into a numbered grid, because I find it easier to solve, and then the completed numbered grid back into the lettered grid to find the solution word or words.

The problem is formatted as nine groups of nine letters, with - s representing the blanks, written in two lines. The first step is to format these into nine lines of nine characters each. There's nothing special about this, just inserting eight linebreaks in the appropriate places.

The result will look like this:


So, first step in converting this into numbers is to make a list of the distinct letters. First, I make a copy of the block. I position the cursor at the top of the block, then type :y}}p . : puts me in command mode, y yanks the next movement command. Since } is a move to the end of the next paragraph, y} yanks the paragraph. } then moves the cursor to the end of the paragraph, and p pastes what we had yanked just after the cursor. So y}}p creates a copy of the next paragraph, and ends up with the cursor between the two copies.

Next, I to turn one of those copies into a list of distinct letters. That command is a bit more complex:

:!}tr -cd A-Z | sed 's/\(.\)/\1\n/g' | sort -u | tr -d '\n'

: again puts me in command mode. ! indicates that the content of the next yank should be piped through a command line. } yanks the next paragraph, and the command line then uses the tr command to strip out everything except for upper-case letters, the sed command to print each letter on a single line, and the sort command to sort those lines, removing duplicates, and then tr strips out the newlines, leaving the nine distinct letters in a single line, replacing the nine lines that had made up the paragraph originally. In this case, the letters are: ACELNOPST .

Next step is to make another copy of the grid. And then to use the letters I've just identified to replace each of those letters with a digit from 1 to 9. That's simple: :!}tr ACELNOPST 0-9 . The result is:


This can then be solved in the usual way, or entered into any sudoku solver you might prefer. The completed solution can then be converted back into letters with :!}tr 1-9 ACELNOPST .

There is power in vi that is matched by very few others. The biggest problem is that only a very few of the vi tutorial books, websites, help-files, etc., do more than barely touch the surface of what is possible.

hhh, Jan 14, 2011 at 17:12

and an irritation is that some distros such as ubuntu has aliases from the word "vi" to "vim" so people won't really see vi. Excellent example, have to try... +1 – hhh Jan 14 '11 at 17:12

dash-tom-bang, Aug 24, 2011 at 0:45

Doesn't vim check the name it was started with so that it can come up in the right 'mode'? – dash-tom-bang Aug 24 '11 at 0:45

sehe, Mar 4, 2012 at 20:47

I'm baffled by this repeated error: you say you need : to go into command mode, but then invariably you specify normal mode commands (like y}}p ) which cannot possibly work from the command mode?! – sehe Mar 4 '12 at 20:47

sehe, Mar 4, 2012 at 20:56

My take on the unique chars challenge: :se tw=1 fo= (preparation) VG:s/./& /g (insert spaces), gvgq (split onto separate lines), V{:sort u (sort and remove duplicates) – sehe Mar 4 '12 at 20:56

community wiki
, Aug 2, 2009 at 8:59

Bulk text manipulations!

Either through macros:

Or through regular expressions:

(But be warned: if you do the latter, you'll have 2 problems :).)

Jim Dennis, Jan 10, 2010 at 4:03

+1 for the Jamie Zawinski reference. (No points taken back for failing to link to it, even). :) – Jim Dennis Jan 10 '10 at 4:03

jqno, Jan 10, 2010 at 10:06

@Jim I didn't even know it was a Jamie Zawinski quote :). I'll try to remember it from now on. – jqno Jan 10 '10 at 10:06

Jim Dennis, Feb 12, 2010 at 4:15

I find the following trick increasingly useful ... for cases where you want to join lines that match (or that do NOT match) some pattern to the previous line: :% g/foo/-1j or :'a,'z v/bar/-1j for example (where the former is "all lines and matching the pattern" while the latter is "lines between mark a and mark z which fail to match the pattern"). The part after the patter in a g or v ex command can be any other ex commmands, -1j is just a relative line movement and join command. – Jim Dennis Feb 12 '10 at 4:15

JustJeff, Feb 27, 2010 at 12:54

of course, if you name your macro '2', then when it comes time to use it, you don't even have to move your finger from the '@' key to the 'q' key. Probably saves 50 to 100 milliseconds every time right there. =P – JustJeff Feb 27 '10 at 12:54

Simon Steele, Apr 1, 2010 at 13:12

@JustJeff Depends entirely on your keyboard layout, my @ key is at the other side of the keyboard from my 2 key. – Simon Steele Apr 1 '10 at 13:12

community wiki
David Pope
, Apr 2, 2012 at 7:56

I recently discovered q: . It opens the "command window" and shows your most recent ex-mode (command-mode) commands. You can move as usual within the window, and pressing <CR> executes the command. You can edit, etc. too. Priceless when you're messing around with some complex command or regex and you don't want to retype the whole thing, or if the complex thing you want to do was 3 commands back. It's almost like bash's set -o vi, but for vim itself (heh!).

See :help q: for more interesting bits for going back and forth.

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 56%
,Feb 27, 2010 at 11:29

I just discovered Vim's omnicompletion the other day, and while I'll admit I'm a bit hazy on what does which, I've had surprisingly good results just mashing either Ctrl + x Ctrl + u or Ctrl + n / Ctrl + p in insert mode. It's not quite IntelliSense, but I'm still learning it.

Try it out! :help ins-completion

community wiki
, Mar 14, 2010 at 19:49

These are not shortcuts, but they are related:
  1. Make capslock an additional ESC (or Ctrl)
  2. map leader to "," (comma), with this command: let mapleader=","

They boost my productivity.

Olivier Pons, Mar 15, 2010 at 10:09

Hey nice hint about the "\"! Far better to type "," than "\". – Olivier Pons Mar 15 '10 at 10:09

R. Martinho Fernandes, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:30

To make Caps Lock an additional Esc in Windows (what's a caps lock key for? An "any key"?), try this: Martinho Fernandes Apr 1 '10 at 3:30

Tom Morris, Apr 1, 2010 at 8:45

On Mac, you need PCKeyboardHack - details at Morris Apr 1 '10 at 8:45

Jeromy Anglim, Jan 10, 2011 at 4:43

On Windows I use AutoHotKey with Capslock::EscapeJeromy Anglim Jan 10 '11 at 4:43

community wiki
, Sep 20, 2010 at 10:34

Another useful vi "shortcut" I frequently use is 'xp'. This will swap the character under the cursor with the next character.

tester, Aug 22, 2011 at 17:19

Xp to go the other way – tester Aug 22 '11 at 17:19

kguest, Aug 27, 2011 at 8:21

Around the time that Windows xp came out, I used to joke that this is the only good use for it. – kguest Aug 27 '11 at 8:21

community wiki
Peter Ellis
, Aug 2, 2009 at 9:47

<Ctrl> + W, V to split the screen vertically
<Ctrl> + W, W to shift between the windows

!python % [args] to run the script I am editing in this window

ZF in visual mode to fold arbitrary lines

Andrew Scagnelli, Apr 1, 2010 at 2:58

<Ctrl> + W and j/k will let you navigate absolutely (j up, k down, as with normal vim). This is great when you have 3+ splits. – Andrew Scagnelli Apr 1 '10 at 2:58

coder_tim, Jan 30, 2012 at 20:08

+1 for zf in visual mode, I like code folding, but did not know about that. – coder_tim Jan 30 '12 at 20:08

puk, Feb 24, 2012 at 7:00

after bashing my keyboard I have deduced that <C-w>n or <C-w>s is new horizontal window, <C-w>b is bottom right window, <C-w>c or <C-w>q is close window, <C-w>x is increase and then decrease window width (??), <C-w>p is last window, <C-w>backspace is move left(ish) window – puk Feb 24 '12 at 7:00

sjas, Jun 25, 2012 at 0:25

:help ctrl-w FTW... do yourself a favour, and force yourself to try these things for at least 15 minutes! – sjas Jun 25 '12 at 0:25

community wiki
2 revs
,Apr 1, 2010 at 17:00

Visual Mode

As several other people have said, visual mode is the answer to your copy/cut & paste problem. Vim gives you 'v', 'V', and C-v. Lower case 'v' in vim is essentially the same as the shift key in notepad. The nice thing is that you don't have to hold it down. You can use any movement technique to navigate efficiently to the starting (or ending) point of your selection. Then hit 'v', and use efficient movement techniques again to navigate to the other end of your selection. Then 'd' or 'y' allows you to cut or copy that selection.

The advantage vim's visual mode has over Jim Dennis's description of cut/copy/paste in vi is that you don't have to get the location exactly right. Sometimes it's more efficient to use a quick movement to get to the general vicinity of where you want to go and then refine that with other movements than to think up a more complex single movement command that gets you exactly where you want to go.

The downside to using visual mode extensively in this manner is that it can become a crutch that you use all the time which prevents you from learning new vi(m) commands that might allow you to do things more efficiently. However, if you are very proactive about learning new aspects of vi(m), then this probably won't affect you much.

I'll also re-emphasize that the visual line and visual block modes give you variations on this same theme that can be very powerful...especially the visual block mode.

On Efficient Use of the Keyboard

I also disagree with your assertion that alternating hands is the fastest way to use the keyboard. It has an element of truth in it. Speaking very generally, repeated use of the same thing is slow. This most significant example of this principle is that consecutive keystrokes typed with the same finger are very slow. Your assertion probably stems from the natural tendency to use the s/finger/hand/ transformation on this pattern. To some extent it's correct, but at the extremely high end of the efficiency spectrum it's incorrect.

Just ask any pianist. Ask them whether it's faster to play a succession of a few notes alternating hands or using consecutive fingers of a single hand in sequence. The fastest way to type 4 keystrokes is not to alternate hands, but to type them with 4 fingers of the same hand in either ascending or descending order (call this a "run"). This should be self-evident once you've considered this possibility.

The more difficult problem is optimizing for this. It's pretty easy to optimize for absolute distance on the keyboard. Vim does that. It's much harder to optimize at the "run" level, but vi(m) with it's modal editing gives you a better chance at being able to do it than any non-modal approach (ahem, emacs) ever could.

On Emacs

Lest the emacs zealots completely disregard my whole post on account of that last parenthetical comment, I feel I must describe the root of the difference between the emacs and vim religions. I've never spoken up in the editor wars and I probably won't do it again, but I've never heard anyone describe the differences this way, so here it goes. The difference is the following tradeoff:

Vim gives you unmatched raw text editing efficiency Emacs gives you unmatched ability to customize and program the editor

The blind vim zealots will claim that vim has a scripting language. But it's an obscure, ad-hoc language that was designed to serve the editor. Emacs has Lisp! Enough said. If you don't appreciate the significance of those last two sentences or have a desire to learn enough about functional programming and Lisp to develop that appreciation, then you should use vim.

The emacs zealots will claim that emacs has viper mode, and so it is a superset of vim. But viper mode isn't standard. My understanding is that viper mode is not used by the majority of emacs users. Since it's not the default, most emacs users probably don't develop a true appreciation for the benefits of the modal paradigm.

In my opinion these differences are orthogonal. I believe the benefits of vim and emacs as I have stated them are both valid. This means that the ultimate editor doesn't exist yet. It's probably true that emacs would be the easiest platform on which to base the ultimate editor. But modal editing is not entrenched in the emacs mindset. The emacs community could move that way in the future, but that doesn't seem very likely.

So if you want raw editing efficiency, use vim. If you want the ultimate environment for scripting and programming your editor use emacs. If you want some of both with an emphasis on programmability, use emacs with viper mode (or program your own mode). If you want the best of both worlds, you're out of luck for now.

community wiki
, Mar 31, 2010 at 22:44

Spend 30 mins doing the vim tutorial (run vimtutor instead of vim in terminal). You will learn the basic movements, and some keystrokes, this will make you at least as productive with vim as with the text editor you used before. After that, well, read Jim Dennis' answer again :)

dash-tom-bang, Aug 24, 2011 at 0:47

This is the first thing I thought of when reading the OP. It's obvious that the poster has never run this; I ran through it when first learning vim two years ago and it cemented in my mind the superiority of Vim to any of the other editors I've used (including, for me, Emacs since the key combos are annoying to use on a Mac). – dash-tom-bang Aug 24 '11 at 0:47

community wiki
, Jan 12, 2011 at 22:52

What is the way you use Vim that makes you more productive than with a contemporary editor?

Being able to execute complex, repetitive edits with very few keystrokes (often using macros ). Take a look at VimGolf to witness the power of Vim!

After over ten years of almost daily usage, it's hard to imagine using any other editor.

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 67%
,Jun 15, 2011 at 13:42

Use \c anywhere in a search to ignore case (overriding your ignorecase or smartcase settings). E.g. /\cfoo or /foo\c will match foo, Foo, fOO, FOO, etc.

Use \C anywhere in a search to force case matching. E.g. /\Cfoo or /foo\C will only match foo.

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 67%
,Jun 15, 2011 at 13:44

I was surprised to find no one mention the t movement. I frequently use it with parameter lists in the form of dt, or yt,

hhh, Jan 14, 2011 at 17:09

or dfx, dFx, dtx, ytx, etc where x is a char, +1 – hhh Jan 14 '11 at 17:09

dash-tom-bang, Aug 24, 2011 at 0:48

@hhh yep, T t f and F are all pretty regular keys for me to hit... – dash-tom-bang Aug 24 '11 at 0:48

markle976, Mar 30, 2012 at 13:52

Yes! And don't forget ct (change to). – markle976 Mar 30 '12 at 13:52

sjas, Jun 24, 2012 at 23:35

t for teh win!!! – sjas Jun 24 '12 at 23:35

community wiki
3 revs
,May 6, 2012 at 20:50

Odd nobody's mentioned ctags. Download "exuberant ctags" and put it ahead of the crappy preinstalled version you already have in your search path. Cd to the root of whatever you're working on; for example the Android kernel distribution. Type "ctags -R ." to build an index of source files anywhere beneath that dir in a file named "tags". This contains all tags, nomatter the language nor where in the dir, in one file, so cross-language work is easy.

Then open vim in that folder and read :help ctags for some commands. A few I use often:

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 67%
,Feb 27, 2010 at 11:19

Automatic indentation:

gg (go to start of document)
= (indent time!)
shift-g (go to end of document)

You'll need 'filetype plugin indent on' in your .vimrc file, and probably appropriate 'shiftwidth' and 'expandtab' settings.

xcramps, Aug 28, 2009 at 17:14

Or just use the ":set ai" (auto-indent) facility, which has been in vi since the beginning. – xcramps Aug 28 '09 at 17:14

community wiki
, Jul 24, 2010 at 5:41

You asked about productive shortcuts, but I think your real question is: Is vim worth it? The answer to this stackoverflow question is -> "Yes"

You must have noticed two things. Vim is powerful, and vim is hard to learn. Much of it's power lies in it's expandability and endless combination of commands. Don't feel overwhelmed. Go slow. One command, one plugin at a time. Don't overdo it.

All that investment you put into vim will pay back a thousand fold. You're going to be inside a text editor for many, many hours before you die. Vim will be your companion.

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 67%
,Feb 27, 2010 at 11:23

Multiple buffers, and in particular fast jumping between them to compare two files with :bp and :bn (properly remapped to a single Shift + p or Shift + n )

vimdiff mode (splits in two vertical buffers, with colors to show the differences)

Area-copy with Ctrl + v

And finally, tab completion of identifiers (search for "mosh_tab_or_complete"). That's a life changer.

community wiki
David Wolever
, Aug 28, 2009 at 16:07

Agreed with the top poster - the :r! command is very useful.

Most often I use it to "paste" things:

**Ctrl-V to paste from the OS clipboard**

This way I don't have to fiddle with :set paste .

R. Martinho Fernandes, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:17

Probably better to set the clipboard option to unnamed ( set clipboard=unnamed in your .vimrc) to use the system clipboard by default. Or if you still want the system clipboard separate from the unnamed register, use the appropriately named clipboard register: "*p . – R. Martinho Fernandes Apr 1 '10 at 3:17

kevpie, Oct 12, 2010 at 22:38

Love it! After being exasperated by pasting code examples from the web and I was just starting to feel proficient in vim. That was the command I dreamed up on the spot. This was when vim totally hooked me. – kevpie Oct 12 '10 at 22:38

Ben Mordecai, Feb 6, 2013 at 19:54

If you're developing on a Mac, Command+C and Command+V copy and paste using the system clipboard, no remap required. – Ben Mordecai Feb 6 '13 at 19:54

David Wolever, Feb 6, 2013 at 20:55

Only with GVIm From the console, pasting without :set paste doesn't work so well if autoindent is enabled. – David Wolever Feb 6 '13 at 20:55

[Oct 21, 2018] What are the dark corners of Vim your mom never told you about?

Notable quotes:
"... Want to look at your :command history? q: Then browse, edit and finally to execute the command. ..."
"... from the ex editor (:), you can do CTRL-f to pop up the command history window. ..."
"... q/ and q? can be used to do a similar thing for your search patterns. ..."
"... adjacent to the one I just edit ..."
Nov 16, 2011 |

Ask Question, Nov 16, 2011 at 0:44

There are a plethora of questions where people talk about common tricks, notably " Vim+ctags tips and tricks ".

However, I don't refer to commonly used shortcuts that someone new to Vim would find cool. I am talking about a seasoned Unix user (be they a developer, administrator, both, etc.), who thinks they know something 99% of us never heard or dreamed about. Something that not only makes their work easier, but also is COOL and hackish .

After all, Vim resides in the most dark-corner-rich OS in the world, thus it should have intricacies that only a few privileged know about and want to share with us.

user3218088, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:51

:Sex -- Split window and open integrated file explorer (horizontal split) – user3218088 Jun 16 '14 at 9:51

community wiki, 2 revs, Apr 7, 2009 at 19:04

Might not be one that 99% of Vim users don't know about, but it's something I use daily and that any Linux+Vim poweruser must know.

Basic command, yet extremely useful.

:w !sudo tee %

I often forget to sudo before editing a file I don't have write permissions on. When I come to save that file and get a permission error, I just issue that vim command in order to save the file without the need to save it to a temp file and then copy it back again.

You obviously have to be on a system with sudo installed and have sudo rights.

jm666, May 12, 2011 at 6:09

cmap w!! w !sudo tee % – jm666 May 12 '11 at 6:09

Gerardo Marset, Jul 5, 2011 at 0:49

You should never run sudo vim . Instead you should export EDITOR as vim and run sudoedit . – Gerardo Marset Jul 5 '11 at 0:49

migu, Sep 2, 2013 at 20:42

@maximus: vim replaces % by the name of the current buffer/file. – migu Sep 2 '13 at 20:42

community wiki
Chad Birch
, Apr 7, 2009 at 18:09

Something I just discovered recently that I thought was very cool:
:earlier 15m

Reverts the document back to how it was 15 minutes ago. Can take various arguments for the amount of time you want to roll back, and is dependent on undolevels. Can be reversed with the opposite command :later

ephemient, Apr 8, 2009 at 16:15

@skinp: If you undo and then make further changes from the undone state, you lose that redo history. This lets you go back to a state which is no longer in the undo stack. – ephemient Apr 8 '09 at 16:15

Etienne PIERRE, Jul 21, 2009 at 13:53

Also very usefull is g+ and g- to go backward and forward in time. This is so much more powerfull than an undo/redo stack since you don't loose the history when you do something after an undo. – Etienne PIERRE Jul 21 '09 at 13:53

Ehtesh Choudhury, Nov 29, 2011 at 12:09

You don't lose the redo history if you make a change after an undo. It's just not easily accessed. There are plugins to help you visualize this, like Gundo.vim – Ehtesh Choudhury Nov 29 '11 at 12:09

Igor Popov, Dec 29, 2011 at 6:59

Wow, so now I can just do :later 8h and I'm done for today? :P – Igor Popov Dec 29 '11 at 6:59

Ring Ø, Jul 11, 2014 at 5:14

Your command assumes one will spend at least 15 minutes in vim ! – Ring Ø Jul 11 '14 at 5:14

community wiki,2 revs, 2 users 92%, ,Mar 31, 2016 at 17:54

:! [command] executes an external command while you're in Vim.

But add a dot after the colon, :.! [command], and it'll dump the output of the command into your current window. That's : . !

For example:

:.! ls

I use this a lot for things like adding the current date into a document I'm typing:

:.! date

saffsd, May 6, 2009 at 14:41

This is quite similar to :r! The only difference as far as I can tell is that :r! opens a new line, :.! overwrites the current line. – saffsd May 6 '09 at 14:41

hlovdal, Jan 25, 2010 at 21:11

An alternative to :.!date is to write "date" on a line and then run !$sh (alternatively having the command followed by a blank line and run !jsh ). This will pipe the line to the "sh" shell and substitute with the output from the command. – hlovdal Jan 25 '10 at 21:11

Nefrubyr, Mar 25, 2010 at 16:24

:.! is actually a special case of :{range}!, which filters a range of lines (the current line when the range is . ) through a command and replaces those lines with the output. I find :%! useful for filtering whole buffers. – Nefrubyr Mar 25 '10 at 16:24

jabirali, Jul 13, 2010 at 4:30

@sundar: Why pass a line to sed, when you can use the similar built-in ed / ex commands? Try running :.s/old/new/g ;-) – jabirali Jul 13 '10 at 4:30

aqn, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:52

And also note that '!' is like 'y', 'd', 'c' etc. i.e. you can do: !!, number!!, !motion (e.g. !Gshell_command<cr> replace from current line to end of file ('G') with output of shell_command). – aqn Apr 26 '13 at 20:52

community wiki 2 revs , Apr 8, 2009 at 12:17

Not exactly obscure, but there are several "delete in" commands which are extremely useful, like..

Others can be found on :help text-objects

sjh, Apr 8, 2009 at 15:33

dab "delete arounb brackets", daB for around curly brackets, t for xml type tags, combinations with normal commands are as expected cib/yaB/dit/vat etc – sjh Apr 8 '09 at 15:33

Don Reba, Apr 13, 2009 at 21:41

@Masi: yi(va(p deletes only the brackets – Don Reba Apr 13 '09 at 21:41

thomasrutter, Apr 26, 2009 at 11:11

This is possibly the biggest reason for me staying with Vim. That and its equivalent "change" commands: ciw, ci(, ci", as well as dt<space> and ct<space> – thomasrutter Apr 26 '09 at 11:11

Roger Pate Oct 12 '10 at 16:40 ,

@thomasrutter: Why not dW/cW instead of dt<space>? –

Roger Pate Oct 12 '10 at 16:43, Oct 12, 2010 at 16:43

@Masi: With the surround plugin: ds(. –

community wiki, 9 revs, 9 users 84%, ultraman, Apr 21, 2017 at 14:06

de Delete everything till the end of the word by pressing . at your heart's desire.

ci(xyz[Esc] -- This is a weird one. Here, the 'i' does not mean insert mode. Instead it means inside the parenthesis. So this sequence cuts the text inside parenthesis you're standing in and replaces it with "xyz". It also works inside square and figure brackets -- just do ci[ or ci{ correspondingly. Naturally, you can do di (if you just want to delete all text without typing anything. You can also do a instead of i if you want to delete the parentheses as well and not just text inside them.

ci" - cuts the text in current quotes

ciw - cuts the current word. This works just like the previous one except that ( is replaced with w .

C - cut the rest of the line and switch to insert mode.

ZZ -- save and close current file (WAY faster than Ctrl-F4 to close the current tab!)

ddp - move current line one row down

xp -- move current character one position to the right

U - uppercase, so viwU upercases the word

~ - switches case, so viw~ will reverse casing of entire word

Ctrl+u / Ctrl+d scroll the page half-a-screen up or down. This seems to be more useful than the usual full-screen paging as it makes it easier to see how the two screens relate. For those who still want to scroll entire screen at a time there's Ctrl+f for Forward and Ctrl+b for Backward. Ctrl+Y and Ctrl+E scroll down or up one line at a time.

Crazy but very useful command is zz -- it scrolls the screen to make this line appear in the middle. This is excellent for putting the piece of code you're working on in the center of your attention. Sibling commands -- zt and zb -- make this line the top or the bottom one on the sreen which is not quite as useful.

% finds and jumps to the matching parenthesis.

de -- delete from cursor to the end of the word (you can also do dE to delete until the next space)

bde -- delete the current word, from left to right delimiter

df[space] -- delete up until and including the next space

dt. -- delete until next dot

dd -- delete this entire line

ye (or yE) -- yanks text from here to the end of the word

ce - cuts through the end of the word

bye -- copies current word (makes me wonder what "hi" does!)

yy -- copies the current line

cc -- cuts the current line, you can also do S instead. There's also lower cap s which cuts current character and switches to insert mode.

viwy or viwc . Yank or change current word. Hit w multiple times to keep selecting each subsequent word, use b to move backwards

vi{ - select all text in figure brackets. va{ - select all text including {}s

vi(p - highlight everything inside the ()s and replace with the pasted text

b and e move the cursor word-by-word, similarly to how Ctrl+Arrows normally do . The definition of word is a little different though, as several consecutive delmiters are treated as one word. If you start at the middle of a word, pressing b will always get you to the beginning of the current word, and each consecutive b will jump to the beginning of the next word. Similarly, and easy to remember, e gets the cursor to the end of the current, and each subsequent, word.

similar to b / e, capital B and E move the cursor word-by-word using only whitespaces as delimiters.

capital D (take a deep breath) Deletes the rest of the line to the right of the cursor, same as Shift+End/Del in normal editors (notice 2 keypresses -- Shift+D -- instead of 3)

Nick Lewis, Jul 17, 2009 at 16:41

zt is quite useful if you use it at the start of a function or class definition. – Nick Lewis Jul 17 '09 at 16:41

Nathan Fellman, Sep 7, 2009 at 8:27

vity and vitc can be shortened to yit and cit respectively. – Nathan Fellman Sep 7 '09 at 8:27

Laurence Gonsalves, Feb 19, 2011 at 23:49

All the things you're calling "cut" is "change". eg: C is change until the end of the line. Vim's equivalent of "cut" is "delete", done with d/D. The main difference between change and delete is that delete leaves you in normal mode but change puts you into a sort of insert mode (though you're still in the change command which is handy as the whole change can be repeated with . ). – Laurence Gonsalves Feb 19 '11 at 23:49

Almo, May 29, 2012 at 20:09

I thought this was for a list of things that not many people know. yy is very common, I would have thought. – Almo May 29 '12 at 20:09

Andrea Francia, Jul 3, 2012 at 20:50

bye does not work when you are in the first character of the word. yiw always does. – Andrea Francia Jul 3 '12 at 20:50

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 83%, ,Sep 17, 2010 at 16:55

One that I rarely find in most Vim tutorials, but it's INCREDIBLY useful (at least to me), is the

g; and g,

to move (forward, backward) through the changelist.

Let me show how I use it. Sometimes I need to copy and paste a piece of code or string, say a hex color code in a CSS file, so I search, jump (not caring where the match is), copy it and then jump back (g;) to where I was editing the code to finally paste it. No need to create marks. Simpler.

Just my 2cents.

aehlke, Feb 12, 2010 at 1:19

similarly, '. will go to the last edited line, And `. will go to the last edited position – aehlke Feb 12 '10 at 1:19

Kimball Robinson, Apr 16, 2010 at 0:29

Ctrl-O and Ctrl-I (tab) will work similarly, but not the same. They move backward and forward in the "jump list", which you can view by doing :jumps or :ju For more information do a :help jumplist – Kimball Robinson Apr 16 '10 at 0:29

Kimball Robinson, Apr 16, 2010 at 0:30

You can list the change list by doing :changes – Kimball Robinson Apr 16 '10 at 0:30

Wayne Werner, Jan 30, 2013 at 14:49

Hot dang that's useful. I use <C-o> / <C-i> for this all the time - or marking my place. – Wayne Werner Jan 30 '13 at 14:49

community wiki, 4 revs, 4 users 36%, ,May 5, 2014 at 13:06


Make vim into a hex editor.

:%!xxd -r


Warning: If you don't edit with binary (-b), you might damage the file. – Josh Lee in the comments.

Christian, Jul 7, 2009 at 19:11

And how do you revert it back? – Christian Jul 7 '09 at 19:11

Naga Kiran, Jul 8, 2009 at 13:46

:!xxd -r //To revert back from HEX – Naga Kiran Jul 8 '09 at 13:46

Andreas Grech, Nov 14, 2009 at 10:37

I actually think it's :%!xxd -r to revert it back – Andreas Grech Nov 14 '09 at 10:37

dotancohen, Jun 7, 2013 at 5:50

@JoshLee: If one is careful not to traverse newlines, is it safe to not use the -b option? I ask because sometimes I want to make a hex change, but I don't want to close and reopen the file to do so. – dotancohen Jun 7 '13 at 5:50

Bambu, Nov 23, 2014 at 23:58

@dotancohen: If you don't want to close/reopen the file you can do :set binary – Bambu Nov 23 '14 at 23:58

community wiki AaronS, Jan 12, 2011 at 20:03


Reselects last visual selection.

community wiki 3 revs, 2 users 92%
,Jul 7, 2014 at 19:10

Sometimes a setting in your .vimrc will get overridden by a plugin or autocommand. To debug this a useful trick is to use the :verbose command in conjunction with :set. For example, to figure out where cindent got set/unset:
:verbose set cindent?

This will output something like:

    Last set from /usr/share/vim/vim71/indent/c.vim

This also works with maps and highlights. (Thanks joeytwiddle for pointing this out.) For example:

:verbose nmap U
n  U             <C-R>
        Last set from ~/.vimrc

:verbose highlight Normal
Normal         xxx guifg=#dddddd guibg=#111111 font=Inconsolata Medium 14
        Last set from ~/src/vim-holodark/colors/holodark.vim

Artem Russakovskii, Oct 23, 2009 at 22:09

Excellent tip - exactly what I was looking for today. – Artem Russakovskii Oct 23 '09 at 22:09

joeytwiddle, Jul 5, 2014 at 22:08

:verbose can also be used before nmap l or highlight Normal to find out where the l keymap or the Normal highlight were last defined. Very useful for debugging! – joeytwiddle Jul 5 '14 at 22:08

SidOfc, Sep 24, 2017 at 11:26

When you get into creating custom mappings, this will save your ass so many times, probably one of the most useful ones here (IMO)! – SidOfc Sep 24 '17 at 11:26

community wiki 3 revs, 3 users 70% ,May 31, 2015 at 19:30

Not sure if this counts as dark-corner-ish at all, but I've only just learnt it...
:g/match/y A

will yank (copy) all lines containing "match" into the "a / @a register. (The capitalization as A makes vim append yankings instead of replacing the previous register contents.) I used it a lot recently when making Internet Explorer stylesheets.

tsukimi, May 27, 2012 at 6:17

You can use :g! to find lines that don't match a pattern e.x. :g!/set/normal dd (delete all lines that don't contain set) – tsukimi May 27 '12 at 6:17

pandubear, Oct 12, 2013 at 8:39

Sometimes it's better to do what tsukimi said and just filter out lines that don't match your pattern. An abbreviated version of that command though: :v/PATTERN/d Explanation: :v is an abbreviation for :g!, and the :g command applies any ex command to lines. :y[ank] works and so does :normal, but here the most natural thing to do is just :d[elete] . – pandubear Oct 12 '13 at 8:39

Kimball Robinson, Feb 5, 2016 at 17:58

You can also do :g/match/normal "Ayy -- the normal keyword lets you tell it to run normal-mode commands (which you are probably more familiar with). – Kimball Robinson Feb 5 '16 at 17:58

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 80% ,Apr 5, 2013 at 15:55

:%TOhtml Creates an html rendering of the current file.

kenorb, Feb 19, 2015 at 11:27

Related: How to convert a source code file into HTML? at Vim SE – kenorb Feb 19 '15 at 11:27

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 86% ,May 11, 2011 at 19:30

Want to look at your :command history? q: Then browse, edit and finally to execute the command.

Ever make similar changes to two files and switch back and forth between them? (Say, source and header files?)

:set hidden
:map <TAB> :e#<CR>

Then tab back and forth between those files.

Josh Lee, Sep 22, 2009 at 16:58

I hit q: by accident all the time... – Josh Lee Sep 22 '09 at 16:58

Jason Down, Oct 6, 2009 at 4:14

Alternatively, from the ex editor (:), you can do CTRL-f to pop up the command history window.Jason Down Oct 6 '09 at 4:14

bradlis7, Mar 23, 2010 at 17:10

@jleedev me too. I almost hate this command, just because I use it accidentally way too much. – bradlis7 Mar 23 '10 at 17:10

bpw1621, Feb 19, 2011 at 15:01

q/ and q? can be used to do a similar thing for your search patterns. bpw1621 Feb 19 '11 at 15:01

idbrii, Feb 23, 2011 at 19:07

Hitting <C-f> after : or / (or any time you're in command mode) will bring up the same history menu. So you can remap q: if you hit it accidentally a lot and still access this awesome mode. – idbrii Feb 23 '11 at 19:07

community wiki, 2 revs, 2 users 89%, ,Jun 4, 2014 at 14:52

Vim will open a URL, for example

Nice when you need to pull up the source of a page for reference.

Ivan Vučica, Sep 21, 2010 at 8:07

For me it didn't open the source; instead it apparently used elinks to dump rendered page into a buffer, and then opened that. – Ivan Vučica Sep 21 '10 at 8:07

Thomas, Apr 19, 2013 at 21:00

Works better with a slash at the end. Neat trick! – Thomas Apr 19 '13 at 21:00

Isaac Remuant, Jun 3, 2013 at 15:23

@Vdt: It'd be useful if you posted your error. If it's this one: " error (netrw) neither the wget nor the fetch command is available" you obviously need to make one of those tools available from your PATH environment variable. – Isaac Remuant Jun 3 '13 at 15:23

Dettorer, Oct 29, 2014 at 13:47

I find this one particularly useful when people send links to a paste service and forgot to select a syntax highlighting, I generally just have to open the link in vim after appending "&raw". – Dettorer Oct 29 '14 at 13:47

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 94% ,Jan 20, 2015 at 23:14

Macros can call other macros, and can also call itself.



...will delete the first word from every line until the end of the file.

This is quite a simple example but it demonstrates a very powerful feature of vim

Kimball Robinson, Apr 16, 2010 at 0:39

I didn't know macros could repeat themselves. Cool. Note: qx starts recording into register x (he uses qq for register q). 0 moves to the start of the line. dw delets a word. j moves down a line. @q will run the macro again (defining a loop). But you forgot to end the recording with a final "q", then actually run the macro by typing @q. – Kimball Robinson Apr 16 '10 at 0:39

Yktula, Apr 18, 2010 at 5:32

I think that's intentional, as a nested and recursive macro. – Yktula Apr 18 '10 at 5:32

Gerardo Marset, Jul 5, 2011 at 1:38

qqqqqifuu<Esc>h@qq@qGerardo Marset Jul 5 '11 at 1:38

Nathan Long, Aug 29, 2011 at 15:33

Another way of accomplishing this is to record a macro in register a that does some transformation to a single line, then linewise highlight a bunch of lines with V and type :normal! @a to applyyour macro to every line in your selection. – Nathan Long Aug 29 '11 at 15:33

dotancohen, May 14, 2013 at 6:00

I found this post googling recursive VIM macros. I could find no way to stop the macro other than killing the VIM process. – dotancohen May 14 '13 at 6:00

community wiki
Brian Carper
, Apr 8, 2009 at 1:15

Assuming you have Perl and/or Ruby support compiled in, :rubydo and :perldo will run a Ruby or Perl one-liner on every line in a range (defaults to entire buffer), with $_ bound to the text of the current line (minus the newline). Manipulating $_ will change the text of that line.

You can use this to do certain things that are easy to do in a scripting language but not so obvious using Vim builtins. For example to reverse the order of the words in a line:

:perldo $_ = join ' ', reverse split

To insert a random string of 8 characters (A-Z) at the end of every line:

:rubydo $_ += ' ' + (1..8).collect{('A'..'Z').to_a[rand 26]}.join

You are limited to acting on one line at a time and you can't add newlines.

Sujoy, May 6, 2009 at 18:27

what if i only want perldo to run on a specified line? or a selected few lines? – Sujoy May 6 '09 at 18:27

Brian Carper, May 6, 2009 at 18:52

You can give it a range like any other command. For example :1,5perldo will only operate on lines 1-5. – Brian Carper May 6 '09 at 18:52

Greg, Jul 2, 2009 at 16:41

Could you do $_ += '\nNEWLINE!!!' to get a newline after the current one? – Greg Jul 2 '09 at 16:41

Brian Carper, Jul 2, 2009 at 17:26

Sadly not, it just adds a funky control character to the end of the line. You could then use a Vim search/replace to change all those control characters to real newlines though. – Brian Carper Jul 2 '09 at 17:26

Derecho, Mar 14, 2014 at 8:48

Similarly, pydo and py3do work for python if you have the required support compiled in. – Derecho Mar 14 '14 at 8:48

community wiki
4 revs
,Jul 28, 2009 at 19:05

^O and ^I

Go to older/newer position. When you are moving through the file (by searching, moving commands etc.) vim rember these "jumps", so you can repeat these jumps backward (^O - O for old) and forward (^I - just next to I on keyboard). I find it very useful when writing code and performing a lot of searches.


Go to position where Insert mode was stopped last. I find myself often editing and then searching for something. To return to editing place press gi.


put cursor on file name (e.g. include header file), press gf and the file is opened


similar to gf but recognizes format "[file name]:[line number]". Pressing gF will open [file name] and set cursor to [line number].

^P and ^N

Auto complete text while editing (^P - previous match and ^N next match)


While editing completes to the same line (useful for programming). You write code and then you recall that you have the same code somewhere in file. Just press ^X^L and the full line completed


Complete file names. You write "/etc/pass" Hmm. You forgot the file name. Just press ^X^F and the filename is completed

^Z or :sh

Move temporary to the shell. If you need a quick bashing:

sehe, Mar 4, 2012 at 21:50

With ^X^F my pet peeve is that filenames include = signs, making it do rotten things in many occasions (ini files, makefiles etc). I use se isfname-== to end that nuisance – sehe Mar 4 '12 at 21:50

joeytwiddle, Jul 5, 2014 at 22:10

+1 the built-in autocomplete is just sitting there waiting to be discovered. – joeytwiddle Jul 5 '14 at 22:10

community wiki
2 revs
,Apr 7, 2009 at 18:59

This is a nice trick to reopen the current file with a different encoding:
:e ++enc=cp1250 %:p

Useful when you have to work with legacy encodings. The supported encodings are listed in a table under encoding-values (see help encoding-values ). Similar thing also works for ++ff, so that you can reopen file with Windows/Unix line ends if you get it wrong for the first time (see help ff ).

>, Apr 7, 2009 at 18:43

Never had to use this sort of a thing, but we'll certainly add to my arsenal of tricks... – Sasha Apr 7 '09 at 18:43

Adriano Varoli Piazza, Apr 7, 2009 at 18:44

great tip, thanks. For bonus points, add a list of common valid encodings. – Adriano Varoli Piazza Apr 7 '09 at 18:44

Ivan Vučica, Jul 8, 2009 at 19:29

I have used this today, but I think I didn't need to specify "%:p"; just opening the file and :e ++enc=cp1250 was enough. I – Ivan Vučica Jul 8 '09 at 19:29

laz, Jul 8, 2009 at 19:32

would :set encoding=cp1250 have the same effect? – laz Jul 8 '09 at 19:32

intuited, Jun 4, 2010 at 2:51

`:e +b %' is similarly useful for reopening in binary mode (no munging of newlines) – intuited Jun 4 '10 at 2:51

community wiki
4 revs, 3 users 48%
,Nov 6, 2012 at 8:32

" insert range ip's
"          ( O O )
" =======oOO=(_)==OOo======

:for i in range(1,255) | .put='10.0.0.'.i | endfor

Ryan Edwards, Nov 16, 2011 at 0:42

I don't see what this is good for (besides looking like a joke answer). Can anybody else enlighten me? – Ryan Edwards Nov 16 '11 at 0:42

Codygman, Nov 6, 2012 at 8:33

open vim and then do ":for i in range(1,255) | .put='10.0.0.'.i | endfor" – Codygman Nov 6 '12 at 8:33

Ruslan, Sep 30, 2013 at 10:30

@RyanEdwards filling /etc/hosts maybe – Ruslan Sep 30 '13 at 10:30

dotancohen, Nov 30, 2014 at 14:56

This is a terrific answer. Not the bit about creating the IP addresses, but the bit that implies that VIM can use for loops in commands . – dotancohen Nov 30 '14 at 14:56

BlackCap, Aug 31, 2017 at 7:54

Without ex-mode: i10.0.0.1<Esc>Y254p$<C-v>}g<C-a>BlackCap Aug 31 '17 at 7:54

community wiki
2 revs
,Aug 6, 2010 at 0:30

Typing == will correct the indentation of the current line based on the line above.

Actually, you can do one = sign followed by any movement command. = {movement}

For example, you can use the % movement which moves between matching braces. Position the cursor on the { in the following code:

if (thisA == that) {
//not indented
if (some == other) {
x = y;

And press =% to instantly get this:

if (thisA == that) {
    //not indented
    if (some == other) {
        x = y;

Alternately, you could do =a{ within the code block, rather than positioning yourself right on the { character.

Ehtesh Choudhury, May 2, 2011 at 0:48

Hm, I didn't know this about the indentation. – Ehtesh Choudhury May 2 '11 at 0:48

sehe, Mar 4, 2012 at 22:03

No need, usually, to be exactly on the braces. Thought frequently I'd just =} or vaBaB= because it is less dependent. Also, v}}:!astyle -bj matches my code style better, but I can get it back into your style with a simple %!astyle -ajsehe Mar 4 '12 at 22:03

kyrias, Oct 19, 2013 at 12:12

gg=G is quite neat when pasting in something. – kyrias Oct 19 '13 at 12:12

kenorb, Feb 19, 2015 at 11:30

Related: Re-indenting badly indented code at Vim SE – kenorb Feb 19 '15 at 11:30

Braden Best, Feb 4, 2016 at 16:16

@kyrias Oh, I've been doing it like ggVG= . – Braden Best Feb 4 '16 at 16:16

community wiki
, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:33

imap jj <esc>

hasen, Jun 12, 2009 at 6:08

how will you type jj then? :P – hasen Jun 12 '09 at 6:08

ojblass, Jul 5, 2009 at 18:29

How often to you type jj? In English at least? – ojblass Jul 5 '09 at 18:29

Alex, Oct 5, 2009 at 5:32

I remapped capslock to esc instead, as it's an otherwise useless key. My mapping was OS wide though, so it has the added benefit of never having to worry about accidentally hitting it. The only drawback IS ITS HARDER TO YELL AT PEOPLE. :) – Alex Oct 5 '09 at 5:32

intuited, Jun 4, 2010 at 4:18

@Alex: definitely, capslock is death. "wait, wtf? oh, that was ZZ?....crap." – intuited Jun 4 '10 at 4:18

brianmearns, Oct 3, 2012 at 12:45

@ojblass: Not sure how many people ever right matlab code in Vim, but ii and jj are commonly used for counter variables, because i and j are reserved for complex numbers. – brianmearns Oct 3 '12 at 12:45

community wiki
4 revs, 3 users 71%
,Feb 12, 2015 at 15:55

Let's see some pretty little IDE editor do column transposition.


\( and \) is how to remember stuff in regex-land. And \1, \2 etc is how to retrieve the remembered stuff.

>>> \(.*\)^I\(.*\)

Remember everything followed by ^I (tab) followed by everything.

>>> \2^I\1

Replace the above stuff with "2nd stuff you remembered" followed by "1st stuff you remembered" - essentially doing a transpose.

chaos, Apr 7, 2009 at 18:33

Switches a pair of tab-separated columns (separator arbitrary, it's all regex) with each other. – chaos Apr 7 '09 at 18:33

rlbond, Apr 26, 2009 at 4:11

This is just a regex; plenty of IDEs have regex search-and-replace. – rlbond Apr 26 '09 at 4:11

romandas, Jun 19, 2009 at 16:58

@rlbond - It comes down to how good is the regex engine in the IDE. Vim's regexes are pretty powerful; others.. not so much sometimes. – romandas Jun 19 '09 at 16:58

Kimball Robinson, Apr 16, 2010 at 0:32

The * will be greedy, so this regex assumes you have just two columns. If you want it to be nongreedy use {-} instead of * (see :help non-greedy for more information on the {} multiplier) – Kimball Robinson Apr 16 '10 at 0:32

mk12, Jun 22, 2012 at 17:31

This is actually a pretty simple regex, it's only escaping the group parentheses that makes it look complicated. – mk12 Jun 22 '12 at 17:31

community wiki
, Apr 11, 2009 at 7:14

Not exactly a dark secret, but I like to put the following mapping into my .vimrc file, so I can hit "-" (minus) anytime to open the file explorer to show files adjacent to the one I just edit . In the file explorer, I can hit another "-" to move up one directory, providing seamless browsing of a complex directory structures (like the ones used by the MVC frameworks nowadays):
map - :Explore<cr>

These may be also useful for somebody. I like to scroll the screen and advance the cursor at the same time:

map <c-j> j<c-e>
map <c-k> k<c-y>

Tab navigation - I love tabs and I need to move easily between them:

map <c-l> :tabnext<enter>
map <c-h> :tabprevious<enter>

Only on Mac OS X: Safari-like tab navigation:

map <S-D-Right> :tabnext<cr>
map <S-D-Left> :tabprevious<cr>

Roman Plášil, Oct 1, 2009 at 21:33

You can also browse files within Vim itself, using :Explore – Roman Plášil Oct 1 '09 at 21:33

KKovacs, Oct 15, 2009 at 15:20

Hi Roman, this is exactly what this mapping does, but assigns it to a "hot key". :) – KKovacs Oct 15 '09 at 15:20

community wiki
, Apr 7, 2009 at 20:11

Often, I like changing current directories while editing - so I have to specify paths less.
cd %:h

Leonard, May 8, 2009 at 1:54

What does this do? And does it work with autchdir? – Leonard May 8 '09 at 1:54

rampion, May 8, 2009 at 2:55

I suppose it would override autochdir temporarily (until you switched buffers again). Basically, it changes directory to the root directory of the current file. It gives me a bit more manual control than autochdir does. – rampion May 8 '09 at 2:55

Naga Kiran, Jul 8, 2009 at 13:44

:set autochdir //this also serves the same functionality and it changes the current directory to that of file in buffer – Naga Kiran Jul 8 '09 at 13:44

community wiki
4 revs
,Jul 21, 2009 at 1:12

I like to use 'sudo bash', and my sysadmin hates this. He locked down 'sudo' so it could only be used with a handful of commands (ls, chmod, chown, vi, etc), but I was able to use vim to get a root shell anyway:
bash$ sudo vi +'silent !bash' +q
Password: ******

RJHunter, Jul 21, 2009 at 0:53

FWIW, sudoedit (or sudo -e) edits privileged files but runs your editor as your normal user. – RJHunter Jul 21 '09 at 0:53

sundar, Sep 23, 2009 at 9:41

@OP: That was cunning. :) – sundar Sep 23 '09 at 9:41

jnylen, Feb 22, 2011 at 15:58

yeah... I'd hate you too ;) you should only need a root shell VERY RARELY, unless you're already in the habit of running too many commands as root which means your permissions are all screwed up. – jnylen Feb 22 '11 at 15:58

d33tah, Mar 30, 2014 at 17:50

Why does your sysadmin even give you root? :D – d33tah Mar 30 '14 at 17:50

community wiki
Taurus Olson
, Apr 7, 2009 at 21:11

I often use many windows when I work on a project and sometimes I need to resize them. Here's what I use:
map + <C-W>+
map - <C-W>-

These mappings allow to increase and decrease the size of the current window. It's quite simple but it's fast.

Bill Lynch, Apr 8, 2009 at 2:49

There's also Ctrl-W =, which makes the windows equal width. – Bill Lynch Apr 8 '09 at 2:49

joeytwiddle, Jan 29, 2012 at 18:12

Don't forget you can prepend numbers to perform an action multiple times in Vim. So to expand the current window height by 8 lines: 8<C-W>+ – joeytwiddle Jan 29 '12 at 18:12

community wiki
Roberto Bonvallet
, May 6, 2009 at 7:38

:r! <command>

pastes the output of an external command into the buffer.

Do some math and get the result directly in the text:

:r! echo $((3 + 5 + 8))

Get the list of files to compile when writing a Makefile:

:r! ls *.c

Don't look up that fact you read on wikipedia, have it directly pasted into the document you are writing:

:r! lynx -dump

Sudhanshu, Jun 7, 2010 at 8:40

^R=3+5+8 in insert mode will let you insert the value of the expression (3+5+8) in text with fewer keystrokes. – Sudhanshu Jun 7 '10 at 8:40

dcn, Mar 27, 2011 at 10:13

How can I get the result/output to a different buffer than the current? – dcn Mar 27 '11 at 10:13

kenorb, Feb 19, 2015 at 11:31

Related: How to dump output from external command into editor? at Vim SE – kenorb Feb 19 '15 at 11:31

community wiki
, Jul 8, 2009 at 19:19

Map F5 to quickly ROT13 your buffer:
map <F5> ggg?G``

You can use it as a boss key :).

sehe, Mar 4, 2012 at 21:57

I don't know what you are writing... But surely, my boss would be more curious when he saw me write ROT13 jumble :) – sehe Mar 4 '12 at 21:57

romeovs, Jun 19, 2014 at 19:22

or to spoof your friends: nmap i ggg?G`` . Or the diabolical: nmap i ggg?G``i ! – romeovs Jun 19 '14 at 19:22

Amit Gold, Aug 7, 2016 at 10:14

@romeovs 2nd one is infinite loop, use nnoremap – Amit Gold Aug 7 '16 at 10:14

community wiki
, Mar 4, 2011 at 2:20

Not an obscure feature, but very useful and time saving.

If you want to save a session of your open buffers, tabs, markers and other settings, you can issue the following:

mksession session.vim

You can open your session using:

vim -S session.vim

TankorSmash, Nov 3, 2012 at 13:45

You can also :so session.vim inside vim. – TankorSmash Nov 3 '12 at 13:45

community wiki
Grant Limberg
, May 11, 2009 at 21:59

I just found this one today via NSFAQ :

Comment blocks of code.

Enter Blockwise Visual mode by hitting CTRL-V.

Mark the block you wish to comment.

Hit I (capital I) and enter your comment string at the beginning of the line. (// for C++)

Hit ESC and all lines selected will have // prepended to the front of the line.

Neeraj Singh, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:56

I added # to comment out a block of code in ruby. How do I undo it. – Neeraj Singh Jun 17 '09 at 16:56

Grant Limberg, Jun 17, 2009 at 19:29

well, if you haven't done anything else to the file, you can simply type u for undo. Otherwise, I haven't figured that out yet. – Grant Limberg Jun 17 '09 at 19:29

nos, Jul 28, 2009 at 20:00

You can just hit ctrl+v again, mark the //'s and hit x to "uncomment" – nos Jul 28 '09 at 20:00

ZyX, Mar 7, 2010 at 14:18

I use NERDCommenter for this. – ZyX Mar 7 '10 at 14:18

Braden Best, Feb 4, 2016 at 16:23

Commented out code is probably one of the worst types of comment you could possibly put in your code. There are better uses for the awesome block insert. – Braden Best Feb 4 '16 at 16:23

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 84%
Ian H
, Jul 3, 2015 at 23:44

I use vim for just about any text editing I do, so I often times use copy and paste. The problem is that vim by default will often times distort imported text via paste. The way to stop this is to use
:set paste

before pasting in your data. This will keep it from messing up.

Note that you will have to issue :set nopaste to recover auto-indentation. Alternative ways of pasting pre-formatted text are the clipboard registers ( * and + ), and :r!cat (you will have to end the pasted fragment with ^D).

It is also sometimes helpful to turn on a high contrast color scheme. This can be done with

:color blue

I've noticed that it does not work on all the versions of vim I use but it does on most.

jamessan, Dec 28, 2009 at 8:27

The "distortion" is happening because you have some form of automatic indentation enabled. Using set paste or specifying a key for the pastetoggle option is a common way to work around this, but the same effect can be achieved with set mouse=a as then Vim knows that the flood of text it sees is a paste triggered by the mouse. – jamessan Dec 28 '09 at 8:27

kyrias, Oct 19, 2013 at 12:15

If you have gvim installed you can often (though it depends on what your options your distro compiles vim with) use the X clipboard directly from vim through the * register. For example "*p to paste from the X xlipboard. (It works from terminal vim, too, it's just that you might need the gvim package if they're separate) – kyrias Oct 19 '13 at 12:15

Braden Best, Feb 4, 2016 at 16:26

@kyrias for the record, * is the PRIMARY ("middle-click") register. The clipboard is +Braden Best Feb 4 '16 at 16:26

community wiki
, Apr 7, 2009 at 22:29

Here's something not obvious. If you have a lot of custom plugins / extensions in your $HOME and you need to work from su / sudo / ... sometimes, then this might be useful.

In your ~/.bashrc:

export VIMINIT=":so $HOME/.vimrc"

In your ~/.vimrc:

if $HOME=='/root'
        if $USER=='root'
                if isdirectory('/home/your_typical_username')
                        let rtuser = 'your_typical_username'
                elseif isdirectory('/home/your_other_username')
                        let rtuser = 'your_other_username'
                let rtuser = $USER
        let &runtimepath = substitute(&runtimepath, $HOME, '/home/'.rtuser, 'g')

It will allow your local plugins to load - whatever way you use to change the user.

You might also like to take the *.swp files out of your current path and into ~/vimtmp (this goes into .vimrc):

if ! isdirectory(expand('~/vimtmp'))
   call mkdir(expand('~/vimtmp'))
if isdirectory(expand('~/vimtmp'))
   set directory=~/vimtmp
   set directory=.,/var/tmp,/tmp

Also, some mappings I use to make editing easier - makes ctrl+s work like escape and ctrl+h/l switch the tabs:

inoremap <C-s> <ESC>
vnoremap <C-s> <ESC>
noremap <C-l> gt
noremap <C-h> gT

Kyle Challis, Apr 2, 2014 at 21:18

Just in case you didn't already know, ctrl+c already works like escape. – Kyle Challis Apr 2 '14 at 21:18

shalomb, Aug 24, 2015 at 8:02

I prefer never to run vim as root/under sudo - and would just run the command from vim e.g. :!sudo tee %, :!sudo mv % /etc or even launch a login shell :!sudo -ishalomb Aug 24 '15 at 8:02

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 67%
,Nov 7, 2009 at 7:54

Ctrl-n while in insert mode will auto complete whatever word you're typing based on all the words that are in open buffers. If there is more than one match it will give you a list of possible words that you can cycle through using ctrl-n and ctrl-p.

community wiki
, Feb 22, 2010 at 4:28


Corrects indentation for entire file. I was missing my trusty <C-a><C-i> in Eclipse but just found out vim handles it nicely.

sjas, Jul 15, 2012 at 22:43

I find G=gg easier to type. – sjas Jul 15 '12 at 22:43

sri, May 12, 2013 at 16:12

=% should do it too. – sri May 12 '13 at 16:12

community wiki
, Mar 24, 2011 at 22:44

Ability to run Vim on a client/server based modes.

For example, suppose you're working on a project with a lot of buffers, tabs and other info saved on a session file called session.vim.

You can open your session and create a server by issuing the following command:

vim --servername SAMPLESERVER -S session.vim

Note that you can open regular text files if you want to create a server and it doesn't have to be necessarily a session.

Now, suppose you're in another terminal and need to open another file. If you open it regularly by issuing:

vim new_file.txt

Your file would be opened in a separate Vim buffer, which is hard to do interactions with the files on your session. In order to open new_file.txt in a new tab on your server use this command:

vim --servername SAMPLESERVER --remote-tab-silent new_file.txt

If there's no server running, this file will be opened just like a regular file.

Since providing those flags every time you want to run them is very tedious, you can create a separate alias for creating client and server.

I placed the followings on my bashrc file:

alias vims='vim --servername SAMPLESERVER'
alias vimc='vim --servername SAMPLESERVER --remote-tab-silent'

You can find more information about this at:

community wiki
, May 11, 2011 at 19:54

Variation of sudo write:

into .vimrc

cmap w!! w !sudo tee % >/dev/null

After reload vim you can do "sudo save" as


community wiki
3 revs, 3 users 74%
,Sep 17, 2010 at 17:06

HOWTO: Auto-complete Ctags when using Vim in Bash. For anyone else who uses Vim and Ctags, I've written a small auto-completer function for Bash. Add the following into your ~/.bash_completion file (create it if it does not exist):

Thanks go to stylishpants for his many fixes and improvements.

_vim_ctags() {
    local cur prev


    case "${prev}" in
            # Avoid the complaint message when no tags file exists
            if [ ! -r ./tags ]

            # Escape slashes to avoid confusing awk

            COMPREPLY=( $(compgen -W "`awk -vORS=" "  "/^${cur}/ { print \\$1 }" tags`" ) )

# Files matching this pattern are excluded

complete -F _vim_ctags -f -X "${excludelist}" vi vim gvim rvim view rview rgvim rgview gview

Once you restart your Bash session (or create a new one) you can type:


~$ vim -t MyC<tab key>

and it will auto-complete the tag the same way it does for files and directories:


MyClass MyClassFactory
~$ vim -t MyC

I find it really useful when I'm jumping into a quick bug fix.

>, Apr 8, 2009 at 3:05

Amazing....I really needed it – Sasha Apr 8 '09 at 3:05

TREE, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:19

can you summarize? If that external page goes away, this answer is useless. :( – TREE Apr 27 '09 at 13:19

Hamish Downer, May 5, 2009 at 16:38

Summary - it allows ctags autocomplete from the bash prompt for opening files with vim. – Hamish Downer May 5 '09 at 16:38

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 80%
,Dec 22, 2016 at 7:44

I often want to highlight a particular word/function name, but don't want to search to the next instance of it yet:
map m* *#

René Nyffenegger, Dec 3, 2009 at 7:36

I don't understand this one. – René Nyffenegger Dec 3 '09 at 7:36

Scotty Allen, Dec 3, 2009 at 19:55

Try it:) It basically highlights a given word, without moving the cursor to the next occurrance (like * would). – Scotty Allen Dec 3 '09 at 19:55

jamessan, Dec 27, 2009 at 19:10

You can do the same with "nnoremap m* :let @/ = '\<' . expand('<cword>') . '\>'<cr>" – jamessan Dec 27 '09 at 19:10

community wiki
, Apr 9, 2009 at 12:37

% is also good when you want to diff files across two different copies of a project without wearing out the pinkies (from root of project1):
:vert diffs /project2/root/%

community wiki
Naga Kiran
, Jul 8, 2009 at 19:07

:setlocal autoread

Auto reloads the current buffer..especially useful while viewing log files and it almost serves the functionality of "tail" program in unix from within vim.

Checking for compile errors from within vim. set the makeprg variable depending on the language let's say for perl

:setlocal makeprg = perl\ -c \ %


set makeprg=php\ -l\ %
set errorformat=%m\ in\ %f\ on\ line\ %l

Issuing ":make" runs the associated makeprg and displays the compilation errors/warnings in quickfix window and can easily navigate to the corresponding line numbers.

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 73%
,Sep 14 at 20:16

Want an IDE?

:make will run the makefile in the current directory, parse the compiler output, you can then use :cn and :cp to step through the compiler errors opening each file and seeking to the line number in question.

:syntax on turns on vim's syntax highlighting.

community wiki
Luper Rouch
, Apr 9, 2009 at 12:53

Input a character from its hexadecimal value (insert mode):
<C-Q>x[type the hexadecimal byte]

MikeyB, Sep 22, 2009 at 21:57

<C-V> is the more generic command that works in both the text-mode and gui – MikeyB Sep 22 '09 at 21:57

jamessan, Dec 27, 2009 at 19:06

It's only <C-q> if you're using the awful mswin.vim (or you mapped it yourself). – jamessan Dec 27 '09 at 19:06

community wiki
Brad Cox
, May 8, 2009 at 1:54

I was sure someone would have posted this already, but here goes.

Take any build system you please; make, mvn, ant, whatever. In the root of the project directory, create a file of the commands you use all the time, like this:

mvn install
mvn clean install
... and so forth

To do a build, put the cursor on the line and type !!sh. I.e. filter that line; write it to a shell and replace with the results.

The build log replaces the line, ready to scroll, search, whatever.

When you're done viewing the log, type u to undo and you're back to your file of commands.

ojblass, Jul 5, 2009 at 18:27

This doesn't seem to fly on my system. Can you show an example only using the ls command? – ojblass Jul 5 '09 at 18:27

Brad Cox, Jul 29, 2009 at 19:30

!!ls replaces current line with ls output (adding more lines as needed). – Brad Cox Jul 29 '09 at 19:30

jamessan, Dec 28, 2009 at 8:29

Why wouldn't you just set makeprg to the proper tool you use for your build (if it isn't set already) and then use :make ? :copen will show you the output of the build as well as allowing you to jump to any warnings/errors. – jamessan Dec 28 '09 at 8:29

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 95%
,Dec 28, 2009 at 8:38

In normal mode
gf ................ open file under cursor in same window --> see :h path
Ctrl-w f .......... open file under cursor in new window
Ctrl-w q .......... close current window
Ctrl-w 6 .......... open alternate file --> see :h #
gi ................ init insert mode in last insertion position
'0 ................ place the cursor where it was when the file was last edited

Braden Best, Feb 4, 2016 at 16:33

I believe it's <C-w> c to close a window, actually. :h ctrl-wBraden Best Feb 4 '16 at 16:33

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 84%
,Sep 17, 2010 at 16:53

Due to the latency and lack of colors (I love color schemes :) I don't like programming on remote machines in PuTTY . So I developed this trick to work around this problem. I use it on Windows.

You will need

Setting up remote machine

Configure rsync to make your working directory accessible. I use an SSH tunnel and only allow connections from the tunnel:

address =
hosts allow =
port = 40000
use chroot = false
    path = /home/xplasil/divine/bledge_ce
    read only = false

Then start rsyncd: rsync --daemon --config=rsyncd.conf

Setting up local machine

Install rsync from Cygwin. Start Pageant and load your private key for the remote machine. If you're using SSH tunelling, start PuTTY to create the tunnel. Create a batch file push.bat in your working directory which will upload changed files to the remote machine using rsync:

rsync --blocking-io *.cc *.h SConstruct rsync://localhost:40001/bledge_ce

SConstruct is a build file for scons. Modify the list of files to suit your needs. Replace localhost with the name of remote machine if you don't use SSH tunelling.

Configuring Vim That is now easy. We will use the quickfix feature (:make and error list), but the compilation will run on the remote machine. So we need to set makeprg:

set makeprg=push\ &&\ plink\ -batch\\ \"cd\ /home/xplasil/divine/bledge_ce\ &&\ scons\ -j\ 2\"

This will first start the push.bat task to upload the files and then execute the commands on remote machine using SSH ( Plink from the PuTTY suite). The command first changes directory to the working dir and then starts build (I use scons).

The results of build will show conviniently in your local gVim errors list.

matpie, Sep 17, 2010 at 23:02

A much simpler solution would be to use bcvi: Sep 17 '10 at 23:02

Uri Goren, Jul 20 at 20:21

cmder is much easier and simpler, it also comes with its own ssh client – Uri Goren Jul 20 at 20:21

community wiki
3 revs, 2 users 94%
,Jan 16, 2014 at 14:10

I use Vim for everything. When I'm editing an e-mail message, I use:

gqap (or gwap )

extensively to easily and correctly reformat on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, even with quote leadin characters. In order to achieve this functionality, I also add:

-c 'set fo=tcrq' -c 'set tw=76'

to the command to invoke the editor externally. One noteworthy addition would be to add ' a ' to the fo (formatoptions) parameter. This will automatically reformat the paragraph as you type and navigate the content, but may interfere or cause problems with errant or odd formatting contained in the message.

Andrew Ferrier, Jul 14, 2014 at 22:22

autocmd FileType mail set tw=76 fo=tcrq in your ~/.vimrc will also work, if you can't edit the external editor command. – Andrew Ferrier Jul 14 '14 at 22:22

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 94%
,May 6, 2009 at 12:22

Put this in your .vimrc to have a command to pretty-print xml:
function FormatXml()
    set filetype=xml
    normal gg=G

command FormatXml :call FormatXml()

David Winslow, Nov 24, 2009 at 20:43

On linuxes (where xmllint is pretty commonly installed) I usually just do :%! xmllint - for this. – David Winslow Nov 24 '09 at 20:43

community wiki
, Aug 6, 2009 at 9:33

:sp %:h - directory listing / file-chooser using the current file's directory

(belongs as a comment under rampion's cd tip, but I don't have commenting-rights yet)

bpw1621, Feb 19, 2011 at 15:13

":e ." does the same thing for your current working directory which will be the same as your current file's directory if you set autochdir – bpw1621 Feb 19 '11 at 15:13

community wiki
2 revs
,Sep 22, 2009 at 22:23

Just before copying and pasting to stackoverflow:
:retab 1
:% s/^I/ /g
:% s/^/    /

Now copy and paste code.

As requested in the comments:

retab 1. This sets the tab size to one. But it also goes through the code and adds extra tabs and spaces so that the formatting does not move any of the actual text (ie the text looks the same after ratab).

% s/^I/ /g: Note the ^I is tthe result of hitting tab. This searches for all tabs and replaces them with a single space. Since we just did a retab this should not cause the formatting to change but since putting tabs into a website is hit and miss it is good to remove them.

% s/^/ /: Replace the beginning of the line with four spaces. Since you cant actually replace the beginning of the line with anything it inserts four spaces at the beging of the line (this is needed by SO formatting to make the code stand out).

vehomzzz, Sep 22, 2009 at 20:52

explain it please... – vehomzzz Sep 22 '09 at 20:52

cmcginty, Sep 22, 2009 at 22:31

so I guess this won't work if you use 'set expandtab' to force all tabs to spaces. – cmcginty Sep 22 '09 at 22:31

Martin York, Sep 23, 2009 at 0:07

@Casey: The first two lines will not apply. The last line will make sure you can just cut and paste into SO. – Martin York Sep 23 '09 at 0:07

Braden Best, Feb 4, 2016 at 16:40

Note that you can achieve the same thing with cat <file> | awk '{print " " $line}' . So try :w ! awk '{print " " $line}' | xclip -i . That's supposed to be four spaces between the ""Braden Best Feb 4 '16 at 16:40

community wiki
Anders Holmberg
, Dec 28, 2009 at 9:21

When working on a project where the build process is slow I always build in the background and pipe the output to a file called errors.err (something like make debug 2>&1 | tee errors.err ). This makes it possible for me to continue editing or reviewing the source code during the build process. When it is ready (using pynotify on GTK to inform me that it is complete) I can look at the result in vim using quickfix . Start by issuing :cf[ile] which reads the error file and jumps to the first error. I personally like to use cwindow to get the build result in a separate window.

community wiki
, Jul 12, 2011 at 12:21

set colorcolumn=+1 or set cc=+1 for vim 7.3

Luc M, Oct 31, 2012 at 15:12

A short explanation would be appreciated... I tried it and could be very usefull! You can even do something like set colorcolumn=+1,+10,+20 :-) – Luc M Oct 31 '12 at 15:12

DBedrenko, Oct 31, 2014 at 16:17

@LucM If you tried it why didn't you provide an explanation? – DBedrenko Oct 31 '14 at 16:17

mjturner, Aug 19, 2015 at 11:16

colorcolumn allows you to specify columns that are highlighted (it's ideal for making sure your lines aren't too long). In the original answer, set cc=+1 highlights the column after textwidth . See the documentation for more information. – mjturner Aug 19 '15 at 11:16

community wiki
, May 11, 2009 at 4:39

For making vim a little more like an IDE editor:

Rook, May 11, 2009 at 4:42

How does that make Vim more like an IDE ?? – Rook May 11 '09 at 4:42

mpe, May 12, 2009 at 12:29

I did say "a little" :) But it is something many IDEs do, and some people like it, eg: May 12 '09 at 12:29

Rook, May 12, 2009 at 21:25

Yes, but that's like saying yank/paste functions make an editor "a little" more like an IDE. Those are editor functions. Pretty much everything that goes with the editor that concerns editing text and that particular area is an editor function. IDE functions would be, for example, project/files management, connectivity with compiler&linker, error reporting, building automation tools, debugger ... i.e. the stuff that doesn't actually do nothing with editing text. Vim has some functions & plugins so he can gravitate a little more towards being an IDE, but these are not the ones in question. – Rook May 12 '09 at 21:25

Rook, May 12, 2009 at 21:26

After all, an IDE = editor + compiler + debugger + building tools + ... – Rook May 12 '09 at 21:26

Rook, May 12, 2009 at 21:31

Also, just FYI, vim has an option to set invnumber. That way you don't have to "set nu" and "set nonu", i.e. remember two functions - you can just toggle. – Rook May 12 '09 at 21:31

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 50%
, Sep 13, 2009 at 23:20

I love :ls command.

aehlke, Oct 28, 2009 at 3:16

Well what does it do? – aehlke Oct 28 '09 at 3:16

>, Dec 7, 2009 at 10:51

gives the current file name opened ? – user59634 Dec 7 '09 at 10:51

Nona Urbiz, Dec 20, 2010 at 8:25

:ls lists all the currently opened buffers. :be opens a file in a new buffer, :bn goes to the next buffer, :bp to the previous, :b filename opens buffer filename (it auto-completes too). buffers are distinct from tabs, which i'm told are more analogous to views. – Nona Urbiz Dec 20 '10 at 8:25

community wiki
2 revs, 2 users 80%
,Sep 17, 2010 at 16:45

A few useful ones:
:set nu # displays lines
:44     # go to line 44
'.      # go to last modification line

My favourite: Ctrl + n WORD COMPLETION!

community wiki
2 revs
,Jun 18, 2013 at 11:10

In insert mode, ctrl + x, ctrl + p will complete (with menu of possible completions if that's how you like it) the current long identifier that you are typing.
if (SomeCall(LONG_ID_ <-- type c-x c-p here

Justin L., Jun 13, 2013 at 16:21

i type <kbd>ctrl</kbd>+<kbd>p</kbd> way too much by accident while trying to hit <kbd>ctrl</kbd>+<kbd>[</kbd> >< – Justin L. Jun 13 '13 at 16:21

community wiki
Fritz G. Mehner
, Apr 22, 2009 at 16:41

Use the right mouse key to toggle insert mode in gVim with the following settings in ~/.gvimrc :
" toggle insert mode <--> 'normal mode with the <RightMouse>-key
nnoremap  <RightMouse> <Insert>
inoremap  <RightMouse> <ESC>

Andreas Grech, Jun 20, 2010 at 17:22

This is stupid. Defeats the productivity gains from not using the mouse. – Andreas Grech Jun 20 '10 at 17:22

Brady Trainor, Jul 5, 2014 at 21:07

Maybe fgm has head gestures mapped to mouse clicks. – Brady Trainor Jul 5 '14 at 21:07

community wiki
, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:06

Replace all

Give a to replace all :)

Nathan Fellman, Jan 12, 2011 at 20:58

or better yet, instead of typing a, just remove the c . c means confirm replacementNathan Fellman Jan 12 '11 at 20:58

community wiki
2 revs
,Sep 13, 2009 at 18:39

Neither of the following is really diehard, but I find it extremely useful.

Trivial bindings, but I just can't live without. It enables hjkl-style movement in insert mode (using the ctrl key). In normal mode: ctrl-k/j scrolls half a screen up/down and ctrl-l/h goes to the next/previous buffer. The µ and ù mappings are especially for an AZERTY-keyboard and go to the next/previous make error.

imap <c-j> <Down>
imap <c-k> <Up>
imap <c-h> <Left>
imap <c-l> <Right>
nmap <c-j> <c-d>
nmap <c-k> <c-u>
nmap <c-h> <c-left>
nmap <c-l> <c-right>

nmap ù :cp<RETURN>
nmap µ :cn<RETURN>

A small function I wrote to highlight functions, globals, macro's, structs and typedefs. (Might be slow on very large files). Each type gets different highlighting (see ":help group-name" to get an idea of your current colortheme's settings) Usage: save the file with ww (default "\ww"). You need ctags for this.

nmap <Leader>ww :call SaveCtagsHighlight()<CR>

"Based on:
function SaveCtagsHighlight()

    let extension = expand("%:e")
    if extension!="c" && extension!="cpp" && extension!="h" && extension!="hpp"

    silent !ctags --fields=+KS *

    let list = taglist('.*')
    for item in list
        let kind = item.kind

        if     kind == 'member'
            let kw = 'Identifier'
        elseif kind == 'function'
            let kw = 'Function'
        elseif kind == 'macro'
            let kw = 'Macro'
        elseif kind == 'struct'
            let kw = 'Structure'
        elseif kind == 'typedef'
            let kw = 'Typedef'

        let name =
        if name != 'operator=' && name != 'operator ='
            exec 'syntax keyword '.kw.' '.name
    echo expand("%")." written, tags updated"

I have the habit of writing lots of code and functions and I don't like to write prototypes for them. So I made some function to generate a list of prototypes within a C-style sourcefile. It comes in two flavors: one that removes the formal parameter's name and one that preserves it. I just refresh the entire list every time I need to update the prototypes. It avoids having out of sync prototypes and function definitions. Also needs ctags.

"Usage: in normal mode, where you want the prototypes to be pasted:
":call GenerateProptotypes()
function GeneratePrototypes()
    execute "silent !ctags --fields=+KS ".expand("%")
    let list = taglist('.*')
    let line = line(".")
    for item in list
        if item.kind == "function"  && != "main"
            let name =
            let retType = item.cmd
            let retType = substitute( retType, '^/\^\s*','','' )
            let retType = substitute( retType, '\s*'.name.'.*', '', '' ) 

            if has_key( item, 'signature' )
                let sig = item.signature
                let sig = substitute( sig, '\s*\w\+\s*,',        ',',   'g')
                let sig = substitute( sig, '\s*\w\+\(\s)\)', '\1', '' )
                let sig = '()'
            let proto = retType . "\t" . name . sig . ';'
            call append( line, proto )
            let line = line + 1

function GeneratePrototypesFullSignature()
    "execute "silent !ctags --fields=+KS ".expand("%")
    let dir = expand("%:p:h");
    execute "silent !ctags --fields=+KSi --extra=+q".dir."/* "
    let list = taglist('.*')
    let line = line(".")
    for item in list
        if item.kind == "function"  && != "main"
            let name =
            let retType = item.cmd
            let retType = substitute( retType, '^/\^\s*','','' )
            let retType = substitute( retType, '\s*'.name.'.*', '', '' ) 

            if has_key( item, 'signature' )
                let sig = item.signature
                let sig = '(void)'
            let proto = retType . "\t" . name . sig . ';'
            call append( line, proto )
            let line = line + 1

community wiki
, Nov 24, 2009 at 20:21

I collected these over the years.
" Pasting in normal mode should append to the right of cursor
nmap <C-V>      a<C-V><ESC>
" Saving
imap <C-S>      <C-o>:up<CR>
nmap <C-S>      :up<CR>
" Insert mode control delete
imap <C-Backspace> <C-W>
imap <C-Delete> <C-O>dw
nmap    <Leader>o       o<ESC>k
nmap    <Leader>O       O<ESC>j
" tired of my typo
nmap :W     :w

community wiki
, May 10, 2010 at 15:01

Create a function to execute the current buffer using it's shebang (assuming one is set) and call it with crtl-x.
map <C-X> :call CallInterpreter()<CR>

au BufEnter *
\ if match (getline(1),  '^\#!') == 0 |
\   execute("let b:interpreter = getline(1)[2:]") |
\ endif

fun! CallInterpreter()
    if exists("b:interpreter")
        exec("! ".b:interpreter." %")

community wiki
Marcus Borkenhagen
, Jan 12, 2011 at 15:22

map macros

I rather often find it useful to on-the-fly define some key mapping just like one would define a macro. The twist here is, that the mapping is recursive and is executed until it fails.


enum ProcStats
:map X /ps_<CR>3xixy<Esc>X


enum ProcStats

Just an silly example :).

I am completely aware of all the downsides - it just so happens that I found it rather useful in some occasions. Also it can be interesting to watch it at work ;).

00dani, Aug 2, 2013 at 11:25

Macros are also allowed to be recursive and work in pretty much the same fashion when they are, so it's not particularly necessary to use a mapping for this. – 00dani Aug 2 '13 at 11:25



Motions to mix with other commands, more here .


Use your favorite tools in Vim.

:r !python anything you want or awk or Y something

Repeat in visual mode, powerful when combined with tips above.


[Oct 21, 2018] What are your suggestions for an ideal Vim configuration for Perl development?

Notable quotes:
"... The .vimrc settings should be heavily commented ..."
"... Look also at perl-support.vim (a Perl IDE for Vim/gVim). Comes with suggestions for customizing Vim (.vimrc), gVim (.gvimrc), ctags, perltidy, and Devel:SmallProf beside many other things. ..."
"... Perl Best Practices has an appendix on Editor Configurations . vim is the first editor listed. ..."
"... Andy Lester and others maintain the official Perl, Perl 6 and Pod support files for Vim on Github: ..."
Aug 18, 2016 |
There are a lot of threads pertaining to how to configure Vim/GVim for Perl development on .

My purpose in posting this question is to try to create, as much as possible, an ideal configuration for Perl development using Vim/GVim. Please post your suggestions for .vimrc settings as well as useful plugins.

I will try to merge the recommendations into a set of .vimrc settings and to a list of recommended plugins, ftplugins and syntax files.

.vimrc settings
"Create a command :Tidy to invoke perltidy"
"By default it operates on the whole file, but you can give it a"
"range or visual range as well if you know what you're doing."
command -range=% -nargs=* Tidy <line1>,<line2>!
    \perltidy -your -preferred -default -options <args>

vmap <tab> >gv    "make tab in v mode indent code"
vmap <s-tab> <gv

nmap <tab> I<tab><esc> "make tab in normal mode indent code"
nmap <s-tab> ^i<bs><esc>

let perl_include_pod   = 1    "include pod.vim syntax file with perl.vim"
let perl_extended_vars = 1    "highlight complex expressions such as @{[$x, $y]}"
let perl_sync_dist     = 250  "use more context for highlighting"

set nocompatible "Use Vim defaults"
set backspace=2  "Allow backspacing over everything in insert mode"

set autoindent   "Always set auto-indenting on"
set expandtab    "Insert spaces instead of tabs in insert mode. Use spaces for indents"
set tabstop=4    "Number of spaces that a <Tab> in the file counts for"
set shiftwidth=4 "Number of spaces to use for each step of (auto)indent"

set showmatch    "When a bracket is inserted, briefly jump to the matching one"
syntax plugins ftplugins CPAN modules Debugging tools

I just found out about VimDebug . I have not yet been able to install it on Windows, but looks promising from the description.

innaM, Oct 15, 2009 at 19:06

The .vimrc settings should be heavily commented. E.g., what does perl_include_pod do? – innaM Oct 15 '09 at 19:06

Sinan άnόr, Oct 15, 2009 at 20:02

@Manni: You are welcome. I have been using the same .vimrc for many years and a recent bunch of vim related questions got me curious. I was too lazy to wade through everything that was posted on PerlMonks (and see what was current etc.), so I figured we could put together something here. – Sinan άnόr Oct 15 '09 at 20:02

innaM, Oct 16, 2009 at 8:22

I think that that's a great idea. Sorry that my own contribution is that lame. – innaM Oct 16 '09 at 8:22

Telemachus, Jul 8, 2010 at 0:40

Rather than closepairs, I would recommend delimitMate or one of the various autoclose plugins. (There are about three named autoclose, I think.) The closepairs plugin can't handle a single apostrophe inside a string (i.e. print "This isn't so hard, is it?" ), but delimitMate and others can. – Telemachus Jul 8 '10 at 0:40

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 74% ,Dec 21, 2009 at 20:57

From chromatic's blog (slightly adapted to be able to use the same mapping from all modes).
vmap, pt :!perltidy<CR> 
nmap, pt :%! perltidy<CR>

hit, pt in normal mode to clean up the whole file, or in visual mode to clean up the selection. You could also add:

imap, pt <ESC>:%! perltidy<CR>

But using commands from input mode is not recommended.

innaM, Oct 21, 2009 at 9:21

I seem to be missing something here: How can I type, ptv without vim running perltidy on the entire file? – innaM Oct 21 '09 at 9:21

innaM, Oct 21, 2009 at 9:23

Ovid's comment (#3) seems offer a much better solution. – innaM Oct 21 '09 at 9:23

innaM, Oct 21, 2009 at 13:22

Three hours later: turns out that the 'p' in that mapping is a really bad idea. It will bite you when vim's got something to paste. – innaM Oct 21 '09 at 13:22

Ether, Oct 21, 2009 at 15:23

@Manni: select a region first: with the mouse if using gvim, or with visual mode ( v and then use motion commands). – Ether Oct 21 '09 at 15:23

Ether, Oct 21, 2009 at 19:44

@Manni: I just gave it a try: if you type, pt, vim waits for you to type something else (e.g. <cr>) as a signal that the command is ended. Hitting, ptv will immediately format the region. So I would expect that vim recognizes that there is overlap between the mappings, and waits for disambiguation before proceeding. – Ether Oct 21 '09 at 19:44

community wiki hobbs, Oct 16, 2009 at 0:35

" Create a command :Tidy to invoke perltidy.
" By default it operates on the whole file, but you can give it a
" range or visual range as well if you know what you're doing.
command -range=% -nargs=* Tidy <line1>,<line2>!
    \perltidy -your -preferred -default -options <args>

community wiki Fritz G. Mehner, Oct 17, 2009 at 7:44

Look also at perl-support.vim (a Perl IDE for Vim/gVim). Comes with suggestions for customizing Vim (.vimrc), gVim (.gvimrc), ctags, perltidy, and Devel:SmallProf beside many other things.

innaM, Oct 19, 2009 at 12:32

I hate that one. The comments feature alone deserves a thorough 'rm -rf', IMHO. – innaM Oct 19 '09 at 12:32

sundar, Mar 11, 2010 at 20:54

I hate the fact that \$ is changed automatically to a "my $" declaration (same with \@ and \%). Does the author never use references or what?! – sundar Mar 11 '10 at 20:54

chiggsy, Sep 14, 2010 at 13:48

I take pieces of that one. If it were a man, you'd say about him, "He was only good for transplants..." – chiggsy Sep 14 '10 at 13:48

community wiki Permanuno, Oct 20, 2009 at 16:55

Perl Best Practices has an appendix on Editor Configurations . vim is the first editor listed.

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 67% ,May 10, 2014 at 21:08

Andy Lester and others maintain the official Perl, Perl 6 and Pod support files for Vim on Github:

Sinan άnόr, Jan 26, 2010 at 21:20

Note that that link is already listed in the body of the question (look under syntax ). – Sinan άnόr Jan 26 '10 at 21:20

community wiki 2 revs, 2 users 94% ,Dec 7, 2010 at 19:42

For tidying, I use the following; either \t to tidy the whole file, or I select a few lines in shift+V mode and then do \t
nnoremap <silent> \t :%!perltidy -q<Enter>
vnoremap <silent> \t :!perltidy -q<Enter>

Sometimes it's also useful to deparse code. As the above lines, either for the whole file or for a selection.

nnoremap <silent> \D :.!perl -MO=Deparse 2>/dev/null<CR>
vnoremap <silent> \D :!perl -MO=Deparse 2>/dev/null<CR>

community wiki 3 revs, 3 users 36% ,Oct 16, 2009 at 14:25

" Allow :make to run 'perl -c' on the current buffer, jumping to 
" errors as appropriate
" My copy of vimparse:

set makeprg=$HOME/bin/\ -c\ %\ $*

" point at wherever you keep the output of, allowing use of ^-]
" to jump to function definitions.

set tags+=/path/to/tags

innaM, Oct 15, 2009 at 19:34

What is Is it better than ctags? – innaM Oct 15 '09 at 19:34

Sinan άnόr, Oct 15, 2009 at 19:46

I think is based on it. – Sinan άnόr Oct 15 '09 at 19:46

Sinan άnόr, Oct 15, 2009 at 20:00

Could you please explain if there are any advantages to using rather than taglist.vim w/ ctags ? – Sinan άnόr Oct 15 '09 at 20:00

innaM, Oct 16, 2009 at 14:24

And really works for you? Is that really the correct URL? – innaM Oct 16 '09 at 14:24

zigdon, Oct 16, 2009 at 18:51

@sinan it enables quickfix - all it does is reformat the output of perl -c so that vim parses it as compiler errors. The the usual quickfix commands work. – zigdon Oct 16 '09 at 18:51

community wiki
, Oct 19, 2009 at 8:57

Here's an interesting module I found on the weekend: App::EditorTools::Vim . Its most interesting feature seems to be its ability to rename lexical variables. Unfortunately, my tests revealed that it doesn't seem to be ready yet for any production use, but it sure seems worth to keep an eye on.

community wiki 3 revs, 2 users 79%, Oct 19, 2009 at 13:50

Here are a couple of my .vimrc settings. They may not be Perl specific, but I couldn't work without them:
set nocompatible        " Use Vim defaults (much better!) "
set bs=2                " Allow backspacing over everything in insert mode "
set ai                  " Always set auto-indenting on "
set showmatch           " show matching brackets "

" for quick scripts, just open a new buffer and type '_perls' "
iab _perls #!/usr/bin/perl<CR><BS><CR>use strict;<CR>use warnings;<CR>

community wiki, J.J., Feb 17, 2010 at 21:35

I have 2.

The first one I know I picked up part of it from someone else, but I can't remember who. Sorry unknown person. Here's how I made "C^N" auto complete work with Perl. Here's my .vimrc commands.

" to use CTRL+N with modules for autocomplete "
set iskeyword+=:
set complete+=k~/.vim_extras/installed_modules.dat

Then I set up a cron to create the installed_modules.dat file. Mine is for my mandriva system. Adjust accordingly.

locate *.pm | grep "perl5" | sed -e "s/\/usr\/lib\/perl5\///" | sed -e "s/5.8.8\///" | sed -e "s/5.8.7\///" | sed -e "s/vendor_perl\///" | sed -e "s/site_perl\///" | sed -e "s/x86_64-linux\///" | sed -e "s/\//::/g" | sed -e "s/\.pm//" >/home/jeremy/.vim_extras/installed_modules.dat

The second one allows me to use gf in Perl. Gf is a shortcut to other files. just place your cursor over the file and type gf and it will open that file.

" To use gf with perl "
set path+=$PWD/**,
set path +=/usr/lib/perl5/*,
set path+=/CompanyCode/*,   " directory containing work code "
autocmd BufRead *.p? set include=^use
autocmd BufRead *.pl set includeexpr=substitute(v:fname,'\\(.*\\)','\\','i')

community wiki
, Sep 23, 2010 at 9:41

I find the following abbreviations useful
iab perlb  print "Content-type: text/html\n\n <p>zdebug + $_ + $' + $`  line ".__LINE__.__FILE__."\n";exit;
iab perlbb print "Content-type: text/html\n\n<p>zdebug  <C-R>a  line ".__LINE__.__FILE__."\n";exit;
iab perlbd do{print "Content-type: text/html\n\n<p>zdebug  <C-R>a  line ".__LINE__."\n";exit} if $_ =~ /\w\w/i;
iab perld print "Content-type: text/html\n\n dumper";use Data::Dumper;$Data::Dumper::Pad="<br>";print Dumper <C-R>a ;exit;

iab perlf foreach $line ( keys %ENV )<CR> {<CR> }<LEFT><LEFT>
iab perle while (($k,$v) = each %ENV) { print "<br>$k = $v\n"; }
iab perli x = (i<4) ? 4 : i;
iab perlif if ($i==1)<CR>{<CR>}<CR>else<CR>{<CR>}
iab perlh $html=<<___HTML___;<CR>___HTML___<CR>

You can make them perl only with

au bufenter *.pl iab xbug print "<p>zdebug ::: $_ :: $' :: $`  line ".__LINE__."\n";exit;

mfontani, Dec 7, 2010 at 14:47

there's no my anywhere there; I take it you usually write CGIs with no use strict; ? (just curious if this is so) – mfontani Dec 7 '10 at 14:47

Sean McMillan, Jun 30, 2011 at 0:43

Oh wow, and without as well. It's like a 15 year flashback. – Sean McMillan Jun 30 '11 at 0:43

community wiki Benno, May 3, 2013 at 12:45

By far the most useful are
  1. Perl filetype pluging (ftplugin) - this colour-codes various code elements
  2. Creating a check-syntax-before-saving command "W" preventing you from saving bad code (you can override with the normal 'w').

Installing he plugins are a bit dicky as the version of vim (and linux) put the plugins in different places. Mine are in ~/.vim/after/

my .vimrc below.

set vb
set ts=2
set sw=2
set enc=utf-8
set fileencoding=utf-8
set fileencodings=ucs-bom,utf8,prc
set guifont=Monaco:h11
set guifontwide=NSimsun:h12
set pastetoggle=<F3>
command -range=% -nargs=* Tidy <line1>,<line2>!
filetype plugin on
augroup JumpCursorOnEdit
 autocmd BufReadPost *
 \ if expand("<afile>:p:h") !=? $TEMP |
 \ if line("'\"") > 1 && line("'\"") <= line("$") |
 \ let JumpCursorOnEdit_foo = line("'\"") |
 \ let b:doopenfold = 1 |
 \ if (foldlevel(JumpCursorOnEdit_foo) > foldlevel(JumpCursorOnEdit_foo - 1)) |
 \ let JumpCursorOnEdit_foo = JumpCursorOnEdit_foo - 1 |
 \ let b:doopenfold = 2 |
 \ endif |
 \ exe JumpCursorOnEdit_foo |
 \ endif |
 \ endif
 " Need to postpone using "zv" until after reading the modelines.
 autocmd BufWinEnter *
 \ if exists("b:doopenfold") |
 \ exe "normal zv" |
 \ if(b:doopenfold > 1) |
 \ exe "+".1 |
 \ endif |
 \ unlet b:doopenfold |
 \ endif
augroup END

[Oct 21, 2018] What is vim recording and how can it be disabled?

Oct 21, 2018 |

vehomzzz, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:03

I keep seeing the recording message at the bottom of my gvim 7.2 window.

What is it and how do I turn it off?

Joey Adams, Aug 17, 2010 at 16:26

To turn off vim recording for good, add map q <Nop> to your .vimrc file. – Joey Adams Aug 17 '10 at 16:26

0xc0de, Aug 12, 2016 at 9:04

I can't believe you want to turn recording off! I would show a really annoying popup 'Are you sure?' if one asks to turn it off (or probably would like to give options like the Windows 10 update gives). – 0xc0de Aug 12 '16 at 9:04

yogsototh, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:08

You start recording by q<letter> and you can end it by typing q again.

Recording is a really useful feature of Vim.

It records everything you type. You can then replay it simply by typing @<letter> . Record search, movement, replacement...

One of the best feature of Vim IMHO.

Cascabel, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:13

As seen other places, it's q followed by a register. A really cool (and possibly non-intuitive) part of this is that these are the same registers used by things like delete, yank, and put. This means that you can yank text from the editor into a register, then execute it as a command. – Cascabel Oct 6 '09 at 20:13

Tolga E, Aug 17, 2013 at 3:07

One more thing to note is you can hit any number before the @ to replay the recording that many times like (100@<letter>) will play your actions 100 times – Tolga E Aug 17 '13 at 3:07

anisoptera, Dec 4, 2014 at 9:43

You could add it afterward, by editing the register with put/yank. But I don't know why you'd want to turn recording on or off as part of a macro. ('q' doesn't affect anything when typed in insert mode.) – anisoptera Dec 4 '14 at 9:43

L0j1k, Jul 16, 2015 at 21:08

Vim is so freakin' cool, man. – L0j1k Jul 16 '15 at 21:08

Cascabel, Jul 29, 2015 at 14:52

@Wade " - it's called the default register. – Cascabel Jul 29 '15 at 14:52

ephemient, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:17

Type :h recording to learn more.
                           *q* *recording*
q{0-9a-zA-Z"}           Record typed characters into register {0-9a-zA-Z"}
                        (uppercase to append).  The 'q' command is disabled
                        while executing a register, and it doesn't work inside
                        a mapping.  {Vi: no recording}

q                       Stops recording.  (Implementation note: The 'q' that
                        stops recording is not stored in the register, unless
                        it was the result of a mapping)  {Vi: no recording}

@{0-9a-z".=*}           Execute the contents of register {0-9a-z".=*} [count]
                        times.  Note that register '%' (name of the current
                        file) and '#' (name of the alternate file) cannot be
                        used.  For "@=" you are prompted to enter an
                        expression.  The result of the expression is then
                        executed.  See also |@:|.  {Vi: only named registers}

Tim Henigan, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:07

It sounds like you have macro recording turned on. To shut it off, press q .

Refer to " :help recording " for further information.

Related links:

mitchus, Feb 13, 2015 at 14:16

Typing q starts macro recording, and the recording stops when the user hits q again.

As Joey Adams mentioned, to disable recording, add the following line to .vimrc in your home directory:

map q <Nop>

n611x007, Oct 4, 2015 at 7:16

only answer about "how to turn off" part of the question. Well, it makes recording inaccessible, effectively turning it off - at least noone expects vi to have a separate thread for this code, I guess, including me. – n611x007 Oct 4 '15 at 7:16

JeffH, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:10

As others have said, it's macro recording, and you turn it off with q. Here's a nice article about how-to and why it's useful.

John Millikin, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:06

It means you're in "record macro" mode. This mode is entered by typing q followed by a register name, and can be exited by typing q again.

ephemient, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:08

It's actually entered by typing q followed by any register name, which is 0-9, a-z, A-Z, and ". – ephemient Oct 6 '09 at 20:08

Cascabel, Oct 6, 2009 at 20:08

Actually, it's q{0-9a-zA-Z"} - you can record a macro into any register (named by digit, letter, "). In case you actually want to use it... you execute the contents of a register with @<register>. See :help q and :help @ if you're interested in using it. – Cascabel Oct 6 '09 at 20:08

[Oct 20, 2018] Do commands (bufdo, windo, tabdo, argdo)

Oct 20, 2018 |

Vim provides an incredibly powerful (and flexible) set of commands, which allow a set of arbitrary commands to be executed against an entire list. In Vim parlance a "list" could be one of the following: a group of open buffers, tabs, windows, and even Vim's argument list (which I'll explain near the end of this chapter).

For each list type (buffer list, tab list, window list, argument list) Vim provides a command which enables us to carry out actions in bulk (i.e., across multiple items). Let's take a look at each of these commands in turn.


As we already know, when you open a file in Vim, you're, in fact, actually opening a buffer that holds a copy of the file you requested. (If you're unsure, I suggest going back and reading Chapter 3 ).

Every buffer we create in Vim is added into an internal buffer list. This internal list is what allows Vim to keep track of the current buffer and facilitates commands such as bn and bp , among others, for navigating back and forth among all open buffers.

If we wanted to execute the same command for each buffer that exists in our buffer list, we would have to use the :bufdo command

. The flow of how this looks internally is something like the following:

At this point, if an error occurs, Vim will stop processing the buffers and return the error. If, on the other hand, Vim manages to process all the buffers, the last one becomes the current buffer within the viewport.

Simple Example

Now that we have an understanding of what a buffer list is, we can look at how the bufdo command works. Let's consider a simple example, in which we have a set of buffers already open within Vim and we've made changes to each of the buffers already.

We want to exit Vim, but as we do, we have to make sure that each buffer is written back to the relevant file it corresponds to, so we don't lose any of our changes. The following command demonstrates how to do this:

:bufdo wq

Effectively, we've told Vim to process each buffer (using the bufdo command), and within each buffer, we want Vim to execute the command wq (meaning we want it to first write the buffer, then close the buffer).

Image Note In the preceding example, you can also achieve the same result with :wa ( :h :wa ), which effectively allows you to write only the buffers that have been changed in some way.

[Oct 19, 2018] Visual Mode

Notable quotes:
"... Vim's Operator Commands ..."
Oct 19, 2018 |

Vim's Visual mode allows us to define a selection of text and then operate upon it. This should feel pretty intuitive, since it is the model that most editing software follows. But Vim's take is characteristically different, so we'll start by making sure we grok Visual mode ( Tip 20 ).

Vim has three variants of Visual mode involving working with characters, lines, or rectangular blocks of text. We'll explore ways of switching between these modes as well as some useful tricks for modifying the bounds of a selection ( Tip 21 ).

We'll see that the dot command can be used to repeat Visual mode commands, but that it's especially effective when operating on line-wise regions. When working with character-wise selections, the dot command can sometimes fall short of our expectations. We'll see that in these scenarios, operator commands may be preferable.

Visual-Block mode is rather special in that it allows us to operate on rectangular columns of text. You'll find many uses for this feature, but we'll focus on three tips that demonstrate some of its capabilities.

Visual mode allows us to select a range of text and then operate upon it. However intuitive this might seem, Vim's perspective on selecting text is different from other text editors.

Suppose for a minute that we're not working with Vim but instead filling out a text area on a web page. We've written the word "March," but it should read "April," so using the mouse, we double-click the word to select it. Having highlighted the word, we could hit the backspace key to delete it and then type out the correct month as a replacement.

You probably already know that there's no need to hit the backspace key in this example. With the word "March" selected, we would only have to type the letter "A" and it would replace the selection, preparing the way so that we could type out the rest of the word "April." It's not much, but a keystroke saved is a keystroke earned.

If you expect this behavior to carry over to Vim's Visual mode, you're in for a surprise. The clue is right there in the name: Visual mode is just another mode, which means that each key performs a different function.

Many of the commands that you are familiar with from Normal mode work just the same in Visual mode. We can still use h , j , k , and l as cursor keys. We can use f{char} to jump to a character on the current line and then repeat or reverse the jump with the ; and , commands, respectively. We can even use the search command (and n / N ) to jump to pattern matches. Each time we move our cursor in Visual mode, we change the bounds of the selection.

Some Visual mode commands perform the same basic function as in Normal mode but with a slight twist. For example, the c command is consistent in both modes in that it deletes the specified text and then switches to Insert mode. The difference is in how we specify the range on which to act. From Normal mode, we trigger the change command first and then specify the range as a motion. This, if you'll remember from Tip 12 , is called an operator command. Whereas in Visual mode, we start off by making the selection and then trigger the change command. This inversion of control can be generalized for all operator commands (see Table 2, ​ Vim's Operator Commands ). For most people, the Visual mode approach feels more intuitive.

Let's revisit the simple example where we wanted to change the word "March" to "April." This time, suppose that we have left the confines of the text area on a web page and we're comfortably back inside Vim. We place our cursor somewhere on the word "March" and run viw to visually select the word. Now, we can't just type the word "April" because that would trigger the A command and append the text "pril"! Instead, we'll use the c command to change the selection, deleting the word and dropping us into Insert mode, where we can type out the word "April" in full. This pattern of usage is similar to our original example, except that we use the c key instead of backspace.

Meet Select Mode

In a typical text editing environment, selected text is deleted when we type any printable character. Vim's Visual mode doesn't follow this convention -- but Select mode does. According to Vim's built-in documentation, it "resembles the selection mode in Microsoft Windows" (see Select-mode ). Printable characters cause the selection to be deleted, Vim enters Insert mode, and the typed character is inserted.

We can toggle between Visual and Select modes by pressing <C-g> . The only visible difference is the message at the bottom of screen, which switches between -- VISUAL -- and -- SELECT -- . But if we type any printable character in Select mode, it will replace the selection and switch to Insert mode. Of course, from Visual mode you could just as well use the c key to change the selection.

If you are happy to embrace the modal nature of Vim, then you should find little use for Select mode, which holds the hand of users who want to make Vim behave more like other text editors. I can think of only one place where I consistently use Select mode: when using a plugin that emulates TextMate's snippet functionality, Select mode highlights the active placeholder.

[Oct 19, 2018] Vim faster way to select blocks of text in visual mode - Stack Overflow

Oct 19, 2018 |

Vim: faster way to select blocks of text in visual mode Ask Question up vote 149 down vote favorite 65

Calvin Cheng ,Sep 13, 2011 at 18:52

I have been using vim for quite some time and am aware that selecting blocks of text in visual mode is as simple as SHIFT + V and moving the arrow key up or down line-by-line until I reach the end of the block of text that I want selected.

My question is - is there a faster way in visual mode to select a block of text for example by SHIFT + V followed by specifying the line number in which I want the selection to stop? (via :35 for example, where 35 is the line number I want to select up to - this obviously does not work so my question is to find how if something similar to this can be done...)

user786653 ,Sep 13, 2011 at 19:08

+1 Good question as I have found myself doing something like this often. I am wondering if perhaps this isn't the place start using using v% or v/pattern or something else? – user786653 Sep 13 '11 at 19:08

SergioAraujo ,Sep 13, 2011 at 20:30

vip select inner paragraph vis select inner sentence. – SergioAraujo Sep 13 '11 at 20:30

Stephan ,Sep 29, 2014 at 22:49

V35G will visually select from current line to line 35, also V10j or V10k will visually select the next or previous 10 lines – Stephan Sep 29 '14 at 22:49

shriek ,Feb 20, 2015 at 4:28

@Stephan, that's just what I was looking for. Thanks!! – shriek Feb 20 '15 at 4:28

Mikhail V ,Mar 27, 2015 at 16:52

for line selecting I use shortcut: nnoremap <Space> V . When in visual line mode just right-click with mouse to define selection (at least on linux it is so). Anyway, more effective than with keyboard only. – Mikhail V Mar 27 '15 at 16:52

Jay ,Sep 13, 2011 at 19:05

In addition to what others have said, you can also expand your selection using pattern searches.

For example, v/foo will select from your current position to the next instance of "foo." If you actually wanted to expand to the next instance of "foo," on line 35, for example, just press n to expand selection to the next instance, and so on.


I don't often do it, but I know that some people use marks extensively to make visual selections. For example, if I'm on line 5 and I want to select to line 35, I might press ma to place mark a on line 5, then :35 to move to line 35. Shift + v to enter linewise visual mode, and finally `a to select back to mark a .

Calvin Cheng ,Sep 13, 2011 at 19:19

now this is COOL. Thanks! – Calvin Cheng Sep 13 '11 at 19:19

Peter Rincker ,Sep 13, 2011 at 19:41

If you need to include the pattern you can use v/foo/e . The e stands for "end" of the matched pattern. – Peter Rincker Sep 13 '11 at 19:41

bheeshmar ,Sep 13, 2011 at 20:29

And you can modify from that line with offsets: V/foo/+5 or V/foo/-5 (I'm using linewise visual mode like the author). – bheeshmar Sep 13 '11 at 20:29

Jay ,Oct 31, 2013 at 0:18

@DanielPark To select the current word, use v i w . If you want to select the current contiguous non-whitespace, use v i Shift + w . The difference would be when the caret is here MyCla|ss.Method , the first combo would select MyClass and second would select the whole thing. – Jay Oct 31 '13 at 0:18

Daniel Park ,Oct 31, 2013 at 1:55

Thanks. Found that also using v i w s allows you to effectively do a "replace" operation. – Daniel Park Oct 31 '13 at 1:55

bheeshmar ,Sep 13, 2011 at 19:00

G                       Goto line [count], default last line, on the first
                        non-blank character linewise.  If 'startofline' not
                        set, keep the same column.
                        G is a one of jump-motions.

V35G achieves what you want

Daniel Kobe ,Apr 24, 2017 at 18:16

My vim gives me the error Not an editor command: VDaniel Kobe Apr 24 '17 at 18:16

kzh ,Apr 24, 2017 at 19:42

@Daniel Apr 24 '17 at 19:42

bheeshmar ,Apr 25, 2017 at 19:06

@DanielKobe, it's a Normal mode command, so don't press ":". – bheeshmar Apr 25 '17 at 19:06

kzh ,Jun 1, 2013 at 12:29

Vim is a language. To really understand Vim, you have to know the language. Many commands are verbs, and vim also has objects and prepositions.

This means "select the current line up to and including line 100."

Text objects are where a lot of the power is at. They introduce more objects with prepositions.


This means "select around the current paragraph", that is select the current paragraph and the blank line following it.


This means "select around the current paragraph and the next paragraph."


This means "go to the end of the current paragraph and then visually select it and the preceding paragraph."

Understanding Vim as a language will help you to get the best mileage out of it.

After you have selecting down, then you can combine with other commands:


With the above command, you can select around a paragraph and delete it. Change the d to a y to copy or to a c to change or to a p to paste over.

Once you get the hang of how all these commands work together, then you will eventually not need to visually select anything. Instead of visually selecting and then deleting a paragraph, you can just delete the paragraph with the dap command.

Daniel Kobe ,Apr 24, 2017 at 18:17

My vim gives me the error Not an editor command: VDaniel Kobe Apr 24 '17 at 18:17

kzh ,Apr 24, 2017 at 19:43

@Daniel Apr 24 '17 at 19:43

michaelmichael ,Sep 13, 2011 at 18:58

v35G will select everything from the cursor up to line 35.

v puts you in select mode, 35 specifies the line number that you want to G go to.

You could also use v} which will select everything up to the beginning of the next paragraph.

mateusz.fiolka ,Sep 13, 2011 at 18:58

For selecting number of lines:

shift+v 9j - select 10 lines

Peter Rincker ,Sep 13, 2011 at 19:38

For small ranges this is good, especially when paired with :set rnuPeter Rincker Sep 13 '11 at 19:38

µBio ,Sep 13, 2011 at 18:55

v 35 j

text added for 30 character minimum

Peng Zhang ,Feb 17, 2016 at 3:28

Shift+V n j or Shift+V n k

This selects the current line and the next/previous n lines. I find it very useful.

Kevin Yue ,Sep 24, 2016 at 5:20

It's very useful, thanks. – Kevin Yue Sep 24 '16 at 5:20

Arsal ,Apr 24, 2017 at 20:09

This is a simple way I was looking for. Thanks – Arsal Apr 24 '17 at 20:09

> ,

Text objects:

[Oct 19, 2018] Advanced Vim

Oct 19, 2018 |

I've compiled a list of essential Vim commands that I use every day. I then give a few instructions on how to making Vim as great as it should be, because it's painful without configuration.

##Cursor movement (Inside command/normal mode)

The four directions in Vim, keys h, j, k, and l.

##Insert/Appending/Editing Text

##Marking text (visual mode)

##Visual commands Type any of these while some text is selected to apply the action

##Cut and Paste



##Working with multiple files

##Marks Marks allow you to jump to designated points in your code.


#Making Vim actually useful Vim is quite unpleasant out of the box. For example, typeing :w for every file save is awkward and copying and pasting to the system clipboard does not work. But a few changes will get you much closer to the editor of your dreams.




##Switch Caps Lock and Escape

##Other I don't personally use these yet, but I've heard other people do!

[Oct 19, 2018] A quick reference list of vi editor commands

Oct 19, 2018 |

Vi editor command keys:

  ZZ      Exit, saving changes           t<x>   Up to <x> forward
  Q       Enter ex mode                  T<x>   Back up to <x>
  <ESC>   End of insert                  <x>|   Go to column <x>
  :<cmd>  Execute ex command             w,W    Forward one word
  :!<cmd> Shell command                  b,B    Back one word
  ^g      Show filename/size             e,E    End of word
  ^f      Forward one screen             ^h     Erase last character
  ^b      Back one screen                ^w     Erase last word
  ^d      Forward half screen            ^?     Interrupt
  ^u      Backward half screen           ~      Toggle character case
  <x>G    Go to line <x>                 a      Append after
  /<x>    Search forward for <x>         i,I    Insert before
  ?<x>    Search backward for <x>        A      Append at end of line
  n       Repeat last search             o      Open line below
  N       Reverse last search            O      Open line above
  ]]      Next section/function          r      Replace character
  [[      Previous section/function      R      Replace characters
  %       Find matching () { or }        d      Delete
  ^l      Redraw screen                  dd     Delete line
  ^r      Refresh screen                 c      Change              
  z<CR>   Current line at top            y      Yank lines to buffer
  z-      Current line at bottom         C      Change rest of line 
  ^e      Scroll down one line           D      Delete rest of line 
  ^y      Scroll up one line             s      Substitute character
  ``      Previous context               S      Substitute lines    
  H       Home window line               J      Join lines          
  L       Last window line               x      Delete after        
  M       Middle window line             X      Delete before       
  +       Next line                      Y      Yank current line   
  hjkl    Cursor movement:               p      Put back lines      
          left/down/up/right             P      Put before          
  0       Beginning of line              <<     Shift line left     
  $       End of line                    >>     Shift line right    
  f<x>    Find <x> forward               u      Undo last change    
  F<x>    Find <x> backward              U      Restore current line
Ex mode commands:
  q       Quit                        set <x>   Enable option
  q!      Quit, discard changes       set no<v> Disable option
  r <f>   Read in file <f>            set all   Show all options
  sh      Invoke shell
  vi      Vi mode
  wq      Write and quit
  w <f>   Write file <f>
  w! <f>  Overwrite file <f>
  autoindent      Automatic line indentation
  autowrite       Write before quit
  ignorecase      Ignore case in searches
  number          Display line numbers
  showmatch       Show matches to ) and } as typed
  terse           Quiet mode
  wrapscan        Wraparound in searches
  wrapmargin      Automatic line splitting

[Oct 19, 2018] Accessing Multiple Files in VIM

Oct 19, 2018 |

Léo Léopold Hertz, Apr 19, 2009 at 2:44

The book "Unix in a Nutshell" discusses about accessing multiple files on pages 572-573. There seem to be very useful commands such as ":e", ":e #", ":e new_file", ":n files", ":args", ":prev" and ":n!". The commands confuse me:

":n Edit next file in the list of files."

":args Display list of files to be edited."

":prev Edit previous file in the list of files."

I cannot see no real list when I do ":args". There is only a small text at the corner. I would like to see all files that I accessed with ":e", ie a list of files in the buffer.

Where can I see the list when I do the command ":n files"? What are the commands ":prev" and ":n" supposed to do? I got the error message:

There is only one file to edit.

Rook, Apr 19, 2009 at 3:25

Regarding the last part: If you have only one buffer open, then you cannot toggle through them ('cause there is only one open). – Rook Apr 19 '09 at 3:25

Rook, Apr 19, 2009 at 3:20

I've not read the book in mention, but I'll try to explain how vim handles files.

Vim has buffers. You open every file with:

:e name_of_the_file.txt (loads file in a buffer, i.e. "opens file")

You can also:

:e *.txt

Useful options while doing this are

:set laststatus=2 (to always show the statusline)

:set wildmenu (to ease opening files)

If you have standard vim with netrw plugin, you can:

:e . (for one of vim's file managers, so to say)

To manage buffers:

:ls will give you a list of currently opened buffers (files)

:bnext , and :bprevious (or :bn and :bp ) enable you to cycle through buffers

:bd closes the buffer/file (buffer done)

Other buffer types serve other purposes (yanking/pasting, temporary, vim's internal, ... etc.)

Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 ,Apr 19, 2009 at 3:57

Is the notation of buffer the same as in Emacs? Interestingly, the book defines buffer only for Emacs :( It states "When you open a file in Emacs, the file is put into a Buffer. -- The view of the buffer contents that you have at any point in time is called a window." Are the buffers and windows different to the things in Vim? – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Apr 19 '09 at 3:57

Rook ,Apr 19, 2009 at 11:08

Yes, you could say that. There are some differences in types of available buffers, but in principle, that's it. I'm not sure about emacs, he has windows/frames .., while vim has windows/tabs. Regarding vim: a window is only y method of showing what vim has in a buffer. A tab is a method of showing several windows on screen (tabs in vim have only recently been introduced). – Rook Apr 19 '09 at 11:08

Kyle Strand ,Sep 28, 2015 at 17:24

I don't think :e *.txt can be used to open multiple files. :next appears to work, though: Strand Sep 28 '15 at 17:24

Brian Carper ,Apr 19, 2009 at 4:05

In addition to what Jonathan Leffler said, if you don't invoke Vim with multiple files from the commandline, you can set Vim's argument list after Vim is open via:
:args *.c

Note that the argument list is different from the list of open buffers you get from :ls . Even if you close all open buffers in Vim, the argument list stays the same. :n and :prev may open a brand new buffer in Vim (if a buffer for that file isn't already open), or may take you to an existing buffer.

Similarly you can open multiple buffers in Vim without affecting the argument list (or even if the arg list is empty). :e opens a new buffer but doesn't necessarily affect the argument list. The list of open buffers and the argument list are independent. If you want to iterate through the list of open buffers rather than iterate through the argument list, use :bn and :bp and friends.

Jonathan Leffler ,Apr 19, 2009 at 2:54

For those commands to make sense, you do:
vim *.c

in a directory where there are twenty C files, for example. With a single file, there is no next or previous or significant list of files.

Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 ,Apr 19, 2009 at 3:48

Wow! Very nice example :) Great thanks! – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Apr 19 '09 at 3:48

DanM ,Apr 19, 2009 at 4:02

The :n :p :ar :rew :last operate on the command line argument list.


> touch aaa.txt bbb.txt ccc.txt
> gvim *.txt

vim opens in aaa.txt

:ar gives a status line

[aaa.txt] bbb.txt ccc.txt

:n moves to bbb.txt

:ar gives the status line

aaa.txt [bbb.txt] ccc.txt

:rew rewinds us back to the start of the command line arg list to aaa.txt

:last sends us to ccc.txt

:e ddd.txt edits a new file ddd.txt

:ar gives the status line

aaa.txt bbb.txt [ccc.txt]

So the command set only operates on the initial command line argument list.


To clarify, Vim has the argument list, the buffer list, windows, and tab pages. The argument list is the list of files you invoked vim with (e.g. vim file1 file2); the :n and :p commands work with this. The buffer list is the list of in-memory copies of the files you are editing, just like emacs. Note that all the files loaded at start (in the argument list) are also in the buffer list. Try :help buffer-list for more information on both.

Windows are viewports for buffers. Think of windows as "desks" on which you can put buffers to work on them. Windows can be empty or be displaying buffers that can also be displayed in other windows, which you can use for example to look at two different areas of the same buffer at the same time. Try :help windows for more info.

Tabs are collections of windows. For example, you can have one tab with one window, and another tab with two windows vertically split. Try :help tabpage for more info

[Oct 19, 2018] Run a command in multiple buffers Vim Tips Wiki FANDOM powered by Wikia

Oct 19, 2018 |

Run a command in multiple buffers Edit

Tip 133 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2001 · complexity basic · version 6.0

This tip shows how to apply a command multiple times using :argdo (all files in argument list), or :bufdo (all buffers), or :tabdo (all tabs), or :windo (all windows in the current tab). See search and replace in multiple buffers for the common requirement to perform a substitute multiple times.

Bufdo Edit

You may want to perform the same operation on each buffer. For example, you may have recorded a macro to register a and want to apply the macro to each buffer. You could do that by entering:

:bufdo execute "normal! @a" | w

The w will write each buffer to disk (whether the buffer was changed or not). To only write if changed, use:

:bufdo execute "normal! @a" | update

An alternative is to set the 'autowrite' option so changed buffers are automatically saved when switching to another buffer:

:set autowrite
:bufdo normal! @a

Yet another alternative is to set the 'hidden' option so buffers do not need to be saved, then use :wa to save all changes (only changed buffers are written):

:set hidden
:bufdo normal! @a


Refactor following.

The command to do normal commands from the command-line is "normal" and I wanted to run the macro recorded in register a , so that explains the "normal @a".

I also wanted to do this over multiple buffers, which explains the "bufdo".

However, I also wanted to make the changes and then save the file so it moved happily onto the next buffer and everything was saved. This required the use of the | w. Initially I tried:

:bufdo normal @a | w

but that didn't work as the "| w" part was interpreted as a normal command, so that's where the exe command comes from.

Restoring position Edit

The commands bufdo, windo and tabdo are great for operating on all buffers or windows or tabs. However, the commands finish in a different place from where you started.

These versions (Bufdo, Windo and Tabdo) restore the current window or buffer or tab, when the command is finished.

For example, to turn on line numbers everywhere, I use :Windo set nu . Using :windo set nu does the same, but the cursor finishes in a different window.

" Like windo but restore the current window.
function! WinDo(command)
  let currwin=winnr()
  execute 'windo ' . a:command
  execute currwin . 'wincmd w'
com! -nargs=+ -complete=command Windo call WinDo(<q-args>)
" Like bufdo but restore the current buffer.
function! BufDo(command)
  let currBuff=bufnr("%")
  execute 'bufdo ' . a:command
  execute 'buffer ' . currBuff
com! -nargs=+ -complete=command Bufdo call BufDo(<q-args>)
" Like tabdo but restore the current tab.
function! TabDo(command)
  let currTab=tabpagenr()
  execute 'tabdo ' . a:command
  execute 'tabn ' . currTab
com! -nargs=+ -complete=command Tabdo call TabDo(<q-args>)

If you care about the alternate window or buffer as well, you can save these along with the current window or buffer:

" Like windo but restore the current window.
function! WinDo(command)
  let currwin=winnr()
  let curaltwin=winnr('#')
  execute 'windo ' . a:command
  " restore previous/alt window
  execute curaltwin . 'wincmd w'
  " restore current window
  execute currwin . 'wincmd w'
com! -nargs=+ -complete=command Windo call WinDo(<q-args>)
References Edit Comments Edit Todo Edit

Tips 1160 and 1161 have some interesting code (although I would never use it). Tip 1160 mentions 'autowrite', and can be used as a 'see also' here. Although perhaps my new examples are sufficient?

Tip 1161 has a WinDo command. Perhaps move anything useful from there to here (or perhaps move all the "Xdo and restore" from here to there?).

Need to explain argdo somewhere, and need a little more on windo and tabdo. Should start this tip with something that does not use 'normal' (which requires the tricky execute when using bar).

If you're like me and don't keep your buffer list very tidy, or just work on multiple things at once in a single Vim, bufdo is rarely useful. If you want to act on a bunch of files, too many to readily open a new tab with a window for each of them, then windo is not very useful either. argdo shines for quickly doing a command on a large batch of files when you're already using Vim with a bunch of buffers unrelated to the task. For example, I recently had to:
cd /doc/directory/of/unnamed/tool
args *.html
argdo 0put ='<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC \"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN\" \"\">' | w
A tool which will remain unnamed because they ought to know better, distributed their tool with HTML documentation which is broken partially due to the lack of a doctype causing IE8 to parse it in "quirks mode" (even though they specifically targeted this browser version for the tool itself). So, I used the above command to very quickly correct the problem on every html file in their documentation directory in my install location.
Truth be told, in reality I did not use argdo, I instead recorded a macro to do ggP:wnext<CR> and just pressed @@ on each file (because I wanted to check for a doctype on each before adding one). But, were I confident I needed to do this on ALL the files, I would have used argdo as above.
-- Fritzophrenic 15:16, August 12, 2011 (UTC)

Here is something tricky I needed recently:

:bufdo call search('pattern')

I wanted to put the cursor on the next occurrence of pattern in each buffer, but I found that :bufdo normal! n or other search attempts did not work. I thought I had searched before, but I could not make it work without the trick above. Any insight? JohnBeckett 08:15, August 12, 2011 (UTC)

No idea, I would expect this to work. Maybe you've got some autocmd in your .vimrc to restore a search or something when loading a buffer? I note that search history is in the .viminfo file, but that should only be loaded on startup.
It seems to work for me, though for some reason the current buffer jumps the cursor to the line containing the match, but not to the match itself. Probably that's something in my config.
-- Fritzophrenic 15:16, August 12, 2011 (UTC)
Very strange, I just tried it again and there was no problem. Must have been a blunder or some temporary config glitch. Thanks. I'm getting converted to argdo, and I'm planning a rewrite featuring argdo, and mentioning the others. JohnBeckett 10:37, August 13, 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I almost never used the arglist until I discovered :args and :argl . Now I use it almost exclusively when doing batch edits. Although, I normally use :next and :wnext rather than :argdo . Fritzophrenic 15:33, August 15, 2011 (UTC)
Tip titles Edit

These tips should handle the basics for argdo/bufdo/tabdo/windo (redirects bufdo , tabdo , windo point to this tip, and I would also make argdo ):

Should we rename these, perhaps:

The "files" is not strictly correct since it might be just a buffer with no file. However, for simplicity (and Google searching), using "files" for the title seems best? JohnBeckett 10:37, August 13, 2011 (UTC)

I'm all for simplicity. But what about making the actual tip say "buffers" and make a redirect with "files"? I'm not sure how well Google handles that but obviously the wikia search handles it well. That way we can satisfy both the pedantic and those searching for an answer. -- Fritzophrenic 15:33, August 15, 2011 (UTC)
OK. Tips will be "buffers", and redirects "files". Will do, and will remove these comments. JohnBeckett 03:52, August 16, 2011 (UTC)

[Oct 19, 2018] >Vim buffer FAQ

Oct 19, 2018 |

Vim buffer FAQ Edit

Tip 135 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2001 · complexity basic · author Yegappan · version 6.0

Vim provides various commands and options to support editing multiple buffers. This document covers some of the questions asked about using multiple buffers with Vim. You can get more detailed information about Vim buffer support using the :help windows.txt command in Vim. You can also use the help keywords mentioned in this document to read more about a particular command or option. To read more about a particular command or option use the ":help <helpkeyword>" command (replace helpkeyword with the command or option name).

See easier buffer switching if all you want is information on switching between buffers.

What is a Vim buffer?

A buffer is a file loaded into memory for editing. All opened files are associated with a buffer. There are also buffers not associated with any file.

:help windows-intro

How do I identify a buffer?

Vim buffers are identified using a name and a number. The name of the buffer is the name of the file associated with that buffer. The buffer number is a unique sequential number assigned by Vim. This buffer number will not change in a single Vim session.

:help buffers

How do I create a buffer?

When you open a file using any of the Vim commands, a buffer is automatically created. For example, if you use :edit file to edit a file, a new buffer is automatically created. An empty buffer can be created by entering :new or :vnew .

How do I add a new buffer for a file to the buffer list without opening the file?

You can add a new buffer for a file without opening it, using the ":badd" command. For example,

:badd f1.txt
:badd f2.txt

The above commands will add two new buffers for the files f1.txt and f2.txt to the buffer list.

:help :badd

How do I get a list of all the existing buffers?

You can get a list of all the existing buffers using the ":buffers" or ":ls" or ":files" command. This list is called the 'buffer list'.

To display all the buffers including unlisted buffers, use the ":buffers!" or ":ls!" or ":files!" command.

How do I delete a buffer?

You can delete a buffer using the ":bdelete" command. You can use either the buffer name or the buffer number to specify a buffer. For example,

:bdelete f1.txt
:bdelete 4

The above commands will delete the buffer named "f1.txt" and the fourth buffer in the buffer list. The ":bdelete" command will remove the buffer from the buffer list.

When a buffer is deleted, the buffer becomes an unlisted-buffer and is no longer included in the buffer list. But the buffer name and other information associated with the buffer is still remembered. To completely delete the buffer, use the ":bwipeout" command. This command will remove the buffer completely (i.e. the buffer will not become a unlisted buffer).

How do I delete multiple buffers?

You can delete multiple buffers in several ways:

:bdelete buf1.txt buf2.c buf3.h

In this example, after typing ":bdelete buf", you can press <Ctrl-A> to expand all the buffer names starting with 'buf'.

How do I remove a buffer from a window?

You can remove a buffer displayed in a window in several ways:

  1. Close the window or edit another buffer/file in that window.
  2. Use the ":bunload" command. This command will remove the buffer from the window and unload the buffer contents from memory. The buffer will not be removed from the buffer list.

:help :bunload

How do I edit an existing buffer from the buffer list?

You can edit or jump to a buffer in the buffer list in several ways:

  1. Use the ":buffer" command passing the name of an existing buffer or the buffer number. Note that buffer name completion can be used here by pressing the <Tab> key.
  2. You can enter the buffer number you want to jump/edit and press the Ctrl-^ key.
  3. Use the ":sbuffer" command passing the name of the buffer or the buffer number. Vim will split open a new window and open the specified buffer in that window.
  4. You can enter the buffer number you want to jump/edit and press the Ctrl-W ^ or Ctrl-W Ctrl-^ keys. This will open the specified buffer in a new window.

How do I browse through all the available buffers?

You can browse through the buffers in the buffer list in several ways:

  1. To jump to the first buffer in the buffer list, use the ":bfirst" or ":brewind" command.
  2. To jump to the first buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sbfirst" or ":sbrewind" command.
  3. To edit the next buffer in the buffer list, use the ":bnext" command., or the abbreviated ":bn"
  4. To open the next buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sbnext" command.
  5. To edit the previous buffer in the buffer list, use the ":bprevious" or ":bNext" command. or the abbreviated ":bp"
  6. To open the previous buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sbprevious" or ":sbNext" command.
  7. To open the last buffer in the buffer list, use the ":blast" command.
  8. To open the last buffer in the buffer list in a new window, use the ":sblast" command.

How do I open all the buffers in the buffer list?

You can open all the buffers present in the buffer list using the ":ball" or ":sball" commands.

How do I open all the loaded buffers?

You can open all the loaded buffers in the buffer list using the ":unhide" or ":sunhide" commands. Each buffer will be loaded in a separate new window.

How do I open the next modified buffer?

You can open the next or a specific modified buffer using the ":bmodified" command. You can open the next or a specific modified buffer in a new window using the ":sbmodified" command.

Is there a simpler way for using the buffers under gvim (GUI Vim)?

Yes, use the 'Buffers' menu to list all the buffers. You can select a buffer name to edit the buffer. You can also delete a buffer or browse the buffer list. Click the dashed line at the top of the menu to tear it off so you can always see a list of the buffers.

:help buffers-menu

Is there a Vim script that simplifies using buffers with Vim?

Yes, try the Buffer Explorer , minibufexpl or bufmru plugins.

Is it possible to save and restore the buffer list across Vim sessions?

Yes. To save and restore the buffer list across Vim session, include the '%' flag in the 'viminfo' option. Note that if Vim is invoked with a filename argument, then the buffer list will not be restored from the last session. To use buffer lists across sessions, invoke Vim without passing filename arguments.

We can save different buffer list for different folders, by setting a local 'viminfo' file.

The point is to overwrite the global setting by calling local setting after the 'viminfo' setting, for example.

set viminfo='1025,f1,%1024
call SetLocalOptions(".")

How do I remove all the entries from the buffer list?

You can remove all the entries in the buffer list by starting Vim with a file argument. You can also manually remove all the buffers using the ":bdelete" command.

What is a hidden buffer?

A hidden buffer is a buffer with some unsaved modifications and is not displayed in a window. Hidden buffers are useful, if you want to edit multiple buffers without saving the modifications made to a buffer while loading other buffers.

How do I load buffers in a window, which currently has a buffer with unsaved modifications?

By setting the option 'hidden', you can load a buffer in a window that currently has a modified buffer. Vim will remember your modifications to the buffer. When you quit Vim, you will be asked to save the modified buffers. It is important to note that, if you have the 'hidden' option set, and you quit Vim forcibly, for example using ":quit!", then you will lose all your modifications to the hidden buffers.

:help 'hidden'

Is it possible to unload or delete a buffer when it becomes hidden?

By setting the 'bufhidden' option to either 'hide' or 'unload' or 'delete', you can control what happens to a buffer when it becomes hidden. When 'bufhidden' is set to 'delete', the buffer is deleted when it becomes hidden. When 'bufhidden' is set to 'unload', the buffer is unloaded when it becomes hidden. When 'bufhidden' is set to 'hide', the buffer is hidden.

:help 'bufhidden'

How do I execute a command on all the buffers in the buffer list?

You can use the ":bufdo" command to execute a command on all the buffers in the buffer list.

:help :bufdo

When I open an existing buffer from the buffer list, if the buffer is already displayed in one of the existing windows, I want Vim to jump to that window instead of creating a new window for this buffer. How do I do this?

When opening a buffer using one of the split open buffer commands (:sbuffer, :sbnext), Vim will open the specified buffer in a new window. If the buffer is already opened in one of the existing windows, then you will have two windows containing the same buffer. You can change this behavior by setting the 'switchbuf' option to 'useopen'. With this setting, if a buffer is already opened in one of the windows, Vim will jump to that window, instead of creating a new window.

:help 'switchbuf'

What information is stored as part of a buffer?

Every buffer in the buffer list contains information about the last cursor position, marks, jump list, etc.

What is the difference between deleting a buffer and unloading a buffer?

When a buffer is unloaded, it is not removed from the buffer list. Only the file contents associated with the buffer are removed from memory. When a buffer is deleted, it is unloaded and removed from the buffer list. A deleted buffer becomes an 'unlisted' buffer.

Is it possible to configure Vim, by setting some option, to re-use the number of a deleted buffer for a new buffer?

No. Vim will not re-use the buffer number of a deleted buffer for a new buffer. Vim will always assign the next sequential number for a new buffer. The buffer number assignment is implemented this way, so that you can always jump to a buffer using the same buffer number. One method to achieve buffer number reordering is to restart Vim. If you restart Vim, it will re-assign numbers sequentially to all the buffers in the buffer list (assuming you have properly set 'viminfo' to save and restore the buffer list across Vim sessions).

:help buffers

How is a scratch (temporary) buffer created?

In any buffer (for example, after entering :new to create a new buffer), enter the following options to change the current buffer to a scratch buffer:

:setlocal buftype=nofile
:setlocal bufhidden=hide
:setlocal noswapfile

This creates a temporary buffer which is not associated with a file, which does not have an associated swap file, and which will be hidden when its window is closed. On exit, Vim discards any text in a scratch buffer without warning.

Also you can use scratch.vim for creating a scratch buffer.

How do I prevent a buffer from being added to the buffer list?

You can prevent a buffer from being added to the buffer list by resetting the 'buflisted' option.

:set nobuflisted

:help 'buflisted'

How do I determine whether a buffer is modified or not?

There are several ways to find out whether a buffer is modified or not. The simplest way is to look at the status line or the title bar. If the displayed string contains a '+' character, then the buffer is modified. Another way is to check whether the 'modified' option is set or not. If 'modified' is set, then the buffer is modified. To check the value of modified, use

:set modified?

You can also explicitly set the 'modified' option to mark the buffer as modified like this:

:set modified

:help 'modified'

How can I prevent modifications to a buffer?

You can prevent any modification to a buffer by re-setting the 'modifiable' option. To reset this option, use

:set nomodifiable

To again allow modifications to the buffer, use:

:set modifiable

:help 'modifiable'

How do I set options specific to the current buffer?

You can set Vim options which are specific to a buffer using the "setlocal" command. For example,

:setlocal textwidth=70

This will set the 'textwidth' option to 70 only for the current buffer. All other buffers will have the default or the previous 'textwidth' value.

How do I define mappings specific to the current buffer?

You can define mappings specific to the current buffer by using the keyword "<buffer>" in the map command. For example,

:map <buffer> ,w /[.,;]<CR>

:help map-local

How do I define abbreviations specific to the current buffer?

You can define abbreviations specific to the current buffer by using the keyword "<buffer>" in the :abbreviate command. For example,

:abb <buffer> FF for (i = 0; i < ; ++i)

:help abbreviate-local

Comments Edit

How does one execute a command in a new buffer? For example, execute :tj from the function you're on, in a new buffer window? This is very useful if you don't want to close the buffer you're on, but want to open a new buffer where the code is located.

You're confusing the terminology. What you're really asking for is not a new buffer, but a new window. You can get a new window in many ways. See :help opening-window for the basic commands. In addition, there are many commands (like :tj ) that also have a duplicate command that automatically splits the window first (like :stj ). -- Fritzophrenic 19:36, September 3, 2010 (UTC)

How can one take all open buffers and merge content into a single Buffer? I will try a small script to walk through the bufferlist yank'ing the data to a single buffer but if anyone has a neater way... then thanks in advance. -- Chumbawumba69 06:22, October 5, 2011 (UTC) (sorry if answered but could not find)

I don't think such an answer would belong in an FAQ, but you can probably accomplish this using the Bufdo command, combined with :yank . -- Fritzophrenic 17:39, October 5, 2011 (UTC)
Try uppercase register to keep appending conent like "Ayy and then put "ap. Try also articles on the wiki about the global command Power_of_g

Regarding the section on "creating" a scratch buffer, do those commands actually create a buffer, or do they simply transform an existing buffer into a scratch buffer? (I believe it's the latter.) -- Joe Sewell ( talk ) 19:59, April 8, 2014 (UTC)

Yes, you're right. I edited the section to clarify. JohnBeckett ( talk ) 11:50, April 9, 2014 (UTC)

[Oct 19, 2018] Vim Editing Multiple Files and Windowing Support Under Linux / UNIX

Dec 06, 2014 |

How do I open and edit multiple files on a VIM text editor running under Ubuntu Linux / UNIX-like operating systems to improve my productivity?

Vim offers multiple file editing with the help of windows. You can easily open multiple files and edit them using the concept of buffers.

Understanding vim buffer

A buffer is nothing but a file loaded into memory for editing. The original file remains unchanged until you write the buffer to the file using w or other file saving related commands.

Understanding vim window

A window is noting but a viewport onto a buffer. You can use multiple windows on one buffer, or several windows on different buffers. By default, Vim starts with one window, for example open /etc/passwd file, enter:
$ vim /etc/passwd

Open two windows using vim at shell promot

Start vim as follows to open two windows stacked, i.e. split horizontally :
$ vim -o /etc/passwd /etc/hosts
$ vim -o file1.txt resume.txt
Sample outputs:

(Fig.01: split horizontal windows under VIM)

The -O option allows you to open two windows side by side, i.e. split vertically , enter:
$ vim -O /etc/passwd /etc/hosts How do I switch or jump between open windows?

This operation is also known as moving cursor to other windows. You need to use the following keys:

  1. Press CTRL + W + <Left arrow key> to activate left windows
  2. Press CTRL + W + <Right arrow key> to activate right windows
  3. Press CTRL + W + <Up arrow key> to activate to windows above current one
  4. Press CTRL + W + <Down arrow key> to activate to windows down current one
  5. Press CTRL-W + CTRL-W (hit CTRL+W twice) to move quickly between all open windows
How do I edit current buffer?

Use all your regular vim command such as i, w and so on for editing and saving text.

How do I close windows?

Press CTRL+W CTRL-Q to close the current windows. You can also press [ESC]+:q to quit current window.

How do I open new empty window?

Press CTRL+W + n to create a new window and start editing an empty file in it.

<="" in="" window="" current="" split="" i="" do="">

Press CTRL+W+ s to split current window in two.

How do I open exiting file in a new windows?

Press [ESC]+:new /path/to/file. This will create a new window and start editing file /path/to/file in it. For example, open file called /etc/hosts.deny, enter:
:new /etc/hosts.deny
Sample outputs:

(Fig.02: Create a new window and start editing file /etc/hosts.deny in it.)

(Fig.03: Two files opened in a two windows)
How do I resize Window?

You can increase or decrease windows size by N number. For example, increase windows size by 5, press [ESC] + 5 + CTRL + W+ + . To decrease windows size by 5, press [ESC]+ 5 + CTRL+ W + - .

Moving windows cheat sheet
Key combination Action
CTRL-W h move to the window on the left
CTRL-W j move to the window below
CTRL-W k move to the window above
CTRL-W l move to the window on the right
CTRL-W t move to the TOP window
CTRL-W b move to the BOTTOM window
How do I quit all windows?

Type the following command (also known as quit all command):
If any of the windows contain changes, Vim will not exit. The cursor will automatically be positioned in a window with changes. You can then either use ":write" to save the changes:
or ":quit!" to throw them away:

How do save and quit all windows?

To save all changes in all windows and quite , use this command:
This writes all modified files and quits Vim. Finally, there is a command that quits Vim and throws away all changes:

Further readings:

[Oct 19, 2018] Vim Commands Cheat Sheet

Oct 19, 2018 |
How to Exit
:q[uit] Quit Vim. This fails when changes have been made.
:q[uit]! Quit without writing.
:cq[uit] Quit always, without writing.
:wq Write the current file and exit.
:wq! Write the current file and exit always.
:wq {file} Write to {file}. Exit if not editing the last
:wq! {file} Write to {file} and exit always.
:[range]wq[!] [file] Same as above, but only write the lines in [range].
ZZ Write current file, if modified, and exit.
ZQ Quit current file and exit (same as ":q!").

Editing a File
:e[dit] Edit the current file. This is useful to re-edit the current file, when it has been changed outside of Vim.
:e[dit]! Edit the current file always. Discard any changes to the current buffer. This is useful if you want to start all over again.
:e[dit] {file} Edit {file}.
:e[dit]! {file} Edit {file} always. Discard any changes to the current buffer.
gf Edit the file whose name is under or after the cursor. Mnemonic: "goto file".

Inserting Text
a Append text after the cursor [count] times.
A Append text at the end of the line [count] times.
i Insert text before the cursor [count] times.
I Insert text before the first non-blank in the line [count] times.
gI Insert text in column 1 [count] times.
o Begin a new line below the cursor and insert text, repeat [count] times.
O Begin a new line above the cursor and insert text, repeat [count] times.

Inserting a file
:r[ead] [name] Insert the file [name] below the cursor.
:r[ead] !{cmd} Execute {cmd} and insert its standard output below the cursor.

Deleting Text
<Del> or
Delete [count] characters under and after the cursor
X Delete [count] characters before the cursor
d{motion} Delete text that {motion} moves over
dd Delete [count] lines
D Delete the characters under the cursor until the end of the line
{Visual}x or
Delete the highlighted text (for {Visual} see Selecting Text ).
{Visual}CTRL-H or
When in Select mode: Delete the highlighted text
{Visual}X or
Delete the highlighted lines
:[range]d[elete] Delete [range] lines (default: current line)
:[range]d[elete] {count} Delete {count} lines, starting with [range]

Changing (or Replacing) Text
r{char} replace the character under the cursor with {char}.
R Enter Insert mode, replacing characters rather than inserting
~ Switch case of the character under the cursor and move the cursor to the right. If a [count] is given, do that many characters.
~{motion} switch case of {motion} text.
{Visual}~ Switch case of highlighted text

[Jan 14, 2018] Working with Vim Editor Advanced concepts

Jan 14, 2018 |

Opening multiple files with VI/VIM editor

To open multiple files, command would be same as is for a single file; we just add the file name for second file as well.

$ vi file1 file2 file 3

Now to browse to next file, we can use

$ :n

or we can also use

$ :e filename

Run external commands inside the editor

We can run external Linux/Unix commands from inside the vi editor, i.e. without exiting the editor. To issue a command from editor, go back to Command Mode if in Insert mode & we use the BANG i.e. '!' followed by the command that needs to be used. Syntax for running a command is,

$ :! command

An example for this would be

$ :! df -H

Searching for a pattern

To search for a word or pattern in the text file, we use following two commands in command mode,

Both of these commands are used for same purpose, only difference being the direction they search in. An example would be,

$ :/ search pattern (If at beginning of the file)

$ :/ search pattern (If at the end of the file)

Searching & replacing a pattern

We might be required to search & replace a word or a pattern from our text files. So rather than finding the occurrence of word from whole text file & replace it, we can issue a command from the command mode to replace the word automatically. Syntax for using search & replacement is,

$ :s/pattern_to_be_found/New_pattern/g

Suppose we want to find word "alpha" & replace it with word "beta", the command would be

$ :s/alpha/beta/g

If we want to only replace the first occurrence of word "alpha", then the command would be

$ :s/alpha/beta/

Using Set commands

We can also customize the behaviour, the and feel of the vi/vim editor by using the set command. Here is a list of some options that can be use set command to modify the behaviour of vi/vim editor,

Some other commands to modify vi editors are,

$ :colorscheme its used to change the color scheme for the editor. (for VIM editor only)

$ :syntax on will turn on the color syntax for .xml, .html files etc. (for VIM editor only)

This complete our tutorial, do mention your queries/questions or suggestions in the comment box below.

[Nov 01, 2017] Vim character info by Tom Ryder

Mar 31, 2013 |

Posted on Vim will show you the decimal, octal, and hex index of the character under the cursor if you type ga in normal mode. Keying this on an ASCII a character yields the following in the status bar:

<a>  97,  Hex 61,  Octal 141

This information can be useful, but it's worth it to extend it to include some other relevant information, including the Unicode point and name of the character, its HTML entity name (if applicable), and any digraph entry method . This can be done by installing the characterize plugin by Tim Pope .

With this plugin installed, pressing ga over a yields a bit more information:

<a> 97, \141, U+0061 LATIN SMALL LETTER A

This really shines however when inspecting characters that are available as HTML entities, or as Vim digraphs, particularly commonly used characters like an EM DASH:

< -- > 8212, U+2014 EM DASH, ^K-M, &mdash;


<©> 169, \251, U+00A9 COPYRIGHT SIGN, ^KCo, ^KcO, :copyright:, &copy;

Or as one of the eyes in a look of disapproval:


Note that ga shows you all the Unicode information for the character, along with any methods to type it as a digraph, and an appropriate HTML entity if applicable.

If you work with multibyte characters a lot, whether for internationalization reasons or for typographical correctness in web pages, this may be very useful to you.

[Nov 01, 2017] Bash prompts by Tom Ryder

Jul 09, 2012 |

You can tell a lot about a shell user by looking at their prompt. Most shell users will use whatever the system's default prompt is for their entire career. Under many GNU/Linux distributions, this prompt includes the username, the hostname, and the current working directory, along with a $ sigil for regular users, and a # for root .


This format works well for most users, and it's so common that it's often used in tutorials to represent the user's prompt in lieu of the single-character standard $ and # . It shows up as the basis for many of the custom prompt setups you'll find online.

Some users may have made the modest steps of perhaps adding some brackets around the prompt, or adding the time or date:


Still others make the prompt into a grand multi-line report of their shell's state, or indeed their entire system, full of sound and fury and signifying way too much:

-(23:38:57)-(4 users)-(0.00, 0.02, 0.05)-
-(Linux sanctum 3.2.0-3-amd64 x86_64 GNU/Linux)-

Then there are the BSD users and other minimalist contrarians who can't abide anything more than a single character cluttering their screens:


Getting your prompt to work right isn't simply a cosmetic thing, however. If done right and in a style consistent with how you work, it can provide valuable feedback on how the system is reacting to what you're doing with it, and also provide you with visual cues that could save you a lot of confusion -- or even prevent your making costly mistakes.

I'll be working in Bash. Many of these principles work well for Zsh as well, but Zsh users might want to read Steve Losh's article on his prompt setup first to get an idea of the syntactical differences.

Why is this important?

One of the primary differences between terminals and windowed applications is that there tends to be much less emphasis on showing metadata about the running program and its environment. For the most part, to get information about what's going on, you need to request it with calls like pwd , whoami , readlink , env , jobs , and echo $? .

The habit of keeping metadata out of the terminal like this unless requested may appeal to a sense of minimalism, but like a lot of things in the command line world, it's partly the olden days holding us back. When mainframes and other dinosaurs roamed the earth, terminal screens were small, and a long or complex prompt amounted to a waste of space and cycles (or even paper). In our futuristic 64-bit world, where tiny CRTs are a thing of the past and we think nothing of throwing gigabytes of RAM at a single process, this is much less of a problem.

Customising the prompt doesn't have many "best practices" to it like a lot of things in the shell; there isn't really a right way to do it. Some users will insist it's valuable to have the path to the terminal device before every prompt, which I think is crazy as I almost never need that information, and when I do, I can get it with a call to tty . Others will suggest that including the working directory makes the length of the prompt too variable and distracting, whereas I would struggle to work without it. It's worth the effort to design a prompt that reflects your working style, and includes the information that's consistently important to you on the system.

So, don't feel like you're wasting time setting up your prompt to get it just right, and don't be so readily impressed by people with gargantuan prompts in illegible rainbow colors that they copied off some no-name wiki. If you use Bash a lot, you'll be staring at your prompt for several hours a day. You may as well spend an hour or two to make it useful, or at least easier on the eyes.

The basics

The primary Bash prompt is stored in the variable PS1 . Its main function is to signal to the user that the shell is done with its latest foreground task, and is ready to accept input. PS1 takes the form of a string that can contain escape sequences for certain common prompt elements like usernames and hostnames, and which is evaluated at printing time for escape sequences, variables, and command or function calls within it.

You can inspect your current prompt definition with echo . If you're using GNU/Linux, it will probably look similar to this:

tom@sanctum:~$ echo $PS1

PS1 works like any other Bash variable; you can assign it a new value, append to it, and apply substitutions to it. To add the text bash to the start of my prompt, I could do this:

tom@sanctum:~$ PS1=bash-"$PS1"

There are other prompts -- PS2 is used for "continued line" prompts, such as when you start writing a for loop and continue another part of it on a new line, or terminate your previous line with a backslash to denote the next line continues on from it. By default this prompt is often a right angle bracket > :

$ for f in a b c; do
>   do echo "$f"
> done

There are a couple more prompt strings which are much more rarely seen. PS3 is used by the select structure in shell scripts; PS4 is used while tracing output with set -x . Ramesh Natarajan breaks this down very well in his article on the Bash prompt . Personally, I only ever modify PS1 , because I see the other prompts so rarely that the defaults work fine for me.

As PS1 is a property of interactive shells, it makes the most sense to put its definitions in $HOME/.bashrc on GNU/Linux or BSD systems. It's likely there's already code in there doing just that. For Mac OS X, you'll likely need to put it into $HOME/.bash_profile instead.


Bash will perform some substitutions for you in the first pass of its evaluation of your prompt string, replacing escape sequences with appropriate elements of information that are often useful in prompts. Below are the escape sequences as taken from the Bash man page:

\a     an ASCII bell character (07)
\d     the date in "Weekday Month Date" format (e.g., "Tue May 26")
       the format is passed to strftime(3) and the result is inserted into
       the prompt string; an empty format results in a locale-specific time
       representation. The braces are required
\e     an ASCII escape character (033)
\h     the hostname up to the first `.'
\H     the hostname
\j     the number of jobs currently managed by the shell
\l     the basename of the shell's terminal device name
\n     newline
\r     carriage return
\s     the name of the shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following
       the final slash)
\t     the current time in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format
\T     the current time in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format
\@     the current time in 12-hour am/pm format
\A     the current time in 24-hour HH:MM format
\u     the username of the current user
\v     the version of bash (e.g., 2.00)
\V     the release of bash, version + patch level (e.g., 2.00.0)
\w     the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde
       (uses the value of the PROMPT_DIRTRIM variable)
\W     the basename of the current working directory, with $HOME
       abbreviated with a tilde
\!     the history number of this command
\#     the command number of this command
\$     if the effective UID is 0, a #, otherwise a $
\nnn   the character corresponding to the octal number nnn
\\     a backslash
\[     begin a sequence of non-printing characters, which could be used to
       embed a terminal control sequence into the prompt
\]     end a sequence of non-printing characters

As an example, the default PS1 definition on many GNU/Linux systems uses four of these codes:


The \! escape sequence, which expands to the history item number of the current command, is worth a look in particular. Including this in your prompt allows you to quickly refer to other commands you may have entered in your current session by history number with a ! prefix, without having to actually consult history :

$ PS1="(\!)\$"
(6705)$ echo "test"
(6706)$ !6705
echo "test"

Keep in mind that you can refer to history commands relatively rather than by absolute number. The previous command can be referenced by using !! or !-1 , and the one before that by !-2 , and so on, provided that you have left the histexpand option on.

Also of particular interest are the delimiters \[ and \] . You can use these to delimit sections of "non-printing characters", typically things like terminal control characters to do things like moving the cursor around, starting to print in another color, or changing properties of the terminal emulator such as the title of the window. Placing these non-printing characters within these delimiters prevents the terminal from assuming an actual character has been printed, and hence correctly manages things like the user deleting characters on the command line.


There are two schools of thought on the use of color in prompts, very much a matter of opinion:

If you agree more with the first opinion than the second, you can probably just skip to the next section of this article.

Printing text in color in terminals is done with escape sequences, prefixed with the \e character as above. Within one escape sequence, the foreground, background, and any styles for the characters that follow can be set.

For example, to include only your username in red text as your prompt, you might use the following PS1 definition:


Broken down, the opening sequence works as follows:

The terminating sequence is very similar, except it uses the 0 display attribute to reset the text that follows back to the terminal defaults.

The valid display attributes for 16-color terminals are:

Note that blink may not work on a lot of terminals, often by design, as it tends to be unduly distracting. It'll work on a linux console, though. Also keep in mind that for a lot of terminal emulators, by default "bright" colors are printed in bold.

More than one of these display attributes can be applied in one hit by separating them with semicolons. The below will give you underlined white text on a blue background, after first resetting any existing attributes:


It's helpful to think of these awkward syntaxes in terms of opening and closing, rather like HTML tags, so that you open before and then reset after all the attributes of a section of styled text. This usually amounts to printing \[\e[0m\] after each such passage.

These sequences are annoying to read and to type, so it helps to put commonly used styles into variables:



A more robust method is to use the tput program to print the codes for you, and put the results into variables:

color_red=$(tput setaf 1)
color_blue=$(tput setaf 4)

This may be preferable if you use some esoteric terminal types, as it queries the terminfo or termcap databases to generate the appropriate escapes for your terminal.

The set of eight colors -- or sixteen, depending on how you look at it -- can be extended to 256 colors in most modern terminal emulators with a little extra setup. The escape sequences are not very different, but their range is vastly increased to accommodate the larger palette.

A useful application for prompt color can be a quick visual indication of the privileges available to the current user. The following code changes the prompt to green text for a normal user, red for root , and yellow for any other user attained via sudo :

color_root=$(tput setaf 1)
color_user=$(tput setaf 2)
color_sudo=$(tput setaf 3)
color_reset=$(tput sgr0)

if (( EUID == 0 )); then
elif [[ $SUDO_USER ]]; then

Otherwise, you could simply use color to make different regions of your prompt more or less visually prominent.


Provided the promptvars option is enabled, you can reference Bash variables like $? to get the return value of the previous command in your prompt string. Some people find this valuable to show error codes in the prompt when the previous command given fails:

$ shopt -s promptvars
$ PS1='$? \$'
1 $ echo "test"
0 $ fail
-bash: fail: command not found
127 $

The usual environment variables like USER and HOME will work too, though it's preferable to use the escape sequences above for those particular variables. Note that it's important to quote the variable references as well, so that they're evaluated at runtime, and not during the assignment itself.


If the information you want in your prompt isn't covered by any of the escape codes, you can include the output of commands in your prompt as well, using command substitution with the syntax $(command) :

$ PS1='[$(uptime) ]\$ '
[ 01:21:59 up 7 days, 13:04,  7 users, load average: 0.30, 0.40, 0.36 ]$

This requires the promptvars option to be set, the same way variables in the prompt do. Again, note that you need to use single quotes so that the command is run when the prompt is being formed, and not immediately as part of the assignment.

This can include pipes to format the data with tools like awk or cut , if you only need a certain part of the output:

$ PS1='[$(uptime | cut -d: -f5) ]\$ '
[ 0.36, 0.34, 0.34 ]$

For clarity, during prompt setup in .bashrc , it makes sense to use functions instead for reasonably complex commands:

prompt_load() {
    uptime | cut -d: -f5
PS1='[$(prompt_load) ]'$PS1

Note that as a normal part of command substitution, trailing newlines are stripped from the output of the command, so here the output of uptime appears on a single line.

A common usage of this pattern is showing metadata about the current directory, particularly if it happens to be a version control repository or working copy; you can use this syntax with functions to show the type of version control system, the current branch, and whether any changes require committing. Working with Git, Mercurial, and Subversion most often, I include the relevant logic as part of my prompt function .

When appended to my PS1 string, $(prompt vcs) gives me prompts that look like the following when I'm in directories running under the appropriate VCS. The exclamation marks denote that there are uncommitted changes in the repositories.


In general, where this really shines is adding pieces to your prompt conditionally , to make them collapsible. Certain sections of your prompt therefore only show up if they're relevant. This snippet, for example, prints the number of jobs running in the background of the current interactive shell in curly brackets, but only if the count is non-zero:

prompt_jobs() {
    local jobc
    while read -r _; do
    done < <(jobs -p)
    if ((jobc > 0)); then
        printf '{%d}' "$jobc"

It's important to make sure that none of what your prompt does takes too long to run; an unresponsive prompt can make your terminal sessions feel very clunky.

Note that you can also arrange to run a set of commands before the prompt is evaluated and printed, using the PROMPT_COMMAND . This tends to be a good place to put commands that don't actually print anything, but that do need to be run before or after each command, such as operations working with history :

PROMPT_COMMAND='history -a'

If you have a very elaborate or perhaps even computationally expensive prompt, it may occasionally be necessary to turn it off to revert to a simpler one. I like to handle this by using functions, one of which sets up my usual prompt and is run by default, and another which changes the prompt to the minimal $ or # character so often used in terminal demonstrations. Something like the below works well:

prompt_on() {
    PS1="$color_prompt"'\u@\h:\w'"$(prompt_jobs)"'\$'"${color_reset}"' '
prompt_off() {

You can then switch your prompt whenever you need to by typing prompt_on and prompt_off .

This can also be very useful if you want to copy text from your terminal into documentation, or into an IM or email message; it removes your distracting prompt from the text, where it would otherwise almost certainly differ from that of the user following your instructions. This is also occasionally helpful if your prompt does not work on a particular machine, or the machine is suffering a very high load average that means your prompt is too slow to load.

Further reading

Predefined prompt strings are all over the web, but the above will hopefully enable you to dissect what they're actually doing more easily and design your own. To take a look at some examples, the relevant page on the Arch Wiki is a great start. Ramesh Natarajan over at The Geek Stuff has a great article with some examples as well, with the curious theme of making your prompt as well-equipped as Angelina Jolie .

Finally, please feel free to share your prompt setup in the comments (whether you're a Bash user or not). It would be particularly welcome if you explain why certain sections of your prompt are so useful to you for your particular work.

[Nov 01, 2017] Actually using ed by Tom Ryder

Notable quotes:
"... Update 2016: Recent Hacker News discussion has reminded me of my long-standing mistake in asserting that ed(1) is included in every Unix and Unix-like system's base installation. This is not even close to true–many others exclude it–and the claim has been removed, which I should have done years ago. ..."
"... Thanks to A. Pedro Cunha for a couple of fixes to show correct typical output. ..."
Jun 17, 2012 |

The classic ed editor is a really good example of a sparse, minimal, standard Unix tool that does one thing, and does it well. Because there are so many good screen-oriented editors for Unix, there's seldom very much call for using ed , unless you're working on very old or very limited hardware that won't run anything else.

However, if part of the reason you use vi is because you think it will always be there (it may not be), then you should learn ed too. If your terminal is broken and neither vi nor nano will work, or you break it some other way, your choices may well be between cat and ed . Or even the grand heresy of sed -i

Not a friendly editor

Even more than its uppity grandchild ex / vi , ed has developed a reputation as terse and intimidating to newcomers. When you type ed at the command line, nothing happens, and the only error message presented by default is ? . If you're reading this, it's likely your first and only experience with ed went something like this:

$ ed
Invalid command suffix
$ killall ed
$ vi

So, ed is not a terribly intuitive editor. However, it's not nearly as hard to learn as it might seem, especially if you're a veteran vi user and thereby comfortable with the ex command set. With a little practice, you can actually get rather quick with it; there's an elegance to its almost brutal simplicity.

It's also very interesting to learn how ed works and how to use it, not just because it might very well be useful for you one day, but because it occupies an important position in the heritage of the sed stream editor, the ex line editor, the vi visual editor, the grep tool, and many other contexts.

Why is ed so terse?

When ed was developed, the usual method of accessing a Unix system was via a teletype device, on which it wouldn't have been possible to use a screen-oriented editor like vi . Similarly, modems were slow, and memory was precious; using abbreviated commands and terse error messages made a lot of sense, because the user would otherwise be wasting a lot of time waiting for the terminal to react to commands, and didn't have a whole lot of memory to throw around for anything besides the buffer of text itself.

Of course, this is almost a non-issue for most Unix-like systems nowadays, so one of the first things we'll do is make ed a little bit less terse and more user-friendly.

Error messages

Start ed up the usual way:

$ ed

We'll start by deliberately doing something wrong. Type b and press Enter:


There's that tremendously unhelpful ? again. But if you press h , you can see what went wrong:

Unknown command

Of course, since it's the future now, we can spare the terminal cycles to have ed print the error message for us every time. You can set this up by pressing H :

Unknown command

That's a bit more useful, and should make things easier.


You can quit ed with q . Go ahead and do that. If you had unsaved changes in a buffer, you could type Q to quit unconditionally. Repeating yourself works too:

Warning: buffer modified
Command prompt

Let's invoke ed again, but this time we'll use the -p option to specify a command prompt :

$ ed -p\*

We'll use that from now on, which will make things clearer both for interpreting this tutorial and for remembering whether we're in command mode, or entering text. It might even be a good idea to make it into a function :

$ ed() { command ed -p\* "$@" ; }
Basic text input

We'll start by adding a couple of lines of text to the new buffer. When you start ed with no filename, it starts an empty buffer for you, much like vi does.

Because there are no lines at all at present, press a to start adding some at the editor's current position:

Start typing a few lines.
Anything you want, really.
Just go right ahead.
When you're done, just type a period by itself.

That's added four new lines to the buffer, and left the editor on line 4. You can tell that's the case because typing p for print, just by itself, prints the fourth line:

When you're done, just type a period by itself.

A little more useful is n (or pn in some versions), which will show both the line number and the contents of the line:

4       When you're done, just type a period by itself.

So just like in ex , the current line is the default for most commands. You can make this explicit by referring to the current line as . :

4       When you're done, just type a period by itself.

You can move to a line just by typing its number, which will also print it as a side effect:

Just go right ahead.
3       Just go right ahead.

Pressing a like you did before will start inserting lines after the current line:

Entering another line.
4       Entering another line.

Pressing i will allow you to insert lines before the current line:

A line before the current line.
4       A line before the current line.

You can replace a line with c :

I decided I like this line better.
4       I decided I like this line better.

You can delete lines with d :


And join two or more lines together with j :


You can prepend an actual line number to any of these commands to move to that line before running the command on it:

Here's a replacement line.
1       Here's a replacement line.

For most of these commands, the last line to be changed will become the new current line.


You can select the entire buffer with 1,$ or , for short ( % works too):

Here's a replacement line.
Just go right ahead.
I decided I liked this line better.
Entering another line.

Or a limited range of specific lines:

Just go right ahead.
I decided I liked this line better.

These ranges can include a reference to the current line with . :

Just go right ahead.
Just go right ahead.
I decided I liked this line better.
Entering another line.

They can also include relative line numbers, prefixed with + or - :

Here's a replacement line.
Just go right ahead.
I decided I liked this line better.

You can drop a mark on a line with k followed by a lowercase letter such as a , and you're then able to refer to it in ranges as 'a :

I decided I liked this line better.
Moving and copying

Move a line or range of lines to after a target line with m :

I decided I liked this line better.
Entering another line.
Here's a replacement line.
Just go right ahead.

Copy lines to after a target line with t :

I decided I liked this line better.
Entering another line.
Here's a replacement line.
Just go right ahead.
Entering another line.
Regular expressions

You can select lines based on classic regular expressions with the g operator. To print all lines matching the regular expression /re/ :

Here's a replacement line.

(Hmm, where have I seen that command before?)

You can invert the match to work with lines that don't match the expression with v :

I decided I liked this line better.
Entering another line.
Just go right ahead.
Entering another line.

Just like numbered line ranges, ranges selected with regular expressions can have other operations applied to them. To move every line containing the expression /re/ to the bottom of the file:

I decided I liked this line better.
Entering another line.
Just go right ahead.
Entering another line.
Here's a replacement line.

You can move to the next line after the current one matching a regular expression with / . Again, this will print the line's contents as a side effect.

I decided I like this line better.

You can search backward with ? :

Here's a replacement line.

You can substitute for the first occurrence per line of an expression within a range of lines with the s command:

I decjded I like this line better.

You can substitute for all the matches on each line by adding the /g suffix:

I decjded I ljke thjs ljne better.
Reading and writing

You can write the current buffer to a file with w , which will also print the total number of bytes written:

*w ed.txt

Having done this once, you can omit the filename for the rest of the session:


Like most ed commands, w can be prefixed with a range to write only a subset of lines to the file. This would write lines 1 to 4 to the file ed.txt :

*1,4w ed.txt

You can use W to append to a file, rather than replace it. This would write lines 3 to 5 to the end of the file ed.txt :


You can read in the contents of another file after the current line (or any other line) with r . Again, this will print the number of bytes read.

*r /etc/hosts

The output of a command can be included by prefixing it with ! :

*r !ps -e

If you just want to load the contents of a file or the output of a command into the buffer, replacing what's already there, use e , or E if you've got an unmodified buffer and don't care about replacing it:

*E ed.txt

If you don't like seeing the byte counts each time, you can start ed with the -s option for "quiet mode".

Familiar syntax

Almost all of the above command sets will actually be familiar to vi users who know a little about ex , or Vimscript in Vim. It will also be familiar to those who have used sed at least occasionally.

Once you get good with ed , it's possible you'll find yourself using it now and then to make quick edits to files, even on systems where your favourite screen-based editor will load promptly. You could even try using ex .

Update 2016: Recent Hacker News discussion has reminded me of my long-standing mistake in asserting that ed(1) is included in every Unix and Unix-like system's base installation. This is not even close to true–many others exclude it–and the claim has been removed, which I should have done years ago.

Thanks to A. Pedro Cunha for a couple of fixes to show correct typical output.

[Nov 01, 2017] Advanced Vim registers by Tom Ryder

Oct 24, 2012 |

Posted on Registers in Vim are best thought of as scratch spaces for text, some of which are automatically filled by the editor in response to certain actions. Learning how to use registers fluently has a lot of subtle benefits, although it takes some getting used to because the syntax for using them is a little awkward.

If you're reasonably fluent with Vim by now, it's likely you're already familiar with the basic usage of the 26 named registers , corresponding to the letters of the alphabet. These are commonly used for recording macros ; for example, to record a series of keystrokes into register a , you might start recording with qa , and finish with q ; your keystrokes could then be executed with @a .

Similarly, we can store text from the buffer itself rather than commands in these registers, by prepending "a to any command which uses a register, such as the c , d , and y commands:

Like many things in Vim, there's a great deal more functionality to registers for those willing to explore.

Note that here I'll be specifically ignoring the * , + , and ~ registers; that's another post about the generally unpleasant business of making Vim play nice with system clipboards. Instead, I'll be focussing on stuff that only applies within a Vim session. All of this is documented in :help registers .

Capital registers

Yanking and deleting text into registers normally replaces the previous contents of that register. In some cases it would be preferable to append to a register, for example while cherry-picking different lines from the file to be pasted elsewhere. This can be done by simply capitalizing the name of the register as it's referenced:

This works for any context in which an alphabetical register can be used. Similarly, to append to a macro already recorded in register a , we can start recording with qA to add more keystrokes to it.

Viewing register contents

A good way to start getting a feel for how all the other registers work is to view a list of them with their contents during an editing session with :registers . This will show the contents of any register used in the editing session. It might look something like this, a little inscrutable at first:

--- Registers ---
""   Note that much of it includes
"0   execut
"1   ^J^J
"2   16 Oct (2 days ago)^J^Jto Jeff, Alan ^JHi Jeff (cc Alan);^J^JPlease 
"3   <?php^Jheader("Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8");^J?>^J.^J
"4   ^J
"5   Business-+InternationalTrade-TelegraphicTransfers-ReceivingInternati
"6   ../^J
"7       diff = auto^J    status = auto^J    branch = auto^J    interacti
"8   ^J[color]^J    ui = auto^J    diff = auto^J    status = auto^J    br
"9       ui = true^J
"a    escrow
"b   03wdei^R=2012-^R"^M^[0j
"c   a
"e   dui{<80>kb^[^[
"g   ^[gqqJgqqjkV>JgqqJV>^[Gkkkjo^[I[4]: ^[k
"h   ^[^Wh:w^Mgg:w^M^L:w^Mjk/src^Mllhh
"j   jjjkkkA Goo<80>kb<80>kb<80>kbThis one is good pio<80>kbped through a
"-   Note that much of it includes
".    OIt<80>kb<80>kb<80>kbIt might looks <80>kb<80>kb something like thi
":   register
"%   advanced-vim-registers.markdown
"/   Frij

The first column contains the name of the register, and the second its contents. The contents of any of these registers can be pasted into the buffer with "ap , where a is the name of any of them. Note that there are considerably more registers than just the named alphabetical ones mentioned above.

Unnamed register

The unnamed register is special in that it's always written to in operations, no matter whether you specified another register or not. Thus if you delete a line with dd , the line's contents are put into the unnamed register; if you delete it with "add , the line's contents are put into both the unnamed register and into register a .

If you need to explicitly reference the contents of this register, you can use " , meaning you'd reference it by tapping " twice: "" . One handy application for this is that you can yank text into the unnamed register and execute it directly as a macro with @" .

Man, and you thought Perl looked like line noise.

Black hole register

Another simple register worth mentioning is the black hole register , referenced with "_ . This register is special in that everything written to it is discarded. It's the /dev/null of the Vim world; you can put your all into it, and it'll never give anything back. A pretty toxic relationship.

This may not seem immediately useful, but it does come in handy when running an operation that you don't want to clobber the existing contents of the unnamed register. For example, if you deleted three lines into the unnamed register with 3dd with the intent of pasting them elsewhere with p , but you wanted to delete another line before doing so, you could do that with "_dd ; line gone, and no harm done.

Numbered registers

The read-only registers 0 through 9 are your "historical record" registers. The register 0 will always contain the most recently yanked text , but never deleted text; this is handy for performing a yank operation, at least one delete operation, and then pasting the text originally yanked with "0p .

The registers 1 through 9 are for deleted text , with "1 referencing the most recently deleted text, "2 the text deleted before that, and so on up to "9 .

The small delete register

This read-only register, referenced by "- , stores any text that you deleted or changed that was less than one line in length, unless you specifically did so into some other named register. So if you just deleted three characters with 3x , you'll find it in here.

Last inserted text register

The read-only register ". contains the text that you last inserted. Don't make the mistake of using this to repeat an insert operation, though; just tap . for that after you leave insert mode, or have the foresight to prepend a number to your insert operation; for example, 6i .

Filename registers

The read-only register "% contains the name of the current buffer's file. Similarly, the "# register contains the name of the alternate buffer's file.

Command registers

The read-only register ": contains the most recently executed : command, such as :w or :help . This is likely only of interest to you if you're wanting to paste your most recent command into your Vim buffer. For everything else, such as repeating or editing previous commands, you will almost certainly want to use the command window .

Search registers

The read-only register / contains the most recent search pattern; this can be handy for inserting the search pattern on the command line, by pressing Ctrl-R and then / -- very useful for performing substitutions using the last search pattern.

Expression register

Here's the black sheep of the bunch. The expression register = is used to treat the results of arbitrary expressions in register context. What that means in actual real words is that you can use it as a calculator, and the result is returned from the register.

Whenever the expression register is referenced, the cursor is put on the command line to input an expression, such as 2+2 , which is ended with a carriage return.

This means in normal mode you can type "=2+2<Enter>p , and 4 will be placed after the cursor; in insert or command mode you can use Ctrl-R then =2+2<Enter> for the same result. If you don't find this syntax as impossibly awkward as I do, then this may well suit you for quick inline calculations personally, I'd drop to a shell and bust out bc for this.

Knowing your registers well isn't as profound a productivity boost as squelching a few of the other Vim anti-patterns , but it can certainly save you some of the annoyance of lost text. Posted in Vim Tagged advanced , black hole , expression , named , numbered , read-only , registers , unnamed Start Vim with splits Posted on September 11, 2012 by Tom Ryder If you want to call Vim to edit more than one file, you can add an option to the command line to open all of the buffers in split windows on startup:

Command line splits

The same can also be done for tabs:

Command line tabs Posted in Vim Tagged command line , option , splits , start , tabs

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim filename completion

Oct 31, 2017 |

Posted on February 1, 2012 by Tom Ryder The autocompletion for filenames in Vim in command mode is very useful, but by default it's a bit confusing for people accustomed to tab completion in Bash because it doesn't quite work the same way. Pressing Tab will complete the filename to the first match, and subsequent presses will not elicit any list of possible completions that might otherwise be expected; for that, by default you need to press Ctrl+D rather than Tab. Tab then tab

Fortunately, this is easily changed by using Vim's wildmenu , in an appropriate mode. Set the following options in your .vimrc :

set wildmenu
set wildmode=longest,list

You should now find that when you complete filenames after commands like :w and :e , the paths expand in a similar manner to the way they do in the shell. If you'd prefer to only press Tab once to get both the longest matching unique string and a list of possible complete matches, that's possible to arrange in both Bash and Vim as well.

Ignoring file types

There are probably certain filetypes in your directories that you'll never want to edit with Vim. There's hence no point in making them options for the autocompletion, and you can exclude them by pattern to make searching for the right file a bit quicker. This is done using the wildignore pattern. I use the following settings:

set wildignore+=*.a,*.o
set wildignore+=*.bmp,*.gif,*.ico,*.jpg,*.png
set wildignore+=.DS_Store,.git,.hg,.svn
set wildignore+=*~,*.swp,*.tmp

For the sake of keeping my .vimrc consistent and compatible on both older and newer machines, I like to wrap these options in a conditional block checking that the wildmenu feature is actually available:

" Wildmenu
if has("wildmenu")
    set wildignore+=*.a,*.o
    set wildignore+=*.bmp,*.gif,*.ico,*.jpg,*.png
    set wildignore+=.DS_Store,.git,.hg,.svn
    set wildignore+=*~,*.swp,*.tmp
    set wildmenu
    set wildmode=longest,list
Insert mode

You can also complete file paths and names in insert mode with Ctrl+X Ctrl+F. It can be handy to map this to Tab if you don't use it for anything else:

inoremap <Tab> <C-X><C-F>

[Oct 31, 2017] Safely editing as root

Oct 31, 2017 |

Posted on February 2, 2012 by Tom Ryder Certain files on a UNIX-like system, such as /etc/passwd and /etc/sudoers , are integral for managing login and authentication, and it's thus necessary to be very careful while editing them using sudo not to accidentally leave them in a corrupted state, or to allow others to edit them at the same time as you. In the worst case scenario it's possible to lock yourself out of a system or out of root privileges in doing this, and things can only be fixed via physical access to the server or someone who knows the actual root password, which you may not necessarily know as a sudo user.

You should therefore never edit /etc/passwd , /etc/group , or /etc/sudoers by simply invoking them in your editor of choice. A set of simple utilities exist to help you make these edits safely.

vipw and vigr

If you want to safely edit the /etc/passwd file, for which you'll need to have root privileges, you should use the vipw tool. It doesn't require an argument.

# vipw

This will load a temporary copy of the file into your $EDITOR , and allow you to make changes. If all is well after you save and quit, you'll see a message like:

You have modified /etc/passwd.
You may need to modify /etc/shadow for consistency.
Please use the command 'vipw -s' to do so.

If you've made changes which might require changing something in the /etc/shadow file, you should follow these instructions too.

The command to edit groups, vigr , works in much the same way:

# vigr

The analogous tool for editing the /etc/sudoers file is visudo . This file not only does the necessary lock and file corruption checking as vipw does, it also does some basic checking of the syntax of the file after you save it.

# visudo

If the changes you make to this file work correctly, you'll simply be returned to your prompt. However, if you've made some sort of edit that means sudo won't be able to correctly parse the file, you'll get warned and prompted for an appropriate action:

visudo: >>> /etc/sudoers: syntax error near line 28 <<<
visudo: >>> /etc/sudoers: syntax error near line 29 <<<
visudo: >>> /etc/sudoers: syntax error near line 29 <<<
What now?

If you press ? here and then Enter, you'll get a list of the actions you can take:

Options are:
(e)dit sudoers file again
e(x)it without saving changes to sudoers file
(Q)uit and save changes to sudoers file (DANGER!)

You'll probably want the first one, to edit your changes again and make them work properly, but you may want to hose them and start again via the second option. You should only choose the third if you absolutely know what you're doing.


In general, you can edit root-owned files using sudoedit , or sudo -e , which will operate on temporary copies of the file and overwrite the original if changes are detected:

$ sudo -e /etc/network/interfaces

This has the added bonus of preserving all of your environment variables for the editing session, which may not be the case when invoking an editor and file via sudo . This turns out to be handy for newer versions of sudo which do not preserve the user's $HOME directory by default, meaning that configuration files for your editor, such as .vimrc , might not be read.

[Oct 31, 2017] Faster Vim search/replace by Tom Ryder

Apr 29, 2012 |

Entering search patterns and replacement strings in Vim can sometimes be a pain, particularly if the search or replacement text is already available in a register or under the cursor. There are a few ways to make working with search and replace in Vim quicker and less cumbersome for some common operations, and thereby save a bit of error-prone typing. Insert contents of a register

As in command mode or insert mode, you can insert the contents of any register by pressing Ctrl+R and then the register key. For example, to directly insert the contents of register a , you can type Ctrl+R and then a while typing a search pattern or replacement string.

Reference contents of a register

Similarly, if you want to use the contents of a register in a pattern or replacement but don't want to directly insert it, you can instead reference the contents of register a with \=@a :


Both of the above tips work for both the search and replacement patterns, and for special registers like " (default unnamed register) and / (last searched text) as well as the alphabetical ones.

Insert word under cursor

If you happen to be hovering over a word that you want to use as as a search or replacement string, as a special case of the above you can do so by typing Ctrl+R and then Ctrl+W for a normal word, or Ctrl+R and then Ctrl+A for a space-delimited word.

Empty search string

You can use the previous search as a search pattern or replacement string by including it from the special / register, in the same way as any other register above, by inserting it with Ctrl+R and then / , or representing it with \=@/ . There's a convenient shorthand for this however in just using an empty search string:


This will replace all occurences of the previous search string with replacement . It turns out to be a particularly convenient shorthand when searching for words by pressing * or # .

[Oct 31, 2017] Advanced Vim macros by Tom Ryder

Notable quotes:
"... macros are just text ..."
"... Thanks to user bairui for suggesting a safer alternative for yanking macro lines from buffers, which I've changed. He's written a whole blog post replying to this one. It's a good read if you're interested in going in to even more depth about when to use macros in Vim. ..."
Jun 04, 2012 |

Vim's massive command set in both normal and command mode makes the concept of a macro especially powerful. Most Vim users, if they ever use macros at all, will perhaps quickly record an edit to one line, starting with qq and finishing with q , executing with @q , and otherwise never give the concept much thought.

For slightly more advanced Vim users, macros may be more frequently useful, but they perhaps still believe that macros are a niche Vim function unto themselves, and not really open to the deft manipulation of text that pretty much everything else in Vim is.

As is typical in Vim, the rabbit hole of functionality goes much deeper than most users will ever plumb.

Vanilla Vim macros

Suppose I had a plaintext table loaded into a Vim buffer containing the name, subject matter expertise, birth year, and nationality of a few well-known programmers:

Stallman  Richard GNU 1953  USA
Wall  Larry   Perl  1954  USA
Moolenar  Bram  Vim 1961  Netherlands
Tridgell  Andrew  Samba  1967  Australia
Matsumoto  Yukihiro  Ruby  1965  Japan
Ritchie  Dennis  C  1941  USA
Thompson  Ken  Unix  1943  USA

Actually, that's kind of untidy. Let's start by formatting it a bit, by running it through Unix's column tool.

:%!column -t

Stallman   Richard   GNU    1953  USA
Wall       Larry     Perl   1954  USA
Moolenar   Bram      Vim    1961  Netherlands
Tridgell   Andrew    Samba  1967  Australia
Matsumoto  Yukihiro  Ruby   1965  Japan
Ritchie    Dennis    C      1941  USA
Thompson   Ken       Unix   1943  USA

May as well sort it by surname too:

:%!sort -k1

Matsumoto  Yukihiro  Ruby   1965  Japan
Moolenar   Bram      Vim    1961  Netherlands
Ritchie    Dennis    C      1941  USA
Stallman   Richard   GNU    1953  USA
Thompson   Ken       Unix   1943  USA
Tridgell   Andrew    Samba  1967  Australia
Wall       Larry     Perl   1954  USA

That's better.

Now, suppose we've got the task of replacing the fourth column of this table with the approximate age of the person, which we can get naturally enough by sutracting their birth year from the current year. This is a little awkward to do in pure ex, so we'll record a macro for doing it on one line.

Experimenting a bit, we find that the following works well:


Broken down, this does the following:

So we record it into a macro a (to stand for "age", no other reason) as we fix up the first line:


Matsumoto  Yukihiro  Ruby   47  Japan
Moolenar   Bram      Vim    1961  Netherlands
Ritchie    Dennis    C      1941  USA
Stallman   Richard   GNU    1953  USA
Thompson   Ken       Unix   1943  USA
Tridgell   Andrew    Samba  1967  Australia
Wall       Larry     Perl   1954  USA

This now means that for each line, we can run the macro by just tapping @a a few times:

Matsumoto  Yukihiro  Ruby   47  Japan
Moolenar   Bram      Vim    51  Netherlands
Ritchie    Dennis    C      71  USA
Stallman   Richard   GNU    59  USA
Thompson   Ken       Unix   69  USA
Tridgell   Andrew    Samba  45  Australia
Wall       Larry     Perl   58  USA

That's all pretty stock-standard macro stuff that you'll likely have learned in other tutorials. The only thing that's slightly voodoo (and certainly not vi-compatible) is the arithmetic done with the special = register. You can read about that in :help @= , if you're curious.

Repeating Vim macros

As a first very simple hint, if you're running a macro several times, don't forget that you can prepend a count to it; in our case, 6@a would have fixed up all the remaining lines. To take advantage of this, it's good practice to compose your macros so that they make sense when run multiple times; in the example above, note that the end of the macro is moving down onto the next line, ready to run the macro again if appropriate.

Similarly, if you've already run a macro once, you can run the same one again by just tapping the @ key twice, @@ . This repeats the last run macro. Again, you can prepend a count to this, @a5@@ .

The true nature of Vim macros

The registers that hold macros are the same registers that you probably use more frequently for operations like deleting, yanking, and pasting. Running a macro is simply instructing Vim to take the contents of a register and execute them as keystrokes, as if you were actually typing them. Thinking about macros this way has a couple of interesting consequences.

First of all, it means you needn't restrict yourself to the single-keystroke vi commands for Vim when you compose macros. You can include ex commands as well, for example to run a substitution during a macro:


Secondly, and more interestingly, all of the operations that you can apply to registers in general work with what we normally call macros, with the old standards, delete, yank, and paste. You can test this with the example macro demonstrated above, by typing "ap , which will dump the raw text straight into the buffer. Also like other registers, it'll show up in the output of the :registers command.

All this means is that like everything else in Vim, macros are just text , and all of Vim's clever tools can be used to work with them.

Editing Vim macros in a buffer

If you've used macros even a little bit you'll be very familiar with how frustrating they are to record. For some reason, as soon as you press qa to start recording a macro into register a , your normal fluency with Vim commands goes out the window and you keep making mistakes that will make the macro unsuitable to apply.

So, don't compose macros on the fly. Just stop doing it. I recommend that if a macro is more than three keystrokes, you should compose it directly in a scratch Vim buffer so that you can test it iteratively.

Here's an example using the macro above; suppose I realise partway through writing it that I made a mistake in typing 2011 instead of 2012. I finish recording the rest of the macro anyway, and dump the broken keystrokes into a new scratch buffer:


This gives me the contents of the macro in plain text in the buffer:


So now all I have to do is change that bad year to 2012, and then yank the whole thing back into register a :


Now I can test it directly with @a on the appropriate file, and if it's still wrong, I just jump back to my scratch buffer and keep fixing it up until it works.

One potential snag here is that you have to enter keystrokes like Ctrl+R as literal characters, but once you know you can enter any keystroke in Vim literally in insert or command mode by prefixing it with Ctrl+V, that isn't really a problem. So to enter a literal Ctrl+R in insert mode, you type Ctrl+V, then Ctrl+R.

Running a Vim macro on a set of lines

It's occasionally handy to be able to run a macro that you've got ready on a specific subset of lines of the file, or perhaps just for every line. Fortunately, there's a way to do this, too.

Using the :normal command, you're able to run macros from the ex command line:

:normal @a

All it takes is prefixing this with any sort of range definition to allow you to run a macro on any set of lines that you're able to define.

Run the macro on each line of the whole buffer:

:% normal @a

Between lines 10 and 20:

:10,20 normal @a

On the lines in the current visual selection:

:'<,'> normal @a

On the lines containing the pattern vim:

:g/vim/ normal @a

When you get confident using this, :norm is a nice abbreviation to use.

Moving a Vim macro into a function

For really useful macros of your own devising, it's occasionally handy to put it into a function for use in scripts or keystroke mappings. Here again the :normal command comes in handy.

Suppose I wanted to keep the age calculation macro defined above for later use on spreadsheets of this kind. I'd start by dumping it into a new buffer:


The macro appears as raw text:


I prefix it with a :normal call, and wrap a function definition around it:

function! CalculateAge()
    normal 03wdei^R=2012-^R"^M^[0j 

Then all I need to do is include that in a file that gets loaded during Vim's startup, possibly just .vimrc . I can call it directly from ex:

:call CalculateAge()

But given that I wanted it to be a quick-access macro, maybe it's better to bind it to \a , or whatever your chosen <leader> character is:

nnoremap <leader>a :call CalculateAge()<CR>
Saving a Vim macro

If you want to have a macro always available to you, that is, always loaded into the appropriate register at startup, that can be done in your .vimrc file with a call to let to fill the register with the literal characters required:

let @a='03wdei^R=2012-^R"^M^[0j'
Appending extra keystrokes to a Vim macro

If you just want to tack extra keystrokes onto an existing macro and don't care to edit it in a Vim buffer, you can do that by recording into it with its capital letter equivalent. So, if you wanted to add more keystrokes into the register b , start recording with qB , and finish with the usual q .

Recursive Vim macros

If you're crazy enough to need this, and I never have, there's an excellent Vim Tip for it. But personally, I think if you need recursion in your text processing then it's time to bust out a real programming language and not Vimscript to solve your problem.

If the issue for which you think you need recursion is running a macro on every line of a buffer with an arbitrary number of lines, then you don't need recursion; just record a one-line version of the macro and call it with :% normal @a to run it on every line.

Vim macro gotchas

Here are a few gotchas which will save you some frustration if you know about them ahead of time:

Thanks to user bairui for suggesting a safer alternative for yanking macro lines from buffers, which I've changed. He's written a whole blog post replying to this one. It's a good read if you're interested in going in to even more depth about when to use macros in Vim. Posted in Vim Tagged advanced , copy , functions , keep , macros , normal , paste , preserve , registers , vimrc , yank

[Oct 31, 2017] Local .vimrc files by Tom Ryder

May 26, 2012 |

If you can, it's a good idea to set up your .vimrc file using conditionals so that it's compatible on all of the systems with which you need to work. Using one .vimrc file enables you to include it as part of a centralized set of dotfiles that you can keep under version control .

However, if on a particular machine there's a special case which means you need to load some Vim directives for that machine, you can achieve this by way of a local Vim file kept in .vimrc.local , only on one particular machine, and detecting its existence before attempting to load it in your master .vimrc file with the following stanza:

if filereadable(glob("~/.vimrc.local")) 
    source ~/.vimrc.local

As an example, on one of the nameservers that I manage, I wanted to make sure that the correct filetype was loaded when editing zone files ending in .nz or .au for New Zealand and Australian domains. The following line in .vimrc.local did the trick:

autocmd BufNewFile,BufRead *.au,*.nz set filetype=bindzone

If the .vimrc.local file doesn't exist on any particular machine, Vim will simply not attempt to load it on startup.

Besides machine-specific code, this kind of setup may be advisable if you keep secret or potentially sensitive information in your .vimrc file that you wouldn't want published to a public version control tracker like GitHub, such as API keys, usernames, machine hostnames, or network paths.

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim eval feature by Tom Ryder

Jul 19, 2012 |

Using your .vimrc file on many machines with different versions and feature sets for Vim is generally not too much of a problem if you apply a little care in making a gracefully degrading .vimrc . In most cases, using the output of vim --version and checking the help files will tell you what features to check in order to determine which parts of your .vimrc configuration to load, and which to ignore.

There's one particular feature that's less obvious, though, and that's eval . Vim's help describes it like this in :help +eval :

N  *+eval*      expression evaluation |eval.txt|

The eval.txt document, in turn, describes the syntax for various features fundamental to Vimscript, including variables, functions, lists, and dictionaries.

All this makes eval perhaps the most central feature of Vim. Without it, Vim doesn't have much of its programmable nature, and remains not much more than classic vi . If your particular build of Vim doesn't include it, then Vimscript essentially does not work as a programming language, and elementary calls like function and let will throw errors:

E319: Sorry, the command is not available in this version: function
E319: Sorry, the command is not available in this version: let

If you're getting this kind of error, you're probably using a very stripped-down version of Vim that doesn't include eval . If you just want to prevent the error by ignoring a block of code if the feature is unavailable, you can do this with has() :

if has("eval")

Vim will still be perfectly functional as a vi -style editor without +eval , but if you're going to need any Vimscript at all, you should recompile Vim with a --with-features value for the ./configure line that does include it, such as normal , big , or huge , or install a more fully-featured packaged version. For example, on Debian-like systems, the vim-tiny package that is included in the netinst system does not include eval , but the vim and vim-runtime packages do.

Inspecting Vim's source, in particular the ex_docmd.c file, gives some indication of how fundamental this feature is, applying the C function ex_ni which simply prints the "not available" error shown above to a large number of control structures and statements if the FEAT_EVAL constant is not defined:

#ifndef FEAT_EVAL
# define ex_scriptnames     ex_ni
# define ex_finish      ex_ni
# define ex_echo        ex_ni
# define ex_echohl      ex_ni
# define ex_execute     ex_ni
# define ex_call        ex_ni
# define ex_if          ex_ni
# define ex_endif       ex_ni
# define ex_else        ex_ni
# define ex_while       ex_ni
# define ex_continue        ex_ni
# define ex_break       ex_ni
# define ex_endwhile        ex_ni
# define ex_throw       ex_ni
# define ex_try         ex_ni
# define ex_catch       ex_ni
# define ex_finally     ex_ni
# define ex_endtry      ex_ni
# define ex_endfunction     ex_ni
# define ex_let         ex_ni
# define ex_unlet       ex_ni
# define ex_lockvar     ex_ni
# define ex_unlockvar       ex_ni
# define ex_function        ex_ni
# define ex_delfunction     ex_ni
# define ex_return      ex_ni
# define ex_oldfiles        ex_ni

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim misconceptions by Tom Ryder

Jul 19, 2012 |

Vim isn't the best tool for every task, and there's no reason you shouldn't stick to your GUI IDE if you know it like the back of your hand and are highly productive in it. The very basic best practices for text editing in general apply just as well to more familiar editing interfaces as they do to Vim, so nobody should be telling you that Vim is right for everyone and everything and that you're wrong not to use it.

However, because Vim and vi -like editors in general have a lot of trouble shaking off the connotations of their serverside, terminal-only, mouseless past, there are a few persistent objections to even trying Vim that seem to keep cropping up. If you're someone curious about Vim but you heard it was useless for any of the following reasons, or if you're an experienced user looking to convince a hesitant neophyte to try Vim, the following list might clear a few things up.

Vim takes too long to learn

If you want analogues to all of the features in your IDE, that would likely take some time, just as it would in any other new editor. However, if all you need to start is to be able to enter text, move around, and load and save files, you just need to know:

To do pretty much everything Windows Notepad would let you do, on top of that you'd only need to learn:

From that point, you only get faster as you learn how to do new things. So saying that Vim takes weeks to learn is a bit disingenuous when the essentials can easily be mastered with a few minutes' practice.

Granted, the arrow keys are a bit of an anti-pattern , but you can worry about that later.

Vim has no GUI

Vim has a GUI version called Gvim for both Windows and Unix. For Mac OS X, the MacVim port is preferred. For experienced users the GUI's only real advantage over the terminal version is a wider color palette, but it has a toolbar and other GUI elements which some new users may find useful.

Vim doesn't have spell checking

Vim allows spell checking with system dictionaries, using :set spell and :set spelllang . Misspelt and unknown words are highlighted appropriately.

Vim doesn't have syntax highlighting

Vim has support for syntax highlighting that can be turned on with :syntax enable , for a very wide variety of programming languages, markup languages, and configuration file syntaxes.

Vim only allows eight colours

This is a limitation of terminal emulators rather than of Vim itself, but most modern GUI terminal emulators allow 256 colours anyway with a little extra setup. The GUI version, Gvim, has full color support with the familiar rrggbb color definitions.

Vim doesn't have class/function folding

Vim does in fact have support for folding , based on both code structure and manually defined boundaries. See :help folding for details.

Vim doesn't have autocompletion

Vim allows basic completion using words already in the current buffer, and also more advanced omnicompletion using language dictionaries for constants, variables, classes, and functions.

Vim doesn't have a file browser

Vim has had the Netrw plugin bundled for some time, which provides a pretty capable filesystem browser.

Vim can't do network editing

Again, the bundled Netrw plugin handles this. Editing files over FTP and SCP links is pretty transparent. You can open a file on a remote server by entering the following, which will prompt for your username and password:


When you're done editing, you just enter :w to save the file, and it's automatically uploaded for you. You can record your FTP credentials in a .netrc file to save having to type in usernames and passwords all the time. URIs with scp:// work the same way; with a good public key infrastructure set up, you can use Vim quite freely as a network-transparent editor.

Vim doesn't have tabs or windows

The model Vim uses for tabs and windows is rather different from most GUI editors, but both are supported and have been for some time.

Vim has too many modes

It has three major modes: normal mode, insert mode, and command mode. There's a fourth that's Vim-specific, called visual mode, for selecting text.

Most editors are modal in at least some respect; when you bring up a dialog box, or enter a prefix key to another command, you're effectively changing modes. The only real difference is that context shifts in Vim are at first less obvious; the screen doesn't look too different between normal, insert, and command mode.

The showmode option helps to distinguish between insert and normal mode, a common frustration for beginners. This gets easier when you get into the habit of staying out of insert mode when not actually entering text.

Vim doesn't work with the mouse

Vim works fine with the mouse , in both Gvim and xterm -like terminal emulators, if you really want it. You can change the position of the cursor, scroll through the document, and select text as normal. Setting the below generally does the trick:

:set mouse=a

However, even a little experience in Vim may show you that you don't need the mouse as much as you think. Careful use of the keyboard allows much more speed and precision, and it's quite easy to run a complex editing session without even moving from the keyboard's "home row", let alone all the way over to the mouse.

Vim doesn't do Unicode

Vim supports Unicode encodings with the encoding option. It's likely you'll only need to put the below in your .vimrc file and then never really think about encoding in your editor again:

:set encoding=utf-8
Vim isn't being developed or maintained

The original author of Vim, and its current maintainer and release manager, is Bram Moolenaar . At the time of writing, he is working for Google, and is paid to spend some of his time developing Vim. The development mailing list for Vim is very active, and patches are submitted and applied to the publically accessible Mercurial repository on a regular basis. Vim is not a dead project.

Vim is closed source

Vim isn't proprietary or closed source, and never has been. It uses its own GPL-compatible license called the Vim license .

The original vi used to be proprietary because Bill Joy based the code on the classic UNIX text editor ed , but its source code has now been released under a BSD-style license.

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim annoyances by Tom Ryder

Notable quotes:
"... Several of these fixes were inspired by Steve Losh's .vimrc file . Thanks also to commenters Alpha Chen and Rob Hoelz for suggestions. ..."
Aug 02, 2012 |

Like any highly interactive application, Vim has a few annoyances even for experienced users. Most of these consist of the editor doing something unexpected, particularly with motions or the behavior of regular expressions and registers. This is often due to vi and Vim being such venerable editors; their defaults sometimes make less sense decades after their creation.

Fortunately, Vim being the configurable editor that it is, many of the more common annoyances can be easily worked around. Bear in mind that not all of these are necessarily problems; if you actually prefer the way something behaves, you should stick with it.

Cursor jumps around while joining lines

If you want to keep the cursor in place when you join lines with J , you can do this, dropping a mark before the operation to which you return afterwards:

nnoremap J mzJ`z
Jumping lands on top or bottom of screen

If you'd like to center the window automatically around the cursor after jumping to a location with motions like n (next search pattern occurrence) or } (end of next paragraph), you can arrange that by remapping to add a zz after the motion:

nnoremap n nzz
nnoremap } }zz

If you don't need the jump to land you in the exact middle of the screen, but just don't want it to land right at the edge, you could also use scrolloff :

set scrolloff=10

Note that this also starts scrolling the window with single-line movements like j and k at this boundary, too, which you may not want.

Skipping lines when wrap is set

By default, the j and k keys don't move by row ; they move by line . This means that if you have the wrap option set, you might skip across several rows to reach the same point in an adjacent line.

This can be frustrating if you prefer the more intuitive behavior of moving up to the character immediately above the current one. If you don't like this behavior, you can fix it by mapping j to gj , and k to gk , which moves by rows rather than lines:

nnoremap j gj
nnoremap k gk

If you think you might need the default behavior at some point, you might want to include reverse mappings so you can move linewise with gj and gk :

nnoremap gj j
nnoremap gk k
Wrapping breaks words

By default, setting wrap displays lines by breaking words if necessary. You can force it to preserve words instead by only breaking at certain characters:

set linebreak

You can define the characters at which Vim should be allowed to break lines with the breakat option. By default this includes spaces and tabs.

Backup files are a nuisance

If you're developing with a version control system, you might find the in-place backups Vim keeps for saved files with the ~ suffix more annoying than useful. You can turn them off completely with nobackup :

set nobackup

Alternatively, you can set a single directory for them to keep them out of the way with backupdir :

set backupdir=~/.vim/backup
Swap files are a nuisance

Swap files can be similarly annoying, and unnecessary on systems with a lot of memory. If you don't need them, you can turn them off completely:

set noswapfile

If you do find the swap files useful but want to prevent them cluttering your current directory, you can set a directory for them with directory :

set directory=~/.vim/swap
Accidentally hitting unwanted keys in normal mode

Some of the keys in normal mode bring up functions that aren't terribly useful to a lot of people, and tend to accidentally get hit when Caps Lock is on, or when aiming for another key. Common nuisance keys are:

The simplest way to deal with these is to remap them to <nop> so that they don't do anything:

nnoremap <F1> <nop>
nnoremap Q <nop>
nnoremap K <nop>
Startup message is irritating

If you don't like the startup message that appears when you open Vim without a filename, you can remove it by adding the I flag to shortmess :

set shortmess+=I
Can't backspace past start of operation

If you're in insert mode, by default you can't use backspace to delete text past the start of the insert operation; that is, you can't backspace over where you first pressed insert. This is old vi behavior, and if you don't like it, you can make backspace work everywhere instead:

set backspace=indent,eol,start
Flashing screen is annoying

If you don't require the error feedback, you can turn off the flashing screen for the "visual bell":

set visualbell t_vb=
Don't know what mode I'm in

If you lose track of the current mode, you can get a convenient --INSERT-- indicator at the bottom of the screen with:

set showmode

If you're having this problem a lot, however, you might want to take stock of how much time you're spending in insert mode when you're not actively typing; it's good Vim practice to stay out of it otherwise, even when you stop to think.

Keep making typos of common commands

If you're fat-fingering :wq and similar commands a lot due to a sticky shift key, take a look at the Vim command typos fix. Also, don't forget about ZZ and ZQ as quicker alternatives to :wq and :q! .

Don't want case sensitive patterns

If you don't care for case-sensitive searches and substitutions, you can turn it off completely:

set ignorecase

You might find the slightly cleverer behavior of smartcase is better, though. This option only applies case sensitivity if at least one of the letters in the pattern is uppercase; otherwise, case is ignored.

set smartcase
Doesn't replace all occurrences

The default behavior for the substitute operation, :s/pattern/replacement/ , is to replace only the first occurrence of the pattern. To make it replace all occurrences on the appropriate lines, you add the g suffix. If you find that you never need to substitute for only the first occurrence of a pattern in a line, you can add that flag to the patterns by default:

set gdefault

If you do happen to need to replace only the first occurrence one day, you can get the default behavior back by adding the g suffix to your pattern; its meaning is reversed by this option.

Can't move into blank space in visual block mode

If you need to define a block in visual block mode with bounds outside the actual text (that is, past the end of lines), you can allow this with:

set virtualedit=block

This will let you move around the screen freely while in visual block mode to define your selections. As an example, this can make selecting the contents of the last column in a formatted table much easier.

Filename completion on command line is confusing

If you're used to the behavior of shell autocomplete functions for completing filenames, you can emulate it in Vim's command mode:

set wildmode=longest,list

With this set, the first Tab press (or whatever your wildchar is set to) will expand a filename or command in command mode to the longest common string it can, and a second press will display a list of all possible completions above the command line.

Yanking lines is inconsistent

D deletes from the cursor to the end of the line; C changes from the cursor to the end of the line. For some reason, however, Y yanks the entire line, both before and after the cursor. If this inconsistency bothers you, you can fix it with a remapping:

nnoremap Y y$
New splits appear in unintuitive places

If your language of choice is read from left to right, you may find it annoying that by default Vim places new vertical splits to the left of the current pane, and horizontal splits above the current pane. You can fix both:

set splitbelow
set splitright
Caps Lock sends Vim crazy

Caps Lock in normal mode makes Vim go haywire. This isn't really Vim's fault; Caps Lock is generally a pretty useless key. It's often useful for Vim users to remap it , so that it sends the same signal as a more useful key; Control and Escape are common choices. You might even find this reduces strain on your hands.

Several of these fixes were inspired by Steve Losh's .vimrc file . Thanks also to commenters Alpha Chen and Rob Hoelz for suggestions.

[Oct 31, 2017] Shell from vi by Tom Ryder

Feb 18, 2017 |

A good sign of a philosophically sound interactive Unix tool is the facilities it offers for interacting with the filesystem and the shell: specifically, how easily can you run file operations and/or shell commands with reference to data within the tool? The more straightforward this is, the more likely the tool will fit neatly into a terminal-driven Unix workflow.

If all else fails, you could always suspend the task with Ctrl+Z to drop to a shell, but it's helpful if the tool shows more deference to the shell than that; it means you can use and (even more importantly) write tools to manipulate the data in the program in whatever languages you choose, rather than being forced to use any kind of heretical internal scripting language, or worse, an over-engineered API.

vi is a good example of a tool that interacts openly and easily with the Unix shell, allowing you to pass open buffers as streams of text transparently to classic filter and text processing tools. In the case of Vim, it's particularly useful to get to know these, because in many cases they allow you to avoid painful Vimscript, and to do things your way, without having to learn an ad-hoc language or to rely on plugins. This was touched on briefly in the "Editing" article of the Unix as IDE series.

Choosing your shell

By default, vi will use the value of your SHELL environment variable as the shell in which your commands will be run. In most cases, this is probably what you want, but it might pay to check before you start:

:set shell?

If you're using Bash, and this prints /bin/bash , you're good to go, and you'll be able to use Bash-specific features or builtins such as [[ comfortably in your command lines if you wish.

Running commands

You can run a shell command from vi with the ! ex command. This is inherited from the same behaviour in ed . A good example would be to read a manual page in the same terminal window without exiting or suspending vi :

:!man grep

Or to build your project:


You'll find that exclamation point prefix ! shows up in the context of running external commands pretty consistently in vi .

You will probably need to press Enter afterwards to return to vi . This is to allow you to read any output remaining on your screen.

Of course, that's not the only way to do it; you may prefer to drop to a forked shell with :sh , or suspend vi with ^Z to get back to the original shell, resuming it later with fg .

You can refer to the current buffer's filename in the command with % , but be aware that this may cause escaping problems for files with special characters in their names:

:!gcc % -o foo

If you want a literal % , you will need to escape it with a backslash:

:!grep \% .vimrc

The same applies for the # character, for the alternate buffer .

:!gcc # -o bar
:!grep \# .vimrc

And for the ! character, which expands to the previous command:

:!echo !
:!echo \!

You can try to work around special characters for these expansions by single-quoting them:

:!gcc '%' -o foo
:!gcc '#' -o bar

But that's still imperfect for files with apostrophes in their names. In Vim (but not vi ) you can do this:

:exe "!gcc " . shellescape(expand("%")) . " -o foo"

The Vim help for this is at :help :! .

Reading the output of commands into a buffer

Also inherited from ed is reading the output of commands into a buffer, which is done by giving a command starting with ! as the argument to :r :

:r !grep vim .vimrc

This will insert the output of the command after the current line position in the buffer; it works in the same way as reading in a file directly.

You can add a line number prefix to :r to place the output after that line number:

:5r !grep vim .vimrc

To put the output at the very start of the file, a line number of 0 works:

:0r !grep vim .vimrc

And for the very end of the file, you'd use $ :

:$r !grep vim .vimrc

Note that redirections work fine, too, if you want to prevent stderr from being written to your buffer in the case of errors:

:$r !grep vim .vimrc 2>>vim_errorlog
Writing buffer text into a command

To run a command with standard input coming from text in your buffer, but without deleting it or writing the output back into your buffer, you can provide a ! command as an argument to :w . Again, this behaviour is inherited from ed .

By default, the whole buffer is written to the command; you might initially expect that only the current line would be written, but this makes sense if you consider the usual behaviour of w when writing directly to a file.

Given a file with a first column full of numbers:

304 Donald Trump
227 Hillary Clinton
3   Colin Powell
1   Spotted Eagle
1   Ron Paul
1   John Kasich
1   Bernie Sanders

We could calculate and view (but not save) the sum of the first column with awk(1) , to see the expected value of 538 printed to the terminal:

:w !awk '{sum+=$1}END{print sum}'

We could limit the operation to the faithless electoral votes by specifying a line range:

:3,$w !awk '{sum+=$1}END{print sum}'

You can also give a range of just . , if you only want to write out the current line.

In Vim, if you're using visual mode, pressing : while you have some text selected will automatically add the '<,'> range marks for you, and you can write out the rest of the command:

:'<,'>w !grep Bernie

Note that this writes every line of your selection to the command, not merely the characters you have selected. It's more intuitive to use visual line mode (Shift+V) if you take this approach.

Filtering text

If you want to replace text in your buffer by filtering it through a command, you can do this by providing a range to the ! command:

:1,2!tr '[:lower:]' '[:upper:]'

This example would capitalise the letters in the first two lines of the buffer, passing them as input to the command and replacing them with the command's output.

3 Colin Powell
1 Spotted Eagle
1 Ron Paul
1 John Kasich
1 Bernie Sanders

Note that the number of lines passed as input need not match the number of lines of output. The length of the buffer can change. Note also that by default any stderr is included; you may want to redirect that away.

You can specify the entire file for such a filter with % :

:%!tr '[:lower:]' '[:upper:]'

As before, the current line must be explicitly specified with . if you want to use only that as input, otherwise you'll just be running the command with no buffer interaction at all, per the first heading of this article:

:.!tr '[:lower:]' '[:upper:]'

You can also use ! as a motion rather than an ex command on a range of lines, by pressing ! in normal mode and then a motion ( w , 3w , } , etc) to select all the lines you want to pass through the filter. Doubling it ( !! ) filters the current line, in a similar way to the yy and dd shortcuts, and you can provide a numeric prefix (e.g. 3!! ) to specify a number of lines from the current line.

This is an example of a general approach that will work with any POSIX-compliant version of vi . In Vim, you have the gU command available to coerce text to uppercase, but this is not available in vanilla vi ; the best you have is the tilde command ~ to toggle the case of the character under the cursor. tr(1) , however, is specified by POSIX–including the locale-aware transformation–so you are much more likely to find it works on any modern Unix system.

If you end up needing such a command during editing a lot, you could make a generic command for your private bindir , say named upp for uppercase, that forces all of its standard input to uppercase:

tr '[:lower:]' '[:upper:]'

Once saved somewhere in $PATH and made executable, this would allow you simply to write the following to apply the filter to the entire buffer:


The main takeaway from this is that the scripts you use with your editor don't have to be in shell. You might prefer Awk :

#!/usr/bin/awk -f
{ print toupper($0) }

Or Perl :

#!/usr/bin/env perl
print uc while <>;

Or Python, or Ruby, or Rust , or

Incidentally, this "filtering" feature is where vi 's heritage from ed ends as far as external commands are concerned. In POSIX ed , there isn't a way to filter buffer text through a command in one hit. It's not too hard to emulate it with a temporary file, though, using all the syntax learned above:

*1,2w !upp > tmp
*0r tmp
*!rm tmp

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim search highlighting by Tom Ryder

Jan 21, 201 |

Being able to search by regular expression is a pretty fundamental thing in a text editor. Vim takes it to the next level by making entering a search into a motion all on its own, and even a few weeks' Vim experience and you'll probably catch yourself using the search to navigate your buffers.

One of the things I most commonly see recommended in threads and discussions about useful Vim features includes turning on two kinds of search highlighting: first, highlighting the search result on which you'll land as you type it, and secondly, once you've pressed Enter to run your search, highlighting all of the matches. You turn these on like this:

:set incsearch
:set hlsearch

This ends up being great for editing code in particular, because if you search for variable or function names, you can see at a glance where they're declared, defined, or used in your code. Couple that with the quick forward and backward search that you can do with the * and # keys, and you have a very convenient way to flick through successive uses of an identifier.

The only snag, really, is that it doesn't turn itself off, and it gets visually distracting when you've moved on from whatever task prompted the search, and because you might search to move around, you don't always actually want the highlighting to stay there. Text editors following a Windows model would probably clear away the highlighting as soon as you close the search box, or insert some text. This isn't the case with Vim, which can be good or bad, but most people I've spoken to about this feature seem to find it annoying.

Bram Moolenar, the author of Vim, addressed this very topic in a Google Tech Talk he gave about effective text editing . You can turn off the highlighting temporarily by typing:


This is different from :set nohlsearch in that it doesn't permanently disable the highlighting. It'll turn it on next time you search. I find this is kind of a pain to type, so I alias it to Ctrl+L in my .vimrc file, so that in addition to its default behaviour of clearing the screen it clears the search highlighting as well:

nnoremap <C-l> :nohlsearch<CR><C-l>

Additionally, I like to set leader keys to quickly turn the highlighting option on and off completely if for some particular project it's just thoroughly unhelpful. In this example, typing \i and \h will toggle the incsearch and hlsearch settings on and off, respectively. I'm assuming you're using the backslash key as your <leader> here.

nnoremap <leader>i :set incsearch!<CR>
nnoremap <leader>h :set hlsearch!<CR>

Finally, I find that while I'm in insert mode, I usually don't want to see the highlighting, so I define events to turn the highlighting off temporarily in the current buffer while I'm inserting text:

autocmd InsertEnter * :setlocal nohlsearch
autocmd InsertLeave * :setlocal hlsearch

I find these shortcuts make the search highlighting behaviour much less annoying. Interestingly, according to Vim's help, you can't simply add an event hook to run :nohlsearch when you enter Insert mode (from :help nohlsearch ):

This command doesn't work in an autocommand, because the highlighting state is saved and restored when executing autocommands. Same thing for when invoking a user function.

You can work around this by setting the search pattern to empty instead, as suggested by this Stack Overflow answer , but I don't really like doing that because I often like to recurse through more search results with n and N after leaving insert mode.

[Oct 31, 2017] Buffers, windows, and tabs by Tom Ryder

Notable quotes:
"... open instance of a file ..."
"... viewport onto a single buffer ..."
"... collection of one or more windows ..."
"... Thanks to Hacker News users anonymous and m0shen for pointing out potential confusion with the :set hidden option and the :bdelete command. ..."
Jan 22, 2012 |

Posted on If you've moved to Vim from an editor like Notepad++ or TextMate, you'll be used to working with the idea of tabs in a text editor in a certain way. Specifically, a tab represents an open file; while the tab's there, you've got an open file, as soon as you close it, it goes away. This one-to-one correspondence is pretty straightforward and is analogous to using tabs in a web browser; while the page is open, there's a tab there, and you have one page per tab, and one tab per page.

Vim has a system for tabs as well, but it works in a completely different way from how text editors and browsers do. Beginners with Vim are often frustrated by this because the model for tabs is used so consistently in pretty much every other program they're accustomed to, and they might end up spending a lot of fruitless time trying to force Vim to follow the same model through its configuration.

I think a good way to understand the differences in concept and usage between Vim's three levels of view abstraction -- buffers windows , and tabs -- is to learn how to use each from the ground up. So let's start with buffers.


A buffer in Vim is probably best thought of for most users as an open instance of a file , that may not necessarily be visible on the current screen. There's probably a more accurate technical definition as a buffer need not actually correspond to a file on your disk, but it'll work for our purposes.

When you open a single file in Vim, that file gets put into a buffer, and it's the only buffer there on startup. If this buffer is unmodified (or if you're using hidden ), and you open another file with :edit , that buffer goes into the background and you start working with the new file. The previous buffer only goes away when you explicitly delete it with a call to :quit or :bdelete , and even then it's still recoverable unless you do :bwipe .

By default, a buffer can only be in the background like this if it's unmodified. You can remove this restriction if you like with the :set hidden option.

You can get a quick list of the buffers open in a Vim session with :ls . This all means that when most people think of tabs in more familiar text editors, the idea of a buffer in Vim is actually closest to what they're thinking.


A window in Vim is a viewport onto a single buffer . When you open a new window with :split or :vsplit , you can include a filename in the call. This opens the file in a new buffer, and then opens a new window as a view onto it. A buffer can be viewed in multiple windows within a single Vim session; you could have a hundred windows editing the same buffer if you wanted to.

Windows in Vim

Vim Session with multiple windows open, both horizontally and vertically. Tabs

Finally, a tab in Vim is a collection of one or more windows . The best way to think of tabs, therefore, is as enabling you to group windows usefully. For example, if you were working on code for both a client program and a server program, you could have the files for the client program open in the first tab, perhaps in three or four windows, and the files for the server program open in another, which could be, say, seven windows. You can then flick back and forth between the tabs using :tabn and :tabp .

Tab usage in Vim

Two tabs open in Vim, each with multiple windows. Move between two tabs with :tabn and :tabp.

This model of buffers, windows, and tabs is quite a bit more intricate than in other editors, and the terms are sometimes confusing. However, if you know a bit about how they're supposed to work, you get a great deal more control over the layout of your editing sessions as a result. Personally, I find I rarely need tabs as with a monitor of sufficient size it suffices to keep two or three windows open at a time when working on sets of files, but on the odd occasion I do need tabs, I do find them tremendously useful.

Thanks to Hacker News users anonymous and m0shen for pointing out potential confusion with the :set hidden option and the :bdelete command.

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim command window by Tom Ryder

Feb 05, 2012 |

The command line in Vim for ex commands can be edited with a few of the GNU Readline key combinations that may be familiar to Bash or Emacs users, so it's reasonably easy to edit it, for example to type in complex search patterns and replacements.

However, if you want the full facility of Vim editing for your commands, it can be helpful to use Vim's command line window, which will allow you to enter commands and edit previous ones with the usual normal and insert mode.

You can open the command line window from normal mode in one of four ways:

Note that this doesn't work while you're recording macros, since pressing q stops the recording.

The window is always immediately above the status bar, and its height can be set via the cmdwinheight option.

Command line window

Once the command line window is opened with q: , you can browse through it and press Enter on any line to issue the same command again. You can also edit it beforehand, perhaps to fix a mistyped command. The window will close when this is done, but you can close it with Ctrl+W, C the same as any other window if you change your mind.

Vim command line window

Vim command line window

Note that you can't move to another window while this one is open, nor can you load another buffer into it.

Search window

Similar to the above, if you open the command window with q/ or q? , it shows a history of your searches, and pressing enter on any line will issue the same again, in the appropriate direction.

Vim search window

Vim search window

For more information on how the command window works, check out :help command-line-window .

[Oct 31, 2017] Vim anti-patterns by Tom Ryder

Feb 07, 2012 |

The benefits of getting to grips with Vim are immense in terms of editing speed and maintaining your "flow" when you're on a roll, whether writing code, poetry, or prose, but because the learning curve is so steep for a text editor, it's very easy to retain habits from your time learning the editor that stick with you well into mastery. Because Vim makes you so fast and fluent, it's especially hard to root these out because you might not even notice them, but it's worth it. Here I'll list some of the more common ones. Moving one line at a time

If you have to move more than a couple of lines, moving one line at a time by holding down j or k is inefficient. There are many more ways to move vertically in Vim. I find that the two most useful are moving by paragraph and by screenful, but this depends on how far and how precisely you have to move.

If you happen to know precisely where you want to go, navigating by searching is the way to go, searching forward with / and backward with ? .

It's always useful to jump back to where you were, as well, which is easily enough done with two backticks, or gi to go to the last place you inserted text. If you like, you can even go back and forth through your entire change list of positions with g; and g, .

Moving one character at a time

Similarly, moving one character at a time with h and l is often a waste when you have t and f :

Moving wordwise with w , W , b , B , e , and E is better, too. Again, searching to navigate is good here, and don't forget you can yank , delete or change forward or backward to a search result:

Searching for the word under the cursor

Don't bother typing it, or yanking/pasting it; just use * or # . It's dizzying how much faster this feels when you use it enough for it to become automatic.

Deleting, then inserting

Deleting text with intent to replace it by entering insert mode immediately afterward isn't necessary:


It's quicker and tidier to use c for change:


This has the added benefit of making the entire operation repeatable with the . command.

Using the arrow keys

Vim lets you use the arrow keys to move around in both insert and normal mode, but once you're used to using hjkl to navigate, moving to the arrow keys to move around in text feels clumsy; you should be able to spend the vast majority of a Vim session with your hands firmly centered around home row . Similarly, while the Home and End keys work the same way they do in most editors, there's no particular reason to use them when functional equivalents are closer to home in ^ and $ .

So wean yourself off the arrow keys, by the simple expedient of disabling them entirely, at least temporarily:

noremap <Up> <nop>
noremap <Down> <nop>
noremap <Left> <nop>
noremap <Right> <nop>

The benefits of sticking to home row aren't simply in speed; it feels nicer to be able to rest your wrists in front of the keyboard and not have to move them too far, and for some people it has even helped prevent repetitive strain injury .

Moving in insert mode

There's an additional benefit to the above in that it will ease you into thinking less about insert mode as a mode in which you move around; that's what normal mode is for. You should, in general, spend as little time in insert mode as possible. When you want to move, you'll get in the habit of leaving insert mode, and moving around far more efficiently in normal mode instead. This distinction also helps to keep your insert operations more atomic , and hence more useful to repeat.

Moving to Escape

The Escape key on modern keyboards is a lot further from home row than it was on Bill Joy's keyboard back when he designed vi. Hitting Escape is usually unnecessary; Ctrl+[ is a lot closer, and more comfortable. It doesn't take long using this combination instead to make reaching for Escape as you did when you were a newbie feel very awkward. You might also consider mapping the otherwise pretty useless Caps Lock key to be another Escape key in your operating system, or even mapping uncommon key combinations like jj to Escape. I feel this is a bit drastic, but it works well for a lot of people:

inoremap jj <Esc>
Moving to the start or end of the line, then inserting

Just use I and A . Again, these make the action repeatable for other lines which might need the same operation.

Entering insert mode, then opening a new line

Just use o and O to open a new line below and above respectively, and enter insert mode on it at the same time.

Entering insert mode to delete text

This is a pretty obvious contradiction. Instead, delete the text by moving to it and using d with an appropriate motion or text object. Again, this is repeatable, and means you're not holding down Backspace. In general, if you're holding down a key in Vim, there's probably a faster way.

Repeating commands or searches

Just type @: for commands or n / N for searches; Vim doesn't forget what your last search was as soon as you stop flicking through results. If it wasn't your most recent command or search but it's definitely in your history, just type q: or q/ , find it in the list , and hit Enter.

Repeating substitutions

Just type & to repeat the last substitution on the current line. You can repeat it on all lines by typing g& .

Repeating macro calls

Just type @@ .

These are really only just a few of the common traps to avoid to increase your speed and general efficiency with the editor without requiring plugins or substantial remappings. Check out the Vim Tips wiki for some other really helpful examples.

[Oct 31, 2017] Debugging Vim setup by Tom Ryder

Oct 31, 2017 |

While Vim's core is very stable, problems can come about when extending the editor with plugins, particularly if there are a high number of them or if they're buggy or not very well written. While Vim offers a number of ways to keep scripts' behaviours isolated from one another, it may happen that you find Vim behaving in an unexpected way that you can't quite pin down. There are a few very good approaches to figuring this out. List your scripts

First of all, it helps to get a handle on what exactly you've got loaded during your Vim sessions. You can do this with the :scriptnames command:

1: /usr/share/vim/vimrc
2: /usr/share/vim/vim73/debian.vim
3: ~/.vimrc
4: ~/.dotfiles/vim/autoload/pathogen.vim

This list appears in the order in which the files were loaded, which might give you a starting point for figuring out where the problem lies.

Update your plugins

Check the documentation, release logs, known problems, and in particular the website of your chosen plugins to see if there are any recent updates to them. If they're hosted on GitHub, pull down the most recent versions.

Start with no plugins

You can start Vim with no plugins, in a pristine state that doesn't source any vimrc files from your system or home directories, to figure out if the behaviour you're observing still occurs with no plugins at all installed. This is done by calling Vim with the -u and -U options, which normally specify the path to a custom location for vimrc and gvimrc files respectively, with the special parameter of NONE :

$ vim -u NONE -U NONE

Vim will open and you'll see the usual blue tildes for opening a line and Vim's opening splash screen, having completely ignored your laborious setup.

This done, you can source plugins individually until you notice the problem starts happening, by a process of elimination:

:so plugin/fugitive.vim
:so plugin/unimpaired.vim
:so plugin/badplugin.vim
Profile startup time

If Vim was compiled with the +startuptime feature, you can also pass the --startuptime flag to it with a filename argument, and it will save a verbose log of its startup procedure to that file for you to inspect:

$ vim +q --startuptime startuptime.txt
$ vim startuptime.txt

There's way more information in here than you're ever likely to need, but in the case of a buggy setup or unacceptably slow startup time, it's very useful for diagnosing the bottleneck in your setup.

[Mar 03, 2017] How to Make Vim Editor as Bash-IDE Using bash-support Plugin in Linux

Notable quotes:
"... Predefined code snippets are files that contain already written code meant for a specific purpose. To add code snippets, type \nr and \nw to read/write predefined code snippets. Issue the command that follows to list default code snippets: ..."
Feb 20, 2017 |

bash-support is a highly-customizable vim plug-in, which allows you to insert: file headers, complete statements, comments, functions, and code snippets. It also enables you to perform syntax checking, make a script executable, start a debugger simply with a keystroke; do all this without closing the editor.

curl > 

How To Use Run Operation in Vi Editor

The following is a list of some run operations key mappings:

\rr – update file, run script (n, I)
\ra – set script cmd line arguments (n, I)
\rc – update file, check syntax (n, I)
\rco – syntax check options (n, I)
\rd – start debugger (n, I)
\re – make script executable/not exec.(*) (in)

Make Script Executable

After writing script, save it and type \re to make it executable by pressing [Enter].

Make Script Executable
Make Script Executable

How To Use Predefined Code Snippets To a Bash Script

Predefined code snippets are files that contain already written code meant for a specific purpose. To add code snippets, type \nr and \nw to read/write predefined code snippets. Issue the command that follows to list default code snippets:

$ .vim/bash-support/codesnippets/

List of Code Snippets

To use a code snippet such as free-software-comment, type \nr and use auto-completion feature to select its name, and press [Enter]:

Add Code Snippet to Script
Add Code Snippet to Script

Create Custom Predefined Code Snippets

It is possible to write your own code snippets under ~/.vim/bash-support/codesnippets/. Importantly, you can also create your own code snippets from normal script code:
choose the section of code that you want to use as a code snippet, then press \nw, and closely give it a filename.
to read it, type \nr and use the filename to add your custom code snippet.

View Help For the Built-in and Command Under the Cursor

To display help, in normal mode, type:
\hh – for built-in help
\hm – for a command help

View Built-in Command Help
View Built-in Command Help

For more reference, read through the file :
~/.vim/doc/bashsupport.txt #copy of online documentation

Visit the Bash-support plug-in Github repository:
Visit Bash-support plug-in on the Vim Website:

That's all for now, in this article, we described the steps of installing and configuring Vim as a Bash-IDE in Linux using bash-support plug-in. Check out the other exciting features of this plug-in, and do share them with us in the comments.

[Jul 12, 2013] The vimrc File - Derek Wyatt's Blog

[Aug 29, 2012] Vim Taglist plugin features

The taglist plugin provides the following features:

[Aug 29, 2012] Color schemes in VIM

[Aug 29, 2012] The ultimate Vim configuration - vimrc

" => Text, tab and indent related
" Use spaces instead of tabs
set expandtab

" Be smart when using tabs ;)
set smarttab

" 1 tab == 4 spaces
set shiftwidth=4
set tabstop=4

" Linebreak on 500 characters
set lbr
set tw=500

set ai "Auto indent
set si "Smart indent
set wrap "Wrap lines

[May 13, 2011] Vim Outliner

Vim Outliner is a Vim plugin that make it behave as a full- featured outliner of the likes of MaxThink, Grandview, ThinkTank, and more. It has its own add-ons for checkboxes and hoisting and is compatible with Vim spell-checkers like vimspell and engspeak. There are several scripts available from other to convert text outlines to HTML pages, Docbook files, and Open Office Impress files.


Adding a more visual cursor

Sometimes, you have a lot of syntax coloring in the file you are editing. This can make the task of tracking the cursor really hard. If you could just mark the line the cursor is currently in, then it would be easier to track it.

Many have tried to fix this with Vim scripts, but the results have been near useless (mainly due to slowness, which prevented scrolling longer texts at an acceptable speed). Not until version 7 did Vim have a solution for this. But then it came up with not just one, but two possible solutions for cursor tracking.

The first one is the cursorline command , which basically marks the entire line with, for example, another background color without breaking the syntax coloring. To turn it on, use the following command:

:set cursorline

The color it uses is the one defined in the CursorLine color group. You can change this to any color or styling you like, for example:

:highlight CursorLine guibg=lightblue ctermbg=lightgray

If you are working with a lot of aligned file content (such as tab-separated data), the next solution for cursor tracking comes in handy:

:set cursorcolumn

This command marks the current column (here the cursor is placed) by coloring the entire column through the entire file, for example.

As with the cursor line, you can change the settings for how the cursor column should be marked. The color group to change is named cursorcolumn.

Adding both the cursor line and column marking makes the cursor look like a crosshair, thus making it impossible to miss.

Even though the cursorline and cursorcolumn functionalities are implemented natively in Vim, it can still give quite a slowdown when scrolling through the file.

Modifying key bindings

All of us have probably, at some point, used an editor other than Vim. Because of this, most of us have learned to use some very specific keyboard shortcuts for doing different tasks. Even though the key bindings for the keyboard shortcuts in Vim are created with ease and use of speed in mind, sometimes it can still be faster to use the shortcuts you already know.

To facilitate this, Vim gives you the possibility to rebind almost every single key binding it has.

In this recipe, we will learn how to change the key bindings when using Vim in different modes.The main commands to know when dealing with key bindings are:

Each of the command takes two arguments-the first is what keys the command should be bound to, and the second is the command to bind. So, let's look at an example. Say you can't really get used to saving an open file by executing :w in the normal mode because you are used to using Ctrl-S to save a file and would like to keep it like that.

A mapping for this could be:

:map <C-s> :w<cr>

Notice the <C-s>;in the key binding. This is the Vim way for writing 'key combination Ctrl+S'. Instead of C (Ctrl), you could also use A (Alt) or M (Meta). The <cr> at the end of the command is what actually executes the command. Without it, the command would simply be written to the command line but not executed.

There are several other special notations for some of the other keyboard keys. The following table shows the most common of them:

Keys Notation
<BS> Backspace
<Tab> Tab
<CR> Enter
<Enter> Enter
<Return> Enter
<Esc> Escape
<Space> Space
<Up> Up arrow
<Down> Down arrow
<Left> Left arrow
<Right> Right arrow
<F1> <F12> Function keys 1 to 12
#1 #9#0 Function keys F1 to F9, F10
<Insert> Insert
<Del> Delete
<Home> Home
<End> End
<PageUp> Page up
<PageDown> Page down

Maybe you only want to be able to save when you are in the insert mode and actually editing the file. To change the command for this, you only need to have the following:

:imap <C-s> <esc>:w<cr>a

So, what happens now is that you map the Ctrl+S to do a combination of key presses. First, press <esc>; (the Escape key) to get out of the insert mode and into the normal mode. Then, use :w<cr> to execute the actual saving of the file, and finally the a to get back into the insert mode and go to the end of the line.

You could expand the mappings to fit all of the standard copy / paste / cut / save shortcuts from many applications. This could be constructed like this:

" save file (ctrl-s)
:map <C-s> :w<cr>
" copy selected text (ctrl-c)
:vmap <C-c> y
" Paste clipboard contents (ctrl-v)
:imap <C-p> <esc>P
" cut selected text (ctrl-x)
:vmap <C-x> x


If you are in Gvim, you can even get dialogs shown for the save-as and Open functionalities.


"Open new file dialog (ctrl-n)
:map <C-n> :browse confirm e<cr>
"Open save-as dialog (ctrl-shift-s)
:map <C-S-s> :browse confirm saveas<cr>


You can get into a situation where you map a key combination in which the first key is actually bound to a function of its own. An example could be the $ key, which is bound to the "jump to end of line" functionality in Vim. You might, however, want to have a key binding like $1 for some functionality, $2 for some other functionality, and so on. The mapping could then look like:


:map $1 :MyFunction1()<cr>
:map $2 :MyFunction2()<cr>


Now when you press $, Vim will wait for one second after you press the $ key, and if it does not get the second character in the key binding before the timeout, it will execute the normal "jump to end of line" functionality. However, if you press 1 before the timeout, it will execute your Myfunction1()function instead.

With the ability to change the keyboard mapping in Vim, you really have an access to a powerful way of modifying the editor completely according to your needs.

You can read more about mappings in the Vim help system under:


:help key-mapping


[Jan 15, 2010] Scripting the Vim editor

[Dec 16, 2009] Finally! A decent text editor for Linux with Windows key bindings. 46palermo

Vim Tip, on November 8th, 2009 at 19:32 Said:

just thought you might like to know, that vim does actually support windows keybindings. There should be an mswin.vim file on your system, which you can load to get ctrl-x, ctrl-v etc.

You may just owe me a White Russian

[Nov 21, 2009] Vim 101 A Beginner's Guide to Vim Linux Developer Network by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

Searching and Replacing

Now that you know how to enter text, make some changes and so forth, it's time to learn how to use search and replace in Vim. It's really pretty easy. If you want to search through the document from command mode, use / followed by the text you want to search for. So, if I want to search for "bunny" I can enter / and then bunny and hit enter.

If I want to find it again, I hit n. If I want to look for a previous instance of the text, I'll use N instead, which will search the opposite direction through the document.

Want to reverse the direction of your search? Use ? instead of / and Vim will move backwards through the document. Using n and N as above will reverse the direction of the search.

That's all pretty easy, isn't it? Now to move on to an important operation: Cutting and pasting text.

... ... ...

Hit v to highlight some text. Then hit y to yank it into the buffer. Then move the cursor where you want it, and use p in command mode. There you go--you've just pasted some text!

The commands you most need to start out:

[Aug 28, 2009] vimconfig

Vimconfig is a complete set of Vim 6.x configurations files. It includes a personal vimrc config file with many features and some useful plugins, e.g. for HTML, TeX, Perl, mail, PHP, and so on.

[Jul 11, 2009] Screen (vim + gnu screen) - Start gnu screen w- your vim session and a split shell + send commands to the sh vim online

created by Eric Van Dewoestine


Note: gvim is not supported. You must be running vim in a console.

Currently tested on Linux and cygwin, but should work on any unix based
platform where screen is supported (OSX, BSD, Solaris, etc.). Note that
in my testing of cygwin, invocations of screen were significantly slower
and less fluid than on Linux.

This plugin aims to simulate an embedded shell in vim by allowing you to
easily convert your current vim session into one running in gnu screen
with a split gnu screen window containing a shell, and to quickly send
statements/code to whatever program is running in that shell (bash,
python, irb, etc.).

:ScreenShell [cmd] - Opens the split shell by doing the following:
1. save a session file from your currently running vim instance
(current tab only)
2. start gnu screen with vim running in it
3. load your saved session file
4. create a lower gnu screen split window and start a shell
5. if a command was supplied to :ScreenShell, run it
Ex. :ScreenShell ipython

Note: If you are already in a gnu screen session, then only steps
4 and 5 above will be run.

:ScreenSend - Send the visual selection or the entire buffer contents to
the running gnu screen shell window.

:ScreenQuit - Save all currently modified vim buffers and quit gnu
screen, returning you to your previous vim instance
running outside of gnu screen
Note: :ScreenQuit is not available if you where already in a gnu
screen session when you ran :ScreenShell.
Note: By default, if the gnu screen session was started by
:ScreenShell, then exiting vim will quit the gnu screen session
as well (configurable via g:ScreenShellQuitOnVimExit).

An example workflow may be:
Open a python file to work on:
$ vim

Decide you want to run all or pieces of the code in an interactive
python shell:
:ScreenShell python

Send code from a vim buffer to the shell:

Quit the screen session and return to your original vim session:

- While running vim in gnu screen, if you detach the session instead of
quitting, then when returning to the non-screen vim, vim will complain
about swap files already existing. So try to avoid detaching.
- Not all vim plugins support saving state to or loading from vim
session files, so when running :ScreenShell some buffers may not load
correctly if they are backed by such a plugin.

install details

Download the script and put it in your plugin directory (~/.vim/plugin).

[Jul 10, 2009] Scripting the Vim editor, Part 1 Variables, values, and expressions

Vimscript is a mechanism for reshaping and extending the Vim editor. Scripting lets you create new tools (such as a problem-word highlighter) and simplify common tasks (like changing tabspacing, or inserting time and date information, or toggling syntax highlighting), and even completely redesign existing editor features (for example, enhancing CTRL-Y's "copy-the-previous-line" behavior).

For many people, the easiest way to learn any new language is by example. To that end, you can find an endless supply of sample Vimscripts-most of which are also useful tools in their own right-on the Vim Tips wiki. Or, for more extensive examples of Vim scripting, you can trawl the 2000+ larger projects housed in the Vim script archive. Both are listed in the Resources section below.

If you're already familiar with Perl or Python or Ruby or PHP or Lua or Awk or Tcl or any shell language, then Vimscript will be both hauntingly familiar (in its general approach and concepts) and frustratingly different (in its particular syntactic idiosyncrasies). To overcome that cognitive dissonance and master Vimscript, you're going to have to spend some time experimenting, exploring, and playing with the language. To that end, why not take your biggest personal gripe about the way Vim currently works and see if you can script a better solution for yourself?

This article has described only Vimscript's basic variables, values, expressions, and functions. The range of "better solutions" you're likely to be able to construct with just those few components is, of course, extremely limited. So, in future installments, we'll look at more advanced Vimscript tools and techniques: data structures, flow control, user-defined commands, event-driven scripting, building Vim modules, and extending Vim using other scripting languages. In particular, the next article in this series will focus on the features of Vimscript's user-defined functions and on the many ways they can make your Vim experience better.

[Jul 10, 2009] Scripting the Vim editor, Part 2 User-defined functions

Functions in Vimscript are defined using the function keyword, followed by the name of the function, then the list of parameters (which is mandatory, even if the function takes no arguments). The body of the function then starts on the next line, and continues until a matching endfunction keyword is encountered. For example:

Listing 1. A correctly structured function

function ExpurgateText (text)
    let expurgated_text = a:text

    for expletive in [ 'cagal', 'frak', 'gorram', 'mebs', 'zarking']
        let expurgated_text
        \   = substitute(expurgated_text, expletive, '[DELETED]', 'g')

    return expurgated_text

The return value of the function is specified with a return statement. You can specify as many separate return statements as you need. You can include none at all if the function is being used as a procedure and has no useful return value. However, Vimscript functions always return a value, so if no return is specified, the function automatically returns zero.

Function names in Vimscript must start with an uppercase letter:

Listing 2. Function names start with an uppercase letter
function SaveBackup ()
    let b:backup_count = exists('b:backup_count') ? b:backup_count+1 : 1
    return writefile(getline(1,'$'), bufname('%') . '_' . b:backup_count)

nmap <silent>  <C-B>  :call SaveBackup()<CR>

This example defines a function that increments the value of the current buffer's b:backup_count variable (or initializes it to 1, if it doesn't yet exist). The function then grabs every line in the current file (getline(1,'$')) and calls the built-in writefile() function to write them to disk. The second argument to writefile() is the name of the new file to be written; in this case, the name of the current file (bufname('%')) with the counter's new value appended. The value returned is the success/failure value of the call to writefile(). Finally, the nmap sets up CTRL-B to call the function to create a numbered backup of the current file.

Instead of using a leading capital letter, Vimscript functions can also be declared with an explicit scope prefix (like variables can be, as described in Part 1). The most common choice is s:, which makes the function local to the current script file. If a function is scoped in this way, its name need not start with a capital; it can be any valid identifier. However, explicitly scoped functions must always be called with their scoping prefixes. For example:

Listing 3. Calling a function with its scoping prefix
" Function scoped to current script file...
function s:save_backup ()
    let b:backup_count = exists('b:backup_count') ? b:backup_count+1 : 1
    return writefile(getline(1,'$'), bufname('%') . '_' . b:backup_count)

nmap <silent>  <C-B>  :call s:save_backup()<CR>

Redeclarable functions

Function declarations in Vimscript are runtime statements, so if a script is loaded twice, any function declarations in that script will be executed twice, re-creating the corresponding functions.

Redeclaring a function is treated as a fatal error (to prevent collisions where two separate scripts accidentally declare functions of the same name). This makes it difficult to create functions in scripts that are designed to be loaded repeatedly, such as custom syntax-highlighting scripts.

So Vimscript provides a keyword modifier (function!) that allows you to indicate that a function declaration may be safely reloaded as often as required:

Listing 4. Indicating that a function declaration may be safely reloaded
function! s:save_backup ()
    let b:backup_count = exists('b:backup_count') ? b:backup_count+1 : 1
    return writefile(getline(1,'$'), bufname('%') . '_' . b:backup_count)

No redeclaration checks are performed on functions defined with this modified keyword, so it is best used with explicitly scoped functions (in which case the scoping already ensures that the function won't collide with one from another script).

Calling functions

To call a function and use its return value as part of a larger expression, simply name it and append a parenthesized argument list:

Listing 5. Using a function's return value
"Clean up the current line...
let success = setline('.', ExpurgateText(getline('.')) )

Note, however, that, unlike C or Perl, Vimscript does not allow you to throw away the return value of a function without using it. So, if you intend to use the function as a procedure or subroutine and ignore its return value, you must prefix the invocation with the call command:

Listing 6. Using a function without using its return value

"Checkpoint the text...
call SaveBackup()

Otherwise, Vimscript will assume that the function call is actually a built-in Vim command and will most likely complain that no such command exists. We'll look at the difference between functions and commands in a future article in this series.

Parameter lists

Vimscript allows you to define both explicit parameters and variadic parameter lists, and even combinations of the two.

You can specify up to 20 explicitly named parameters immediately after the declaration of the subroutine's name. Once specified, the corresponding argument values for the current call can be accessed within the function by prefixing an a: to the parameter name:

Listing 7. Accessing argument values within the function
function PrintDetails(name, title, email)
    echo 'Name:   '  a:title  a:name
    echo 'Contact:'  a:email

If you don't know how many arguments a function may be given, you can specify a variadic parameter list, using an ellipsis (...) instead of named parameters. In this case, the function may be called with as many arguments as you wish, and those values are collected into a single variable: an array named a:000. Individual arguments are also given positional parameter names: a:1, a:2, a:3, etc. The number of arguments is available as a:0. For example:

Listing 8. Specifying and using a variadic parameter list

function Average(...)
    let sum = 0.0

    for nextval in a:000        "a:000 is the list of arguments
        let sum += nextval

    return sum / a:0            "a:0 is the number of arguments

Note that, in this example, sum must be initialized to an explicit floating-point value; otherwise, all the subsequent computations will be done using integer arithmetic.

Combining named and variadic parameters

Named and variadic parameters can be used in the same function, simply by placing the variadic ellipsis after the list of named parameters.

For example, suppose you wanted to create a CommentBlock() function that was passed a string and formatted it into an appropriate comment block for various programming languages. Such a function would always require the caller to supply the string to be formatted, so that parameter should be explicitly named. But you might prefer that the comment introducer, the "boxing" character, and the width of the comment all be optional (with sensible defaults when omitted). Then you could call:

Listing 9. A simple CommentBlock function call
call CommentBlock("This is a comment")

and it would return a multi-line string containing:

Listing 10. The CommentBlock return
// This is a comment

Whereas, if you provided extra arguments, they would specify non-default values for the comment introducer, the "boxing" character, and the comment width. So this call:

Listing 11. A more involved CommentBlock function call
call CommentBlock("This is a comment", '#', '=', 40)

would return the string:

Listing 12. The CommentBlock return
# This is a comment

Such a function might be implemented like so:

Listing 13. The CommentBlock implementation

function CommentBlock(comment, ...)
    "If 1 or more optional args, first optional arg is introducer...
    let introducer =  a:0 >= 1  ?  a:1  :  "//"

    "If 2 or more optional args, second optional arg is boxing character...
    let box_char   =  a:0 >= 2  ?  a:2  :  "*"

    "If 3 or more optional args, third optional arg is comment width...
    let width      =  a:0 >= 3  ?  a:3  :  strlen(a:comment) + 2

    " Build the comment box and put the comment inside it...
    return introducer . repeat(box_char,width) . "\<CR>"
    \    . introducer . " " . a:comment        . "\<CR>"
    \    . introducer . repeat(box_char,width) . "\<CR>"

If there is at least one optional argument (a:0 >= 1), the introducer parameter is assigned that first option (that is, a:1); otherwise, it is assigned a default value of "//". Likewise, if there are two or more optional arguments (a:0 >= 2), the box_char variable is assigned the second option (a:2), or else a default value of "*". If three or more optional arguments are supplied, the third option is assigned to the width variable. If no width argument is given, the appropriate width is autocomputed from the comment argument itself (strlen(a:comment)+2).

Finally, having resolved all the parameter values, the top and bottom lines of the comment box are constructed using the leading comment introducer, followed by the appropriate number of repetitions of the boxing character (repeat(box_char,width)), with the comment text itself sandwiched between them.

Of course, to use this function, you'd need to invoke it somehow. An insertion map is probably the ideal way to do that:

Listing 14. Invoking the function using an insertion map
"C++/Java/PHP comment...
imap <silent>  ///  <C-R>=CommentBlock(input("Enter comment: "))<CR>

"Ada/Applescript/Eiffel comment...
imap <silent>  ---  <C-R>=CommentBlock(input("Enter comment: "),'--')<CR>

"Perl/Python/Shell comment...
imap <silent>  ###  <C-R>=CommentBlock(input("Enter comment: "),'#','#')<CR>

In each of these maps, the built-in input() function is first called to request that the user type in the text of the comment. The CommentBlock() function is then called to convert that text into a comment block. Finally, the leading <C-R>= inserts the resulting string.

Note that the first mapping passes only a single argument, so it defaults to using // as its comment marker. The second and third mappings pass a second argument to specify # or -- as their respective comment introducers. The final mapping also passes a third argument, to make the "boxing" character match its comment introducer.

Functions and line ranges

You can invoke any standard Vim command-including call-with a preliminary line range, which causes the command to be repeated once for every line in the range:

"Delete every line from the current line (.) to the end-of-file ($)...

"Replace "foo" with "bar" everywhere in lines 1 to 10

"Center every line from five above the current line to five below it...

You can type :help cmdline-ranges in any Vim session to learn more about this facility.

In the case of the call command, specifying a range causes the requested function to be called repeatedly: once for each line in the range. To see why that's useful, let's consider how to write a function that converts any "raw" ampersands in the current line to proper XML &amp; entities, but that is also smart enough to ignore any ampersand that is already part of some other entity. That function could be implemented like so:

Listing 15. Function to convert ampersands
function DeAmperfy()
    "Get current line...
    let curr_line   = getline('.')

    "Replace raw ampersands...
    let replacement = substitute(curr_line,'&\(\w\+;\)\@!','&amp;','g')

    "Update current line...
    call setline('.', replacement)

The first line of DeAmperfy() grabs the current line from the editor buffer (getline('.')). The second line looks for any & in that line that isn't followed by an identifier and a colon, using the negative lookahead pattern '&\(\w\+;\)\@!'(see :help \@! for details). The substitute() call then replaces all such "raw" ampersands with the XML entity &amp;. Finally, the third line of DeAmperfy()updates the current line with the modified text.

If you called this function from the command line:

:call DeAmperfy()

it would perform the replacement on the current line only. But if you specified a range before the call:

:1,$call DeAmperfy()

then the function would be called once for each line in the range (in this case, for every line in the file).

Internalizing function line ranges

This call-the-function-repeatedly-for-each-line behavior is a convenient default. However, sometimes you might prefer to specify a range but then have the function called only once, and then handle the range semantics within the function itself. That's also easy in Vimscript. You simply append a special modifier (range) to the function declaration:

Listing 16. Range semantics within a function
function DeAmperfyAll() range
    "Step through each line in the range...
    for linenum in range(a:firstline, a:lastline)
        "Replace loose ampersands (as in DeAmperfy())...
        let curr_line   = getline(linenum)
        let replacement = substitute(curr_line,'&\(\w\+;\)\@!','&amp;','g')
        call setline(linenum, replacement)

    "Report what was done...
    if a:lastline > a:firstline
        echo "DeAmperfied" (a:lastline - a:firstline + 1) "lines"

With the range modifier specified after the parameter list, any time DeAmperfyAll() is called with a range such as:

:1,$call DeAmperfyAll()

then the function is invoked only once, and two special arguments, a:firstline and a:lastline, are set to the first and last line numbers in the range. If no range is specified, both a:firstline and a:lastline are set to the current line number.

The function first builds a list of all the relevant line numbers (range(a:firstline, a:lastline)). Note that this call to the built-in range() function is entirely unrelated to the use of the range modifier as part of the function declaration. The range() function is simply a list constructor, very similar to the range() function in Python, or the .. operator in Haskell or Perl.

Having determined the list of line numbers to be processed, the function uses a for loop to step through each:

for linenum in range(a:firstline, a:lastline)

and updates each line accordingly (just as the original DeAmperfy() did).

Finally, if the range covers more than a single line (in other words, if a:lastline > a:firstline), the function reports how many lines were updated.

Visual ranges

Once you have a function call that can operate on a range of lines, a particularly useful technique is to call that function via Visual mode (see :help Visual-mode for details).

For example, if your cursor is somewhere in a block of text, you could encode all the ampersands anywhere in the surrounding paragraph with:

Vip:call DeAmperfyAll()

Typing V in Normal mode swaps you into Visual mode. The ip then causes Visual mode to highlight the entire paragraph you're inside. Then, the : swaps you to Command mode and automatically sets the command's range to the range of lines you just selected in Visual mode. At this point you call DeAmperfyAll() to deamperfy all of them.

Note that, in this instance, you could get the same effect with just:

Vip:call DeAmperfy()

The only difference is that the DeAmperfy() function would be called repeatedly: once for each line the Vip highlighted in Visual mode.

A function to help you code

Most user-defined functions in Vimscript require very few parameters, and often none at all. That's because they usually get their data directly from the current editor buffer and from contextual information (such as the current cursor position, the current paragraph size, the current window size, or the contents of the current line).

Moreover, functions are often far more useful and convenient when they obtain their data through context, rather than through their argument lists. For example, a common problem when maintaining source code is that assignment operators fall out of alignment as they accumulate, which reduces the readability of the code:

Listing 16. Assignment operators out of alignment
let applicants_name = 'Luke'
let mothers_maiden_name = 'Amidala'
let closest_relative = 'sister'
let fathers_occupation = 'Sith'

Realigning them manually every time a new statement is added can be tedious:

Listing 17. Manually realigned assignment operators

let applicants_name     = 'Luke'
let mothers_maiden_name = 'Amidala'
let closest_relative    = 'sister'
let fathers_occupation  = 'Sith'

To reduce the tedium of that everyday coding task, you could create a key-mapping (such as ;=) that selects the current block of code, locates any lines with assignment operators, and automatically aligns those operators. Like so:

Listing 18. Function to align assignment operators

function AlignAssignments ()
    "Patterns needed to locate assignment operators...
    let ASSIGN_OP   = '[-+*/%|&]\?=\@<!=[=~]\@!'
    let ASSIGN_LINE = '^\(.\{-}\)\s*\(' . ASSIGN_OP . '\)'

    "Locate block of code to be considered (same indentation, no blanks)
    let indent_pat = '^' . matchstr(getline('.'), '^\s*') . '\S'
    let firstline  = search('^\%('. indent_pat . '\)\@!','bnW') + 1
    let lastline   = search('^\%('. indent_pat . '\)\@!', 'nW') - 1
    if lastline < 0
        let lastline = line('$')

    "Find the column at which the operators should be aligned...
    let max_align_col = 0
    let max_op_width  = 0
    for linetext in getline(firstline, lastline)
        "Does this line have an assignment in it?
        let left_width = match(linetext, '\s*' . ASSIGN_OP)

        "If so, track the maximal assignment column and operator width...
        if left_width >= 0
            let max_align_col = max([max_align_col, left_width])

            let op_width      = strlen(matchstr(linetext, ASSIGN_OP))
            let max_op_width  = max([max_op_width, op_width+1])

    "Code needed to reformat lines so as to align operators...
    let FORMATTER = '\=printf("%-*s%*s", max_align_col, submatch(1),
    \                                    max_op_width,  submatch(2))'

    " Reformat lines with operators aligned in the appropriate column...
    for linenum in range(firstline, lastline)
        let oldline = getline(linenum)
        let newline = substitute(oldline, ASSIGN_LINE, FORMATTER, "")
        call setline(linenum, newline)

nmap <silent>  ;=  :call AlignAssignments()<CR>

The AlignAssignments() function first sets up two regular expressions (see :help pattern for the necessary details of Vim's regex syntax):
let ASSIGN_OP   = '[-+*/%|&]\?=\@<!=[=~]\@!'
let ASSIGN_LINE = '^\(.\{-}\)\s*\(' . ASSIGN_OP . '\)'

The pattern in ASSIGN_OP matches any of the standard assignment operators: =, +=, -=, *=, etc. but carefully avoids matching other operators that contain =, such as == and =~. If your favorite language has other assignment operators (such as .= or ||= or ^=), you could extend the ASSIGN_OP regex to recognize those as well. Alternatively, you could redefine ASSIGN_OP to recognize other types of "alignables," such as comment introducers or column markers, and align them instead.

The pattern in ASSIGN_LINE matches only at the start of a line (^), matching a minimal number of characters (.\{-}), then any whitespace (\s*), then an assignment operator.

Note that both the initial "minimal number of characters" subpattern and the operator subpattern are specified within capturing parentheses: \(...\). The substrings captured by those two components of the regex will later be extracted using calls to the built-in submatch() function; specifically, by calling submatch(1) to extract everything before the operator, and submatch(2) to extract the operator itself.

AlignAssignments() then locates the range of lines on which it will operate:

let indent_pat = '^' . matchstr(getline('.'), '^\s*') . '\S'
let firstline  = search('^\%('. indent_pat . '\)\@!','bnW') + 1
let lastline   = search('^\%('. indent_pat . '\)\@!', 'nW') - 1
if lastline < 0
    let lastline = line('$')

In earlier examples, functions have relied on an explicit command range or a Visual mode selection to determine which lines they operate on, but this function computes its own range directly. Specifically, it first calls the built-in matchstr() function to determine what leading whitespace ('^\s*') appears at the start of the current line (getline('.'). It then builds a new regular expression in indent_pat that matches exactly the same sequence of whitespace at the start of any non-empty line (hence the trailing '\S').

AlignAssignments() then calls the built-in search() function to search upwards (using the flags 'bnW') and locate the first line above the cursor that does not have precisely the same indentation. Adding 1 to this line number gives the start of the range of interest, namely, the first contiguous line with the same indentation as the current line.

A second call to search() then searches downwards ('nW') to determine lastline: the number of the final contiguous line with the same indentation. In this second case, the search might hit the end of the file without finding a differently indented line, in which case search() would return -1. To handle this case correctly, the following if statement would explicitly set lastline to the line number of the end of file (that is, to the line number returned by line('$')).

The result of these two searches is that AlignAssignments() now knows the full range of lines immediately above or below the current line that all have precisely the same indentation as the current line. It uses this information to ensure that it aligns only those assignment statements at the same scoping level in the same block of code. Unless, of course, the indentation of your code doesn't correctly reflect its scope, in which case you fully deserve the formatting catastrophe about to befall you.

The first for loop in AlignAssignments() determines the column in which the assignment operators should be aligned. This is done by walking through the list of lines in the selected range (the lines retrieved by getline(firstline, lastline)) and checking whether each line contains an assignment operator (possibly preceded by whitespace):

let left_width = match(linetext, '\s*' . ASSIGN_OP)

If there is no operator in the line, the built-in match() function will fail to find a match and will return -1. In that case, the loop simply skips on to the next line. If there is an operator, match() will return the (positive) index at which that operator appears. The if statement then uses the built-in max() function to determine whether this latest column position is further right than any previously located operator, thereby tracking the maximum column position required to align all the assignments in the range:

let max_align_col = max([max_align_col, left_width])

The remaining two lines of the if use the built-in matchstr() function to retrieve the actual operator, then the built-in strlen() to determine its length (which will be 1 for a "=" but 2 for '+=', '-=', etc.) The max_op_width variable is then used to track the maximum width required to align the various operators in the range:
let op_width     = strlen(matchstr(linetext, ASSIGN_OP))
let max_op_width = max([max_op_width, op_width+1])

Once the location and width of the alignment zone have been determined, all that remains is to iterate through the lines in the range and reformat them accordingly. To do that reformatting, the function uses the built-in printf() function. This function is very useful, but also very badly named. It is not the same as the printf function in C or Perl or PHP. It is, in fact, the same as the sprintf function in those languages. That is, in Vimscript, printf doesn't print a formatted version of its list of data arguments; it returns a string containing a formatted version of its list of data arguments.

Ideally, in order to reformat each line, AlignAssignments() would use the built-in substitute() function, and replace everything up to the operator with a printf'd rearrangement of that text. Unfortunately, substitute() expects a fixed string as its replacement value, not a function call.

So, in order to use a printf() to reformat each replacement text, you need to use the special embedded replacement form: "\=expr". The leading \= in the replacement string tells substitute() to evaluate the expression that follows and use the result as the replacement text. Note that this is similar to the <C-R>= mechanism in Insert mode, except this magic behavior only works for the replacement string of the built-in substitute() function (or in the standard :s/.../.../ Vim command).

In this example, the special replacement form will be the same printf for every line, so it is pre-stored in the FORMATTER variable before the second for loop begins:

let FORMATTER = '\=printf("%-*s%*s", max_align_col, submatch(1),
\                                    max_op_width,  submatch(2))'

When it is eventually called by substitute(), this embedded printf() will left-justify (using a %-*s placeholder) everything to the left of the operator (submatch(1)) and place the result in a field that's max_align_col characters wide. It will then right-justify (using a %*s) the operator itself (submatch(2)) into a second field that's max_op_width characters wide. See :help printf() for details on how the - and * options modify the two %s format specifiers used here.

With this formatter now available, the second for loop can finally iterate through the full range of line numbers, retrieving the corresponding text buffer contents one line at a time:

for linenum in range(firstline, lastline)
    let oldline = getline(linenum)

The loop then uses substitute() to transform those contents, by matching everything up to and including any assignment operator (using the pattern in ASSIGN_LINE) and replacing that text with the result of the printf() call (as specified by FORMATTER):
    let newline = substitute(oldline, ASSIGN_LINE, FORMATTER, "")
    call setline(linenum, newline)

Once the for loop has iterated all the lines, any assignment operators within them will now be aligned correctly. All that remains is to create a key-mapping to invoke AlignAssignments(), like so:
nmap <silent>  ;=  :call AlignAssignments()<CR>

Looking ahead

Functions are an essential tool for decomposing an application into correct and maintainable components, in order to manage the complexity of real-world Vim programming tasks.

Vimscript allows you to define functions with fixed or variadic parameter lists, and to have them interact either automatically or in user-controlled ways with ranges of lines in the editor's text buffer. Functions can call back to Vim's built-in features (for example, to search() or substitute() text), and they can also directly access editor state information (such as determining the current line the cursor is on via line('.')) or interact with any text buffer currently being edited (via getline() and setline()).

This is undoubtedly a powerful facility, but our ability to programmatically manipulate state and content is always limited by how cleanly and accurately we can represent the data on which our code operates. So far in this series of articles, we've been restricted to the use of single scalar values (numbers, strings, and booleans). In the next two articles, we'll explore the use of much more powerful and convenient data structures: ordered lists and random-access dictionaries.

[Sep 16, 2008] Vim 7.2


Vim is an almost fully-compatible version of the Unix editor Vi. Many new features have been added including multi-level undo,

It is descended from the vi clone "stevie" and runs on many systems, including Unix, MS Windows, OS/2, Macintosh, VMS, and Amiga.

This is a stable version with many bugfixes and updated runtime files. The only new feature worth mentioning is support for floating point. Upgrading from a previous version is highly recommended: A few crashing bugs and several security issues were fixed.

[Feb 6, 2008] Eclim 1.3.4 by Eric Van Dewoestine

About: Eclim (Eclipse integration in vim) is a set of eclipse and vim plugins that bring Eclipse functionality to the vim editor. It exposes Eclipse features through a server interface and includes a set of vim plugins that communicate with Eclipse over that interface.

[Feb 6, 2008] Project details for Cream for Vim

Cream is a configuration of the famous Vim text editor that makes it easier to use, like an Apple- or Windows-style text editor. It uses Vim's own extensibility to improve menus, keyboard shortcuts, and editing behavior. Cream seamlessly maintains Vim's insertmode to access all the power of the original Vim plus many custom Cream extensions.

Release focus: Minor feature enhancements

This is a minor release that adds three common keyboard shortcuts, an updated French translation for menus, better Apple/Mac behavior, and improvements to the Email Prettyfier and Slide Generator add-ons. Cream is now distributed under the newest version of the GNU General Public License, now version 3.

[Dec 28, 2007] Vim tips Using tabs By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

January 24, 2007 |
Before Vim 7.0 was released last May, I usually had six or seven xterms or Konsole windows open, each with a single Vim session in which I was editing a single file. This takes up a lot of screen space, and isn't very efficient. With Vim 7.0, users now have the option of using tabs within Vim. With Vim's tab features you can consolidate all your sessions into one window and move between files more easily.

If you're using an version of Vim older than 7.0, you won't have access to this feature. By now, though, most distros have moved to Vim 7.0, so if you're using a recent release you should be OK.

Opening a tab

Let's start by opening a new tab in Vim. There are a few ways to do this. Probably the easiest to remember is to run the :tabnew command while in normal mode. This will open a new tab with an empty buffer. If you want to edit a file in the new tab, you can run :tabnew filename and Vim will load the file in the new tab.

Another way to do this is to open more than one file at startup using the -p option. If you want to open three files in separate tabs, you'd use this syntax:

vim -p file1 file2 file3

This will start a Vim session with file1 in the first tab, file2 in the second tab, and file3 in the third.

Vim will open up as many tabs as you like on startup, up to the maximum number of tabs set in the .vimrc file. The default maximum is 10 tabs, but you can change this by setting the tabpagemax option in your .vimrc, like so:

set tabpagemax=15

If you exceed the number of tabs allowed by tabpagemax Vim will simply open the maximum number of tabs, and the other files will be open but not displayed. You can edit the remaining files by using the :next or :last command to move to the files that are not displayed in a tab. Note that this setting only applies to the maximum number of tabs Vim will open on startup -- you can still open more tabs during your Vim session.

The :tabf command allows you to search for a file in your current path and open it in a new tab. For instance, if you want to open a file called inventory.txt that's in your current path, you could run:

:tabf inven*

That will search for a file that matches the string inven and any number of characters after it. If only one file is found, Vim will open it in a new tab. If you have several files that match, Vim will complain that too many files match, and you'll have to narrow the search a little. The :tabn command will do autocompletion of file names in your path, so you can just type the first few characters of a filename and hit Tab to find the right file.

Moving between tabs

You can switch between tabs using :tabn and :tabp, or you can use gt while you're in normal mode. Of course, if you're using Vim's GUI, GVim, you can also use the mouse to switch between tabs or use keyboard shortcuts. In GVim, you can also access a context menu for tabs by right-clicking on the tab bar. Here you can open new tabs with a new buffer or an existing file, or close the current tab.

If you have a lot of tabs open, you can use :tabfirst, or just :tabfir, to jump to the first tab, and :tablast to jump to the last tab that's open.

By default, the tab labels are shown at the top of the Vim window only when tabs are open. If you want to see the tab bar all the time, you can modify the showtabline option in your .vimrc. To set this to display all of the time, use:

set showtabline=2

If you want to turn it off altogether, use 0 instead of 2.

Note that the tabs are still there, even if the tab bar isn't displayed. If you have the tabline option set to 0, you can still see what tabs are open by using the :tabs command, which will provide a summary of open tabs, as you can see in the figure.

Speaking of setting options, if you don't like the existing shortcuts for the tab commands, you can add your own. For instance, if you want to make it easy to open a new tab, you might insert this into your .vimrc:

imap ,t <Esc>:tabnew<CR>

This tells Vim to set up a keymap for ,t in insert mode, to run Esc to put Vim into normal mode, then :tabnew and a carriage return to run the command. You can set up mappings for all of the tab commands that you use regularly. For more on setting up mappings, see our article Using Vim mappings and abbreviations.

Rearranging tabs

If you're really meticulous and want to position tabs just so in Vim, you can move the tabs to a specific spot in the tab order using :tabm n , where n is the position number that you want to use. If you don't give the :tabm command an argument, then the current tab will be moved to the last spot.

Vim starts tab numbering from 0, so if you have six tabs open, you'll have tab 0 through tab 5. So, if you're in the first tab and want to move it to the fourth position, you'd run :tab 3.

Note that you can still use viewports normally within tabbed windows, and tabs are useful for doing a quick edit in a file when you have a main Vim window set up with a couple of viewports arranged just right.

Running commands in tabs

Let's say you're editing six or seven files in Vim and realize that you need to replace a variable name with a new one. Using the :tabdo command, you can run a search and replace through all of the tabs at once rather than changing each file individually. For instance, if you want to replace foo with bar, you'd run this:

:tabdo %s/foo/bar/g

That will run through each open tab and run the search and replace command (%s/foo/bar/g) in each one.

Tabs can be extremely useful, and it only takes a short while to become proficient with them. For more on working with tabs in Vim, run :help tab-page-intro within Vim.

[Nov 6, 2007] Adding a little Cream to (g)Vim By Scott Nesbitt

May 16, 2007 |
Even though I'm a die-hard Emacs user, there are times when I have to use the vi editor -- specifically gVim, the graphical face of the popular vi clone Vim. Since I use gVim so infrequently, I don't readily remember many of the editor's basic commands. Either I muddle through or reach for my well-thumbed copy of the vi Editor Pocket Reference. That was until I discovered Cream. With Cream, gVim becomes an easy-to-use editor -- so easy, in fact, you might not believe that you're using vi.

Cream is a set of scripts and add-ons that sit on top of gVim. Cream doesn't change the appearance of gVim, but it does change the way it behaves. You no longer need to remember or use the traditional colon followed by one or more letters to execute a command -- for example, :w to save a file. Instead, you can use keystroke combinations that are common to many Linux and Windows text editors, such as Ctrl-C to copy text or Alt-F to open the File menu. Cream's developers bill it as "a modern configuration of the Vim text editor."

Getting Cream is easy. You can download the sources, as well as packages for Debian, Gentoo, Ubuntu, and FreeBSD, from the Cream Web site. A Windows installer is also available. Ubuntu users can get Cream using the Synaptic Package Manager, while users of Linspire and Freespire can install it via the CNR Service. If you use Debian, just run apt-get install cream at the command line.

Cream's gVim menus
Cream's gVim menus - click to enlarge
Getting to work

You start Cream by either clicking the icon that was added to your menu (Applications -> Accessories in Ubuntu), or by typing cream at the command line or in your application launcher. If you've used gVim before, you'll notice that, post-Cream, the menus have changed. As one friend of mine put it, "Cream un-techified Vim." Gone are menus like Syntax and Buffers, which have been replaced by more user-friendly menus with names like Format, Settings, and Insert. You don't have to dig as deeply through Cream's menus to find the command that you're looking for; those commands are just a couple of clicks away.

Cream retains just about all of Vim's features, and it has a few interesting ones of its own. Some of the more useful are a tabbed interface (only available if you're using Vim 7.0 or newer), the ability to quickly wrap or justify text, and a spelling checker. While version 7.0 of Vim has an on-the-fly spelling checker, that feature is missing from older versions of the editor -- like the one I use, version 6.4.6. You can also switch between using Cream keystrokes and commands and those used by vi or Vim. That way, you get the best of both worlds, if you're so inclined.

One aspect of Cream that I found a bit frustrating was not being able to use the handful of Vim extensions that I'd installed. For example, when I open a LaTeX document in gVim, the LaTeX extension displays three additional menus that help me edit and compile files -- but not if I have Cream installed. I wasn't able to find a way to get around this problem.

Files via Cream
Files via Cream - click to enlarge
Using add-ons and plugins

Add-ons are functions that add extra flexibility to Cream. Cream comes with 20 add-ons, some of which you may find useful and others you can do without. With the add-ons, you can strip ASCII text from a binary file, convert a text file to HTML, sort lines, and reformat an email address so that it's not vulnerable to harvesting by spammers. There's also a slide generator add-on that can create an HTML-based slide show using images in a directory that you specify, and a built-in typing tutor for users who wants to improve their typing speed.

Cream also comes with some useful plugin utilities. One is the File Tree, which acts a lot like the Emacs Speedbar extension. Using the File Tree, I quickly navigate around my file system and open files without using the Open File dialog box. While I don't find it incredibly useful, I know a couple of Cream aficionados who can't live without the Calendar plugin, which embeds a calendar within the editor.

If you're a long-time user of Vim and/or gVim, Cream probably isn't for you. You're undoubtedly familiar with many of Vim's commands, and don't need the assistance of a CUA-enabled editor. On the other hand, if you use gVim infrequently or want to take advantage of the power of Vim without learning the editor's commands, then Cream is definitely worth a look.

Scott Nesbitt is a freelance journalist and technical writer.

[Nov 5, 2007] A more informative status line for Vim

This article is excerpted from the recently published book Hacking Vim.

To the right, the default status line shows the number of the current row and column and to the left it shows name of the file currently open (if any). Whenever you execute a Vim command, the status line disappears and the command buffer is shown in that line instead. If the command you execute writes any messages, then those are shown on the right of the status line.

For simple and fast file editing, this status line is adequate. But if you use Vim every day and for a lot of different file formats, it would be nice to have a more informative status line.

The command that sets how the status line should look is called:

:set statusline format

where format is a printf-like string that describes how the status line should look.

If you look in the Vim help system by typing :help 'statusline', you will see that the status line can contain a wide variety of information. Some pieces are more useful in your daily work than others.

My status line always contains information about:

The following command will turn your status line into a true information bar with all the above information:

:set statusline=%F%m%r%h%w\ [FORMAT=%{&ff}]\ [TYPE=%Y]\ [ASCII=\%03.3b]\ [HEX=\%02.2B]\ [POS=%04l,%04v][%p%%]\ [LEN=%L] 

I have added a '[ ]' around each of the pieces of information so that it is easier to distinguish them from each other. This is purely to give a visual effect; you can leave them out.

Even after entering that command, the status line still shows the old non-informative status line, as in the default installation. This problem occurs because Vim, by default, does not show the status line at all. Instead, it just shows the command buffer with a little bit of information in it. To tell Vim that you would like to have a real status line shown, you have to add the following setting to your vimrc file. This command will make sure that your status line is always shown as the second last line in the editor window:

:set laststatus=2 

You will then see that the command buffer gets a place of its own in the last line of the editor window. This way there's always room for the status line, and you will always have information about the file right in front of you. The status line does of course take up some of the editing area. You can always remove it for the rest of the editing session by executing the following command from within Vim:

:set laststatus=0

Toggle menu and toolbar

If you are used to working with Vim in the console mode, you are used to having no menus and toolbars at the top of the window. Gvim, however, provides both a menu and toolbar by default in the GUI.

Many users believe that extra room for text is more important than the menu and the toolbar. However, some scripts add useful functionality in the menu, and it is therefore important to have the menus. The solution for this could be toggling whether the menu and toolbar is shown.

The following code maps the key combination Ctrl-F2 to toggle the menu and toolbar in Gvim. You can add it to your vimrc file if you want this functionality.

map <silent> <C-F2> :if &guioptions =~# 'T' <Bar>
                         \set guioptions-=T <Bar>
                         \set guioptions-=m <bar>

                    \else <Bar>
                         \set guioptions+=T <Bar>
                         \set guioptions+=m <Bar>


Now, whenever you don't need the menu and toolbar, you can just press Ctrl-F2 and you will get the full space for your text.

If you want either the menu or the toolbar to be hidden all the time, add one of the following lines to your vimrc file. To remove the menu completely:

:set guioptions-=m 

To remove the toolbar completely:

:set guioptions-=T 

Other parts of the GUI can be modified with the setguioptions command. To find out what you can modify, look in :help 'guioptions'.

[Oct 5, 2007] Turn Vim into a bash IDE By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

June 11, 2007 |
By itself, Vim is one of the best editors for shell scripting. With a little tweaking, however, you can turn Vim into a full-fledged IDE for writing scripts. You could do it yourself, or you can just install Fritz Mehner's Bash Support plugin.

To install Bash Support, download the zip archive, copy it to your ~/.vim directory, and unzip the archive. You'll also want to edit your ~/.vimrc to include a few personal details; open the file and add these three lines:

let g:BASH_AuthorName   = 'Your Name'
let g:BASH_Email        = ''
let g:BASH_Company      = 'Company Name'

These variables will be used to fill in some headers for your projects, as we'll see below.

The Bash Support plugin works in the Vim GUI (gVim) and text mode Vim. It's a little easier to use in the GUI, and Bash Support doesn't implement most of its menu functions in Vim's text mode, so you might want to stick with gVim when scripting.

When Bash Support is installed, gVim will include a new menu, appropriately titled Bash. This puts all of the Bash Support functions right at your fingertips (or mouse button, if you prefer). Let's walk through some of the features, and see how Bash Support can make Bash scripting a breeze.

Header and comments

If you believe in using extensive comments in your scripts, and I hope you are, you'll really enjoy using Bash Support. Bash Support provides a number of functions that make it easy to add comments to your bash scripts and programs automatically or with just a mouse click or a few keystrokes.

When you start a non-trivial script that will be used and maintained by others, it's a good idea to include a header with basic information -- the name of the script, usage, description, notes, author information, copyright, and any other info that might be useful to the next person who has to maintain the script. Bash Support makes it a breeze to provide this information. Go to Bash -> Comments -> File Header, and gVim will insert a header like this in your script:

#          FILE:
#         USAGE:  ./
#       OPTIONS:  ---
#          BUGS:  ---
#         NOTES:  ---
#        AUTHOR:  Joe Brockmeier,
#       COMPANY:  Dissociated Press
#       VERSION:  1.0
#       CREATED:  05/25/2007 10:31:01 PM MDT
#      REVISION:  ---

You'll need to fill in some of the information, but Bash Support grabs the author, company name, and email address from your ~/.vimrc, and fills in the file name and created date automatically. To make life even easier, if you start Vim or gVim with a new file that ends with an .sh extension, it will insert the header automatically.

As you're writing your script, you might want to add comment blocks for your functions as well. To do this, go to Bash -> Comment -> Function Description to insert a block of text like this:

#===  FUNCTION  ================================================================
#          NAME:
#       RETURNS:

Just fill in the relevant information and carry on coding.

The Comment menu allows you to insert other types of comments, insert the current date and time, and turn selected code into a comment, and vice versa.

Statements and snippets

Let's say you want to add an if-else statement to your script. You could type out the statement, or you could just use Bash Support's handy selection of pre-made statements. Go to Bash -> Statements and you'll see a long list of pre-made statements that you can just plug in and fill in the blanks. For instance, if you want to add a while statement, you can go to Bash -> Statements -> while, and you'll get the following:

while _; do

The cursor will be positioned where the underscore (_) is above. All you need to do is add the test statement and the actual code you want to run in the while statement. Sure, it'd be nice if Bash Support could do all that too, but there's only so far an IDE can help you.

However, you can help yourself. When you do a lot of bash scripting, you might have functions or code snippets that you reuse in new scripts. Bash Support allows you to add your snippets and functions by highlighting the code you want to save, then going to Bash -> Statements -> write code snippet. When you want to grab a piece of prewritten code, go to Bash -> Statements -> read code snippet. Bash Support ships with a few included code fragments.

Another way to add snippets to the statement collection is to just place a text file with the snippet under the ~/.vim/bash-support/codesnippets directory.

Running and debugging scripts

Once you have a script ready to go, and it's testing and debugging time. You could exit Vim, make the script executable, run it and see if it has any bugs, and then go back to Vim to edit it, but that's tedious. Bash Support lets you stay in Vim while doing your testing.

When you're ready to make the script executable, just choose Bash -> Run -> make script executable. To save and run the script, press Ctrl-F9, or go to Bash -> Run -> save + run script.

Bash Support also lets you call the bash debugger (bashdb) directly from within Vim. On Ubuntu, it's not installed by default, but that's easily remedied with apt-get install bashdb. Once it's installed, you can debug the script you're working on with F9 or Bash -> Run -> start debugger.

If you want a "hard copy" -- a PostScript printout -- of your script, you can generate one by going to Bash -> Run -> hardcopy to This is where Bash Support comes in handy for any type of file, not just bash scripts. You can use this function within any file to generate a PostScript printout.

Bash Support has several other functions to help run and test scripts from within Vim. One useful feature is syntax checking, which you can access with Alt-F9. If you have no syntax errors, you'll get a quick OK. If there are problems, you'll see a small window at the bottom of the Vim screen with a list of syntax errors. From that window you can highlight the error and press Enter, and you'll be taken to the line with the error.

Put away the reference book...

Don't you hate it when you need to include a regular expression or a test in a script, but can't quite remember the syntax? That's no problem when you're using Bash Support, because you have Regex and Tests menus with all you'll need. For example, if you need to verify that a file exists and is owned by the correct user ID (UID), go to Bash -> Tests -> file exists and is owned by the effective UID. Bash Support will insert the appropriate test ([ -O _]) with your cursor in the spot where you have to fill in the file name.

To build regular expressions quickly, go to the Bash menu, select Regex, then pick the appropriate expression from the list. It's fairly useful when you can't remember exactly how to express "zero or one" or other regular expressions.

Bash Support also includes menus for environment variables, bash builtins, shell options, and a lot more.

Hotkey support

Vim users can access many of Bash Support's features using hotkeys. While not as simple as clicking the menu, the hotkeys do follow a logical scheme that makes them easy to remember. For example, all of the comment functions are accessed with \c, so if you want to insert a file header, you use \ch; if you want a date inserted, type \cd; and for a line end comment, use \cl.

Statements can be accessed with \a. Use \ac for a case statement, \aie for an "if then else" statement, \af for a "for in..." statement, and so on. Note that the online docs are incorrect here, and indicate that statements begin with \s, but Bash Support ships with a PDF reference card (under .vim/bash-support/doc/bash-hot-keys.pdf) that gets it right.

Run commands are accessed with \r. For example, to save the file and run a script, use \rr; to make a script executable, use \re; and to start the debugger, type \rd. I won't try to detail all of the shortcuts, but you can pull up a reference using :help bashsupport-usage-vim when in Vim, or use the PDF. The full Bash Support reference is available within Vim by running :help bashsupport, or you can read it online.

Of course, we've covered only a small part of Bash Support's functionality. The next time you need to whip up a shell script, try it using Vim with Bash Support. This plugin makes scripting in bash a lot easier.

[Nov 14, 2006] Vifm

Vifm is a ncurses based file manager with vi like keybindings. If you use vi, vifm gives you complete keyboard control over your files without having to learn a new set of commands.

Basic Movement


Searching Additional Normal Mode Keys Commands File Filters

[Oct 25, 2006] Vim 7!

May 8, 2006 (vimannonce grroup) Vim 7 is ready! After years of development this feature packed editor
is waiting for you.

Since Vim 6.4 many new features have been added. To mention a few:

- Spell checking support for about 50 languages
- Intelligent completion for C, HTML, Ruby, Python, PHP, etc.
- Tab pages, each containing multiple windows
- Undo branches: never accidentally lose text again

- Vim script supports Lists and Dictionaries (similar to Python)
- Vim script profiling
- Improved Unicode support
- Highlighting of cursor line, cursor column and matching braces
- Translated manual pages support.
- Internal grep; works on all platforms, searches compressed files
- Browsing remote directories, zip and tar archives
- Printing multi-byte text

Once you have installed Vim 7.0 you can find details about the changes
since Vim 6.4 with ":help version7".

[May 25, 2006] Vim tips Folding fun

The problem with writing and editing on a computer, versus having words on paper, is that it's usually hard to compare text from different sections of a document when they don't fit on the screen together. One way to do it is to use Vim's viewports feature. Another is to "fold" the text. Using Vim's folding features, you can tuck away portions of a file's text so that they're out of sight until you want to work with them again. Here's how.

Vim's folding commands begin with z -- which, as the Vim docs point out, sort of looks like a folded piece of paper. OK, maybe not much, but at least the commands are consistent. If you want to do something with folding, it probably starts with z. (Since Vim 7 added spellchecking, some of the spellcheck commands also start with z, but that's a topic for another article.)

Creating folds

Let's start with some simple folding actions. Pick a text file, preferably a longer one like your xorg.conf, or just about any text file that's too big to fit on the screen by itself. Open it in Vim, and place the cursor at the beginning of a paragraph. Make sure you're in normal mode, and type zf2j. After you press j, Vim will create a fold covering three lines -- the line you started the fold on, and the next two lines. If you're familiar with Vim's movement commands, you know that the command 2j would usually tell Vim to move down two lines. Vim uses the same movement commands to define folds.

Folding also works in visual mode. If you enter visual mode using v or V, then select a few lines of text using the movement keys, and type zf, Vim will create a fold comprising those lines.

Another option is to specify a range in command mode. For instance, if you wanted to create a fold from lines 20 through 101, you could just use :20,101 fold and press Enter. In fact, you don't even need to type the entire word -- you can use fo instead of fold if you want to save a couple of keystrokes. Note that this will work backwards as well -- so if you use :.,20 fo when the cursor is on line 101, Vim will reverse the range and create the fold from lines 20 to 101.

Vim can also make some smart text selections. Let's say you're working on a script or program and you have a block of text within braces ({}). Position the cursor on the first brace, and type zfa}. Vim will create a fold from the line with the first brace through the last; it's not necessary to know which lines you're working with, Vim will just look for the closing brace. This also works with other block enclosures -- parenthesis, brackets ([]), and angle brackets (<>).

As an added bonus, Vim also recognizes nested blocks, so it will create the fold based on matching delimiters, and not the first closing bracket it comes across. Vim will also work backwards. If you're on a closing brace, type zfa{ and Vim will create a fold from the current spot to the beginning brace.

Folds are nestable as well -- that is to say, you can create a fold, and then include that within a larger section of folded text.

Finally, you can create a fold from the cursor position to a search result. If you run zf/string , Vim will create a fold from the cursor position to the first instance of the search string. Again, this is useful when you know you want a fold to go from the line you're on to a line further down in the file, but you're not sure what the line number is.

Once you've created a fold you'll see a single line of text that shows how many lines are folded, as well as the initial text, like this:

+-- 15 lines: set_up_socket_dir () {--------------------------------------------

The dashes indicate the foldlevel of the particular fold. For a top-level fold, you should see two dashes. Nested folds will have more dashes. We'll cover the foldlevel in more depth in just a bit.

Vim folding commands
zf#j creates a fold from the cursor down # lines.
zf/string creates a fold from the cursor to string .
zj moves the cursor to the next fold.
zk moves the cursor to the previous fold.
zo opens a fold at the cursor.
zO opens all folds at the cursor.
zm increases the foldlevel by one.
zM closes all open folds.
zr decreases the foldlevel by one.
zR decreases the foldlevel to zero -- all folds will be open.
zd deletes the fold at the cursor.
zE deletes all folds.
[z move to start of open fold.
]z move to end of open fold.

Using folds

Creating folds is only half the fun. At some point, you'll no doubt want to unfold the text. One way to do this is to place the cursor on the same line as the fold and type zo. This will "open" the fold, but not delete it. So if you want to do a quick check on some text that's been folded, use zo, and then zc to close it back up when you're finished.

To move between folds quickly, use the zj and zk commands to move to the next and previous fold. Note that it doesn't matter whether the folds are open or closed; if they exist, zj and zk will move backwards and forwards between them. These commands should be easy to remember, since they combine the fold command (z) with movement commands (j to move down a line, and k to move up a line). If you want to move between the start and end of a fold, use [z and ]z, respectively.

As we've already covered, Vim will create nested folds. If you use zo on a nested fold, it will open only the first fold -- the remaining folds will stay closed. However, if you'd like to open all of the nested folds on that line, use zO -- Vim will open all of the folds. Running zc in normal mode will close all the folds after using zO.

The zr command will open all first-level folds in Vim, and zR will open all of the folds in the file. The zm command will re-fold the first-level folds, and zM will close all open folds in a file. If you have multiple foldlevels, a fold within a fold within a fold, running zm will refold them sequentially -- so if all folds are open it will refold the deepest folds, then folds on the next foldlevel, and so on. The zr command works the same way, only in reverse -- it will open the top-level fold, then the next level, and so forth.

When you decide you want to get rid of a fold entirely, position the cursor on the fold and run zd. This will work whether the fold is open or closed. To zap all of the folds at once, type zE. Delete with caution, however. Vim's undo and redo features don't apply to folds; if you delete a fold, you can't press u and bring it back, and the . command won't run the last fold command.

You might be wondering, how does Vim treat text within folds when you are searching for text, or doing a search and replace on a file? Vim treats the text normally. If you search for a string of text that's within a fold, Vim will unfold the text when the cursor moves to the string within the fold. Unfortunately, Vim is a little less than tidy in this regard -- if a search causes a fold to be expanded, Vim doesn't re-fold the text after moving the cursor outside the fold. However, a quick zm will restore the folds.

Vim also treats a folded section of text as a single line for the purpose of deleting and yanking text. If you place the cursor on a section of folded text and use dd, it will delete the entire section, not just the first line. Vim will also allow you to yank the entire folded section of text just by placing the cursor on the folded text and typing Y or yy. The folded section can then be pasted into another section of the text using the p or P commands.

The foldmethod option

Vim's foldmethod option might be of interest to programmers. The default foldmethod is manual -- that is, creating folds manually. However, Vim can also create folds based on the way a file is indented, its syntax, or markers in the text.

To set the foldmethod according to the way a file is indented, run :set foldmethod=indent. This will automatically create folds at every indent. Consider a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) file like this one:

body {
        background-color: #CCCCCC;
	font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;

strong.header {
        font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;
        color: #1D3C47;

Once you've set foldmethod=indent, it will look like this:

body {
+---  2 lines: background-color: #CCCCCC;---------------------------------------

strong.header {
+---  2 lines: font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;-----------------------

Vim also offers a marker method, where folds are set by visible text markers rather than invisible manual marks. To set this mode, run :set foldmethod=marker. Then, when you set a fold, you'll see a marker with three braces at the beginning and end of the fold, like this:

Folded text goes here...

The braces are set off by comment characters, depending on the type of file. So, if you're working with an HTML file, you'll see <!--{{{-->, and if you're editing a Python script, you'll see #{{{. You can also insert fold markers manually if you want, and Vim will recognize them as well. Vim will also delete the markers with the zd command, whether they were set manually or not.

Fold created with the marker method are subject to undo and redo operations, unlike normal manual folds.

It's possible to set the foldmarker to something other than {{{ if you need to, but the Vim docs recommend that you stick with the defaults. To change the foldmarker, use :set foldmarker=nnn,mmm where nnn is the character string to start the marker, and mmm is the string to end the marker.

If you want to use a foldmethod other than "manual" all the time, add this line to your ~/.vimrc:

set foldmethod=foldoption

Vim has a few other foldmethods that may come in useful. See the foldmethod documentation in the Vim reference materials for more on the foldmethod option.

Saving folds

After you've gone to all the trouble of creating several folds in a longer document, it'd be a shame to lose them when you close the file. If you'd like to save the folds before you leave the file, run :mkview. When you reload the file, run :loadview, and Vim will restore the folds to the state the file was in at the time you ran :mkview.

The :mkview command supports multiple revisions of a file's state, so you can give a view a number and reload later on. For example, if you run :mkview 2, make a few changes, and then run :loadview 2, it will revert to the previous state of the file as far as folds are concerned. Note that it won't restore the file itself to the previous state; if you delete 10 lines of text after saving a view, Vim won't restore those lines when you load an older view using :loadview.

But why do something manually when you can do it automatically? To see to it that Vim saves and restores folds when a file is closed and re-opened, add these two lines to your ~/.vimrc:

au BufWinLeave * mkview
au BufWinEnter * silent loadview

Now, each time you close a file, its fold state will be saved and reloaded when you reopen the file in Vim.

When you add folds to other features like viewports and marks and jumps, Vim becomes an insanely productive tool for text editing and programming.

[May 17, 2006] Vim tips Moving around using marks and jumps by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

Basically, a mark is a bookmark or placeholder that allows you to return to a spot in the file where you were editing. This can be handy when you're working on longer projects, whether you're writing a long paper, making changes to your Apache configuration, or writing code.

Jumps are movements within a file. For example, when you use G to move to the last line of a file from your current position, that's a jump. Vim not only makes it easy to move from one point in the file to another, it also makes it easy to retrace your steps.

m marks the spot

Let's take a look at Vim marks. All you need to do to set a mark is to enter normal mode, then type mx , where x is the letter you want to assign to the mark.

For example, if you're typing and decide that you need to set a mark so you can return to a sentence or line of code you're not entirely happy with, press Esc to leave insert mode, then type ma to set a mark at the spot your cursor was on.

You can use any letter in the alphabet, upper or lower case. However, capital letters are global marks, so you should use them only in special circumstances, which I'll explain in just a bit. It's not necessary to use them in alphabetical order; you can set mark z right after setting mark a if you like, or skip a altogether and start with z.

To return to the mark you've set, enter normal mode (if you're not in normal mode already) and type `x where x is the letter associated with the mark you want to revisit. The backtick (`) will return you to the exact spot where the mark was set. You can also use the single quote ('), which will return you to the beginning of the line you were at, but not the exact cursor position.

Marks set with lowercase letters are specific to the file that they're set in. That is to say, if you are using a Vim session to edit two files in a split viewport, then you can set mark a in both files. When you're editing file 1, using `a would take you to mark a in file 1. When in file 2, `a would take you to the spot in file 2 marked a -- which is probably what you'd expect.

However, if you're using Vim to edit two files and you've set mark A, it will be specific to that file. So, if you're editing file 2, and have mark A set in file 1 and use `A, Vim will close the current file and take you to mark A in file 1. If file 2 has unsaved changes, Vim will complain that you haven't written the file since the last change, and refuse to open the new file.

While global bookmarks are useful on occasion, it's usually best to stick to lower-case marks unless you have a specific need for global bookmarks.

Now where did I leave that?

After spending an hour or two editing a file, you might forget exactly where you've set marks in a file. If you'd like to see where they are, you can enter command mode and use the :marks command. Vim will display the name of each mark, the line and column number where it is set, and part of the text from that line. Note that Vim won't start the display on the column where the mark begins -- instead, you'll see the beginning of the line where the mark is set. So, if you've set marks for a, b, and c, you will see where those marks are set, but you'll also see a few other marks that you might not recognize. Here's a shortish example:

mark line  col file/text
 '    112    0
 a     11    3 <p>For example, if you're typing and decide that you
 b    103    0 <p>By default, when you exit Vim, the marks that you've
 D     26    0 ~/src/gaim-2.0.0beta2/src/Makefile
 0     61   60 <p>The " mark is set to the last position of the cursor
 1    103    0 <p>By default, when you exit Vim, the marks that you've
 "     35    0 <p><strong><code style="background-color: yellow;">'"</code>
 [     52    0
 ]     54    0
 ^     54    0
 .     73  115 <p>The . mark will take you to the last position a change
Press ENTER or type command to continue
Vim mark quick reference

mx tells Vim to add a mark called x.

`x tells Vim to return to the line and column for mark x.

'x tells Vim to return to the beginning of the line where mark x is set.

`. moves the cursor to the line and column where the last edit was made.

'. moves the cursor to the line where the last edit was made.

'" moves the cursor to the last position of the cursor when you exited the previous session.

:marks shows all marks set.

:marks x shows the mark named x.

:jumps shows the jumplist.

Ctrl-o moves the cursor to the last jump.

Ctrl-i moves the cursor to the previous jump.

H moves the cursor to the top of the screen or viewport.

M moves the cursor to the middle of the screen or viewport.

L moves the cursor to the bottom of the screen or viewport.

Specifically, you'll see marks for ., [, ], ", ', and a few others. Those marks are present whether you've set any marks manually or not. The [ and ] marks indicate the last changed or copied ("yanked") text. The [ mark is the first character of the text that's been changed or yanked, the ] is the last character of that text. Note that these marks don't work until you actually make a change in the file.

The . mark will take you to the last position a change was made. So, '. will take you to the line where the last change was made in your file, and `. will take you to the cursor position where the last change was made.

If you make a jump within a file -- that is, if you use a movement or search command to move within the file -- the ` character will return you to the position you started from. For example, using the G movement command you can jump to the bottom of the file. If you want to return to the last cursor position, use `` and you'll be moved back to the last location of the cursor before using G. We'll discuss jumps in more detail a bit later.

The " mark is set to the last position of the cursor when you exited the previous Vim session, if you have Vim configured to save your session information using a viminfo file. We'll cover that in just a bit too.

Finally, if your session information is being saved, you can also use numbered marks to return to the last position the cursor was at when you closed a file. Using numbered marks, `0 will move the cursor to the last position it was at when you closed a file. `1 will move the cursor to the last position it was at when you closed the file the time before last, and so forth.

If you just want to know where a specific mark is in the file, you can use :marks markname to display just those marks. To see marks a and B, for instance, you'd just use :marks aB. This is pretty useful when you have 10 or 20 marks set.

Advanced marking

Marks are useful for more than just moving about a file -- though that feature alone is very useful. Marks can also be used to specify a range for commands. Normally, if you want to delete a few lines, you can use line numbers to specify the line, like so:

:22,55 d

That will delete lines 22 through 55. But it's much easier to remember marks than line names most of the time. If you have line 22 marked as g and 55 marked as k, you could substitute :'g,'k d and remove those lines without having to go back and confirm the line numbers. This works with other commands too, so you could just as easily write those lines to a file using :'g,'k w filename or use the range for a substitution command like this:

:'g,'k s/foo/bar/g

The jumplist

Vim stores a list of your movements throughout a file, whether they're associated with marks or not. To see a full list of jumps within a file, use :jumps. Here's a short sample:

 jump line  col file/text
    3     1    0 /**
    2   608    0 }
    1    33    0 #include "log.h"
Press ENTER or type command to continue

Vim lists the jump number, line number, and column of the last location of the cursor for each jump, as well as a bit of text to help provide context. You can cycle between jump locations using the Ctrl-o and Ctrl-i keybindings. Ctrl-o will move you to the last jump, then the next-to-last, and so forth. In this instance, if you use Ctrl-o, you'd be taken to line 33, then line 608, then 1. To move forwards through the jump history, use Ctrl-i -- which would take you from line 1 (jump 3) to line 608, then line 33.

Though they're not jumps, since we're discussing moving around a file easily, you might want to familiarize yourself with the movement commands G, gg, H, M, and L. G, as we've already discussed, will take you to the bottom of the file. The gg command will move you to the top of the file. The H, M, and L commands will move you to the top, middle, and bottom of the screen, respectively.

Saving marks and jumps

By default, when you exit Vim, the marks and jumps that you've created are lost. Luckily, there's an easy way to save the marks you've created by making use of the viminfo file, which saves state information between Vim sessions.

To make sure this feature is enabled, open your .vimrc and look for a line that begins with set viminfo=. If you don't have that line, insert it. It should look something like this:

set viminfo='100,f1

If you have viminfo set, it will save local marks (a-z) by default. The '100 tells Vim to save marks and other information for up to 100 files. The f1 directive tells Vim to also save global marks (A-Z) when it exits. If you don't want Vim to do this, set it to f0 instead.

You can use the viminfo file for a lot more than saving marks and jumps, but we'll have to cover that in a future installment.

[May 10, 2006] Vim tips Using viewports

A lot of folks use Vim, but many exploit only a small percentage of the editor's features. Sure, you might know how to do the basics in Vim, but what about using more advanced features such as folding, split windows, and marks? With a little practice, you can really boost your productivity with Vim.

In this and future articles, I'm going to cover Vim features that you may not be familiar with if you're a casual Vim user. If you're confident using Vim to edit configuration files or make short edits in text files, but maybe not too comfortable with undertaking major writing or coding in Vim, then these articles should be for you.

Splitting Vim's viewport

A really useful feature in Vim is the ability to split the viewable area between one or more files, or just to split the window to view two bits of the same file more easily. The Vim documentation refers to this as a viewport or window, interchangeably.

You may already be familiar with this feature if you've ever used Vim's help feature by using :help topic or pressing the F1 key. When you enter help, Vim splits the viewport and opens the help documentation in the top viewport, leaving your document open in the bottom viewport.

Vim viewport keybinding quick reference

:sp will split the Vim window horizontally. Can be written out entirely as :split .

:vsp will split the Vim window vertically. Can be written out as :vsplit .

Ctrl-w Ctrl-w moves between Vim viewports.

Ctrl-w j moves one viewport down.

Ctrl-w k moves one viewport up.

Ctrl-w h moves one viewport to the left.

Ctrl-w l moves one viewport to the right.

Ctrl-w = tells Vim to resize viewports to be of equal size.

Ctrl-w - reduce active viewport by one line.

Ctrl-w + increase active viewport by one line.

Ctrl-w q will close the active window.

Ctrl-w r will rotate windows to the right.

Ctrl-w R will rotate windows to the left.

If you want to use this feature for something other than viewing Vim's help files, you can split the viewport by using :sp, :split, or Ctrl-w n -- they do the same thing, but just typing :sp will save you a few characters, and it's easier to use with arguments, such as filenames. Remember the Ctrl-w part, though, because it will come in handy for most operations with windows.

The :sp command will divvy up the viewport into two equal viewports for the file that you have open. If you'd like to work on two files simultaneously, no problem -- just follow the command with the filename you'd like to use, like this:

:sp filename

That will open filename in the new viewport. You can even add a search string to that to move directly to the first instance of a keyword, like so:

:sp +/searchstring filename

Easy as falling off a log. What if you don't want to have equal viewports? For example, let's say you want to open a reference file in the top viewport, but want the majority of the viewport available for the file you're actually editing. No problem. Just prepend a number to the sp command, and the new viewport will fill that number of lines:

:10 sp filename

Now you have a viewport with 10 lines, but what if you've decided that you'd like to give both viewports equal real estate? That's easy enough too. Instead of going into command mode, you can use a normal keybinding to accomplish this. Ctrl-w = tells Vim to assign an equal number of lines to each viewport.

To move between the viewports while working, use Ctrl-w j to move down, and Ctrl-w k to move up. This should prove easy to remember -- Ctrl-w for "window" commands, and the normal vi movement commands j for down and k for up. You can also cycle between viewports by using Ctrl-w Ctrl-w.

You can increase or decrease a viewport's size after it's been created. Use Ctrl-w + to increase the active viewport, and Ctrl-w - to decrease its size by one line. If one line at a time isn't sufficient, add a modifier before the + or -. For instance, to add 13 lines, use Ctrl-w 13+.

If horizontal viewports just don't do it for you, Vim also supports splitting viewports vertically. To do this, just use :vsp, or :vsplit if you prefer to spell it out. Movement between vertical viewports is similar to moving between horizontal viewports. Ctrl-w Ctrl-w works, and instead of using the j and k movement keys, use the h and l movement keys to move back and forth between viewports. To move to the viewport to the right, for example, you'd use Ctrl-w l.

It's also worth mentioning that you can open a file in a viewport just to view the file, without opening it to edit. To do this, use the :sview filename command. To do it vertically, use :vert sview filename .

You can close a window in one of several ways. The easiest is to just use the quit command, :q, or you can use Ctrl-w q. Note that if it's the only window open with a file, Vim will prompt you to save the file if it isn't saved already.

Also, it's possible to rotate the windows, if you decide you'd prefer to have the top window on the bottom or vice versa. To do this, use Ctrl-w r to move windows to the right or down. When you do this, for example, in a Vim session with three horizontal viewports open, the top viewport would go to the middle position, the middle viewport would take the bottom position, and the bottom viewport would rotate to the top. To go in the opposite direction, use Ctrl-w R instead.

Vim often offers several different ways to achieve the same things. For instance, as I pointed out, :sp, :split, and Ctrl-w n all create a new viewport. I haven't listed all of the possible commands or keybindings to accomplish all of the tasks here.

Over the years, I've found Vim's split windows features to be very useful. I often use it to edit a column or article in one viewport, and to read and copy from notes in another viewport.

[Mar 28, 2006] All about Linux Vim author gets hired by Google

Things have changed though - at least for Mr Moolenaar, because he has just been hired by Google and will start working for the search giant in Zurich. Does that mean, further development of Vim is going to take a back seat? Not at all! Bram has committed himself to its further support and development albeit at a reduced pace.

On a different note, I came across this cool cheatsheet which acts as a spring board in getting up and running in using vi / vim with ease. Of course, this is not in any way related to the official project.

[Nov 15, 2005] Windows Manager - 1.0

winmanager.vim is a plugin which implements a classical windows type IDE in Vim-6.0. Vim6.0 has some very cool features one of which is vertical splitting of windows. The time was thus ripe to make something like this. People have already made excellent File and Buffer explorers seperately and I thought that it might be a cool idea to combine them both.

winmanager.vim combines the standard File Explorer which ships with Vim6.0 and a Buffer Explorer written by Jeff Lanzarotta into one package. Unfortunately, I had to change a few features here and there so instead of using the packages as is, I have to ship a relatively very small plugin with all of the original code from both packages basically just dumped at the end with just a few things changed here and there. When you open up a new file, simply type in :WManager. This will start up the file explorer.

[Jun 01, 2005] perl-support.vim : Perl-IDE

Write and run Perl-scripts using menus and hotkeys. (2.6) + blocks: opening brace no longer on a new line (adjustable for backward compatibility). + Vim (without GUI): new key mappings: all entries in the run menu do have mappings now. + Vim (without GUI): perldoc can be read with hotkeys \h and \rp . + Vim (without GUI): perldoc displays docs using plain text converter.+ output into buffer: cursor goes to top of file. + trailing ^M in perldoc window... - Fritz Mehner

[Mar 1, 2005] Vim Color Schemes

Featuring 161 themes:


Recommended Links

Google matched content

Softpanorama Recommended

Top articles



Some comparisons

Usenet and mail lists

Please read all of the VIM FAQ before asking questions. Thanks!

Usenet Newsgroup with a lot of vim users: comp.editors

Yahoo! Groups vim


Advanced VI


see also The VI Pages - All About VI and its clones

Reference cards:

  1. How do I move the cursor in the file?

  2. How do I insert text?

Once you entered input mode, the way to return to command mode is by hitting the Escape key: ESC or CONTROL-[.

  1. How do I delete something?

  2. How to undo and repeat commands?

Sun bloggers

The Clingan Zone

Random Findings

the vi reference mug



Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Last modified: November 30, 2018