Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

Orthodox Editors as a Special Class of Advanced Editors

News Introduction to Orthodox Editors Recommended Links

Recommended Articles

Eastern Orthodox editors Western Orthodox Editors (VIM)

Beautifiers and Pretty Printers

Folding Slicing Outlining Ctags Regex PC-style text editors for Unix Light-weight win32 Editors
VIM SlickEdit FTE Mcedit -- Midnight Commander’s Editor LE - Lukyanov Editor jed Html editors
GUI-based programmable Programmable Word processors HTML programmable History VIM Humor Humor Etc

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. All of them have command line set of commands and respective glue macrolanguage. We have found two such families:

We define the notion of  "orthodox editors" as having the following distinct features:

  1. They have a well-defined command set that is comparable in power to GUI based commands and command line can be used to enter editor commands. For some of them (vi - line ) that comes naturally, from the fact that they were initially designed for typewriters. 
  2. They permit doing any editing task using keyboard  (although mouse can speed up or simplify many of those tasks and is not rejected in the extremist way)
  3. They use a standard scripting language as a macrolanguage (TCL, REXX) or unique for the application (YASL  - yet another scripting language) like in vim 6 as a macrolanguage. It serves as a glue for the command set implemented by the editor. With some reservations we can accept  a unique for the application (YASL  - yet another scripting language) like in VIM. This is definitely less attractive solution as it is difficult to master the language that you use only for a specific application (in this case an editor).  The same consideration is applicable to Emacs. 
  4. They support folding (all command in XEDIT and its derivatives; folding capabilities in VIM )
  5. They distinguish between editing buffer and the windows in which this editing buffer is displayed allowing multiple windows to display the same buffer.
  6. They support regular expressions
  7. They permit processing selected part of the editing buffer or all the buffer via pipe connected to external command (! command in vi)
  8. They support multiple views of the same editing buffer.
  9. They allow piping in output from arbitrary pipe into the current position of cursor, selection, or all buffer as well as exporting a selection or all buffer as an input stream for an arbitrary pipe.  

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 this further discussion of related ideas).

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 editors for programmers providing despite Spartan interface rich functionality absent in almost any other editor with possible exception of vi and its derivatives. Despite integrating a macro language they are actually pretty small, mid-weight by some standards (see a companion paper A Note on Size-based Classification of Text Editors for this further discussion of related ideas).

Please note that both subclasses of orthodox editors were pioneers in introducing several important for any modern editor features, features that unfortunately still are absent or poorly implemented in most other editors: 

This paper explores two sets of  deep interconnections that were previously unnoticed in the literature:

Actually the second point was the main reason that I decided to use a superclass term "orthodox editors" that includes as subclasses both XEDIT editors line and VI editors lines. Not only because I like to invent new terms (that goes with Ph.D ;-), but I really see deep similarities between them and their connection to a similar phenomenon that I studied earlier in case of File Managers (see OFM page for details). Those tools are representative of a different approach to GUI interface then Apple GUI or Microsoft GUI (which are converging). Interface that can be called "Orthodox Interface".  And this Spartan interface with ancient-looking, "half-baked" GUI with command line present give users important and unique capabilities that are missing in other similar "pure GUI" Tools. They survived because they are capable of giving advanced users the ability to achieve an extremely high productivity, beating competition. Although some design decisions in those editors were dictated by limitation of old hardware they withstand the test of time and proved to be useful and extremely productive tools for modern environments.

Read more

Another interesting for me issue is the value of editors of different sizes (lightweight, mid-weight and heavyweight). My thought on this issue are reflected in another paper  A Note on Size-based Classification of Text Editors  Here is the abstract:

The article presents an attempt to understand correlation between features of text editors and editor size based of tasks each weight category performs better and1 propose size based classification of editors

The concept of "editor weight" is useful for explaining why most programmers use several editors (usually three: standalone lightweight editor like Notepad, midweight editor like Vim, Kedit or SlickEdit and heavyweight editor/IDE type of environments like Microsoft Visual Studio .Net, Emacs, etc). 

That suggests that there are tasks for which one editor of a certain size suit best and performing of which with the editor of a different category is less efficient despite the additional power it might provide. This paradox that most programmers use several editors while leading one would be more efficient can be explained by the hypothesis that editors can be classified into three distinct categories and that each category of editors has its own unique set of features In this case one size does not fit all. We will distinguish 

The main idea here that there are tasks that are better, quicker performed by lightweight editors and they're are tasks that are better performed by midweight/heavyweight editors, so those categories of editors develop in different directions. 

Read more

Most programmers spend  a lot of time editing the code (may as much as 40%). If that's the case, finding the best tool available and, if necessary, spending a few extra dollars for it definitely is a good investment.

Top Visited
Past week
Past month


Old News ;-)

2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 and earlier

[Mar 24, 2021] How To Edit Multiple Files Using Vim Editor by Senthil Kumar

Images removed. Use the original for full text.
Mar 24, 2021 |

March 17, 2018

...Now, let us edit these two files at a time using Vim editor. To do so, run:

$ vim file1.txt file2.txt

Vim will display the contents of the files in an order. The first file's contents will be shown first and then second file and so on.

Edit Multiple Files Using Vim Editor

Edit Multiple Files Using Vim Editor Switch between files

To move to the next file, type:

Switch between files in Vim editor

Switch between files in Vim editor

To go back to previous file, type:


Here, N is capital (Type SHIFT+n).

Start editing the files as the way you do with Vim editor. Press 'i' to switch to interactive mode and modify the contents as per your liking. Once done, press ESC to go back to normal mode.

Vim won't allow you to move to the next file if there are any unsaved changes. To save the changes in the current file, type:


Please note that it is double capital letters ZZ (SHIFT+zz).

To abandon the changes and move to the previous file, type:


To view the files which are being currently edited, type:

View files in buffer in VIm

View files in buffer in VIm

You will see the list of loaded files at the bottom.

List of files in buffer in Vim

List of files in buffer in Vim

To switch to the next file, type :buffer followed by the buffer number. For example, to switch to the first file, type:

:buffer 1

Or, just do:

:b 1
Switch to next file in Vim

Switch to next file in Vim

Just remember these commands to easily switch between buffers:

:bf            # Go to first file.
:bl            # Go to last file
:bn            # Go to next file.
:bp            # Go to previous file.
:b number  # Go to n'th file (E.g :b 2)
:bw            # Close current file.
Opening additional files for editing

We are currently editing two files namely file1.txt, file2.txt. You might want to open another file named file3.txt for editing. What will you do? It's easy! Just type :e followed by the file name like below.

:e file3.txt
Open additional files for editing in Vim

Open additional files for editing in Vim

Now you can edit file3.txt.

To view how many files are being edited currently, type:

View all files in buffers in Vim

View all files in buffers in Vim

Please note that you can not switch between opened files with :e using either :n or :N . To switch to another file, type :buffer followed by the file buffer number.

Copying contents of one file into another

You know how to open and edit multiple files at the same time. Sometimes, you might want to copy the contents of one file into another. It is possible too. Switch to a file of your choice. For example, let us say you want to copy the contents of file1.txt into file2.txt.

To do so, first switch to file1.txt:

:buffer 1

Place the move cursor in-front of a line that wants to copy and type yy to yank(copy) the line. Then, move to file2.txt:

:buffer 2

Place the mouse cursor where you want to paste the copied lines from file1.txt and type p . For example, you want to paste the copied line between line2 and line3. To do so, put the mouse cursor before line and type p .

Sample output:

Copying contents of one file into another file using Vim

Copying contents of one file into another file using Vim

To save the changes made in the current file, type:


Again, please note that this is double capital ZZ (SHIFT+z).

To save the changes in all files and exit vim editor. type:


Similarly, you can copy any line from any file to other files.

Copying entire file contents into another

We know how to copy a single line. What about the entire file contents? That's also possible. Let us say, you want to copy the entire contents of file1.txt into file2.txt.

To do so, open the file2.txt first:

$ vim file2.txt

If the files are already loaded, you can switch to file2.txt by typing:

:buffer 2

Move the cursor to the place where you wanted to copy the contents of file1.txt. I want to copy the contents of file1.txt after line5 in file2.txt, so I moved the cursor to line 5. Then, type the following command and hit ENTER key:

:r file1.txt
Copying entire contents of a file into another file

Copying entire contents of a file into another file

Here, r means read .

Now you will see the contents of file1.txt is pasted after line5 in file2.txt.

open source
Copying entire file contents into another file using Vim

Copying entire file contents into another file using Vim

To save the changes in the current file, type:


To save all changes in all loaded files and exit vim editor, type:

Method 2

The another method to open multiple files at once is by using either -o or -O flags.

To open multiple files in horizontal windows, run:

$ vim -o file1.txt file2.txt
Open multiple files at once in Vim

Open multiple files at once in Vim

To switch between windows, press CTRL-w w (i.e Press CTRL+w and again press w ). Or, use the following shortcuts to move between windows.

To open multiple files in vertical windows, run:

$ vim -O file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt
Open multiple files in vertical windows in Vim

Open multiple files in vertical windows in Vim

To switch between windows, press CTRL-w w (i.e Press CTRL+w and again press w ). Or, use the following shortcuts to move between windows.

Everything else is same as described in method 1.

For example, to list currently loaded files, run:


To switch between files:

:buffer 1

To open an additional file, type:

:e file3.txt

To copy entire contents of a file into another:

:r file1.txt

The only difference in method 2 is once you saved the changes in the current file using ZZ , the file will automatically close itself. Also, you need to close the files one by one by typing :wq . But, had you followed the method 1, when typing :wq all changes will be saved in all files and all files will be closed at once.

For more details, refer man pages.

$ man vim

[Mar 24, 2021] How To Comment Out Multiple Lines At Once In Vim Editor by Senthil Kumar Images removed. Use the original for full text. Images removed. Use the original for full text.

Nov 22, 2017 |

...enter the following command:


In this case, we are commenting out the lines from 1 to 3. Check the following screenshot. The lines from 1 to 3 have been commented out.

Comment out multiple lines at once in vim

Comment out multiple lines at once in vim

To uncomment those lines, run:


Once you're done, unset the line numbers.

:set nonumber

Let us go ahead and see third method.

Method 3:

This one is same as above but slightly different.

Open the file in vim editor.

$ vim ostechnix.txt

Set line numbers:

:set number

Then, type the following command to comment out the lines.

:1,4s/^/# /

The above command will comment out lines from 1 to 4.

Comment out multiple lines in vim

Comment out multiple lines in vim

Finally, unset the line numbers by typing the following.

:set nonumber
Method 4:

This method is suggested by one of our reader Mr.Anand Nande in the comment section below.

Open file in vim editor:

$ vim ostechnix.txt

Press Ctrl+V to enter into 'Visual block' mode and press DOWN arrow to select all the lines in your file.

Select lines in Vim

Select lines in Vim

Then, press Shift+i to enter INSERT mode (this will place your cursor on the first line). Press Shift+3 which will insert '#' before your first line.

Insert '#' before the first line in Vim

Insert '#' before the first line in Vim

Finally, press ESC key, and you can now see all lines are commented out.

Comment out multiple lines using vim

Comment out multiple lines using vim Method 5:

This method is suggested by one of our Twitter follower and friend Mr.Tim Chase .

We can even target lines to comment out by regex. Open the file in vim editor.

$ vim ostechnix.txt

And type the following:

:g/\Linux/s/^/# /

The above command will comment out all lines that contains the word "Linux".

Comment out all lines that contains a specific word in Vim

Comment out all lines that contains a specific word in Vim

And, that's all for now. I hope this helps. If you know any other easier method than the given methods here, please let me know in the comment section below. I will check and add them in the guide. Also, have a look at the comment section below. One of our visitor has shared a good guide about Vim usage.

NUNY3 November 23, 2017 - 8:46 pm

If you want to be productive in Vim you need to talk with Vim with *language* Vim is using. Every solution that gets out of "normal
mode" is most probably not the most effective.

Using "normal mode". For example comment first three lines with: I#j.j.
This is strange isn't it, but:
I –> capital I jumps to the beginning of row and gets into insert mode
# –> type actual comment character
–> exit insert mode and gets back to normal mode
j –> move down a line
. –> repeat last command. Last command was: I#
j –> move down a line
. –> repeat last command. Last command was: I#
You get it: After you execute a command, you just repeat j. cobination for the lines you would like to comment out.

There is "command line mode" command to execute "normal mode" command.
Example: :%norm I#
% –> whole file (you can also use range if you like: 1,3 to do only for first three lines).
norm –> (short for normal)
I –> is normal command I that is, jump to the first character in line and execute insert
# –> insert actual character
You get it, for each range you select, for each of the line normal mode command is executed

This is the method I love the most, because it uses Vim in the "I am talking to Vim" with Vim language principle.
This is by using extension (plug-in, add-in): extension.
How to use it? In NORMAL MODE of course to be efficient. Use: gc+action.

gcap –> comment a paragraph
gcj –> comment current line and line bellow
gc3j –> comment current line and 3 lines bellow
gcgg –> comment current line and all the lines including first line in file
gcG –> comment current line and all the lines including last line in file
gcc –> shortcut for comment a current line

You name it it has all sort of combinations. Remember, you have to talk with Vim, to properly efficially use it.
Yes sure it also works with "visual mode", so you use it like: V select the lines you would like to mark and execute: gc

You see if I want to impress a friend I am using gc+action combination. Because I always get: What? How did you do it? My answer it is Vim, you need to talk with the text editor, not using dummy mouse and repeat actions.

NOTE: Please stop telling people to use DOWN arrow key. Start using h, j, k and l keys to move around. This keys are on home row of typist. DOWN, UP, LEFT and RIGHT key are bed habit used by beginners. It is very inefficient. You have to move your hand from home row to arrow keys.

VERY IMPORTANT: Do you want to get one million dollar tip for using Vim? Start using Vim like it was designed for use normal mode. Use its language: verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives. Interested what I am talking about? You should be, if you are serious about using Vim. Read this one million dollar answer on forum: MDEBUSK November 26, 2019 - 7:07 am

I've tried the "boxes" utility with vim and it can be a lot of fun. SÉRGIO ARAÚJO December 17, 2020 - 4:43 am

Method 6
:%norm I#

[Jun 26, 2020] Vim show line numbers by default on Linux

Notable quotes:
"... Apart from regular absolute line numbers, Vim supports relative and hybrid line numbers too to help navigate around text files. The 'relativenumber' vim option displays the line number relative to the line with the cursor in front of each line. Relative line numbers help you use the count you can precede some vertical motion commands with, without having to calculate it yourself. ..."
"... We can enable both absolute and relative line numbers at the same time to get "Hybrid" line numbers. ..."
Feb 29, 2020 |

How do I show line numbers in Vim by default on Linux? Vim (Vi IMproved) is not just free text editor, but it is the number one editor for Linux sysadmin and software development work.

By default, Vim doesn't show line numbers on Linux and Unix-like systems, however, we can turn it on using the following instructions.

.... Let us see how to display the line number in vim permanently. Vim (Vi IMproved) is not just free text editor, but it is the number one editor for Linux sysadmin and software development work.

By default, Vim doesn't show line numbers on Linux and Unix-like systems, however, we can turn it on using the following instructions. My experience shows that line numbers are useful for debugging shell scripts, program code, and configuration files. Let us see how to display the line number in vim permanently.

Vim show line numbers by default

Turn on absolute line numbering by default in vim:

  1. Open vim configuration file ~/.vimrc by typing the following command:
    vim ~/.vimrc
  2. Append set number
  3. Press the Esc key
  4. To save the config file, type :w and hit Enter key
  5. You can temporarily disable the absolute line numbers within vim session, type:
    :set nonumber
  6. Want to enable disabled the absolute line numbers within vim session? Try:
    :set number
  7. We can see vim line numbers on the left side.
Relative line numbers

Apart from regular absolute line numbers, Vim supports relative and hybrid line numbers too to help navigate around text files. The 'relativenumber' vim option displays the line number relative to the line with the cursor in front of each line. Relative line numbers help you use the count you can precede some vertical motion commands with, without having to calculate it yourself. Once again edit the ~/vimrc, run:
vim ~/vimrc
Finally, turn relative line numbers on:
set relativenumber
Save and close the file in vim text editor.
VIM relative line numbers

How to show "Hybrid" line numbers in Vim by default

What happens when you put the following two config directives in ~/.vimrc ?
set number
set relativenumber

That is right. We can enable both absolute and relative line numbers at the same time to get "Hybrid" line numbers.


Today we learned about permanent line number settings for the vim text editor. By adding the "set number" config directive in Vim configuration file named ~/.vimrc, we forced vim to show line numbers each time vim started. See vim docs here for more info and following tutorials too:

[Nov 15, 2019] How To Use Spell Check Feature In Vim Text Editor by sk

Nov 01, 2017 |
Vim is one of the best, most popular, feature-rich and powerful text editor. There is no doubt about that. It has lot of features. For example, the beginners can easily learn the basics of Vim from the built-in help-section by running "vimtutor" command in Terminal. Learning Vim is worth the effort. Today, in this guide, we will be discussing one of the most-widely used feature called "spell check" in Vim editor. If you're a programmer who edits lots of text, then "spell check" feature might be quite useful. It helps you to avoid embarrassing spelling mistakes/typos while editing text files using Vim. Use Spell Check Feature In Vim Text Editor Enable Spell Check

To enable Spell Check feature in Vim, open it and type the following from Command Mode:

:set spell

Enable Spell Check feature in Vim

Remember you need to type the above command inside Vim session, not in the Terminal window.

Find and correct spelling mistakes, typos

Now, go to "Insert Mode" (type "i" to switch to Insert Mode from Command mode) and type any misspelled letters. Vim will instantly highlight the misspelled words.

As you see in the above output, I have typed "Welcome to Linux learng sesion" instead of "Welcome to Linux learning session" and vim is highlighting the misspelled words "learng" and "sesion" in red color.

Now, go back to Command mode by simply pressing the ESC key.

You can navigate through the misspelled words by typing any one of the following letters:

After you located the misspelled word, type z= to find suggestions for the that particular word. Here, Vim shows me the list of suggestions for the misspelled word "learng". Pick the correct word from the list by typing the respective number and press ENTER key to update the misspelled word with right one.

As you see in the above screenshot, I entered number 13 to replace the misspelled word "learng" with correct word "learning. Vim immediately updated the correct word in the input after I hit ENTER key.

Similarly, correct all spelling mistakes in your text as described above. Once you've corrected all mistakes type :wq to save the changes and quit Vim editor.

Please remember – we can only check the spelling mistakes, not the grammar mistakes.

Set Spell language

By default, Vim uses "en" (all regions of English) to check for spelling mistakes. We can also choose our own spell language. For instance, to set US region English, type the following from the Command mode in Vim editor:

:set spell spelllang=en_us

The list of all available regions for the English language is:

Add words to Spellfile

Some times you might want to add some words as exceptions, for example your name, a command, Email etc. In such cases, you can add those specific words to the Spellefile . This file contains all exceptions.

Make sure you have ~/.vim/spell/ directory in your system. If it is not, create one:

$ mkdir -p ~/.vim/spell/

Then, set spellfile using:

:set spellfile=~/.vim/spell/en.utf-8.add

Now, any words which are not in Dictionary, locate the misspelled word (use z= ) and type zg . It will add the word under the cursor as good word in spellfile. i.e adds the words to your own dictionary.

To undo this add (remove the word from spellfile), just use zug . To mark the mispelled word, type zw . To undo this action, use zuw .

Disable Spell Check in Vim

Vim will highlight all misspelled and words which are not available in the Dictionary. Some times, you find this annoying while writing code or a README file that contains a lot of words which are not available in the Dictionary. In such cases, you can disable the "Spell Check" feature by simply typing the following command:

:set nospell

Disable Spell Check feature in Vim

That's it. Now, Vim will highlight nothing. You can enable the spell check feature at any time by running ":set spell" from the Command mode in Vim.

Vim has more built-in help pages for Spell Check feature. To know more about spell check feature, run:

:help spell

You also refer individual help section for every options, for example:

:help ]s
:help [s
:help z=
:help zg
:help zug
:help zw
:help zuw
:help spelllang
:help spellfile

[Oct 07, 2019] Who here actually likes Emacs-the-editor (as opposed to Emacs-the-LispM), and why?

Oct 07, 2019 |

Who here actually likes Emacs-the-editor (as opposed to Emacs-the-LispM), and why?

First of all, let the record reflect that I consider Emacs the best data processing system for modern PC-compatibles, bar none. Need Emacs to have an orthodox file manager? It's in there! Web browser? Emacs has that, too! Want the kitchen sink? Emacs comes with the kitchen sink---and the kitchen counter, and the kitchen microwave, and the kitchen dishwasher, and the kitchen LISP Machine! The sky is literally the limit when it comes to features, because Emacs is Turing complete---anything you can do in C++, you can do in LISP. Speaking of, LISP is one of the two best scripting languages ever devised for a text editor. The other one is TECO. Nuff said.

Unfortunately, I don't think I've ever seen a program with a clunkier out-of-box experience, as far as factory-default controls go for its original intended purpose (in the specific case of Emacs, for editing text/code). In my opinion, the sheer awesomeness of Emacs' macro language is matched only by the awfulness of its inbuilt command language.

This might take some explaining, but please bear with me. Imagine, if you will, a user who has heard of Emacs only as an editor. He goes to the GNU Emacs web site, downloads it, installs it, runs it without customising his .emacs in any way, and opens up the file he's thus far been editing in pico. He has no clue that there's such a thing as Vimpulse, Viper, Evil, or Spacemacs. In his situation, instead of praising Emacs, I'd be banging my head against the wall!

Now, I know this situation is unrealistic. There are two kinds of Emacs users: those who have customised their .emacs file within an inch of its life, and those that haven't done so yet. That said, I've seen .emacs files where features have been installed, but the default key map for Normal Mode has been left as is, and I've always wondered... who does that? Are they mostly old Emacs hands who started before the invention of Evil-Mode? Or new users who don't know about it? What makes them stick to the clunky default key map? Why haven't the default keys changed?

I especially wonder about newbies to Emacs who take the trouble to install Spacemacs and then change the line dotspacemacs-editing-style 'vim to dotspacemacs-editing-style 'emacs , i.e. giving themselves the clunky, clumsy original key layout intentionally . Why?!?!?!?!11oneone!eleventy?slashslash?

I'm not trying to start a flame war here. I'm honestly, genuinely curious. Why would someone consciously, intentionally choose the stock key layout? Who uses that layout? Or are we Vimpulse/Evil/Spacemacs users in the minority? :wq 99 comments 64% Upvoted This thread is archived New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast Sort by level 1 zipdry 18 points · 1 year ago

Why would someone consciously, intentionally choose the stock key layout?

Because it works.

Who uses that layout?

I do, as do so many others.

Or are we Vimpulse/Evil/Spacemacs users in the minority?

You apparently came over to Emacs from Vim and realized how much more you could do with Emacs. If you want Emacs to behave as Vim then you can certainly do that. It's almost never the reverse scenario. Anyway, happy hacking. That's the culture over here. :) level 2 honeywhite 3 points · 1 year ago

Thanks, happy hacking to you too.

My editor preference is slightly more complicated than that. In short, vim used to be my second choice after Teco (the PDP-6 text editor, believe it or not - there's a visual variant of it for Linux called SciTECO). Because Emacs can do so much more than Vim, it has now tied with Teco, depending on my mood/requirements. If I want a pure editor, I use SciTECO; if I want the full Monty, I use Emacs with Vi-style keys. Vim is now third. Vanilla Emacs is way down the list.

There's an interesting historical footnote to this: Emacs was originally written in Teco. It was used by students who didn't like Teco's one-letter commands, and who wanted their input to show up on the screen as they typed. Teco wasn't portable across architectures back then (was written in DEC assembler). RMS apparently wanted a portable version of Emacs, so he rewrote it in Lisp, and it took the up-and-coming OS called Unix by storm. level 3 7890yuiop 4 points · 1 year ago

You sound like the sort of person who would enjoy reading level 4 honeywhite 3 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I did. Very much.

Multics edm and qedx sound like exactly the sort of editors that have me banging my head against a wall - to wit, line-at-a-time editors in the tradition of ed, em, and ex. Line editors arise as the logical result of punch-card thinking: cards can be added to the beginning, middle, or end of a stack, deleted, switched around, etc - and a line editor is nothing more than a virtualisation of an idealised card deck.

People often think Teco is a line editor. It isn't. The PDP-6, I'm given to understand, used a paper tape to store text, and paper-tape thinking is diametrically opposed to the punch-card mindset in many ways. First, paper tape treats a file as a stream of continuous data; the concept of a "line" has no place in the tape world. This is why Teco treats line feed as just another character, like A, c, T, g, or space. It's also why it's got such robust search capability (the ancestor to regex in fact) - with no lines to make reference to, you're left with descriptions like "right after the third occurrence of 'wibble'".

Second, making changes to the middle of a tape means cutting out the bad section and splicing in a new one, or just punching a whole new tape. Third, punching a tape is a slow process. That's why the Teco workflow is something like "1. print out the tape/file you're going to edit 2. make your corrections by hand 3. punch a tape containing only the corrections, using search to move around 4. read both the tape to edit and the correction tape 5. punch the corrected file." Strictly speaking, you only really need a computer for steps 4 and 5.

Anyway. if you're making corrections to a class of related files, the correction tape/file will literally be a *program* containing conditionals and suchlike - in other words, the Teco language is Turing complete, and interactively editing a file necessarily takes place in a REPL. You can understand the "problem" with this approach: with a general-purpose language, the script to edit a file might be longer than the actual file. This is why Teco statements are one character long.

Add real-time video to it (so you can see the contents of the file as you edit), and you're left with an experience that can be summed up as Vim on steroids. Your correction program shows up in a modeline at the bottom of the screen; Teco previews the corrections before you actually evaluate them (by hitting Escape twice), and you can undo your changes by backspacing up to your mistake.

This isn't the video-mode mentioned in the article; it's far more sophisticated. Technically speaking, it's a refinement of C-r mode; unlike Stallman's version, though, it maintains Teco syntax (Stallman's version had Emacs syntax, or rather, was Emacs). With the passage of time, Emacs has grown into something beautiful; thanks to Spacemacs, it now also has a workable syntax for editing text.

By now, both editors have advanced to a point where they're probably tied for feature-completeness. In comparison to SciTeco, Emacs lacks the REPL carried over from old school Teco. In SciTeco, you can edit by writing a macro to open a file, make your changes, save, and quit - a process that takes mere seconds. Emacs lacks an efficient version of this because Lisp commands aren't one character long; you're better served by making your changes in real-time, rather than writing a script to do it. On the other hand, SciTeco has much hairier syntax, so while programming in it is possible, it's much less user-friendly than Lisp, which was made for general purpose work. This is why I say that Teco is a great editor , while Emacs is a great system (with a browser, mail client, news reader, organiser, etc.). Now that Spacemacs is reasonably mature, Emacs has also gained an editor that is both usable and feature complete. level 5 larsbrinkhoff 1 point · 1 year ago

I'd invite you to use PDP-6 TECO with the graphical display, but I don't have it running quite yet.

I don't know what PDP-1 TECO looked like - maybe there was just the paper tape. The PDP-6 came with DECtape and used it to store a file system.

It was never called C-r mode.

In GNU Emacs, I can make a keyboard macro to open a file, make changes, and save. Indeed, I have several times. level 4 zipdry 2 points · 1 year ago

Thank you for contributing this article here. I would say that most people -- especially the younger generations -- have absolutely no idea about the development of the Internet and how it came to be. When I tell people that it's been around since the 60's I get weird looks and lots of questions. Then it was the government and academia (places such as MIT). Overall you present a good discussion on LISP and the early development and implementation of Emacs. Thanks for sharing! level 1 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 11 points · 1 year ago

You never say what is "clunky" about Emacs OOB, nor what is "awful" about is built-in command language. Suggest you explain some of that, for those of us who never tried using pico. Maybe then the discussion will be a bit more productive. level 2 honeywhite 4 points · 1 year ago

The clunkiness comes from the fact that Emacs OOB uses key chords for its commands. Not only are multiple keys pressed at once, but the fingers have to reach long distances (pinky on Ctrl, ring on Shift, index on X, release ring and index, index on s). Vi and Teco both use mostly sequentially-pressed commands (for example, open file in Teco is e r filename escape. In Vi it's : e space filename enter). Both Vi and Teco have repeatable commands (for example, in both editors, insert "text " five times is 5 i t e x t space escape). If there's a way to do that in vanilla Emacs I have no clue what it is. Vi uses the shift key on occasion; Teco uses ctrl on occasion. In either case, only one bucky-bit is used.

I don't use pico; I merely brought it up as an example of a "simple", non-customisable editor - i.e. someone who was used to pico as an editor and ONLY an editor would probably use Emacs in the same way (without customisation). level 3 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 5 points · 1 year ago

I don't see how C-x C-f is so much worse than e r . And anyway, this is just one command; how many commands can you support if the requirement is never to use more than one finger?

Inserting a character N time in vanilla Emacs is C-u N CH or M-N CH , where CH is the character. If you mean you ant to insert SOME TEXT several times, then you need to copy/paste, but how frequently you need that in text editing? What are the real-life use cases for that?

Vi uses the shift key on occasion; Teco uses ctrl on occasion. In either case, only one bucky-bit is used.

Emacs has much more commands, so it must use more combinations. Power doesn't come without a price.

The "simple" editing is easy in Emacs as it is in any other editor: use arrow keys and Home/End to move cursor, PgUp/PgDn to scroll, Delete and Backspace to delete. the "usual" mouse gestures are also supported as newcomers will expect. So I really don't see what is this all about. Really. level 4 epicwisdom 2 points · 1 year ago

I don't see how C-x C-f is so much worse than e r .

You have to either move your wrist, to press ctrl with your palm, or your whole hand, to press it with your pinky or ring finger. You also have to press modifier keys before non-modifier keys, so in some sense C-x C-f is more like a 4-key sequence; in practice this isn't really an issue since there are so many fewer modifier keys than non-modifiers.

And anyway, this is just one command; how many commands can you support if the requirement is never to use more than one finger?

You can assign a leader key in vim, then bind further sequences behind it. In Spacemacs they use the same idea to provide many (~hundreds) of keybindings behind SPC , e.g. SPC f f , SPC w l , SPC h d k . One can always rely on M-x or an equivalent binding for anything used so infrequently that typing its name is fast enough.

Emacs has much more commands, so it must use more combinations. Power doesn't come without a price.

I think the existence of usable (imho better) evil-mode based configurations contradicts that. I don't think Emacs-style bindings has anything to do with the number of available commands as opposed to simple personal preference.

The "simple" editing is easy in Emacs as it is in any other editor: use arrow keys and Home/End to move cursor, PgUp/PgDn to scroll, Delete and Backspace to delete. the "usual" mouse gestures are also supported as newcomers will expect. So I really don't see what is this all about. Really.

Well, I disagree with OP's point about somebody who came from using pico or Notepad or whatever, so I don't really have any issue with the argument that Emacs has a more beginner-friendly UI. But I don't think that this is a great argument for the overall ergonomics of Emacs bindings once one is experienced, as I'm sure most Emacs users would agree. level 5 KOMON 2 points · 1 year ago

You also have to press modifier keys before non-modifier keys, so in some sense C-x C-f is more like a 4-key sequence

Correction here. You don't have to lift your finger off ctrl in between x and f, so it's at most a 3-key sequence.

level 4 [deleted] 1 point · 1 year ago

how many commands can you support if the requirement is never to use more than one finger?

Unlimited. Mode-changes are done with one finger too. The vi-way can easily support as much commands as emacs offers. Whether it always makes sense is a different topic. level 5 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 2 points · 1 year ago

Sorry, but I could never understand why people like bimodal editors. They drive me nuts. I guess I'm limited in some way. level 6 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

I'd have to agree. There are certain dichotomies in daily life for which society has largely plumped for one way over the other - usually for reasons that are obvious once you think about them.

Take the idea of loading forks and knives into a dishwasher. Pointy bits down, right? Right. It's safer that way, and besides, what are the handles for if not for handling? In the shower, soap first, or hairwash? Hairwash first, of course! In a chest of drawers, socks and underwear occupy the top drawer, and loo roll goes over.

The question of unimodal or bimodal editing is one of these. The "obvious" answer is bimodal. O'Reilly sells twice as many Vi manuals as Emacs manuals, twice as many Arch Linux users install Vi as install Emacs, etc. That said, there are people who load forks and knives pointy bits up, who lather up before washing their hair, who put their socks in the bottom drawer, and who put the loo roll "backwards". There are good reasons for all of these choices (pointy-bits-up is cleaner , top drawer is for vibrators and dildos, loo roll backwards offers more torque) and yet if someone tells me they do things in the less conventional way, it sounds strange. level 7 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 4 points · 1 year ago

In my personal perspective, the bimodal character of Vi is because it started as ed and ex , which didn't have the "visual" mode at all. Then the visual mode was added as a kind of patch, and the rest is history.

O'Reilly sells twice as many Vi manuals as Emacs manuals

That's not the comparison you should be making. We should compare vi-like bimodal editors with Emacs-like unimodal ones. Gedit, Notepad, etc. -- are all in the unimodal camp. level 8 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

Partly true, but if visual mode hadn't been added to Vi, I'd argue that it would have been added to Teco, and that Teco would have become the bimodal editor of choice. It died, I'd argue, because it was in PDP-11 assembly language and wasn't re-written into C until the late 80's, at which point the editor wars were in full swing. Teco, you may note, has been bimodal in a Vi-like way ever since the Lyndon B. Johnson years. level 4 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

Inserting a character N time in vanilla Emacs is C-u N CH
or M-N CH, where CH is the character. If you mean you [w]ant to insert SOME TEXT several times, then you need to copy/paste, but how frequently you need that in text editing? What are the real-life use cases for that?

Lots of times. Just one use case is if I need 20 lines that all start the same way. I issue the command 20iSOMETEXT[enter][escape] then 20k$ and I can edit from there. For example, a list of serial numbers.

level 5 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 2 points · 1 year ago

Emacs's paradigm to do the same is different, and involves recording a keyboard macro and invoking it with an argument. It's a different mechanism (and more flexible, I would say), but it the same job with similar means. level 6 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

The Vi equivalent would be qQi0000[ENTER][ESC]q to record a macro bound to Q-register Q , then run the macro by typing 20@Q . level 7 oantolin 2 points · 1 year ago

Having an unnamed macro, and being able to run the macro as you stop recording, makes these things shorter in Emacs: <F3> 0000 RET C-2 C-1 <F4> (9 keystrokes vs 14 in your version). As I said elsewhere in this thread, I don't mind modifiers and like Emacs for its brevity. level 3 cbrachyrhynchos 4 points · 1 year ago

(pinky on Ctrl, ring on Shift, index on X, release ring and index, index on s).

I'd buy the complaints about emacs pinky a bit more if it didn't involve arbitrary examples that would have gotten you smacked on the wrist with a ruler in any respectable professional keyboarding class. Use the pinky sparingly, and don't one-handed keychord when you have two hands available. The home row is a neutral position, from which you're going to reach wherever you need to including the paten roller, manual carriage return, the shift lever, numeric keypad if you have it, and fresh paper if you need it. Aspiring teens practicing on manual systems where using the pinky with the shift key was physically impossible unless you were Harry Houdini could bang out an incredible number of pages per day, on keyboards that required more force than any available for a computer system.

And in this case, C-S-x s is mapped to the same function as C-x s .

C-x s (translated from C-S-x s) runs the command save-some-buffers
(found in global-map), which is an interactive compiled Lisp function
in 'files.el'.

It is bound to C-x s.

I almost never encounter C-S bindings in emacs. I do see them in Chrome, Firefox, and MS Word. level 4 Lord_Mhoram 2 points · 1 year ago

I also learned to type on a manual typewriter, where you had no choice but to hold the shift lever with your opposite hand. I still do shift that way if I'm just typing a letter or something. But somehow over the years I got in the habit of 'chording' with the left Ctrl key and basically ignoring the right one. I wonder why that is, because it would be more comfortable and ergonomic to use right-Ctrl together with keys on the left. I suspect it's because of the mouse -- having my right hand on the mouse in programs like web browsers, and then hitting combos like C-c' and C-f` with the left hand alone. Now that I've gone to a keyboard-driven browser and window manager, maybe I'll try to get in the habit of using the right Ctrl key. level 3 bmiww 2 points · 1 year ago

As far as I remember, the vanilla emacs tutorial showcases the repeat command. level 4 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 2 points · 1 year ago

Of course, the tutorial shows this important feature. level 5 zipdry 1 point · 1 year ago

Apparently nobody reads that but you and I. level 6 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 1 point · 1 year ago

Apparently. level 6 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

I didn't, because for me it's Vi or die! level 3 Lord_Mhoram 1 point · 1 year ago

(pinky on Ctrl, ring on Shift, index on X, release ring and index, index on s)

I had to look this one up, because I don't think I've ever pressed it in 20+ years of using emacs. If I ever need to use save-some-buffers , I'll probably do Meta-x save-some-buffers , because I wouldn't remember the shortcut anyway.

Seems to me the common commands are on key combos that are easier to type, and the rarely-used ones on harder combinations like this one. If you have an unusual use case that requires a rare command often, you bind it differently with one line in .emacs. level 4 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

Just how would you save the buffer you're currently working on? level 5 Lord_Mhoram 1 point · 1 year ago

C-x C-s , save-buffer. level 1 Amonwilde 5 points · 1 year ago

I actually know a bunch of people who use vanilla Emacs, no customizations, and they're not really that old. I personally use the original layout, because I like it? I don't particularly like modal editing, I don't like to have to keep track of the state of the program constantly and am more key chord oriented. Instead of a sequence of keys, I prefer one chord. Admittedly I have to use an ergonomic keyboard, but that's not that big a deal. I've also added many key combinations of my own and shadowed some others, but in general I follow the paradigm laid out by RMS, or whoever RMS was adapting from at the time, anyway.

I would say that the community is pretty well split between Emacs standard paradigm and Vim style keybindings. With that said, I think there are still more vanilla style users around, but that's just a guess. level 2 StrangeAstronomer 1 point · 1 year ago

Vanilla here. And old (old enough to have started my Unix travels with ed ! And I was already middle aged then.)

Also fluent in vi as well as emacs - both sets of commands are baked-in to my cerebellum by now. level 3 Amonwilde 1 point · 1 year ago

Ed? You mean, the standard text editor? level 2 honeywhite -1 points · 1 year ago

I don't believe I said vanilla Emacs users are old, although I'd hazard a guess that inertia keeps them from customising it (i.e. they've invested time into learning vanilla fully, and changing to something "easier" would in fact be harder for them). So I'd say if someone does have 100% vanilla emacs, they're either completely new or relatively experienced (seniority rather than age is what I'm talking about). level 1 7890yuiop 4 points · 1 year ago

are we Vimpulse/Evil/Spacemacs users in the minority?

I have nothing against vi bindings, but I would be bewildered if you were not in the minority of Emacs users (and by a very large margin). level 2 zipdry 2 points · 1 year ago

Exactly. Which also begs the question: How many Emacs users decide to switch to Vim? And why? level 3 tincholio 2 points · 1 year ago

I've been an Emacs user for some 17 years now, and I haven't switched to vim, but I have switched to Evil about 5 or 6 years ago, and find it a much better editing experience than stock Emacs. Even the transition was much easier than I had anticipated (and as a bonus, I became proficient in vim as well). level 4 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

I don't think anyone in his right mind would switch to Vim from Spacemacs or Evil. That's the functional equivalent of giving up Lisp in favour of Vimscript. Literally the only two reasons to use Vim over Emacs are a) the one-at-a-time commands, and b) it's available everywhere. Well, Emacs now has a), and if you know Spacemacs, you now also know Vim, so b) isn't a problem. level 3 Comment deleted by user 1 year ago level 4 emgee_1 3 points · 1 year ago

I think most emacsers are proficient in vi ( or vim) but prefer a different comfort zone level 5 zipdry 1 point · 1 year ago

Yep. level 4 xampf2 1 point · 1 year ago

I dont get this argument, there is Tramp. You never need to rely on a remote binary to edit text which is by the way an idiotic concept. level 5 Comment deleted by user 1 year ago level 6 Lord_Mhoram 1 point · 1 year ago

Yes, when I ssh into a remote system, I'm usually there to perform a task, which may or may not involve editing files, and I probably won't know until I get into it. Also, the files I need to edit may be owned by root or other users. Could I setup Tramp and sudo so that I would have permission to edit them? Quite likely, but that would be overkill for situations where I may not need to do this very often. Vi is ideal for those cases, and I don't have a problem using it for that, while using Emacs for editing (and mail and news and git and org and....) on my local system. level 5 physicologist 3 points · 1 year ago

You never need to rely on a remote binary to edit text

I didn't downvote you, but there are instances where you must use the remote binary to edit the text. At a previous employer, they had a computing cluster with a single atrium computer that you could ssh into. The atrium node would ONLY allow you to run their shell script which would then ssh into a randomly selected node.

The atrium node had not write access to anything, so you could not use tramp to connect to the atrium and edit your remote files. The nodes would not accept ssh access from any machine but the atrium, so you could not use tramp to connect to the nodes that did have write access. Attempting to perform a multi-hop edit through the atrium to the node wouldn't work, since the atrium disallowed access to the actual ssh program and only supported running their shell script wrapper, which accepted no command line arguments. level 1 oantolin 4 points · 1 year ago

My editor history is that I used Emacs first, but very naively, then switched to Vim for 5 years where I learned editing in terms of syntactic units, then back to Emacs with Evil for about a year, and finally dropped Evil. So you can see I really do prefer the Emacs default keybindings ---with, of course, a few minor modifications!

I agree with most of the other answers you've received and will add one I think you haven't gotten yet: I prefer Emacs keybindings because they are slightly more efficient in terms of number of keystrokes! I'll count them using VimGolf rules: a key pressed with a modifier, such as CTRL, counts as one keystroke. (People seem to forget that Vim uses plenty of <C-somethings>, just because Emacs uses even more of them.)

Many very common operations take one more keypress in Vim than in Emacs: for example, deleting 3 words is 3dw in Vim, but M-3 M-d in Emacs. A global search and replace takes a whopping 3 extra characters in Vim: :%s/foo/bar/g<CR> (pattern & replacement + 8 keypresses) vs M-< M-% foo RET bar RET ! (pattern & replacement + 5 keypresses). Macros are also much lighter-weight in Emacs than in Vim, thanks to the ability of not naming them: you can record and play with one keypress each. For example to do 3itext<CR> (inserted text + 3 keypresses) in Emacs, I would do <F3> text C-3 <F4> (also inserted text + 3 keypresses).

These keypresses here and there add up! I played VimGolf in Emacs for a while (using an excellent vimgolf Emacs package that used to be on MELPA) and fairly often tied or beat the best VimGolf score. Now, some people prefer to type more in exchange for using far fewer modifiers and that is fine! Personally, I have no issue with modifiers, probably because I don't use my pinky to press them. :) level 2 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

Yeah, you've basically hit upon my exact reason for preferring Vim keys. I will take a longer command over a shorter one if I don't have to hold down any modifiers, or at least if I have to hold down fewer modifiers.

As for counting keystrokes, I count at least two in C-c (if I'm feeling particularly prejudicial, I'll count three, including releasing the Ctrl key at the end). level 1 xah 4 points · 1 year ago

Perhaps, look at it this way:

most emacs users use emacs default keys because it's the default. This is same with qwerty vs dvorak situation, or any tech. It takes quite some effort to change things out of ordinary. e.g. first one must be aware there are alternatives. This also rules out most newbies for not using default key.

for those who use spacemacs and change it to emacs default key, probably because, they've already have experience with emacs. The default keys are burned to muscle memory, which is very hard and painful to change.

default key has other advantages other than habit. e.g. dvorak layout is more efficient, but everytime you goto library, or use other computer, it's a problem. And other people can't type on your keyboard. This also applies to PC keyboard vs those fancy ergo ones such as ergodox.

another advantage of default is that it's the "official". As with most other things, you want to stick to official. Unless one really learned otherwise, such as by words of mouth and established a trust on X.

vi is more popular simply because vi is bundled with unixes. Emacs require install. This is still true today on linuxes.

people switch away from default mostly due to need. e.g. those who got hand pain. Those who have interest in efficiency. (which may be the same reason that drew them into emacs in the first place)

i used emacs default keys 100% for the first 6 years of my emacs life. level 1 jonnay23 6 points · 1 year ago

I'm not trying to start a flame war here

Maybe try a little harder?

. I'm honestly, genuinely curious. Why would someone consciously, intentionally choose the stock key layout? Who uses that layout? Or are we Vimpulse/Evil/Spacemacs users in the minority? :wq

It's not that terrible and it does have it's own (loose) logic. Plus most elisp follows that kind of logic. K for kill. Be it a line, s-expression, change in magit, whatever.

Besides, Composability is what gives vim commands their magic. I'm sure that's coming for stock emacs commands at some point. level 2 1Nude 3 points · 1 year ago

Little shout out to one of my favorite emac packages: composable.el very easy to make custom functions too. For example I have my own custom paren function that I just use all the time. level 3 TheNinthJhana 1 point · 1 year ago

At least I use my own made actions-oriented menus : I have the delete menus (delete Sexp, buffer, delete window...), The new menu (new buffer, new window.. ), the replace menu ( replace Sexp...). The goal for each menus is to have objects callable using the same key. Eg buffer tries to always be b . So I can memory muscle like vim. level 2 epicwisdom 2 points · 1 year ago

I'm sure that's coming for stock emacs commands at some point.

I highly doubt the stock emacs commands are getting any major changes any time soon. There are plenty of modes available which make emacs commands more composable (or at least more ergonomic), without resorting to vim-style bindings, though. level 2 honeywhite 4 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I agree, vanilla Emacs keys DO have a sort of logic to them, but they do twist my fingers up something foul. There's no accounting for taste (although I do like to hear people's reasons) - but for me, arpeggios beat chords any day.

Composability is *definitely* a plus, although I'd actually argue that Vi-style keys are less composable than Teco-style (they're missing the "reverse" capability that Teco provides). For example, -10l does *not* mean "move ten left" in Vi; in Teco, on the other hand, "10c" and "-10c" mean "move ten right" and "move ten left" respectively. Vi keys are paired (h = char. left, l = char. right), while Teco keys are sometimes paired but almost always reversible (c = char right, -c = char left).

In Teco, it's quite possible to write a macro with a condition that "switches" a command. Something like the following pseudocode, where n is a number of characters to move, c is literally the letter c, and D is either null or a minus sign:

if Q-Reg $A = "back" let Q-Reg $D = "-"
let Q-Reg n = 6

In either case, you can write Turing-complete programs for text processing, where literally every instruction is one character long (line 2 above would be 6un for example - u is the Teco let command). As far as my experience goes, Teco macros are a little bit shorter than Vi ones on average but not by much. level 3 cbrachyrhynchos 1 point · 1 year ago

I agree, vanilla Emacs keys DO have a sort of logic to them, but they do twist my fingers up something foul.

Assuming you're not a one-handed typist and a standard US layout, almost every two-key chord can be typed without a twist, and preferably without using the pinky. Keyboards that put modal keys on one side are bad for this reason. Three-key chords are a bit trickier to reach, but can be done. (Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft are annoying for putting "paste plain text" under a three-key chord that's awkward enough to make me reach for the mouse half the time.) level 1 dzecniv 3 points · 1 year ago

There's emacs-oob-reboot ( ) that wants to improve out of the box defaults and push them to master . level 1 cbrachyrhynchos 3 points · 1 year ago

I'm an middle-aged salt who learned emacs doing email support (in elm) back in college 25 years ago. I primarily use emacs. I did second drafts of my disseration editing in vim. During my thesis work I ended up with a bad case of RSI (keyboarding combined with knitting), which I still manage. I still use vim now and then over ssh.

Vim bindings just seem to drop out of my head unless I'm using vim as a daily driver. I keep a handful of keybindings I actually use remotely, but if I do serious editing I keep running to documentation, or just switch out. Also I have a somewhat bad habit of forgetting which mode I'm in, and mangling half of my config because I wasn't in insert mode. I think the idea that composable key sequences, modes, and vim golf are more accessible to newbies than an open buffer is a bit ridiculous. Earlier this year, I think I just gave up and switched C-x C-e in my shell to nano.

Since I do manage RSI in order to have a happy personal and professional life, I've reached a pretty deep level of skepticism that RSI, a biomechanical problem involving bad physical design and bad technique can be fixed at the software layer of remapping keys, much less the cults of home row or CUA which insist that everything would be all better if everything was clustered around favorite keys. My suggestion: go to youtube and watch Victor Wooten and see how much time his left hand spends in one point on the fretboard. Loosen up the shoulders and elbows, and reach with them rather than painfully stretching the wrist and fingers. If you're starting RSI symptoms, take a hard look at the mechanics of your keyboard, your desk, the kinds of work you're doing, and your typing technique. Dvorak and vim might not save you.

The most important keybindings for me are M-x combined with search via ivy/counsel. If it's a frequently repeated action it goes into a function. If it's boilerplate it goes into skeleton. It's one reason why I've never stuck around with other editors. level 1 ringingraptor 3 points · 1 year ago

I began my Emacs journey with Spacemacs and vim bindings about 6 months ago, but I recently switched to a custom config + Emacs bindings. I always felt like some part of the whole Emacs system was being abstracted away from me in Spacemacs + Evil, and I wanted to get a more pure Emacs experience and truly adopt the workflow.

I actually feel much more comfortable with Emacs bindings now, although I was never that comfortable with Vim to begin with. level 2 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

Yes, Spacemacs does abstract a part of the Emacs experience, but why didn't you switch to pure Evil then? Again, I'm certainly not denigrating your choices; I simply wonder why you'd intentionally give up a pure usability fix. I get the feeling that Spacemacs likes to do things a certain way, and if you don't like to do things that exact way, it might not be a good fit (Emacs OOB gives you more manoeuvring room in that sense). Evil, on the other hand, merely gives you key mappings that, in my opinion, are light-years more ergonomic than stock. level 3 ringingraptor 3 points · 1 year ago

Since I was starting from scratch, I decided to try out Emacs bindings while configuring my packages for the first time, and it just so happened that I quite liked them. By the time I had my basic packages setup, I was already comfortable enough moving around with default bindings that I had no desire to switch back to Evil. Like I said, I really wasn't that married to Vim/Evil bindings; I had only been using Vim bindings in my editors for a few months, so the switch wasn't as much effort as I imagine it would be for someone with more experience. I'm not saying that Emacs bindings are objectively better of course; I just like the way they feel, which is completely subjective.

I also didn't have any problems with the way Spacemacs did things other than that it does so much for you, if that makes any sense. I think it's a great thing for those who don't want to spend so much time tinkering around or introducing people to Emacs. I like tinkering and wanted to get more of that experience, which is why I switched. level 1 bts 3 points · 1 year ago

I've been using Emacs since version 18 or so; something around 1990? Some of my .emacs is that old. At least one ( anyway. The original keybindings were built by people who lived in Emacs -- it's not like they were designed by a product manager who'd never have to live in the thing, they were worked out by Gosling and Greenblatt and Stallman and all as they went.

It's true, I've learned C-a and C-e and C-s and all, and appreciate many of those choices. Here's some of what I see as a difference:

I did start using Helm a few years ago, and may stick with it for a few more or go back to ido-mode. I'm not really interested in Spacemacs. I think it's like using D instead of C... when I'm over in Haskell. Great if all you've known is vim, and a sincere and honest improvement in the on-ramp. I see Spacemacs bringing lots of folks to Emacs, and I see VS Code and similar web-based high-latency editors doing so from the other side: one carrot, one stick. The on-ramp for me was >25 years ago, so I'm interested in what makes the left lane experience smoother.

What do you think? Plausible explanation? level 2 Lord_Mhoram 1 point · 1 year ago

You've got some good points there. As you say, when writing code, speed isn't really the issue, because I'm thinking more than typing. And modifiers aren't an issue if I'm touch-typing at high speed, like working on a rough draft of an article, because then I'm not using Ctrl or Alt.

So for me, the "emacs pinky" thing only comes in when editing -- moving around a lot and cutting/pasting or deleting/inserting small amounts, even single characters. That's when I might have my pinky on Ctrl more often than not, and it can get uncomfortable. But going modal for that work isn't ideal for me either, because it seems like I spend half my time popping in and out of insert mode.

I'd note that there are more sophisticated movement commands in Emacs -- forward a word or sentence, for instance -- that I don't use as much as I could, even though they would cut down on pinky work. I think that's because it's easier to mentally "move" with the cursor when I keep it simple: up, down, left, right, beginning/end of line/file. It's most comfortable to have the cursor moving with my eyes/thoughts.

So I'm fine with the commands and keystrokes as they are, but I might look into one of those thumb-modifier keyboards. I used to think I should stick with a standard keyboard so I wouldn't be awkward when using a different one, but I do nearly all my work from one system now, so it could be worth it, if I could retrain myself. level 2 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

Definitely a plausible explanation, but I would argue that your first point applies just as well (or better) in the case of Vim/Spacemacs. I am a touch-typist myself; besides Spacemacs, the other "text editor" I use is a semi-electric typewriter (a Hermes Ambassador with an electric carriage return but manual keys).

Because they lack "bucky bits" (Escape, Meta, Alt, Ctrl, and Shift), Vim or Teco can actually be represented just fine on a typewriter, and I'd argue they're closer to writing prose than Emacs OOB is. Think about it this way: the English language uses just one modifier key, namely Shift for the beginnings of sentences and proper nouns. When you hit the Escape key to change states in Spacemacs or Teco, you're switching between the English language and the Vi language. Both English and Vi have "words" that are chiefly alphabetic; I'd argue that this is the key difference between Emacs OotB and a Vi-speaking editor like Vim, Spacemacs, or Evil. With Emacs OotB, you're making roughly the same number of keypresses, but a lot of them are more than one key at a time; more importantly, Emacs-the-editor considers text-insertion to be the "default" behaviour, while Vi considers editing (meaning deletions, moves, searches) to be the default.

Where I take issue with your reasoning is that you're implying that Vi-the-language is objectively less advanced than Emacs-the-language. Emacs-the-LispM is more advanced, which is the very reason I'm using it, but it's false to say that C-x C-s wibble-mode.el is a more advanced way to say "save to wibble-mode.el" than is :w wibble-mode.el . The fact that Emacs has (or rather, is ) a Turing complete language, like Teco, is what makes it so advanced.

I don't know to what extent I agree with you about Spacemacs. It does force you into a particular line or paradigm of thinking; whether this represents a "dumbing down" of the same calibre as Lisp/Haskell > C, or whether it's simply a drastically different concept along the lines of functional > imperative programming, is very much debatable. Notwithstanding the question of whether Spacemacs is a slip-road improvement (on-ramp for you leftponders), it's unarguable that pure Evil, being simply a re-mapping of keys, is just as good in the left lane as it is on the slip road, whether you use Spacemacs or not.

I'd say the Vi editor language is what kept me in Vim, while its programming language (if it could be called that...) is what pushed me away. I'd always been envious of Emacs users being able to mould their editor into an almost literal extension of their brains, but I absolutely refused to give up modal editing for this, even if I'd be stuck with the utter travesty called Vimscript. The minute I heard that Emacs had a modal editor, I switched and haven't looked back. I don't know if I'll give up Spacemacs as I get more advanced, but one thing's for sure: pigs will fly and the earth will melt beneath my feet before I transition to chords and non-modal editing. level 1 WalterGR 5 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

The out-of-the-box experience of Emacs is absolutely horrible if you've had experience with other editors or IDEs. It goes way beyond the default keybindings. Full stop.

I look at Emacs as a text editor construction kit. Or something of a text editor kernel. You pull open the box, and you've got a bunch of parts built in the 80s that you need to assemble yourself. It comes with a very thick manual. To use it as a modern tool, you've got to build a lot of stuff on top of it. Much like a Linux distribution vs. the bare kernel. Users can do the work of building a modern editor manually by doing the necessary research and building their .emacs by hand. Or users can use a pre-built distribution like Spacemacs, Doom-emacs, or others.

EDIT: I think a lot of the pain comes from expecting Emacs to follow the conventions of any other program. If you have the time and energy to invest in figuring out the 'Emacs Way', and you don't mind submitting to what feels like almost intentionally baroque technology, then you'll be golden, and you'll be the person who writes the, "Emacs is great and I don't know what your problem is," comments. level 2 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

I fundamentally agree with this, except for the "text editor" part. Emacs is more than a text editor construction kit; it's an anything construction kit. With Spacemacs, it now has an editor that I would call good; before Spacemacs, you were expected to write your own editor, and with Vim and SciTeco available, I didn't see the point, at least for my situation. level 3 WalterGR 1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I didn't see the point, at least for my situation.

I feel you. I'm no longer a young man. And to submit myself to the BDSM that is Emacs... I just... have better things to do.

I wish you all the best. :) level 1 IvanMalison 2 points · 1 year ago

I don't necessarily LIKE it, but it's just what I learned, and the amount of difficulty switching to modal style bindings presents has just been too much for me to overcome every time I've tried it. level 2 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

"Objects in motion tend to stay in motion" - inertia, in other words. level 1 redback-spider 2 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

First both input styles are bad vims or emacs, it's just that emacs is slightly worse.

But a normal user that used gedit, joe, wordpad, notepad++, Eclipse anything, will feel like its a nightmare if they use vim the first time.

Yes its modal mode has advantages but it still is not really ergonomic, it both tends to give users RSI. Because hitting the escape key with your small finger over and over again isn't healthy for your pinky like hitting C-c or C-x over and over again.

So the real solution would be to use something like ergoemacs mode or flykeys-mode.

But back to your question, I don't use the normal keys nor do I use Vimstyle keys.

But there are some advantages of emacs standard keys over vim or ergoemacs style:

First if you use a mode that is not designed for vim it often comes with preset key combs like C-c C-j C-* so you don't have to remap those to your style.

Second its pretty easy to remember the shortcuts, must emacs internal start with C-x all mode-specific keys start with C-c then they often have 2nd layer lets say you edit a clojure file. You want to do something with clojure it's a minor mode so it must start with C-c I guess C-c C-c is reserved for something else, what would be the next letter that you think in closure well maybe not the next but one good is R so every shortcut in that mode starts with

C-c C-r ...

Except sesman operations they start with:

C-c C-s (s for sesman)

from there on:

...C-s  to start sesman
...C-u to unlink sesman
...C-q to quit...
b link with buffer
d link with directory

it's easy to remember. So that's the advantage of that, it's not easy to press but easy to remember. So if you use a mode seldom this style is better because your major problem is to remember shortcuts, if you use it often its bad because you get RSI and remembering is not the problem. So it has a advantage it's easier to learn / remember. Hope that answers your question.

Also it does not collide with something very few minor modes that get used in one buffer at the same time have conflicting shortcuts, with smaller keybindings you have keybinding conflicts all the time.

A command mode with 1 layer keys has only a limited number of possible operation. if you need more what do you do. with thousands of possible minor modes, that get developed independent how do you want to make sure they don't conflict? They conflict with that too, but less often than witth less layers. level 2 honeywhite 1 point · 1 year ago

I feel like for a notepad++ user, Emacs is quite a bit more familiar (especially the GUI version). You don't need to enter a command to insert text, etc. Even CTRL/X, CTRL/S is similar to Notepad++'s CTRL/S. In fact, I'd say the GUI version could replace Gedit and most people wouldn't notice (File -> Save on both, etc.)

That said, Vi is certainly the most ergonomic out of the three. N++ has single chords, Emacs has single or double chords for simple operation, and Vi has single keys and arpeggios (sequential chords).

Yes, a command mode with only one layer of keys is limited in the number of operations, but only if every key acts immediately. In Vi, you have "chords" just like in Emacs - they're just not pressed *at the same time* but sequentially. Like for example, "delete to end of line" in Vi is d $. Delete whole line is d d, delete 5 lines is 5 d d, delete until "sign" is d / sign [enter]. Under no circumstances are two keys pressed at once. level 3 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 1 point · 1 year ago

Delete whole line is d d, delete 5 lines is 5 d d

Similar in Emacs: C-k C-k deletes whole line, C-u 5 C-k or M-5 C-k deletes 5 lines.

Under no circumstances are two keys pressed at once.

But you pay for that by having 2 modes. Emacs uses single-chord commands in read-only buffers, but its unimodal operation is a much better match for modern user expectation of a GUI program, IMO. level 4 oantolin 2 points · 1 year ago

Doesn't C-k C-k delete only from point to the end of the line? kill-whole-line is bound to C-M-<backspace> . level 5 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 1 point · 1 year ago

Doesn't C-k C-k delete only from point to the end of the line?

It does, but what's your point? level 6 oantolin 1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I had no point, just wanted to make sure I wasn't confused about C-k C-k .

(You seemed to be saying that dd in Vim did the same thing as C-k C-k in Emacs, I was just clarifying that it doesn't but C-M-<backspace> does.) level 7 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 3 points · 1 year ago

No, the issue at hand was how Vim makes it easy to specify numeric arguments to modify the command's behavior, whereas Emacs allegedly doesn't. Which is of course false. So I gave an example of a similar feature in Emacs. level 8 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

I don't believe I implied anything like what you think I said. What I did say, being largely unfamiliar with vanilla keys, was I didn't know if vanilla Emacs let you repeat a command like Vi-the-language does. Thanks for telling me it does. level 9 eli-zaretskii GNU Emacs maintainer 3 points · 1 year ago

FWIW, it's one of the first thing Emacs teaches in its tutorial. level 4 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

It might match modern user expectation , but it's definitely less ergonomic . Once you come to terms with the concept of the mode, editing becomes as fast as writing in English. In fact, it gains many of the trappings of an ordinary human language.

This is why I have an issue with your claim that you're "paying" for one-key-at-a-time operation with modes. I'd say you pay for having two modes by having Vimscript as your macro language. Having two modes is, for me, a highly desirable feature: it's like having arguments on a command-line program, and, in my opinion, the Right Way to edit text.

In my Teco-inspired outlook, I see every text editing command as rather like a command-line argument. For example, the Vim commands 10j isometext[ESC] /wibble[ENTER] $ 2dd ?frodo[ENTER] 5x ibilbo[ESC] could be thought of as:

 $ edit --down 10
 $ edit --insert 'sometext'
 $ edit --search 'wibble'
 $ edit --eol
 $ edit --deleteline 2
 $ edit --search 'frodo' --reverse
 $ edit --deletechar 5
 $ edit --insert 'bilbo'

This isn't too far removed from

 $ ls
 $ rm ping.lisp
 $ mv browser.lisp www.lisp
 $ ping
 $ tracert
level 3 redback-spider 1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

I just think it does not matter.

The main problem for noobs of this editor is that they don't have their normal C-cvx and other shortcuts. That they have no tabs but frames / buffers and stuff.

For the people that are willing to learn new shortcuts ergonomy is not the first thing they think about, but getting productive with a editor. You will get faster productive with emacs than with vi(m), because the shortcuts are designed to be easy to remember, and some are even easy for gedit/notepad users as you said.

Then you have the 3rd kind of people that commit to use the editor a lot and do tasks more than once. they can easily modify emacs to be more ergonomic than vim.

The only advantage Vim in my view has is its greater userbase. so you have more mouth to mouth propaganda.

I guess one thing was also that ergonomic modes for emacs are only a few years old, but then again evil mode is pretty old. I guess people had very weak machines with less than 8mb ram so vim was their choice?

Well of course installing emacs + evilmode was 2 steps installing vim directly only 1 step?

But even that is in the past:

One thing vi(m) has going is that its pretty small and that it was preinstalled on many distries I think in debian?

I think its pretty much peer pressure these days, I see no rational reason non-social, non-historic why anybody would use vim over emacs.

Well except that you find it preinstalled on old machines or somethimes new machines and emacs not.

But I missed a bit the point, I didn't say that emacs is more ergonomic with default settings, I just said that both are bad depending on how you use them.

And compared to notepad++ I also slightly would disagree. It depends on how often do you press certain shortcuts and how. So with vi you do everything with your keyboard and pressing esc with the pinky is a far stretch. I never heard of people complaining about RSI that used notepad++, but it's a thing for emacs and vim.

You claim that pressing keychords is the worst you can do, I disagree. even C-x would be totaly fine keychord if you use your right side ctrl. Of course keychords are not ideal ergonomy wise but there are worse and better keychords and pressing esc a lot if you don't use special technics to press them and do it with your pinkey reaching to it from your home-row is very unergonomic.

The escape key had on older keyboards a different position that's why they chose it, even pressing "tab" would not be ideal but much better than the escape key. the escape key is probably the most painfull to press key on the keyboard with your hands on the homerow.

So yes its no key chords, but that doesn't make it automatically better. level 1 bagtowneast 2 points · 1 year ago

I use mostly vanilla keybindings, and when I've customized keys, I tend to try to follow the vanilla patterns. Same with keybindings that come with various modes. I tend to leave them as defaults.

Edit to add: and I do this because I'm mostly happy with it. level 1 gammarray 2 points · 1 year ago

I came from Mac OS to Linux and decided early on to swap ctrl and super keys for muscle memory. I wasn't ready to move from a thumb based primary modifier to my pinky.

I learned Emacs' default keybindings with this layout. It felt quite natural, but I did re-map some commonly used commands like save, close window, and copy/paste to be what I was used to (C-s, C-w, C-c, and C-v).

I installed Keyfreq.el to see what commands I used most frequently and added Hydras and Key Chords to reduce my keystrokes. The combination of default keybindings and targeted customizations seems to working very well for me.

I liked Emacs so much, I switched to EXWM and now I get to use my keybindings everywhere.

The "Emacs Way" of handling keybindings is hard to see the reasoning behind until you've used a variety of modes and packages, but here is a common thread and well thought out logic behind it. Some commands might be a bit verbose, but there are lots of options for making the important ones faster and/or easier to type. level 1 swagbyte 2 points · 1 year ago

I switched from VIM to Emacs several months ago, after been using VIM for several years. At first I tried Evil-mode, but found that the keybindings broke in some situations which annoyed me. I also tried Spacemacs, but felt that I had less control over my config.

So I tried vanilla Emacs and liked it after a weeks usage. It's a bonus that some of the bindings work directly in the terminal. My only fear initially was that there were waaay too many keybindings to remember, which might change depending on the mode you're in. But you get use to this rather quickly. Yes, there were times when I really missed the VIM bindings for manipulating text in specific situations, but then I realized that there are Emacs packages that covers these things.

Now I feel liberated of not having to do CTRL-[ all the time. The only thing I really miss from my VIM days is the almighty repeat functionalty . , which pairs well with the modal aspect of VIM. level 2 oantolin 2 points · 1 year ago

For Vim's . try the fabulous dot-mode . It works by automatically making a keyboard macro out of strings of consecutive non-motion commands. level 2 gammarray 1 point · 1 year ago

While not as terse as . in vim, C-x z will repeat and then z will repeat more. level 3 oantolin 4 points · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

The problem is granularity. For example, in Vim changing a word is a repeatable action. In Emacs if you delete a word, type the replacement and then press C-x z it just repeats typing the last letter. For a more vimmy repeat, try the dot-mode package that repeats the last stretch of non-motion commands. level 1 emgee_1 2 points · 1 year ago

There's still another argument ( be it weak) for using standard keys : as a relative newbie I have to look up a lot of things. Before I discovered emacs own discover ability I duckduckgoed a lot. Now if you choose the spacemacs flavor then searching for keybindings will get confusing because most tutorials and blog posts use more or less default and different key bindings ; so for a newcomer these batteries included configs also have draw back and in the long run you are better off not modifying too much level 1 rbtEngrDude 2 points · 1 year ago

As someone who regularly has to use both (Emacs as my editor of choice, vim where I have to, i.e. remote connections or boxes that don't have emacs installed), I legitimately prefer emacs keybindings. And I learned Vi first !

Seriously though, while emacs gets bloated and complicated pretty quickly, the raw editing power it has inherent in its bone stock defaults is worth the trouble. Yanking into the minibuffer while C- r/C-s for something I'm trying to track down requires an imperceptible amount of mental context switching. Memorizing the keybinds for moving a single character, a word, line, paragraph, or sexp is sort of a grind at first, but ultimately makes moving through, marking, cutting/copying, and moving text SO MUCH EASIER.

There are so many little joyous tidbits in the default keybinds, if you take the time to actually use them. If you're deadset on Evil, you'll get what you're used to. But you'll miss out on what really makes Emacs Emacs, and not just a lisp machine with a bunch of addons. level 2 honeywhite 2 points · 1 year ago

Hah! Looks like there's a small but dedicated subcommunity of Emacs-the-editor lovers. I never doubted that people loved the glorious LISP Machine that Emacs is - I'm now one of those people as well, and really always was but got held back by the keys that I'm not used to. But I always viewed the Emacs defaults as something to be tolerated rather than liked - and even that only until one could learn to customise them. Even reading this thread, I see people saying they use the Emacs keys because they're the default, or out of sheer inertia, or they use a customisation of the Emacs keys that suits them and nobody else. Besides you, I noticed that Eli Zaretskii also seems to love the Emacs out of the box commands.

The funny thing is that I have a machine that runs the Symbolics Genera OS on top of Linux. Its editor, naturally, is Emacs. I've actually thought about forking Genera development because it's such a nice OS, and at some point when I have time I'll probably do it. In any case, Genera Emacs uses Common LISP instead of GNU LISP, and I'll either have to port Evil Mode to Common LISP or learn the Emacs keybinds. The latter is easier. I don't think I'll ever switch fully to Emacs-the-editor, but I'll certainly learn it at some point. level 1 bastibe 2 points · 1 year ago

I used to use Vim for a few years, then switched to Emacs. Since then, the Vim bug still bites me every now and then, and I'll try out Evil for a day or two. But what invariably brings me back to Emacs is its more intelligent commands, like

Search and replace lets you modify the replacement terms on the fly, and interactively skip single replacements.

Find file has intelligent auto completion that searches my history.

If you regexp search, then regexp replace, your search term is pre-filled with the previous search.

Things like this are just better in Emacs than in Vim. I tend to work at a higher level in Emacs than in Vim. Instead of text objects I mark the symbol under point or expand-region. Instead of macros I use multiple cursors. Instead of searching for function definitions I use the imenu (which works for function/class definitions, but also latex sections).

I could go on, but the point is, in Emacs it feels like I operate on code, while Vim operates on characters. I prefer the Emacs way. level 1 lawlist 3 points · 1 year ago

If I had it to do all over again, I would learn the built-in default keyboard shortcuts. With no user-configuration, I quite frequently try out my own answers to Emacs questions before posting them; and I also try to reproduce bugs before submitting Emacs bug reports; and I verify the problems are with my configuration versus the Lisp or C internals. When using Emacs without any user-configuration, it ends up being a combination of M-x ... and a couple of default keyboard shortcuts because I never learned them all. level 2 zipdry 2 points · 1 year ago

You might consider installing the which-key package. level 3 cmcmahan61 1 point · 1 year ago

I second that! An excellent package that displays the candidate commands available to you. level 2 WalterGR 1 point · 1 year ago

When using Emacs without any user-configuration

Why does that happen for you a lot? Connecting to remote machines with stock Emacs? level 3 lawlist 3 points · 1 year ago

It's basically the three scenarios mentioned above. (1) I participate frequently by posting comments and answers to and the Emacs tag on, and it is prudent to test anything with no user-configuration so that the answers/comments work for everyone under the same circumstances. (2) Over the years, I have filed quite a few Emacs bug reports. To participate in submitting and helping to fix Emacs bugs when making or responding to a bug report, the Emacs team will expect a reprodicible recipe without any user configuration. (3) When something doesn't seem to be working right, I revert to using no user-configuration to see if Emacs behaves that way out of the box -- that tells me if it's a bug or the expected behavior, or if my configuration is the cause. I also work on a couple of my own feature requests (modifying C and Lisp internals) and often check unexpected behavior of my modified Frankenstein Emacs version to the stock version to see if it is me, or Emacs that caused the behavior at issue. level 2 takethecannoli4 1 point · 1 year ago

You can always try the command with M-x to check if there's a problem with the keybinding level 1 ax_reddit GNU Emacs 1 point · 1 year ago

Why would someone consciously, intentionally choose the stock key layout? Who uses that layout?

Since you are coming vom Vim, you probably know that editing in Vim and Emacs offers more or other possibilities than in a genuine CUA editor. One example is marking text and jumping to different positions, brackets, etc. In Vim you have the visual mode, in Emacs you set the mark-point and move to the end-point. I've never seen that with another editor.

On the other hand, I experienced multiple-cursor-mode in Sublime before Emacs. Sublime had it on CTRL-D, Emacs also. Why? I don't know except it is easy to reach.

Or in general editors: Why is paste CTRL-V? Beacuse it's next to cut (x) and copy (c). And CTRL-P is print. Keyboard shortcuts and the decisions to place them like they are is manifold. Some work on english keyboards, some doesn't work on german ones, because keys are not reachable.

There is no need to say these are bad shortcuts. Emacs shortcuts were the second ones I've learned. And they work on a Lenovo notebook (where Pos1 and End keys are randomly placed and I use C-a and C-e) whereas working with Notepad++ is more tricky.

So you say "your" shortcuts are better than the default and I say the default are better than the common ones. level 1 Lord_Mhoram 1 point · 1 year ago

I still use most of the default movement/editing controls, and like it fine. I've been using Emacs long enough that my first keyboard didn't have an Alt key, so I learned to hit (not hold) Escape for Meta, and still have that habit. What you've called "inertia" in this thread, I would call "proficiency developed with practice over time." That's not something you toss away easily just because something else might be better. I've thought about trying something like Evil, because I do use vi quite a bit and appreciate the advantages of modal editing, but it just hasn't been a priority.

Most people I know who aren't power-users, if they need to edit a file, load it in something like Notepad or Word, and use the arrow keys or mouse to move around. For cut and paste they'll use the mouse and menu, or C-c/C-v if they're more advanced. That would be incredibly frustrating for me, but it works for their needs. I can't say that learning a "real" editor like emacs or vi would be worth it for them, considering the time they would have to put into retraining. level 1 smonnier 1 point · 1 year ago

BTW, could someone point me to a solution to this problem? [ AFAIK the problem is a dichotomy between modal and non-modal UIs, as well as a lack of regularity due to historical accidents accumulated over time. ] IOW, has someone written an Elisp package which provides new keybindings with the following features

level 2 Lampilelo 1 point · 1 year ago

Closest to that is probably hydra. Not exactly, but if you haven't heard about it, you should check it out. abo-abo/hydra level 1 lagooned 1 point · 1 year ago

while vim commands compose much like english as a combination of a subject/word object and a verb/movement, stock emacs is just a collection of keyboard shortcuts that do slightly different basic actions based on whether you have ctrl, meta, or ctrl+meta pressed.

so in short i agree; it doesn't make sense for anyone to switch backwards unless they are doing it for novelty or to have experience for those evil-mode edge cases where you have to know a little emacs movement. level 1 larsbrinkhoff 1 point · 1 year ago

I like how Emacs has had essentially the same key bindings for at least 40 years. I can sit down at a 1978 EMACS and just work away. level 1 gtmshrm 1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

While manipulating text, emacs users think of content as code where as vim users think of it as text. We cannot say that vim bindings are better than default emacs bindings (or vice-versa) in terms of speed because there are people who edit in emacs just as fast as vimmers. But we can most certainly say that vim bindings are less fatiguing for our fingers. It's just a matter of preference.

Emacs evil community is growing rapidly. All thanks to spacemacs. Spacemacs is bloated but eases the pain of switching to emacs. Of-course there are more holy users than evil users because evil users are mostly ex-vimmers. Very few of the vimmers set aside their pride and try out emacs in evil mode. Emacs is obviously difficult to master even for a vim user simply because in emacs, sky is the limit. Very few of holy emacs users actually give a shot to evil mode and stick to it because making a switch to modal editing takes time. Hope

Cake Day The extensible, customizable, self-documenting real-time display editor. Reddit about careers press advertise blog Using Reddit help Reddit App Reddit premium Reddit gifts Directory Terms | Content policy | Privacy policy | Mod policy Reddit Inc © 2019. All rights reserved

[Aug 31, 2019] Ask Slashdot Correlation Between Text Editor and Programming Language - Slashdot

Aug 31, 2019 |

Anonymous Coward , Friday June 27, 2014 @04:59PM ( #47336243 )

Uh, sure.. ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Some editors are more useful or even custom tailored for specific languages or functional areas, and naturally people who use those languages or work in those areas tend to gravitate towards them.

Some languages (like java) are almost unusable without one of several popular editors, which deal with a lot of the boilerplate and let you navigate around the kind of "a million small pieces" type code you get with java. You can code java in vim if you want to, but working on a large java project with vim is probably not a common practice (I'm sure several counter-examples will be provided below).

Apple is probably the king of the designated editor group, with microsoft coming in at a close second. These are relatively closed stacks and have purpose built (and pretty decent) tools to work with them, so most people do.

And then some languages (scripting languages, c/c++) are edited commonly with just about everything.

Outside specific editor features designed with a specific language in mind, or tools which require a specific editor, I don't think anything drives someone to use one generic editor over another one of similar capability. People chose vim vs emacs for non-language specific reasons (for example: number of attached hands).

Also this is a really lame question. Does anyone really care about editor flame wars any more? People use what they like, what works, or what they are mandated to.

[Jan 29, 2019] 5 plugins you should put in your vimrc by Veselin Todorov

Sep 03, 2012 |

There are more than 4000 Vim scripts out there. This is one of the reasons why Vim is so awesome. However, if you are starting with Vim, you might wonder from where to begin. In this post we are going to talk about 5 plugins that can be found in almost any vimrc.


Surround provides mappings to easily delete, change and add surroundings in pairs. It's created by Tim Pope, and it's starred more than 800 times on GitHub.

The best way to explain it is to show some examples:

Go inside the following text and press cs"':

Olivier Grisel • 6 years ago ,

I find ctrlp ( ) a nice alternative (without native code build) to command-T (and a bit of buffer explorer too).

Blake Olivier Grisel • 6 years ago ,

I was just about to mention this as well. ctrlp is far better when you don't feel like compiling it every time you clone your dotfiles.

sulfide Olivier Grisel • 6 years ago ,

ctrip is better just wanted to join the party!!!

hadasa Olivier Grisel • 6 years ago ,

True, ctrlp is much better alternative to command-T

Nicolas Goles Olivier Grisel • 6 years ago ,

Agreed!, ctrlp is IMHO much better.

f Nicolas Goles • 6 years ago ,

agreed. pure vimcscript allows me to have only one setup for every kind of OS I use and "installing" equals cloning.

cirotix f • 6 years ago ,

CommandT seems better to me: it is doing a real fuzzy search ex: "apmo" match apps/ with CommandT but not with Ctrlp. CommandT seems also faster.

Of cource I can be wrong, I didn't know Ctrlp before reading this thread.

Edit: CommandT also have buffer navigation

Simon Henderson • 6 years ago ,

vundle. start there.

Amadeus Demarzi Simon Henderson • 6 years ago ,

Seriously! I can't believe this amazing plugin is so much ignored. It destroys all other plugin managers, including pathogen.

Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko • 6 years ago ,

Fugitive.vim, of course! The absolute best way to deal with Git from Vim.

Akash Agrawal Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko • 5 years ago ,


Bao Pham • 6 years ago ,

vim-powerline ( makes your vim look pretty :)

nXqd • 6 years ago ,

ctrlP = command-T + bufexplorer :)

Honza Pokorny • 6 years ago ,

Sanders' repository has been dead for over 2 years. Please consider using a community maintained fork of the project with many improvements.

Andreas Mueller • 6 years ago ,

I can't live without nerd-commenter.

Stιphane PY • 6 years ago ,

Abolish, Align, delimitMate, Powerline, Vundle :)

Geoffrey Lessel • 6 years ago ,

I hadn't heard of BufferExplorer before. But after installing it, then reading the comments below, I removed it and Command-T and went with ctrlp. A great post and awesome comments. Thanks all!

Gabriel Pettier • 6 years ago ,

Another killer is gundo, let you explore your undo/redo *tree*, never lose a change anymore. Lusty is a greate alternative to bufexplorer too. And for python development, i found python-mode to be of great value.

inside01 • 6 years ago ,

Camelcase motion:
Allows motion on camelCase or snake_case. I use it everyday.

Ivan • 6 years ago ,

Pathogen, CtrlP (easier to install than CommandT on windows)

iamaissarivera • 5 years ago ,

thank you for sharing this article. this codes are helpful.

Darcy Parker • 6 years ago ,

As an FYI, snipmate by msanders has ceased development. It is not clear from looking at msanders gitrepo, but garbas is the new maintainer. See

arnisl • 6 years ago ,

vimwiki is nice for keeping notes

Iwata Motonori • 6 years ago ,

Why don't you use unite.vim( likes anything.el and neocomplcache( ?

Nick Marino • 6 years ago ,

I used MiniBufExpl for a long time but recently replaced it with LustyJuggler and I couldn't be happier!

Leandro • 6 years ago ,

I would replace Bufexplorer by only using CommandTBuffer (bound to any key)

Guest • 6 years ago ,

I can't live without AutoComplPop. It's autoComplete and it rots my brain cuz I don't think anymore.

Amr N Tamimi • 6 years ago ,

I've found that has a great collection of plugins and configs.

DAddYE • 6 years ago ,

Take a look at my dotfiles, there are at least a couple of plugins that are awesome. https://

XizDaqrian DAddYE • 5 years ago ,

Those are great. Thank you for sharing!

[Jan 29, 2019] As you move between buffers, you can copy text from one buffer into a register and paste that text into another file

Oct 19, 2018 |

The :e# command can help you copy blocks of text from one file to another. When you call vim with the names of several files as arguments, you can use :n to edit the next file, :e# to edit the file you just edited, and :rew to rewind the sequence of files so that you are editing the first file again.

As you move between files, you can copy text from one file into a buffer and paste that text into another file. You can use :n! to force vim to close a file without writing out changes before it opens the next file.

[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

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.

Jϊda Ronιn ,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} . – Jϊda Ronιn 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

[Jun 13, 2018] Best Free Programming Editor

Jun 13, 2018 |

Panzer on 13. March 2017 - 10:56 (129338)

"... Text Editor Pro - powerful text editing tool with syntax highlighting support for programming languages and scripts, over 100 options for customizing, over 100 ready made skins, unicode character map, numerical unit convert tool, SQL formatter, and support for multiple directories and search results ...":

mrin on 30. July 2014 - 16:57 (117669)

I was using notepad++. Then I tried PSPad after seeing it here. Found it is much more user friendly, the settings and highlighter editing are much easier than notpad++. The menus are also quite nice. I got used to it instantly. So, it's my new favorite piece of software.

qwerky on 6. November 2013 - 19:10 (112074)

I've looked at all the editors mentioned in the comments as well as the article. RJ TextEd (mentioned in comments) and PSPad are about equal. Each has some features lacking in the other, but both are better (in my opinion) than Notepad++.

But I was shocked to see that neither the main article, nor the comments, mentioned SynWrite

This editor stands head and shoulders above the others, with a full compliment of features. The author is very responsive; new features get added; bugs get fixed.

Please consider reviewing this editor. Your readers will be glad you did.

[Jan 16, 2018] List of 10 Best Free HTML Web Editors for Windows

Notable quotes:
"... Komodo Edit is my favorite text web editor. It includes a lot of great features for HTML and CSS development. Additionally, you can get extensions to add language support or other helpful features, like special characters. ..."
"... Komodo doesn't outshine as the best HTML editor, but it's great for for the price, especially if you build in XML where it truly excels. I use Komodo Edit every day for my work in XML, and I use it a lot for basic HTML editing as well. This is one editor I'd be lost without. ..."
Jan 16, 2018 |
There are two versions of Komodo available - Komodo Edit and Komodo IDE. Komodo Edit is open source and free to download. It is a trimmed down counterpart to IDE.

Komodo Edit is my favorite text web editor. It includes a lot of great features for HTML and CSS development. Additionally, you can get extensions to add language support or other helpful features, like special characters.

Komodo doesn't outshine as the best HTML editor, but it's great for for the price, especially if you build in XML where it truly excels. I use Komodo Edit every day for my work in XML, and I use it a lot for basic HTML editing as well. This is one editor I'd be lost without.


[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.

[Oct 07, 2017] 4 Best Modern Open Source Code Editors For Linux

Notable quotes:
"... Brief: Looking for best programming editors in Linux? Here's a list of best code editors for Linux. The best part is that all of them are open source code editors. ..."
Oct 07, 2017 |

4 Best Modern Open Source Code Editors For Linux

Last updated October 5, 2017 By Abhishek Prakash 47 Comments

Share 1K Tweet 27 +1 165 Share 39 Reddit Shares 2K

Best code editors for Linux

Brief: Looking for best programming editors in Linux? Here's a list of best code editors for Linux. The best part is that all of them are open source code editors.

If you ask the old school Linux users, their answer would be Vi, Vim, Emacs, Nano etc. But I am not talking about them. I am going to talk about new age, cutting edge, great looking, sleek and yet powerful, feature-rich best open source code editors for Linux that would enhance your programming experience.

Best modern Open Source editors for Linux

I use Ubuntu as my main desktop and hence I have provided installation instructions for Ubuntu based distributions. But this doesn't make this list as best code editors for Ubuntu because the list is apt for any Linux distribution. Just to add, the list is not in any particular priority order.

1. Brackets

Brackets is one of the best open source code editors

Brackets is an open source code editor from Adobe . Brackets focuses exclusively on the needs of web designers with built-in support for HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It is lightweight and yet powerful. It provides you with inline editing and live preview. There are plenty of plugins available to further enhance your experience with Brackets.

Some of the main features of Brackets code editor are:

You can get the source code as well as binaries for Linux, OS X and Windows on its website.

Get Brackets

2. Atom

Atom is considered to be an excellent code editor for Linux

Atom is another modern and sleek looking open source editor for programmers. Atom is developed by Github and promoted as a "hackable text editor for the 21st century". The looks of Atom resembles a lot like Sublime Text editor, a hugely popular but closed source text editors among programmers.

Some of the main features of Atom code editor are:

Atom has recently released .deb and .rpm packages so that one can easily install Atom in Debian and Fedora based Linux distributions. Of course, its source code is available as well.

Get Atom

3. Light Table

Light Table is the next generation open source code editor for Linux

Flaunted as "the next generation code editor", Light Table is another modern looking, underrated yet feature-rich open source code editor which is more of an IDE than a mere text editor.

There are numerous extensions available to enhance its capabilities. Inline evaluation is what you would love in it. You have to use it to believe how useful Light Table actually is.

Some of the main features of Light Table are:

If you are using Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, then installing Light Table is easier for you. However, officially, Light Table doesn't provide any packages. You have to build it yourself.

Get Light Table

4. Visual Studio Code

Microsoft Visual Studio Code has been deemed as the best code editor for web development

Visual Studio Code is a popular code editor from Microsoft. Now don't push the panic button just yet. Visual Studio Code is completely open source.

In fact, Visual Studio Code was among the first few 'peace offering' from Microsoft to Linux and Open Source world. Microsoft has open sourced a number of its tools after that. Of course, that doesn't include Microsoft Office.

Visual Studio Code is an excellent code editor, especially for web development. It is lightweight as well. Some of the other main features are:

You can download packages for Ubuntu and Fedora from its website:

Get Visual Studio Code

What's your pick?

No, we are not limited to just four code editors in Linux. The list was about modern editors for programmers. Of course, you have plenty of other options such as Notepad++ alternative Notepadqq or SciTE and many more. So, among these four, which one is your favorite code editor for Linux? 47 comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
9:26 pm March 20, 2017 Ced I'm going to try the Lime Text
6:41 am March 8, 2017 Casper How to install Lime Text?
6:43 am March 7, 2017 Himanshu Shekhar Spacemacs
12:00 pm July 17, 2016 Marco Czen Do look at Visual Studio Code a well
11:08 pm May 23, 2016 Jesse Boyd How could you not mention Eclipse or Spring Tool Suite for code editing? These are software developer industry standard and have linux versions.
7:22 pm May 10, 2017 Koszko He didn't mention them because they're IDEs and this article is about code editors only.
12:31 pm October 6, 2017 Thor That's a bit of a stretch. VS Code can initiate compilation and solve references just as Atom can. There's no differencw othwr than the language used to write the applications. The only reason is these are mosly scripted languages used to write the editors/IDEs, while better IDEs are written in C++ or Java.

He still should have included both Eclipse anf the community editions of the JetBrains tools.

9:52 am February 24, 2016 Anonymous Any article on modern open source editors for linux that doesn't mention Kate is not worth reading.
3:05 am April 4, 2016 Mauricio Martνnez Garcia emacs for ever
3:43 pm February 17, 2016 saprative vim
9:24 am February 17, 2016 sanjay tharagesh I am new to linux and using ubuntu right now. Its very annoying to write a c++ program in an text editor and then run it on terminal and also It is difficult to edit my program by this way.In windows i used to do the program with turbo c++, its easy to handle and to compile and run the program. Can you suggest me a c++ editor for ubuntu, which will be easy to compile and run the programs easily.I also tried komodo edit but i dont know how to compile and run the program.

sanjay tharagesh.

4:01 pm August 9, 2016 David Dreggors OOPS! I also forgot to mention Code::Blocks... also a very nice open source Linux compatible IDE.

There is also Anjuta IDE as well.

Note above that I said Komodo IDE not Komodo Edit. Also note that the IDE is not free.

3:56 pm August 9, 2016 David Dreggors Netbeans, Eclipse, Geany, and even Komodo IDE all work on Linux (even Ubuntu)
2:12 pm February 25, 2016 Shan You can use Geany Editor
9:44 pm February 16, 2016 Old Fart VIM is too recent. VI for old school.
6:11 am April 13, 2017 Compro Prasad Try neovim man
1:22 am January 31, 2016 Marek Komodo Edit is the best. For me. Great performance, addons, etc.
8:03 pm December 10, 2015 Snehal Vim.. anyday..
2:54 pm October 24, 2015 Dhruman Bhadeshiya Love, Atom!!
2:27 am October 9, 2015 Muhammad Dary Azhari i choose gedit
5:49 pm October 7, 2015 Airon +1 to Atom! GitHub team have done good work! (y)
12:12 pm October 28, 2015 Abhishek Prakash Indeed
1:21 pm September 10, 2015 Lokesh sanapalli In atom, there is no option to execute the code. Geany is much better than these!!!
1:44 pm September 10, 2015 Abhishek Prakash It's because Geany is more of an IDE than code editor.

[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 cu