130+ essential vim commands

Since the 70's, vi and vim are very popular text editors among programmers. 5 years ago, I wrote an article named "100 vim commands every programmer should know" and here is a reworked, updated version. Enjoy!

This post is over 3 years old, please check the updated version.


:e filenameOpen filename for edition
:wSave file
:qExit Vim
:q!Quit without saving
:xWrite file (if changes has been made) and exit
:sav filenameSaves file as filename
.Repeats the last change made in normal mode

Moving in the file

k or Up Arrowmove the cursor up one line
j or Down Arrowmove the cursor down one line
emove the cursor to the end of the word
bmove the cursor to the begining of the word
0move the cursor to the begining of the line
Gmove the cursor to the end of the file
ggmove the cursor to the begining of the file
Lmove the cursor to the bottom of the screen
:59move cursor to line 59. Replace 59 by the desired line number.
20|move cursor to column 20.
%Move cursor to matching parenthesis
[[Jump to function start
[{Jump to block start

Cut, copy & paste

yCopy the selected text to clipboard
pPaste clipboard contents
ddCut current line
yyCopy current line
y$Copy to end of line
DCut to end of line


/wordSearch word from top to bottom
?wordSearch word from bottom to top
*Search the word under cursor
/\cstringSearch STRING or string, case insensitive
/jo[ha]nSearch john or joan
/\< theSearch the, theatre or then
/the\>Search the or breathe
/fred\|joeSearch fred or joe
/\<\d\d\d\d\>Search exactly 4 digits
/^\n\{3}Find 3 empty lines
:bufdo /searchstr/Search in all open files
bufdo %s/something/somethingelse/gSearch something in all the open buffers and replace it with somethingelse


:%s/old/new/gReplace all occurences of old by new in file
:%s/onward/forward/giReplace onward by forward, case unsensitive
:%s/old/new/gcReplace all occurences with confirmation
:%s/^/hello/gReplace the begining of each line by hello
:%s/$/Harry/gReplace the end of each line by Harry
:%s/onward/forward/giReplace onward by forward, case unsensitive
:%s/ *$//gDelete all white spaces
:g/string/dDelete all lines containing string
:v/string/dDelete all lines containing which didn’t contain string
:s/Bill/Steve/Replace the first occurence of Bill by Steve in current line
:s/Bill/Steve/gReplace Bill by Steve in current line
:%s/Bill/Steve/gReplace Bill by Steve in all the file
:%s/^M//gDelete DOS carriage returns (^M)
:%s/\r/\r/gTransform DOS carriage returns in returns
:%s#<[^>]\+>##gDelete HTML tags but keeps text
:%s/^\(.*\)\n\1$/\1/Delete lines which appears twice
Ctrl+aIncrement number under the cursor
Ctrl+xDecrement number under cursor
ggVGg?Change text to Rot13


VuLowercase line
VUUppercase line
g~~Invert case
vEUSwitch word to uppercase
vE~Modify word case
ggguGSet all text to lowercase
gggUGSet all text to uppercase
:set ignorecaseIgnore case in searches
:set smartcaseIgnore case in searches excepted if an uppercase letter is used
:%s/\<./\u&/gSets first letter of each word to uppercase
:%s/\<./\l&/gSets first letter of each word to lowercase
:%s/.*/\u&Sets first letter of each line to uppercase
:%s/.*/\l&Sets first letter of each line to lowercase

Read/Write files

:1,10 w outfileSaves lines 1 to 10 in outfile
:1,10 w >> outfileAppends lines 1 to 10 to outfile
:r infileInsert the content of infile
:23r infileInsert the content of infile under line 23

File explorer

:e .Open integrated file explorer
:SexSplit window and open integrated file explorer
:Sex!Same as :Sex but split window vertically
:browse eGraphical file explorer
:lsList buffers
:cd ..Move to parent directory
:argsList files
:args *.phpOpen file list
:grep expression *.phpReturns a list of .php files contening expression
gfOpen file name under cursor

Interact with Unix

:!pwdExecute the pwd unix command, then returns to Vi
!!pwdExecute the pwd unix command and insert output in file
:shTemporary returns to Unix
$exitRetourns to Vi


:%!fmtAlign all lines
!}fmtAlign all lines at the current position
5!!fmtAlign the next 5 lines


:tabnewCreates a new tab
gtShow next tab
:tabfirstShow first tab
:tablastShow last tab
:tabm n(position)Rearrange tabs
:tabdo %s/foo/bar/gExecute a command in all tabs
:tab ballPuts all open files in tabs
:new abc.txtEdit abc.txt in new window

Window spliting

:e filenameEdit filename in current window
:split filenameSplit the window and open filename
ctrl-w up arrowPuts cursor in top window
ctrl-w ctrl-wPuts cursor in next window
ctrl-w_Maximize current window vertically
ctrl-w|Maximize current window horizontally
ctrl-w=Gives the same size to all windows
10 ctrl-w+Add 10 lines to current window
:vsplit fileSplit window vertically
:sview fileSame as :split in readonly mode
:hideClose current window
:­nlyClose all windows, excepted current
:b 2Open #2 in this window


Ctrl+n Ctrl+p (in insert mode)Complete word
Ctrl+x Ctrl+lComplete line
:set dictionary=dictDefine dict as a dictionnary
Ctrl+x Ctrl+kComplete with dictionnary


m {a-z}Marks current position as {a-z}
' {a-z}Move to position {a-z}
''Move to previous position


:ab mail mail@provider.orgDefine mail as abbreviation of mail@provider.org

Text indent

:set autoindentTurn on auto-indent
:set smartindentTurn on intelligent auto-indent
:set shiftwidth=4Defines 4 spaces as indent size
ctrl-t, ctrl-dIndent/un-indent in insert mode
=%Indent the code between parenthesis
1GVG=Indent the whole file