130+ essential vim commands

by Jean. 22 Comments -

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!

Basics

:e filename Open filename for edition
:w Save file
:q Exit Vim
:q! Quit without saving
:x Write file (if changes has been made) and exit
:sav filename Saves file as filename
. Repeats the last change made in normal mode
5. Repeats 5 times the last change made in normal mode

Moving in the file

k or Up Arrow move the cursor up one line
j or Down Arrow move the cursor down one line
e move the cursor to the end of the word
b move the cursor to the begining of the word
0 move the cursor to the begining of the line
G move the cursor to the end of the file
gg move the cursor to the begining of the file
L move the cursor to the bottom of the screen
:59 move 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

y Copy the selected text to clipboard
p Paste clipboard contents
dd Cut current line
yy Copy current line
y$ Copy to end of line
D Cut to end of line

Search

/word Search word from top to bottom
?word Search word from bottom to top
* Search the word under cursor
/\cstring Search STRING or string, case insensitive
/jo[ha]n Search john or joan
/\< the Search the, theatre or then
/the\> Search the or breathe
/\< the\> Search the
/\< ¦.\> Search all words of 4 letters
/\/ Search fred but not alfred or frederick
/fred\|joe Search 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/g Search something in all the open buffers and replace it with somethingelse

Replace

:%s/old/new/g Replace all occurences of old by new in file
:%s/onward/forward/gi Replace onward by forward, case unsensitive
:%s/old/new/gc Replace all occurences with confirmation
:2,35s/old/new/g Replace all occurences between lines 2 and 35
:5,$s/old/new/g Replace all occurences from line 5 to EOF
:%s/^/hello/g Replace the begining of each line by hello
:%s/$/Harry/g Replace the end of each line by Harry
:%s/onward/forward/gi Replace onward by forward, case unsensitive
:%s/ *$//g Delete all white spaces
:g/string/d Delete all lines containing string
:v/string/d Delete 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/g Replace Bill by Steve in current line
:%s/Bill/Steve/g Replace Bill by Steve in all the file
:%s/^M//g Delete DOS carriage returns (^M)
:%s/\r/\r/g Transform DOS carriage returns in returns
:%s#<[^>]\+>##g Delete HTML tags but keeps text
:%s/^\(.*\)\n\1$/\1/ Delete lines which appears twice
Ctrl+a Increment number under the cursor
Ctrl+x Decrement number under cursor
ggVGg? Change text to Rot13

Case

Vu Lowercase line
VU Uppercase line
g~~ Invert case
vEU Switch word to uppercase
vE~ Modify word case
ggguG Set all text to lowercase
gggUG Set all text to uppercase
:set ignorecase Ignore case in searches
:set smartcase Ignore case in searches excepted if an uppercase letter is used
:%s/\<./\u&/g Sets first letter of each word to uppercase
:%s/\<./\l&/g Sets 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 outfile Saves lines 1 to 10 in outfile
:1,10 w >> outfile Appends lines 1 to 10 to outfile
:r infile Insert the content of infile
:23r infile Insert the content of infile under line 23

File explorer

:e . Open integrated file explorer
:Sex Split window and open integrated file explorer
:Sex! Same as :Sex but split window vertically
:browse e Graphical file explorer
:ls List buffers
:cd .. Move to parent directory
:args List files
:args *.php Open file list
:grep expression *.php Returns a list of .php files contening expression
gf Open file name under cursor

Interact with Unix

:!pwd Execute the pwd unix command, then returns to Vi
!!pwd Execute the pwd unix command and insert output in file
:sh Temporary returns to Unix
$exit Retourns to Vi

Alignment

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

Tabs/Windows

:tabnew Creates a new tab
gt Show next tab
:tabfirst Show first tab
:tablast Show last tab
:tabm n(position) Rearrange tabs
:tabdo %s/foo/bar/g Execute a command in all tabs
:tab ball Puts all open files in tabs
:new abc.txt Edit abc.txt in new window

Window spliting

:e filename Edit filename in current window
:split filename Split the window and open filename
ctrl-w up arrow Puts cursor in top window
ctrl-w ctrl-w Puts 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 file Split window vertically
:sview file Same as :split in readonly mode
:hide Close current window
:­nly Close all windows, excepted current
:b 2 Open #2 in this window

Auto-completion

Ctrl+n Ctrl+p (in insert mode) Complete word
Ctrl+x Ctrl+l Complete line
:set dictionary=dict Define dict as a dictionnary
Ctrl+x Ctrl+k Complete with dictionnary

Marks

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

Abbreviations

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

Text indent

:set autoindent Turn on auto-indent
:set smartindent Turn on intelligent auto-indent
:set shiftwidth=4 Defines 4 spaces as indent size
ctrl-t, ctrl-d Indent/un-indent in insert mode
>> Indent
<< Un-indent
=% Indent the code between parenthesis
1GVG= Indent the whole file

Syntax highlighting

:syntax on Turn on syntax highlighting
:syntax off Turn off syntax highlighting
:set syntax=perl Force syntax highlighting

Comments (22) - Leave yours

  1. Phil said:

    Some great stuff here, I learned a few new commands… However, I think you got a couple confused…

    G actually moves to the end of the file ($ is end of line)
    L actually moves to the bottom of screen

    THANKS!!!

  2. Bruno said:

    I’d add another really useful command, which I use every single day, several times:

    gx opens the url under the cursor in a new default browser windows\tab

    Thanks for the nice collection!

  3. Chadsten said:

    It’s probably worth mentioning that you can use :wq to write the file and quit, with the same command. I find myself using that more often on server tasks, like editing conf files.

  4. bronsen said:

    Are you sure about G and L? According to :help from my vim $ moves to end of line, G moves to last line of file (count)L moves to count screenlines from bottom

  5. romainl said:

    You may want to fix all those errors: http://www.reddit.com/r/vim/comments/1kfbvk/130_essential_vim_commands/cbofr3z

  6. Colin said:

    Great post – there’s some real gems in here. However – lots of errors, too.

    In section “Search” –
    “Search the, theatre or then” – “the” and “theatre” should be italicized.
    For “Search all words of 4 letters” it should be “/\”, but you have “/\”.
    For “Search the” you have a space in the middle – “/\”, but it should be “/\”.
    “Search fred but not alfred or fredrick” should read “/\”, but you have “/\/”. Also, this is equivalent to the “Search the” example you give (which also has a typo – an extra space)
    “bufdo %s/something/somethingelse/g” is missing a leading colon.

    In section “Replace” –
    “:%s/onward/forward/gi Replace onward by forward, case unsensitive” should read “case insensitive” and this line is repeated a few lines later.
    “Delete all lines containing which didn’t contain string” should read “Delete all lines which don’t contain string”
    “:%s/ *$//g Delete all white spaces” should read “Deletes all trailing spaces”. To delete all trailing whitespace you need “:%s/\w*$//g”. To delete all whitespace you need “:%s/\s//g”.
    “ggVGg? Change text to Rot13″ is slightly misleading. I would change it to “g? Rot13 selected text”

    There may be more, but I don’t have time to test the rest tonight. Will try to get through them all and give you feedback. Thanks.

    • Colin said:

      apparently posting to the blog strips angle braces – I’m reposting and trying to pre-escape them. The above should have read:

      Great post – there’s some real gems in here. However – lots of errors, too.

      In section “Search” –
      “Search the, theatre or then” – “the” and “theatre” should be italicized.
      For “Search all words of 4 letters” it should be “/\<\w\{4}\&gt”, but you have “/\< ¦.\>”.
      For “Search the” you have a space in the middle – “/\< the\>”, but it should be “/\<the\>”.
      “Search fred but not alfred or fredrick” should read “/\<fred\>”, but you have “/\/”. Also, this is equivalent to the “Search the” example you give (which also has a typo – an extra space)
      “bufdo %s/something/somethingelse/g” is missing a leading colon.

      In section “Replace” –
      “:%s/onward/forward/gi Replace onward by forward, case unsensitive” should read “case insensitive” and this line is repeated a few lines later.
      “Delete all lines containing which didn’t contain string” should read “Delete all lines which don’t contain string”
      “:%s/ *$//g Delete all white spaces” should read “Deletes all trailing spaces”. To delete all trailing whitespace you need “:%s/\w*$//g”. To delete all whitespace you need “:%s/\s//g”.
      “ggVGg? Change text to Rot13″ is slightly misleading. I would change it to “g? Rot13 selected text”

      There may be more, but I don’t have time to test the rest tonight. Will try to get through them all and give you feedback. Thanks.

  7. Geee said:

    there is a mistake in the “Replace” Section:

    %s/\r/\r/g Transform DOS carriage returns in returns

    shouldn’t it be %s/\^M/\r/g ?

  8. Jacques said:

    Great ! Thanks for this reminder.

    Let me add CTRL-a to increase a number (+1) and CTRL-x to decrease (-1)

    Very usefull when editing a bind zone file :-)

  9. FreeBird said:

    I tried the “1GVG=” in the normal mode to indent a C file, but it didn’t seem to work. Em…do I misunderstand this tip?

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