VIM Editor

When using sudo vim consider sudo -E. The -E flag to retain the user environment variables for vim.


I use the VI (or VIM) editor. It comes standard on most Linux and UNIX distributions, or can otherwise be installed. A key feature I configure is the VIM colour scheme, as the standard colour scheme does not work well with black background terminal windows I prefer to use. Simply create the file on home directory, “.vimrc” (vim ~/.vimrc) and add the line :colorscheme desert.

The different VIM colour scheme definition files are located at /usr/share/vim/vim90/colors.

Original vi had some strange key bindings, e.g. the cursor keys did not function. the nocompatible flag tends to resolve this. When using the .vimrc configuration file the nocompatible flag is reportedly set automatically. Nevertheless it is worthwhile setting this.

If syntax color is not working in the file .vimrc (vim ~/.vimrc), add the following line syntax on.

In .vimrc, add set number relativenumber other options include:

  • set number sequentially numbers from top at 1 to bottom.
  • set relativenumber sets current line at 0 and numbers sequentially from 1 above and below
  • set number relativenumber sets current line at actual line number and numbers sequentially from 1 above and below
  • set nonumber set numbering off

In visual mode :set number! toggles the current number setting. Probably can not use this one in .vimrc.

A powerful text editor, standard in most Linux distributions and available in Windows. Need some time and effort to learn though, particularly if moving from graphical user environment.

Some Informative Links:

Some Quick tips: *There are two (2) main modes: Command mode and Insertion mode. You only normally type text in Insertion mode. The Esc (escape) key enters command mode and the i or INS(insert) keys return to Insertion mode. *If like me you use a keyboard without an insert key, eg. Microsoft Surface, you can get into insert mode directly from command mode by typing i. When you open VIM you are in command mode, so simply type i (or insert) to get into insert mode. *To copy, cut and paste:

  • First go into command mode (ESC or CTRL-[)
  • Move using cursor keys to place to start highlight, hit v key and highlight area to be copied (or cut)
  • key y to copy, or d to cut
  • Move to place to paste, key P to paste before cursor or p to paste after

CheatSheet: Vim Commands

Vim Command Action
:w filename Save changes to a file. If you don't specify a file name, Vim saves as the file name you were editing. For saving the file under a different name, specify the file name.
:q Quit Vim. If you have unsaved changes, Vim refuses to exit.
:q! Exit Vim without saving changes.
:qa quit all (close Vim, but not if there are unsaved changes)
:qa! quit all (close Vim without saving—discard any changes)
:wq Write the file and exit.
:wa write all changed files (save all changes), and keep working
:ZZ write current file, if modified, and exit.
: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
:x Almost the same as :wq, write the file and exit if you've made changes to the file. If you haven't made any changes to the file, Vim exits without writing the file.
CTRL-Z Suspend Vim, like “:stop”. Works in Normal and in Visual mode. In Insert and Command-line mode, the CTRL-Z is inserted as a normal character.

These Vim commands and keys work both in command mode and visual mode.

Vim Command Action
j or Up Arrow Move the cursor up one line
k or Down Arrow Down one line
h or Left Arrow Left one character
l or Right Arrow Right one character
Ctrl + b Move back one full screen
Ctrl + f Move forward one full screen
Ctrl + d Move forward 1/2 a screen
Ctrl + u Move back 1/2 a screen
Ctrl + e Move screen down one line (without moving cursor)
Ctrl + y Move screen up one line (without moving cursor)
Ctrl + o Move backward through the jump history
Ctrl + i Move forward through the jump history
gg Move to top of file
Shift + g move to end of file
w Move to next word
W Move to next blank delimited word
e To the end of a word
E To the end of a whitespace-delimited word
b To the beginning of a word
B To the beginning of a whitespace-delimited word
( Move a sentence back
) Move a sentence forward
{ Move a paragraph back
} Move a paragraph forward
0 To the beginning of a line
^ To the first non-whitespace character of a line
$ To the end of a line
1G Move to the first line of the file
G Move to the last line of the file
nG Move to nth line of the file
fc Move forward to c
Fc Move back to c
:n Jump to line number n. For example, to jump to line 42, you'd type :42
H To the first line of the screen.
M To the middle line of the screen.
L To the last line of the screen.
% Move to associated ( )
Vim Command Action
i Insert before cursor.
I Insert to the start of the current line.
a Append after cursor.
A Append to the end of the current line.
o Open a new line below and insert.
O Open a new line above and insert.
C Change the rest of the current line.
r Overwrite one character. After overwriting the single character, go back to command mode.
R Enter insert mode but replace characters rather than inserting.
Esc Exit insert/overwrite mode and go back to command mode.
Vim Command Action
Del-key Delete characters under the cursor.
x Delete characters under the cursor.
X Delete characters before the cursor.
dd or :d Delete the current line.
dw Delete the word under the cursor.
d$ Delete to the end of the line.
d Delete text that

Note that and ”+ work both ways. So if you have selected some text in another application, you can paste it into vim using “p and if you have copied some text (using, say, Ctrl-C) then you can paste it into vim using ”+p.

Vim Command Action
yy Yank the current line
:y Yank the current line
nyy Yank n lines from current down
yw Yank the word under the cursor
y$ Yank to the end of the line
"+y copies to the “usual” clipboard buffer (so you can paste using Ctrl+V, right click and select “Paste” etc)
“*y copies to the X11 selection - you can paste from this buffer using middle click
Vim Command Action
p Put after the position or after the line
P Put before the position or before the line
Vim Command Action
C Change to the end of the line
cc Change the whole line
cw Change the word under the cursor
Vim Command Action
J Join lines
. Repeat last text-changing command
u Undo last change
U Undo all changes to line
Vim Command Action
v Start highlighting characters. Use the normal movement keys and commands to select text for highlighting.
V Start highlighting lines.
The ESC key Exit visual mode and return to command mode.

Note: the Vim commands marked with (V) work in visual mode, when you've selected some text. The other commands work in the command mode, when you haven't selected any text.

Vim Command Action
~ Change the case of characters. This works both in visual and command mode. In visual mode, change the case of highlighted characters. In command mode, change the case of the character under cursor.
> (V) Shift right (indent).
< (V) Shift left (de-indent).
c (V) Change the highlighted text.
y (V) Yank the highlighted text. In Windows terms, “copy the selected text to clipboard.”
d (V) Delete the highlighted text. In Windows terms, “cut the selected text to clipboard.”
yy or :y or Y Yank the current line. You don't need to highlight it first.
dd or :d Delete the current line. Again, you don't need to highlight it first.
p Put the text you yanked or deleted. In Windows terms, “paste the contents of the clipboard”. Put characters after the cursor. Put lines below the current line.
P Put characters before the cursor. Put lines above the current line.
Vim Command Action
]s move to the next misspelled word
[s move to the previous misspelled word
zg add a word to the dictionary
zug undo the addition of a word to the dictionary
z= view spelling suggestions for a misspelled word
Vim Command Action
:%!fmt Align all lines
!}fmt Align all lines at the current position
5!!fmt Align the next 5 lines
Vim Command Action
u Undo the last action
U Undo all the latest changes that were made to the current line
Ctrl + r Redo
. repeat last command
Vim Command Action
/pattern Search the file for pattern.
n Scan for next search match in the same direction.
N Scan for next search match but opposite direction.
/word Search word from top to bottom
?word Search word from bottom to top
* move the cursor to any word, press * to search forwards for that word
# move the cursor to any word, press # to search backward for that word
/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
/\<\d\d\d\d> Search exactly 4 digits
/^\n{3} Find 3 empty lines
:bufdo /searchstr/ Search in all open files
Vim Command Action
:rs/foo/bar/a Substitute foo with bar. r determines the range and a determines the arguments.
The range ® can be
nothing Work on current line only.
number Work on the line whose number you give.
% The whole file.
Arguments (a) can be
g Replace all occurrences in the line. Without this, Vim replaces only the first occurrences in each line.
i Ignore case for the search pattern.
I Don't ignore case.
c Confirm each substitution. You can type y to substitute this match, n to skip this match, a to substitute this and all the remaining matches (“Yes to all”), and q to quit substitution.
:452s/foo/bar/ Replace the first occurrence of the word foo with bar on line number 452.
:s/foo/bar/g Replace every occurrence of the word foo with bar on current line.
:%s/foo/bar/g Replace every occurrence of the word foo with bar in the whole file.
:%s/foo/bar/gi The same as above, but ignore the case of the pattern you want to substitute. This replaces foo, FOO, Foo, and so on.
:%s/foo/bar/gc Confirm every substitution.
:%s/foo/bar/c For each line on the file, replace the first occurrence of foo with bar and confirm every substitution.
:%s/old/new/g Replace all occurrences of old by new in file
:%s/old/new/gw Replace all occurrences with confirmation
:2,35s/old/new/g Replace all occurrences between lines 2 and 35
:5,$s/old/new/g Replace all occurrences from line 5 to EOF
:%s/^/hello/g Replace the beginning of each line by hello
:%s/$/Harry/g Replace the end of each line by Harry
:%s/onward/forward/gi Replace onward by forward, case insensitive
:%s/ *$//g Delete all white spaces
:g/string/d Delete all lines containing string
:v/string/d Delete all lines containing which didn’t contain string
:s/Bill/Steve/ Replace the first occurrence of Bill by Steve in current line
:s/Bill/Steve/g Replace Bill by Steve in current line
:%s/Bill/Steve/g Replace Bill by Steve in all the file
:%s/\r//g Delete DOS carriage returns (^M)
:%s/\r/\r/g Transform DOS carriage returns in returns
:%s#<[^>]+>##g Delete HTML tags but keeps text
:%s/^(.*)\n\1$/\1/ Delete lines which appears twice
Ctrl+a Increment number under the cursor
Ctrl+x Decrement number under cursor
Regular Expressions
. (dot) Any single character except newline
* zero or more occurrences of any character
[...] Any single character specified in the set
[^...] Any single character not specified in the set
^ Anchor - beginning of the line
$ Anchor - end of line
\< Anchor - beginning of word
> Anchor - end of word
(...) Grouping - usually used to group conditions
\n Contents of nth grouping
[...] - Set Examples
[A-Z] The SET from Capital A to Capital Z
[a-z] The SET from lowercase a to lowercase z
[0-9] The SET from 0 to 9 (All numerals)
[./=+] The SET containing . (dot), / (slash), =, and +
[-A-F] The SET from Capital A to Capital F and the dash (dashes must be specified first)
[0-9 A-Z] The SET containing all capital letters and digits and a space
[A-Z][a-zA-Z] In the first position, the SET from Capital A to Capital Z. In the second character position, the SET containing all letters
Regular Expression Examples
/Hello/ Matches if the line contains the value Hello
/^TEST$/ Matches if the line contains TEST by itself
/^[a-zA-Z]/ Matches if the line starts with any letter
/^[a-z].*/ Matches if the first character of the line is a-z and there is at least one more of any character following it
/2134$/ Matches if line ends with 2134
/(21 35)/
/[0-9]*/ Matches if there are zero or more numbers in the line
/^[^#]/ Matches if the first character is not a # in the line
Vim Command Action
Vu Lowercase line
VU Uppercase line
g~~ Invert case
vEU Switch word to uppercase
vE~ Modify word case
ggguG Set all text to lowercase
: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
Vim Command Action
: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

Tab versus Spaces has an interesting discussion on this matter. Near the end of the article it explains methods to configure vim tab action.
Standard vi interprets the tab key literally, but there are popular vi-derived alternatives that are smarter, like vim.

  • set softtabstop=2, To get vim to interpret tab as an indent command instead of an insert-a-tab command
  • set shiftwidth=2, To set the mod-N indentation used when you hit the tab key in vim (what Emacs calls c-basic-offset)
  • set tabstop=4, To cause the TAB file-character to be displayed as mod-N in vi and vim (what Emacs calls tab-width)
  • set expandtab, To cause TAB characters to not be used in the file for compression, and for only spaces to be used (what emacs calls indent-tabs-mode)
  • In vi (and vim), you can do this stuff on a per-file basis using modelines, magic comments at the top of the file, similarly to how it works in Emacs: /* ex: set tabstop=8 expandtab: */
Vim Command Action
: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
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 read-only mode
:hide Close current window
:­nly Close all windows, excepted current
:b 2 Open #2 in this window
Vim Command Action
mk Marks current position as k
˜k Moves cursor to mark k
dk Delete all until mark k
Vim Command Action
q Record typed characters into register
q Stops recording. (Implementation note: The 'q' that stops recording is not stored in the register, unless it was the result of a mapping)
qq Start recording a new macro to the register q.

Vim Command Action

@q Play back the macro.
Play back the macro q
@@ Repeat the last macro played
Vim Command Action
zf#j creates a fold from the cursor down # lines
zf/v string creates a fold from the cursor to string
zf operator to create a fold
zf'a fold to mark
zn fold none: reset 'foldenable'. All folds will be open
zN fold normal: set 'foldenable'. All folds will be as they were before
zi invert 'foldenable'
zj moves the cursor to the next fold
zk moves the cursor to the previous fold
zo opens a fold at the cursor
zO opens all folds at the cursor
zm increases the fold-level by one
zM closes all open folds
zr decreases the fold-level by one
zR decreases the fold-level to zero – all folds will be open
zd deletes the fold at the cursor
zE deletes all folds
[z move to start of open fold
]z move to end of open fold

Using Vim's scripting language (and a great deal of insight and tools from others), I have setup Vim on my local machine to be an effective development environment for my needs.


  • NvChad
  • LunarVim

  • /app/www/public/data/pages/home_server/home_server_setup/other_services/vim.txt
  • Last modified: 2024-03-24 Sun wk12 14:04
  • by baumkp