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130+ Essential Vim Commands

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130+ Essential Vim Commands

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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!


: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


/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


:%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


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


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


: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


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


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


: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

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Published at DZone with permission of Jean-Baptiste Jung, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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