Vim focuses on keyboard usage, and offers useful features such as syntax highlighting and scripting capabilities. Vim is not a simple text editor, like nano or pico. It does require some time to learn, and a great amount of time to master.
- 1 Installation
- 2 Usage
- 3 Configuration
- 4 Merging files (vimdiff)
- 5 Vim tips
- 6 Troubleshooting
- 7 See also
Install the command line version with the package, or you can install the GUI version (which also provides
vim) by installing the package.
vimbinary as well). The
herecura-stableunofficial repository also provides a couple different Vim / gVim variants: package is meant to be as lightweight as possible; hence, it does not support Python, Lua, and Ruby interpreters, nor does it support X server options (this means that it will not support copy and paste from the X clipboard). If you require these options, install the package instead (it includes the
$ pacman -Slq herecura-stable | grep vim
vim-cli vim-gvim-gtk vim-gvim-motif vim-gvim-qt vim-gvim-x11 vim-rt vim-tiny
- There are some visualization problems in KDE using
herecura-stableor AUR from official repositories. In that case you can install
This is a basic overview on how to use Vim. Alternately, running
gvimtutor will launch vim's tutorial, which takes about 25-30 minutes.
Vim has four different modes:
- Command mode: keystrokes are interpreted as commands.
- Insert mode: keystrokes are entered into the file.
- Visual mode: keystrokes select, cut, or copy text
- Ex mode: input mode for additional commands (e.g. saving a file, replacing text...)
If you start Vim with:
$ vim somefile.txt
you will see a blank document (providing that somefile.txt does not exist. If it does, you will see what is in there). You will not be able to edit right away – you are in Command Mode. In this mode you are able to issue commands to Vim with the keyboard.
swill replace a character,
Swill replace a line), other times they are completely different commands (
jwill move down,
Jwill join two lines).
You insert text (stick it before the cursor) with the
I (uppercase i) inserts text at the beginning of the line. You append text (place text after the cursor, what most people expect) with
A will place the cursor at the end of the line.
Return to command mode at any time by pressing
In Vim, you can move the cursor with the arrow keys, but this isn't the Vim way. You’d have to move your right hand all the way from the standard typing position all the way to the arrow keys, and then back. Not fun.
In Vim you can move down by pressing
j. You can remember this because the “j” hangs down. You move the cursor back up by pressing
k. Left is
h (it's left of the “j”), and right is
l (lowercase L).
To advance a word, press the
W will include more characters in what it thinks is a word (e.g. underscores and dashes as a part of a word). To go back a word,
b is used. Once again,
B will include more characters in what Vim considers a word. To advance to the end of a word, use
E includes more characters.
To advance to the beginning of a sentence, Template:Keypress will get the job done. Template:Keypress will do the opposite, moving to the end of a sentence. For an even bigger jump, Template:Keypress will move the the beginning a whole paragraph. Template:Keypress will advance to the end of a whole paragraph.
To advance to the header (top) of the screen,
H will get the job done.
M will advance to the middle of the screen, and
L will advance to the last (bottom).
gg will go to the beginning of the file,
G will go to the end of the file.
Ctrl+D will let you scroll page by page.
If a command is prefixed by a number, then that command will be executed that number of times over (there are exceptions, but they still make sense, like the
s command). For example, pressing
3i then “Help! ” then
Esc will print “Help! Help! Help!“. Pressing Template:Keypress will advance you two paragraphs. This comes in handy with the next few commands…
x command will delete the character under the cursor.
X will delete the character before the cursor. This is where those number functions get fun.
6x will delete 6 characters. Pressing Template:Keypress (dot) will repeat the previous command. So, lets say you have the word "foobar" in a few places, but after thinking about it, you’d like to see just “foo”. Move the cursor under the "b", hit
3x, move to the next "foobar" and hit Template:Keypress (dot).
d will tell Vim that you want to delete something. After pressing
d, you need to tell Vim what to delete. Here you can use the movement commands.
dW will delete up to the next word. Template:Keypress will delete up unto the beginning of the line. Prefacing the delete command with a number works well too:
3dW will delete the next three words.
D (uppercase) is a shortcut to delete until the end of the line (basically Template:Keypress). Pressing
dd will delete the whole line.
To delete then replace the current word, place the cursor on the word and execute the command
cw. This will delete the word and change to insert mode. To replace only a single letter use
Undo and redo
Vim has a built-in clipboard (also known as a buffer). Actions can be undone with
u and redone with
v will put you in visual mode . Here you can move around to select text, when you’re done, you press
y to yank the text into the buffer (copy), or you may use
c to cut.
p pastes after the cursor,
P pastes before.
V, Visual Line mode, is the same for entire lines.
Ctrl+v is for blocks of text.
Search and replace
To search for a word or character in the file, simply use Template:Keypress and then the characters your are searching for and press enter. To view the next match in the search press
N for the previous match.
To search and replace use the substitute Template:Keypress command. The syntax is:
[range]s///[arguments]. For example:
Command Outcome :s/xxx/yyy/ Replace xxx with yyy at the first occurence :s/xxx/yyy/g Replace xxx with yyy first occurrence, global (whole sentence) :s/xxx/yyy/gc Replace xxx with yyy global with confirm :%s/xxx/yyy/g Replace xxx with yyy global in the whole file
You can use the global Template:Keypress command to search for patterns and then execute a command for each match. The syntax is:
Command Outcome :g/^#/d Delete all lines that begins with # :g/^$/d Delete all lines that are empty
Saving and quitting
To save and/or quit, you will need to use Ex mode. Ex mode commands are preceded by a Template:Keypress. To write a file use Template:Keypress or if the file doesn’t have a name
:w filename. Quitting is done with Template:Keypress. If you choose not to save your changes, use Template:Keypress. To save and quit Template:Keypress.
swill erase the current letter under the cursor, and place you in insert mode.
Swill erase the whole line, and place you in insert mode.
owill create a newline below the line and put you insert mode,
Owill create a newline above the line and put you in insert mode.
yywill yank an entire line
ccwill delete the current line and place you in insert mode.
- Template:Keypress will highlight the current word and
nwill search it
Vim's user-specific configuration file is located in the home directory:
~/.vimrc, and files are located inside
~/.vim/ The global configuration file is located at
/etc/vimrc. Global files are located inside
The Vim global configuration in Arch Linux is very basic and differs from many other distributions' default Vim configuration file. To get some commonly expected behaviors (such as syntax highlighting, returning to the last known cursor position), consider using Vim's example configuration file:
# mv /etc/vimrc /etc/vimrc.bak # cp /usr/share/vim/vim74/vimrc_example.vim /etc/vimrc
With this option the search next behaviour allows to jump to the beginning of the file, when the end of file is reached. Similarly, search previous jumps to the end of the file when the start is reached.
With this setting, Vim will highlight incorrectly spelled words. Place the cursor on a misspelled word and enter Template:Keypress to view spelling suggestions.
Only English language dictionaries are installed by default, more can be found in the official repositories. To get the list of available languages type:
# pacman -Ss vim-spell
Language dictionaries can also be found at the Vim FTP archive. Put the downloaded dictionar(y/ies) into the
~/.vim/spell folder and set the dictionary by typing:
:setlocal spell spelllang=LL
- To enable spell checking for LaTeX (or TeX) documents only, add
autocmd FileType tex setlocal spell spelllang=en_usinto your
/etc/vimrc, and then restart Vim. For spell checking of languages other than English, simply replace
en_uswith the value appropriate for your language.
- To enable spelling in two languages (for instance English and German), add
set spelllang=en,deinto your
/etc/vimrc, and then restart Vim.
- You can enable spell checking for arbitrary file types (e.g. *.txt) by using the FileType plugin and a custom rule for file type detection. To enable spell checking for any file ending in
*.txt, create the file
/usr/share/vim/vimfiles/ftdetect/plaintext.vim, and insert the line
autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile *.txt setfiletype plaintextinto that file. Next, insert the line
autocmd FileType plaintext setlocal spell spelllang=en_usinto your
/etc/vimrc, and then restart Vim.
To enable syntax highlighting (Vim supports a huge list of programming languages):
:filetype plugin on :syntax on
Using the mouse
Vim has the ability to make use of the mouse, but requires xterm's mouse reporting feature.
- See the example .vimrc below to enable the mouse.
- Use xterm. In your console:
- This even works in PuTTY over SSH.
- In PuTTY, the normal highlight/copy behaviour is changed because Vim enters visual mode when the mouse is used. To select text with the mouse normally, hold down the
Shiftkey while selecting text.
Traverse line breaks with arrow keys
The default behavior can be changed by adding
set whichwrap=b,s,<,>,[,] to your
An example Vim configuration.
Merging files (vimdiff)
Vim includes a diff editor (a program that can merge differences between two files). vimdiff will open colored windows each showing the content of the file with colored highlights of the differences, line by line. You are left with two modes: the insert one, which let you edit the file, and the screen mode, which let you move around windows and lines. Begin by running
vimdiff file1 file2. Some example commands are found below:
- next difference
- previous difference
- switch windows
- enter Insert mode
- exit Insert mode
- paste a line
- diff obtain. when cursor is on a highlighted difference and changes from other window will move into the current one
- diff put. same as diff obtain but will put the changes from current windows into the other one
- open folded text
- close folded text
- re-scan the files for differences
- copy a line
- save and exit the current window
- save and exit both windows
- exit without saving
Once your file has been correctly edited taking account changes in file.pacnew:
# mv file file.bck # mv file.pacnew file
Check if your new file is correct, then remove your backup:
# rm file.bck
Specific user tricks to accomplish tasks.
- Show line numbers by
- Jump to line number
Substitute on lines
To only substitute between certain lines:
For example, to replace instances of 'one' with 'two' between lines 3 and 4, one would execute:
Make Vim restore cursor position in files
If you want the cursor to appear in its previous position after you open a file, add the following to your
if has("autocmd") au BufReadPost * if line("'\"") > 1 && line("'\"") <= line("$") | exe "normal! g`\"" | endif endif
See also this tip in Vim Wiki.
When using a window manager configured to ignore window size hints, gVim will fill the non-functional area with the GTK theme background color.
The solution is to adjust how much space gVim reserves at the bottom of the window. Take note that if you set it to zero, you won't be able to see the bottom horizontal scrollbar, if you have one. Put the following line in
Replace vi command with vim
Create an alias for
There is a "^M" at the end of each line. This usually happens when you are editing a text file which was created in MS-DOS or Windows.
Solution: Replace all "^M" using the command:
Pay attention, "^" is the control letter, press
Ctrl+Q to get the right "^".
Alternatively, install the package
dos2unix <file name here>.
- vi Tutorial and Reference Guide
- Graphical vi-Vim Cheat Sheet and Tutorial
- Vim Introduction and Tutorial
- Open Vim - Collection of Vim learning tools
- Learn Vim Progressively
- know vim
- A detailed configuration from Amir Salihefendic
- Bart Trojanowski
- Steve Francia's Vim Distribution
- W4RH4WK's Vim configuration