Vim is a terminal text editor. It is an extended version of vi with additional features, including syntax highlighting, a comprehensive help system, native scripting (Vim script), a visual mode for text selection, comparison of files (vimdiff(1)), and tools with restricted capabilities such as rview(1) and rvim(1).
Install one of the following packages:
- vim — with Python, Lua, Ruby and Perl interpreters support but without GTK/X support.
- gvim — which also provides the same as the above vim package with GTK/X support.
- The vim package is built without Xorg support; specifically the
+clipboardfeature is missing, so Vim will not be able to operate with the primary and clipboard selection buffers. The gvim package provides also the CLI version of Vim with the
- The unofficial repository herecura also provides a number of Vim/gVim variants:
For a basic overview on how to use Vim, follow the vim tutorial by running either vimtutor (for the terminal version) or gvimtutor (for the graphical version).
Vim includes a broad help system that can be accessed with the
:h subject command. Subjects include commands, configuration options, key bindings, plugins etc. Use the
:h command (without any subject) for information about the help system and jumping between subjects.
Vim's user-specific configuration file is located in the home directory:
~/.vimrc, and Vim files of current user are located inside
~/.vim/. The global configuration file is located at
/etc/vimrc. Global Vim files such as
archlinux.vim are located inside
For gVim, the user-specific configuration file is located at
~/.gvimrc and the global configuration file is located at
- Commonly expected behavior such as syntax highlighting is enabled in
defaults.vim, which is loaded when no
~/.vimrcis present. Add
/etc/vimrcto disable loading of
defaults.vimcompletely. . Alternatively, to enable
~/.vimrcis present, see
:h defaultsin vim.
- gVim loads both Vim's and gVim's configuration file, while Vim only loads Vim's configuration file.
Vim commands such as
:put normally operate with the unnamed register
"". If the
+clipboard feature is available and its value includes
unnamed, then Vim yank, delete, change and put operations which would normally go to the unnamed register will use the clipboard register
"* instead, which is the
PRIMARY buffer in X.
To change the default register, you can
:set clipboard=unnamedplus to use the
"+ register instead. The
"+ clipboard register corresponds to the
CLIPBOARD buffer in X. It should be noted that the
clipboard option can be set to a comma-delimited value. If you
:set clipboard=unnamedplus,unnamed, then yank operations will also copy the yanked text to the
"* register in addition to the
"+ register (however, delete, change and put operations will still only operate on the
For more information, see
:help 'clipboard'. There are other values which can be set for the
clipboard feature. You can use
:help clipboard-unnamed to take you to the help topic for the first valid value which can be set for this feature, followed by help for all other valid values.
- Custom shortcuts for copy and paste operations can be created. See e.g.  for binding
- The X clipboard gets flushed when vim exits. To make the vim selection persistent within X clipboard, you need a clipboard manager. Alternatively, you can add
autocmd VimLeave * call system("echo -n $'" . escape(getreg(), "'") . "' | xsel --input --clipboard")to your
.vimrc(requires the xsel package).
To enable syntax highlighting for many programming languages:
:filetype plugin on :syntax on
The indent file for specific file types can be loaded with:
:filetype indent on
wrap option is on by default, which instructs Vim to wrap lines longer than the width of the window, so that the rest of the line is displayed on the next line. The
wrap option only affects how text is displayed, the text itself is not modified.
The wrapping normally occurs after the last character that fits the window, even when it is in the middle of a word. More intelligent wrapping can be controlled with the
linebreak option. When it is enabled with
set linebreak, the wrapping occurs after characters listed in the
breakat string option, which by default contains a space and some punctuation marks (see
Wrapped lines are normally displayed at the beginning of the next line, regardless of any indentation. The breakindent option instructs Vim to take indentation into account when wrapping long lines, so that the wrapped lines keep the same indentation of the previously displayed line. The behaviour of
breakindent can be fine-tuned with the
breakindentopt option, for example to shift the wrapped line another four spaces to the right for Python files (see
:help breakindentopt for details):
autocmd FileType python set breakindentopt=shift:4
Using the mouse
Vim has the ability to make use of the mouse, but it only works for certain terminals:
- xterm/urxvt-based terminal emulators
- Linux console with gpm (see Console mouse support for details)
To enable this feature, add this line into
mouse=a option is set in
"*register if there is access to an X server, see the #Clipboard section. The xterm handling of the mouse buttons can still be used by keeping the
Traverse line breaks with arrow keys
By default, pressing
Left at the beginning of a line, or pressing
Right at the end of a line, will not let the cursor traverse to the previous, or following, line.
The default behavior can be changed by adding
set whichwrap=b,s,<,>,[,] to your
Vim includes a diff editor (a program that shows differences between two or more files and aids to conveniently merge them). Use vimdiff to run the diff editor — just specify some couple of files to it:
vimdiff file1 file2. Here is the list of vimdiff-specific commands.
Tips and tricks
To show the line number column, use
:set number. By default absolute line numbers are shown, relative numbers can be enabled with
:set relativenumber. Setting both enables hybrid line numbers—the current line is absolute, while the others are relative.
Jumping to a specific line is possible with
:line number or
line numbergg. Jumps are remembered in a jump list, see
:h jump-motions for details.
Vim has the ability to do spell checking, enable by entering:
By default, only English language dictionaries are installed (in
/usr/share/vim/vim82/spell/). More dictionaries can be found in the official repositories by searching for
vim-spell. Additional dictionaries can be found in the Vim's FTP archive. Additional dictionaries can be put in the folder
~/.vim/spell/ and enabled with the command:
:setlocal spell spelllang=en_us (replacing the
en_us with the name of the needed dictionary).
|spelling good, add|
|spelling good, session|
|spelling wrong, add|
|spelling wrong, session|
|spelling repeat all in file|
- 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 with .txt, create the file
/usr/share/vim/vimfiles/ftdetect/plaintext.vim, and insert the line
autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile *.txt set filetype=plaintextinto that file. Next, insert the line
autocmd FileType plaintext setlocal spell spelllang=en_usinto your
/etc/vimrc, and then restart Vim. Alternatively, one can simply insert the line
autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile *.txt setlocal spellinto their
/etc/vimrc, and then restart Vim. Be sure to edit this line (specifically
*.txt) to include the filetype(s) intended for spell checking.
- 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.
Saving runtime state
vim discards all unessential information such as opened files, command line history, yanked text etc. Preserving this information can be configured in the following ways.
viminfo file may also be used to store command line history, search string history, input-line history, registers' content, marks for files, location marks within files, last search/substitute pattern (to be used in search mode with
& within the session), buffer list, and any global variables you may have defined. For the
viminfo modality to be available, the version of
vim you installed must have been compiled with the
Configure what is kept in your
viminfo file, by adding (for example) the following to your
where each parameter is preceded by an identifier:
'q : q, number of edited file remembered <m : m, number of lines saved for each register :p : p, number of history cmd lines remembered % : saves and restore the buffer list n...: fully qualified path to the viminfo files (note that this is a literal "n")
See the official viminfo documentation for particulars on how a pre-existing
viminfo file is modified as it is updated with current session information, say from several buffers in the current session you are in the process of exiting.
Session files can be used to save the state of any number of particular sessions over time. One distinct session file may be used for each session or project of your interest. For that modality to be available, the version of
vim you installed must have been compiled with the
Within a session,
:mksession[!] [my_session_name.vim] will write a vim-script to
my_session_name.vim in the current directory, or
Session.vim by default if you choose not to provide a file name. The optional
! will clobber a pre-existing session file with the same name and path.
vim session can be resumed either when starting vim from terminal:
$ vim -S [my_session_name.vim]
Or in an already opened session buffer by running the vim command:
Exactly what is saved and additional details on session files options are extensively covered in the vim documentation. Commented examples are found here.
Saving cursor position
See Restore cursor to file position in previous editing session on the Vim wiki.
Replace vi command with Vim
Create an alias for
Alternatively, if you want to be able to type
sudo vi and get
vim, install vi-vim-symlinkAUR which will remove
vi and replace it with a symlink to
vim. You could also create this symlink yourself and place it somewhere higher in your path than
/usr/bin to have it take precedence.
DOS/Windows carriage returns
If there is a
^M at the end of each line then this means you are editing a text file which was created in MS-DOS or Windows. This is because in Linux only a single line feed character (LF) used for line break, but in Windows/MS DOS systems they are using a sequence of a carriage return (CR) and a line feed (LF) for the same. And this carriage returns are displayed as
To remove all carriage returns from a file do:
Note that there
^ is a control letter. To enter the control sequence
Alternatively install the package dos2unix and run
dos2unix file to fix the file.
set ff=unixto convert files with DOS/Windows line ending to Unix line ending. To do the reverse, just issue
set ff=dosto convert files with Unix line ending to DOS/Windows line ending.
Empty space at the bottom of gVim windows
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. Put the following line in
Vim as a pager
Using scripts Vim can be used as a terminal pager, so that you get various vim features such as color schemes.
Vim comes with the
/usr/share/vim/vim90/macros/less.sh script, for which you can create an alias. Note that this script does not support any command-line flags mentioned in less(1) § OPTIONS.
Alternatively there is also the vimpager Vim script. To change the default pager, export the
PAGER environment variable. Note that not all command-line flags are supported; the list of supported flags is available on GitHub.
Highlighting search results
In order to highlight the first string that will be matched in a search while typing the search, add the following line to your
In order to highlight all strings that will be matched in a search while typing the search, and after the search has been executed, add the following line to your
hlsearchwill keep all matches highlighted until a further search is made. This behaviour may be undesired, so to temporarily disable the highlighting until the next search, run
:nohlsearch. If you find yourself running this command often, consider binding it to a key.
- This behaviour will also be observed when matching regex during other commands that involve them like
Adding plugins to Vim can increase your productivity by extending Vim's features. Plugins can alter Vim's UI, add new commands, enable code completion support, integrate other programs and utilities with Vim, add support for additional languages and more.
Using the built-in package manager
Vim 8 added the possibility to load third-party plugins natively. This functionality can be used by storing third-party packages in the
~/.vim/pack folder. The structure of this folder differs slightly from that of typical plugin managers which will usually have a single directory per plugin. What follows is a typical installation procedure and directory structure (using Tim Pope's vim-surround plugin as an example):
$ mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/tpope/start
It is important to note that
~/.vim/pack/tpope is a package directory which is loosely defined as directory containing one or more plugins in the Vim documentation. Plugin repositories should not be downloaded to this directory though. The name of the package directory is also arbitrary. You can choose to keep all your plugins in a single package directory or, as in our example, use the author's GitHub name,
The package directory can contain the following subfolders:
start- plugins from this subfolder will be loaded automatically when Vim starts. This is the most frequently used location.
opt- plugins from this subfolder can be loaded on-demand by issuing
:packaddcommand inside Vim.
Now change into the
start folder and checkout the plugin repository:
$ cd ~/.vim/pack/tpope/start $ git clone https://tpope.io/vim/surround.git
This creates an additional subfolder,
~/.vim/pack/tpope/start/surround, where the plugin files are placed.
Next, update the help index if the plugin contains help files:
$ vim -u NONE -c "helptags surround/doc" -c q
The plugin will now be loaded automatically when starting Vim. No changes to
~/.vimrc are required, barring plugin-specific options.
Using a plugin manager
A plugin manager is a plugin that installs, manages and updates Vim plugins. This can be useful if you are also using Vim on platforms other than Arch Linux and want a consistent method of updating plugins.
- Vim-plug is a minimalist Vim plugin manager with many features like on-demand plugin loading and parallel updating, available as vim-plugAUR or vim-plug-gitAUR.
- Vundle is available as vundleAUR or vundle-gitAUR.
- pathogen.vim is a simple plugin for managing Vim's runtimepath, available as vim-pathogenAUR or vim-pathogen-gitAUR.
- Dein.vim is a plugin manager replacing NeoBundle, available as vim-deinAUR or vim-dein-gitAUR.
From Arch repositories
The vim-plugins group provides various plugins. Use
pacman -Sg vim-plugins command to list available packages which you can then install with pacman.
Cscope is a tool for browsing a project. By navigating to a word/symbol/function and calling cscope (usually with shortcut keys) it can find: functions calling the function, the function definition, and more.
Copy the cscope default file where it will be automatically read by Vim:
mkdir -p ~/.vim/plugin wget -P ~/.vim/plugin https://cscope.sourceforge.net/cscope_maps.vim
~/.vim/plugin/cscope_maps.vimin order to enable cscope shortcuts in Vim 7.x:
set timeoutlen=4000 set ttimeout
Create a file which contains the list of files you wish cscope to index (cscope can handle many languages but this example finds .c, .cpp and .h files, specific for C/C++ project):
$ cd /path/to/project/dir $ find . -type f -print | grep -E '\.(c(pp)?|h)$' > cscope.files
Create database files that cscope will read:
$ cscope -bq
$CSCOPE_DBvariable, pointing it to the
Default keyboard shortcuts:
Ctrl-\ and c: Find functions calling this function d: Find functions called by this function e: Find this egrep pattern f: Find this file g: Find this definition i: Find files #including this file s: Find this C symbol t: Find assignments to
Feel free to change the shortcuts.
#Maps ctrl-c to find functions calling the function nnoremap <C-c> :cs find c <C-R>=expand("<cword>")<CR><CR>
Taglist provides an overview of the structure of source code files and allows you to efficiently browse through source code files in different programming languages.
Install the vim-taglistAUR package.
Useful options to be put in
let Tlist_Compact_Format = 1 let Tlist_GainFocus_On_ToggleOpen = 1 let Tlist_Close_On_Select = 1 nnoremap <C-l> :TlistToggle<CR>
gVim is slow
Vim's GTK 3 GUI may be slower than the GTK 2 version (see FS#51366). gvim-gtk2AUR can be installed as a workaround.
- vim Tutorial and Primer
- 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
- Learning Vim in 2014
- Seven habits of effective text editing
- Basic Vim Tips
- Vimcasts — screencasts in .ogg format.
- Vim Tutorial Videos — covering the basics up to advanced topics.
- https://vim.rtorr.com/ - A mobile friendly Vim cheat sheet - Sources
- A detailed configuration from Amir Salihefendic
- Bart Trojanowski
- Steve Francia's Vim Distribution
- Vim Awesome - Vim Plugins
- W4RH4WK's Vim configuration
- Fast vimrc/colorscheme from askapache
- Basic vimrc