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Vim Jump-Start


I created this document as a quick reference. There are many other references out there, and vim gives you a lot of help itself, but I find this useful, so I have made it available to anyone who is interested. If you are new to Vim, but a bit daunted by what you need to learn, I suggest you take a quick look here (small movies on some of the cooler aspects of Vim).


vi (and vim) runs in 2 modes: insert and command, ESC changes to command mode.

This command list was made while using vim (vi improved), all commands may not work in other versions of vi.

In this document, c stands for ctrl and m for alt.

% usually represents the whole buffer

If you're having trouble starting vim in a console, try vim -X

See the "additions to the vimrc configuration file" section to enable ms-windows-like editor commands.

basic commands

quit : :q (closes the editor, use :bd to just close the buffer)

write/save : :w

quit with write : :wq

quit without save : :q!

close buffer : :bd

open file : :e (filename)

new file : :new

page up : c-u or page-up

page down : c-d or page-down

up : k or up-arrow

down : j or down-arrow

left : h or left-arrow

right : l or right-arrow

go to file start : gg

go to file end : G

go to line : nG (where n = a number)

go to line end : $

go to line start : 0

jump forward word : w

jump forward word : b

begin typing/insert : i

insert at end of line : A

join lines : J (nJ to join more than 2 lines - n = a number)

indent a block : v (then select the block) > (or < to go left)

undo last command : u

redo : c-r

repeat last command : :<up arrow>

repeat last change : .

select : v (then select text, and choose y to copy or x to cut) for example to select from current position to the end of the file: vG, or the beginning: vgg

copy line : cc

delete line : dd

delete character : x

delete word : dw

delete till end of line : d$

delete several lines : :dn eg :d3

delete a specific line : :nd (where n = a number, not to be confused with above)

paste (after character/line) : p

paste (before character/line) : P

search forwards : / (followed by word to search) (/ alone to search next)

search backwards : ? (followed by word to search) (? alone to search next)

search files : :vimgrep /love/ *.txt follow this with the command :cwindow to see a list of all the files found

change case : n~ (where n = a number)

replace/substitute : :%s/old/new/g (% says to do this for each line, % can also be a set number). To replace a character with a newline or carriage return: :%s/ /<CTRL-v><Enter>/g (*nix) or :%s/ /<CTRL-q><Enter>/g (windows).

replace single character : r<character>

match parenthesis : % (after placing the cursor on the first parenthesis)

code complete : ctrl-x ctrl-o

word wrap : :set wrap

no word wrap : :set nowrap

line numbering : :set number

no line numbering : :set nonumber

execute an external command : :! (followed by command)

read in results of a command : :r!command or !!command (eg :r!date)

insert an external file : :r (filename)

open a shell : :sh

create a page break : while in the insert mode, CTRL-l (that's an "L"); "^L" will appear in your text and will cause the printer to start a new page.

execute perl : :!perl -wc % (for syntax check, drop the "c" for normal run)

compile java : :!javac -verbose %

run java : :!java %< (the < removes the extension)

compile c#: :!csc %

spell check : :!ispell % (or :!aspell check %)

new buffer : :new

next buffer : :bn

last buffer : :bl

change buffers : :(n)b

close buffer : :bd (close specific buffer = :bd 3 (can have more by putting a space between the numbers))

wordcount : g then ctrl-g

change between split windows : c-w

make current window the only one visible : :only (or) c-w o

change/set options : :options (these can also be set in the .vimrc/.gvimrc


create/run a macro : qa to begin recording into register 'a', followed by q to stop recording, then @a to repeat the commands you recorded. You can record into 26 other registers (for each letter of the alphabet).

create a fold : zfap (position the cursor at the start of the block of code first)

open a fold : zo

close a fold : zc

open all the folds : zr

close all the folds : zm

Make current line uppercase : gUU

Make current line lowercase : guu

Sort contents : :sort

New Tab : :tabe

Browse File system : :Explore

htmlize a syntax-highlighted file : :runtime! syntax/2html.vim this will convert a file that has been syntax highlighted into html (handy for use on websites and such)

Remove blank lines : :g/^$/d

additions to the .vimrc configuration file

set nocompatible
source $VIMRUNTIME/mswin.vim
" adds recent filelist; downloaded from:
" http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=521
source $VIMRUNTIME/mru.vim
behave mswin

" OS-specific settings
if has("win32")
  " windows preferred font...
  set guifont=HE_TERMINAL:h10
  " linux preferred font...
  set guifont=-dec-terminal-medium-r-normal-*-*-140-*-*-c-*-iso8859-1

" slow down the default cursor blink
set guicursor=a:blinkon600-blinkoff400
" or if you don't like blinking cursors, switch it off
"set guicursor=a:blinkon0

" remove gui toolbar
set guioptions-=T

" set tab width to 4 and insert 4 spaces for each tab
set tabstop=4
set shiftwidth=4
set expandtab

" the awk syntax highlighting works well with my daily logs
autocmd BufRead dba_activity.log set syntax=awk
autocmd BufRead itinspiration.log set syntax=awk

" keymapping; when editing, just use the comma command, eg: ,s (no : first)
" (results go into another buffer):
" launch SQL*Plus
map ,q :new:r!sqlplus roqetman/password@roqdb @#
" check Perl syntax
map ,p :new:r!perl -wc #
" compile Java
map ,j :new:r!javac #
" compile C#
map ,c :new:r!csc #
" Map ctrl-f and F3 for windows-type find
":map  /
:imap  :promptfind
:nmap  :promptfind
:map  /
" launch spell checker
map ,s :!aspell check %

" change comment colors for command line
highlight Comment gui=NONE ctermfg=Green

Additions to syntax highlighting

These are my preferred additions to the $VIM/filetype.vim file:

" Delphi forms
au BufNewFile,BufRead *.dfm			setf pascal
" ChangeLog addendum
au BufNewFile,BufRead *.changelog		setf changelog
" useful if you use vim to read your SQL*Plus buffer (afiedt.buf) 
au BufNewFile,BufRead *.buf 			setf plsql

A way to force syntax highlighting

If you add this to a file, when it's opened in vim, it will override the highlighting by extension (to awk in this example):

/* vim: set filetype=awk: */

A quick Go syntax highlighting hack

There's the official way to do it as detailed here, but this is the method I used to quickly get syntax highlighting to work with the Go language.

Under the syntax dir, create a file called go.vim containing the content found here, then edit filetype.vim and add in this entry:

" Go
au BufNewFile,BufRead *.go			setf go

Adding Powershell syntax highlighting

As per this site, download the colorization files from here and add the following to your filetype.vim file:

" Powershell 
au BufNewFile,BufRead *.ps1 setf ps1

Create your own color scheme

Here's one I created called emaxi.

You need to copy it into your vim colors directory.

For Macvim, first create this directory: mkdir ~.vim/colors

Then copy your color scheme into this new folder, restart macvim, and you're done!


By default, vim is set to ASCII. I add the following to my _vimrc/.vimrc file so it can display Kanji and other characters:

" enable unicode support
set encoding=utf-8


I add this to my _vimrc/.vimrc file so vim handles JSON text correctly:

" autocommands for JSON files
augroup json_autocmd 
  autocmd FileType json set autoindent 
  autocmd FileType json set formatoptions=tcq2l 
  autocmd FileType json set textwidth=78 shiftwidth=2 
  autocmd FileType json set softtabstop=2 tabstop=8 
  autocmd FileType json set expandtab 
  autocmd FileType json set foldmethod=syntax 
augroup END 

Vim for Writing

On macOS and iOS, I use IA Writer to write my articles and stories on. Sadly, it doesn't exist on Windows, so I found a way to modify vim when a file of .md (markdown) is opened. First, I downloaded and copied the Pencil colorscheme, then I added the following to my _vimrc file to wrap, do spellcheck and make for a clean writing environment (the last line is to set a spell-check add file (note the file-type name (info came from here))):

" add syntax highlighting for markdown
autocmd BufNewFile,BufReadPost *.md set filetype=markdown 
augroup Markdown
    autocmd Filetype markdown set spell 
    autocmd Filetype markdown set wrap 
    autocmd Filetype markdown set linebreak
    " this one came from here: http://vim.1045645.n5.nabble.com/Save-default-font-on-Gvim-on-Windows-7-td5718120.html
    autocmd Filetype markdown set guifont=Consolas:h11:cDEFAULT
    " this colorscheme came from here: https://github.com/reedes/vim-colors-pencil
    autocmd Filetype markdown colorscheme pencil
    autocmd Filetype markdown set background=light
    autocmd Filetype markdown set foldcolumn=4
augroup END
set spellfile=C:\roq\backup\Surface\en.utf-8.add

Vim on Mac

The version of vim I use on OS X is Macvim.

Vim on Slackware

On Slackware, the command vi runs elvis, a vi text editor clone by default. If like me, you prefer vim to be the default, then run this as root: ln -sf /usr/bin/vim /usr/bin/vi

Vim on Windows

Vim works well on windows too (in fact it's my primary editor when I'm on that OS). You use Vim the same way on any OS, but I'll put my specific modifications here as I find them...

Tortoise CVS setting changes in order to use Vim as the diff editor : Diff Application: C:\Program Files\Vim\vim72\gvim.exe, Two-way diff parameters: -d "%1" "%2"

There is an issue running vimdiff on Windows (all 64bit versions), to fix it, I added the following to my _vimrc file:

" fixed win7 issue with vimdiff - fix found here: http://superuser.com/questions/697847/cant-run-vimdiff-7-4-on-windows-7
function MyDiff()
   let opt = '-a --binary '
   if &diffopt =~ 'icase' | let opt = opt . '-i ' | endif
   if &diffopt =~ 'iwhite' | let opt = opt . '-b ' | endif
   let arg1 = v:fname_in
   if arg1 =~ ' ' | let arg1 = '"' . arg1 . '"' | endif
   let arg2 = v:fname_new
   if arg2 =~ ' ' | let arg2 = '"' . arg2 . '"' | endif
   let arg3 = v:fname_out
   if arg3 =~ ' ' | let arg3 = '"' . arg3 . '"' | endif
   if $VIMRUNTIME =~ ' '
     if &sh =~ '\ ' . arg3
   if exists('l:shxq_sav')
     let &shellxquote=l:shxq_sav

An Editor Forever Evolving

Vim may have been based on old vi technology, but it's continuing to evolve, take a look at some of the latest additions: Some nice video examples, code-completion, a built-in spell-checker (ctrl-x ctrl-o), and built in grep (:vimgrep /love/ *.txt followed by :cwindow). Also, you can configure it and add plugins to it.


Vim Movies!

© Roqet 2018 :: 2018-05-11 17:07:10