vim cheatsheet


Some useful tips for vim Source:

Moving around


^   # move to first nonblank character of current line

m<x>    # create a mark <x> at current position
`<x>    # jump to mark <x>, can be used to edit/delete a chunk of code
``  # move to previous mark or context
''  # move to line beginning of previous mark or context

`.  '. g;  # to the last change position
`^  '^  # to the position where last Insert mode was stopped
g,      # moves back in edit history

fx      # move to next occurence of x in current line
Fx      # move to previous occurence of x in current line
tx      # move to just before next occurence of x in current line
Tx      # move to just after  previous occurence of x in current line
;       # repeat previous find in same direction
,       # repeat previous find in opposite direction

(   # to beginning of current sentence
)   # to beginning of next sentence
{   # to beginning of current paragraph
}   # to beginning of next paragraph
[[   # to beginning of current section
]]   # to beginning of next section

%    # when the cursor is on a bracket, it will jump to the matching one; else it will jump to a bracket character


z<Enter>    # scroll current line to top of screen
z.   # scroll current line to middle of screen 
z-   # scroll current line to bottom of screen 

H    # move cursor to screen top
M    # move cursor to screen middle
L    # move cursor to screen bottom


in project root dir, create tags file (.TAGS) for all php files, you should add the .TAGS to svn ignore (add it to ~/.subversion/config)

$ etags -R -h '.php' -f .TAGS .

use tags in Vim:

Ctrl+]      # jump to the tag your cursor is on
Ctrl+T      # jump back

:tag <tag-name>     # jump to <tag-name>
:tags       # show tag stack

Search and replace

* #              search for the word under cursor

:%s/old/new/gc   confirm before replace 
/whereisyou\c    ignore case in this search
:set ic          set ignore case in search on
:set is          set increment search on
:set his         set highlight search on

:g/^$/d          # delete all empty lines
:g /^[[:space:]]*$/ d    # delete all blank lines(only contains spaces)
:s/.*/\U&/       # change a line to uppercase

:g /^/ mo 0      # reverse order of lines in a file (by moving each line to line 1 in order)

:g! /integer/ s/$/ NO-INT/   # append a 'NO-INT' to each line which does not contain 'integer', equivalent to ':g! /integer/ s/$/ NO-INT/', ** use `g!` or `v` for reverse matching

:/^Part 2/,/^Part 3/g /^Chapter/ .+2w >> begin  # write the second line of each Chapter in Part 2 to a file named 'begin'

:s/\<file\>/&s/  # '&' in relace string represents text matched

:g/hint mode/ s/open/OPEN/gc     # replace only in lines match 'hint mode'

:s   # the same as `:s//~/`, repeat last substitution
:&   # repeat last substitution
:%&g     # repeat last substitution globally
&        # repeat last substitution
:~       # similar to `:&`, the search pattern used is the last search pattern used in any command, not just last substition command, example:

    :~              # replace green to blue

regular expressions

most characters lose their special meaning inside brackets, you don't need to escape them. There are threee characters you still need to escape: ]-/

in vi, \< matches the beginning of a word, \> matches the end of a word

in replacement string:

`&` means the entire string matched by the search pattern: `:s/tab/(&)/`, add parenthesis to 'tab'

'~' means your last replacement pattern,

    :s/tab/(&)/     # add parenthesis to 'tab'
    :s/open/~/      # add parenthesis to 'open'

\u, \l  causes the following character to upper or lower case

    :s/\(you\)\(.*\)\(he\)/\u\3\2\u\1/      # switch 'you' and 'he', and to 'You' and 'He'

\U, \L, \e, \E      causes characters up to \e, \E or end of string to change case

    :s/should/\U&/g     # change 'should' to upper case

enable ERE (extended regular expression)

by default, vim use basic regular expressions, which means

., *, \, [, ^, and $ are metacharacters

+, ?, |, {, (, and ) must be escaped to use their special function.

to match a string like this AAAA, you should use /A\{4\}, you can enable extended regex syntax by prepending the pattern with \v (very magic), so this pattern can be written as /\vA{4}

about new line

when searching:

\n is newline, \r is CR (carriage return = Ctrl-M = ^M)

when replacing:

\r is newline, \n is a null byte (0x00 = ^@)


Change a word/sentence

ciw     change current word (only the word is deleted, the spaces after it are keeped)
caw     change current word (the space after the word will be deleted too)

cis     change current sentence
cip     change current passage
ci(     change everything in the parenthesis: delete all the content and put you in insert mode

Change word to uppper/lower case

select character you want to change, use the ~ key to change word case

g~iw    change word case of the word you cursor is on
g~ip    change word case of the paragraph you cursor is on

Increase / Decrease numbers

place your crusor on a number:

Ctrl+a   # increase the number by one 
<number>Ctrl+a   # increase the number by <number> 
Ctrl+x   # decrease the number by one 
<number>Ctrl+x   # decrease the number by <number>

Indent lines

in command mode,

>>              # increase indentation for current line
<<              # decrease indentation for current line

in insert mode,

Ctrl + t        # increase indentation
Ctrl + d        # decrease indentation
^ Ctrl+d        # shift the cursor back to beginning of the line
0 Ctrl+d        # shift the cursor back to beginning of the line, and reset auto indent level to zero

select lines you want to indent in visual mode, then use > to indent them
indent a block: place cursor on one of the brackets, then >% to indent the block


:ab <abbr> <phrase>     # when in insert mode, <abbr> inputted as a whole word will be expanded to <phrase> automatically
:ab                     # list all abbreviations
:unab <abbr>            # disable <abbr> abbreviation

:ab DB Database         # input 'DB' to get 'Database'

Command macros

:map <x> <sequence>         # define <x> as a macro for command <sequence>, <x> may be function keys, `#1` for F1
:map                        # list all command macros
:unmap <x>                  # disable <x>

:map V dwelp               # map V as `dwelp`, which swaps words    

:map =i I<i>^[              # add '<i>' tag at line beginning
:map =I A</i>^[             # add '</i>' tag at line ending

map!, unmap! for define and remove key mappings in insert mode

:map! =b <b></b>^[F<i       # define `=b` as insert '<b></b>' in current editing position and place the input cursor in between(which can not be done by abbreviation)

keys may be used in user defined commands:

Letters:        g, K, V 
Control keys:   ^A, ^K, ^O, ^W, and ^X
Symbols:        _, *, \, and =

you can store command sequence in named buffers, and execute it using @ functions, e.g.,

1. input this at a new line 'cwhello world^[', (the last character is an escaped <Esc>) then <Esc> to exit insert mode;  
2. "gdd    # put this line in buffer g;  
3. place the cursor at beginning of a word, and `@g` will execute the macro in buffer g, and replace the word with 'hello world';

Edit multiple files

multiple buffers

:e              # open another file

:next           # switch to next file/buffer
:prev[ious]     # switch to previous file/buffer
:first          # switch to the first file
:last           # switch to the last file

:ls, :files, :buffers   # list all buffers

:buffer <n>         # move to buffer <n>
:sbuffer <n>         # opens a new window for buffer <n>

:windo <cmd>        # executes <cmd> in each window
:bufdo <cmd>        # executes <cmd> in each buffer

vi has two special filenames, % means current filename, # means alternative filename, these can be used for easy file switching between two files

:e #            # switch to last file you were editting, you can also use Ctrl+^
:w        # save a copy of current file, with a '.new' appended to the current filename

multiple windows

open multiple files in multiple windows, use the -o option

$ vi -o file1 file2
$ vi -o4 file1 file2    # open 4 windows at once, the last two will be empty
$ vi -O file1 file2     # split windows vertically

in vim:

:split [<file>],  :new,  ^ws     # split window horizontally
:vsplit [<file>], :vnew, ^wv     # split window vertically
:close [<file>],         ^wc     # close a window
:only,                   ^wo     # make current window the only one

^w[hjkl]            # move between windows
^ww                 # cycle through all windows
^wp                 # go to previous window
^wt                 # go to the top window
^wb                 # go to the bottom window

^wr                 # rotate windows
^wR                 # rotate windows in opposite direction
^wx                 # exchange windows
^w<n>x              # exchange with the <n>th windows

^w[HJKL]            # move and reflow windows, 'H' move current window to left most and make it take full height of the screen
^wT                 # move current window to a new tab

^w-                 # decrease windows height by one line
^w+                 # increase windows height by one line
^w[<>]                 # decrease/increase windows width
^w|                 # make current window widest size possible
:resize [-+]n      # decrease/increase windows height by <n> lines
:resize n      # set windows height to n lines

tab page

open and close tab page

$ vim -p file_1 file_2  # open each file in a tab page
:tabe file_name         # open file in a new tab
:tabc                   # close current tab


gt / gT         # go to next / previous tab in normal mode
:tabn           # switch to next tab
:tabp           # switch to previous tab

:tabs           # list all tabs
:tabfirst       # switch to first tab
:tablast        # switch to last tab

or try to use Ctrl + Alt + PageUp/PageDown to switch tab (may only available in some systems)

tag with windows

^wg]    # create a new window, open the file containing tag under the cursor
^wf     # create a new window, open the file under the cursor
^wgf     # create a new tab, open the file under the cursor

Record and Play

(in normal mode) press qa : record macro a
do whatever operation you want to be recorded
(in normal mode) press q, stop recording
(in normal mode) press @a, replay macro a

Copy and Paste

if you paste some text, and the indentation screwed up, use the following command before you actually paste anything

:set paste

named buffers

"a2yy    # copy two lines to buffer a
"ap      # paste from buffer a

using ex command

:7,13ya a   # yank line 7 through 13 to buffer a
:pu a       # put buffer a after the current line

copy to and paste from system clipboard, in X11 system register '*' means PRIMARY SELECTION, register '+' means CLIPBOARD (ref: Accessing_the_system_clipboard)

"+p     # paste 
"+yy    # copy current line 
:% y +  # copy all lines 

:reg    # show all registers


:set all    # show all options
:set        # show options you changed, including changes in your .vimrc file or in this session
:set option?    # find out current value of the option 

:set list       # display tab and newline characters
:5,20 l         # temporarily display tab and newline characters of line 5 through 20


<C-g>   # show file info
:=       # show line numbers of file
:#       # show current line number
:-10;$ #    # show the last 10 lines' number

:set binary     # set vim in binary mode, vim by default writes the file with a final new-line appended, in binary mode this doesn’t happen 

:<C-F>  # edit command history

Avoid the Esc key

ctrl+[, ctrl+c      # escape from edit mode to normal mode, replace the '<Esc>' key


alt+h/i/j/k/o       # alt followed by any normal mode key, will exit from the insert mode and take the normal mode action

Save a readonly file

you opened a file which is readonly to you(you do not add sudo to your command), make some changes, when you save, you got an error, to save this file as root, do this:

:w !sudo tee %

you can also save to a new file which you have write permission, then move it to the original file

:w /path/to/another_file

ex mode

Q               # go to ex mode
:vi             # go back to vi mode

:sh             # create a shell withoud exiting vi, go back to vi using Ctrl+D
:r !sort file       # read in file in sorted order
:31,34!sort -n      # sort lines from 31 through 34 as numbers

!<move><command>    # filtering text selected by <move> using <command>
<num>!!<command>         # filtering <num> lines using <command>

visual mode

select text objects in visual mode (find more, :help text-objects):

<count>aw   # select <count> words(delimited by punctuations)
<count>aW   # select <count> words(delimited by white space)
as, is      # add sentence, or inner sentence
ap, ip      # add paragraph, or inner paragraph

add a new filetype

e.g. treat .md file as markdown files, to use syntax highlighting, add following lines to ~/.vim/filetype.vim, ref :help new-filetype

$ cat ~/.vim/filetype.vim 
" my filetype file

if exists("did_load_filetypes")

augroup filetypedetect
  au! BufRead,BufNewFile *.md       setfiletype markdown
augroup END

save session

save session info in a file

:mksession ~/myVimSession.vim

reenter a session:

$ vi
:source ~/myVimSession.vim

word completion

use Ctrl+X followed by:

dictionary file example:


thesaurus file example:

fun enjoyable desirable
funny hilarious lol lmao
retrieve getchar getcwd getdirentries getenv

save macros

macros are stored in named registers, shared with copy/paste, e.g. use qa to record a macro in register a, you can then use "ap to paste the macro's content

:let @q = 'macro contents'


use fencview.vim plugin to autodetect encodings, which provides two commands:

:FencView           -> let you select an encoding for the buffer
:FencAutoDetect     -> auto detect and convert encodings automatically


za      # open or close folds