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*various.txt* For Vim version 7.2. Last change: 2009 Nov 11


Various commands *various*

1. Various commands |various-cmds|
2. Online help |online-help|
3. Using Vim like less or more |less|

1. Various commands *various-cmds*

CTRL-L Clear and redraw the screen. The redraw may happen
later, after processing typeahead.

*:redr* *:redraw*
:redr[aw][!] Redraw the screen right now. When ! is included it is
cleared first.
Useful to update the screen halfway executing a script
or function. Also when halfway a mapping and
'lazyredraw' is set.

*:redraws* *:redrawstatus*
:redraws[tatus][!] Redraw the status line of the current window. When !
is included all status lines are redrawn.
Useful to update the status line(s) when 'statusline'
includes an item that doesn't cause automatic

<Del> When entering a number: Remove the last digit.
Note: if you like to use <BS> for this, add this
mapping to your .vimrc: >
:map CTRL-V <BS> CTRL-V <Del>
< See |:fixdel| if your <Del> key does not do what you

:as[cii] or *ga* *:as* *:ascii*
ga Print the ascii value of the character under the
cursor in decimal, hexadecimal and octal. For
example, when the cursor is on a 'R':
<R> 82, Hex 52, Octal 122 ~
When the character is a non-standard ASCII character,
but printable according to the 'isprint' option, the
non-printable version is also given. When the
character is larger than 127, the <M-x> form is also
printed. For example:
<~A> <M-^A> 129, Hex 81, Octal 201 ~
<p> <|~> <M-~> 254, Hex fe, Octal 376 ~
(where <p> is a special character)
The <Nul> character in a file is stored internally as
<NL>, but it will be shown as:
<^@> 0, Hex 00, Octal 000 ~
If the character has composing characters these are
also shown. The value of 'maxcombine' doesn't matter.
Mnemonic: Get Ascii value. {not in Vi}

g8 Print the hex values of the bytes used in the
character under the cursor, assuming it is in |UTF-8|
encoding. This also shows composing characters. The
value of 'maxcombine' doesn't matter.
Example of a character with two composing characters:
e0 b8 81 + e0 b8 b9 + e0 b9 89 ~
{not in Vi} {only when compiled with the |+multi_byte|

8g8 Find an illegal UTF-8 byte sequence at or after the
cursor. This works in two situations:
1. when 'encoding' is any 8-bit encoding
2. when 'encoding' is "utf-8" and 'fileencoding' is
any 8-bit encoding
Thus it can be used when editing a file that was
supposed to be UTF-8 but was read as if it is an 8-bit
encoding because it contains illegal bytes.
Does not wrap around the end of the file.
Note that when the cursor is on an illegal byte or the
cursor is halfway a multi-byte character the command
won't move the cursor.
{not in Vi} {only when compiled with the |+multi_byte|

*:p* *:pr* *:print* *E749*
:[range]p[rint] [flags]
Print [range] lines (default current line).
Note: If you are looking for a way to print your text
on paper see |:hardcopy|. In the GUI you can use the
File.Print menu entry.
See |ex-flags| for [flags].

:[range]p[rint] {count} [flags]
Print {count} lines, starting with [range] (default
current line |cmdline-ranges|).
See |ex-flags| for [flags].

*:P* *:Print*
:[range]P[rint] [count] [flags]
Just as ":print". Was apparently added to Vi for
people that keep the shift key pressed too long...
See |ex-flags| for [flags].

*:l* *:list*
:[range]l[ist] [count] [flags]
Same as :print, but display unprintable characters
with '^' and put $ after the line.
See |ex-flags| for [flags].

*:nu* *:number*
:[range]nu[mber] [count] [flags]
Same as :print, but precede each line with its line
number. (See also 'highlight' and 'numberwidth'
See |ex-flags| for [flags].

:[range]# [count] [flags]
synonym for :number.

:#!{anything} Ignored, so that you can start a Vim script with: >
#!vim -S
echo "this is a Vim script"
*:z* *E144*
:{range}z[+-^.=]{count} Display several lines of text surrounding the line
specified with {range}, or around the current line
if there is no {range}. If there is a {count}, that's
how many lines you'll see; if there is only one window
then the 'window' option is used, otherwise the
current window size is used.

:z can be used either alone or followed by any of
several punctuation marks. These have the following

mark first line last line new location ~
---- ---------- --------- ------------
+ current line 1 scr forward 1 scr forward
- 1 scr back current line current line
^ 2 scr back 1 scr back 1 scr back
. 1/2 scr back 1/2 scr fwd 1/2 scr fwd
= 1/2 scr back 1/2 scr fwd current line

Specifying no mark at all is the same as "+".
If the mark is "=", a line of dashes is printed
around the current line.

:{range}z#[+-^.=]{count} *:z#*
Like ":z", but number the lines.
{not in all versions of Vi, not with these arguments}

:= [flags] Print the last line number.
See |ex-flags| for [flags].

:{range}= [flags] Prints the last line number in {range}. For example,
this prints the current line number: >
< See |ex-flags| for [flags].

:norm[al][!] {commands} *:norm* *:normal*
Execute Normal mode commands {commands}. This makes
it possible to execute Normal mode commands typed on
the command-line. {commands} is executed like it is
typed. For undo all commands are undone together.
Execution stops when an error is encountered.
If the [!] is given, mappings will not be used.
{commands} should be a complete command. If
{commands} does not finish a command, the last one
will be aborted as if <Esc> or <C-C> was typed.
The display isn't updated while ":normal" is busy.
This implies that an insert command must be completed
(to start Insert mode, see |:startinsert|). A ":"
command must be completed as well. And you can't use
"Q" or "gQ" to start Ex mode.
{commands} cannot start with a space. Put a count of
1 (one) before it, "1 " is one space.
The 'insertmode' option is ignored for {commands}.
This command cannot be followed by another command,
since any '|' is considered part of the command.
This command can be used recursively, but the depth is
limited by 'maxmapdepth'.
When this command is called from a non-remappable
mapping |:noremap|, the argument can be mapped anyway.
An alternative is to use |:execute|, which uses an
expression as argument. This allows the use of
printable characters. Example: >
:exe "normal \<c-w>\<c-w>"
< {not in Vi, of course}
{not available when the |+ex_extra| feature was
disabled at compile time}

:{range}norm[al][!] {commands} *:normal-range*
Execute Normal mode commands {commands} for each line
in the {range}. Before executing the {commands}, the
cursor is positioned in the first column of the range,
for each line. Otherwise it's the same as the
":normal" command without a range.
{not in Vi}
Not available when |+ex_extra| feature was disabled at
compile time.

*:sh* *:shell* *E371*
:sh[ell] This command starts a shell. When the shell exits
(after the "exit" command) you return to Vim. The
name for the shell command comes from 'shell' option.
Note: This doesn't work when Vim on the Amiga was
started in QuickFix mode from a compiler, because the
compiler will have set stdin to a non-interactive

*:!cmd* *:!* *E34*
:!{cmd} Execute {cmd} with the shell. See also the 'shell'
and 'shelltype' option.
Any '!' in {cmd} is replaced with the previous
external command (see also 'cpoptions'). But not when
there is a backslash before the '!', then that
backslash is removed. Example: ":!ls" followed by
":!echo ! \! \\!" executes "echo ls ! \!".
After the command has been executed, the timestamp of
the current file is checked |timestamp|.
A '|' in {cmd} is passed to the shell, you cannot use
it to append a Vim command. See |:bar|.
A newline character ends {cmd}, what follows is
interpreted as a following ":" command. However, if
there is a backslash before the newline it is removed
and {cmd} continues. It doesn't matter how many
backslashes are before the newline, only one is
On Unix the command normally runs in a non-interactive
shell. If you want an interactive shell to be used
(to use aliases) set 'shellcmdflag' to "-ic".
For Win32 also see |:!start|.
Vim redraws the screen after the command is finished,
because it may have printed any text. This requires a
hit-enter prompt, so that you can read any messages.
To avoid this use: >
:silent !{cmd}
< The screen is not redrawn then, thus you have to use
CTRL-L or ":redraw!" if the command did display
Also see |shell-window|.

:!! Repeat last ":!{cmd}".

*:ve* *:version*
:ve[rsion] Print the version number of the editor. If the
compiler used understands "__DATE__" the compilation
date is mentioned. Otherwise a fixed release-date is
The following lines contain information about which
features were enabled when Vim was compiled. When
there is a preceding '+', the feature is included,
when there is a '-' it is excluded. To change this,
you have to edit feature.h and recompile Vim.
To check for this in an expression, see |has()|.
Here is an overview of the features.
The first column shows the smallest version in which
they are included:
T tiny
S small
N normal
B big
H huge
m manually enabled or depends on other features
(none) system dependent
Thus if a feature is marked with "N", it is included
in the normal, big and huge versions of Vim.

   *+ARP* Amiga only: ARP support included
B *+arabic* |Arabic| language support
N *+autocmd* |:autocmd|, automatic commands
m *+balloon_eval* |balloon-eval| support. Included when compiling with
supported GUI (Motif, GTK, GUI) and either
Netbeans/Sun Workshop integration or |+eval| feature.
N *+browse* |:browse| command
N *+builtin_terms* some terminals builtin |builtin-terms|
B *++builtin_terms* maximal terminals builtin |builtin-terms|
N *+byte_offset* support for 'o' flag in 'statusline' option, "go"
and ":goto" commands.
N *+cindent* |'cindent'|, C indenting
N *+clientserver* Unix and Win32: Remote invocation |clientserver|
   *+clipboard* |clipboard| support
N *+cmdline_compl* command line completion |cmdline-completion|
N *+cmdline_hist* command line history |cmdline-history|
N *+cmdline_info* |'showcmd'| and |'ruler'|
N *+comments* |'comments'| support
N *+cryptv* encryption support |encryption|
B *+cscope* |cscope| support
m *+cursorshape* |termcap-cursor-shape| support
m *+debug* Compiled for debugging.
N *+dialog_gui* Support for |:confirm| with GUI dialog.
N *+dialog_con* Support for |:confirm| with console dialog.
N *+dialog_con_gui* Support for |:confirm| with GUI and console dialog.
N *+diff* |vimdiff| and 'diff'
N *+digraphs* |digraphs| *E196*
   *+dnd* Support for DnD into the "~ register |quote_~|.
B *+emacs_tags* |emacs-tags| files
N *+eval* expression evaluation |eval.txt|
N *+ex_extra* Vim's extra Ex commands: |:center|, |:left|,
|:normal|, |:retab| and |:right|
N *+extra_search* |'hlsearch'| and |'incsearch'| options.
B *+farsi* |farsi| language
N *+file_in_path* |gf|, |CTRL-W_f| and |<cfile>|
N *+find_in_path* include file searches: |[I|, |:isearch|,
|CTRL-W_CTRL-I|, |:checkpath|, etc.
N *+folding* |folding|
   *+footer* |gui-footer|
   *+fork* Unix only: |fork| shell commands
   *+float* Floating point support
m *+fullscreen* MacVim only: edit in full-screen
N *+gettext* message translations |multi-lang|
   *+GUI_Athena* Unix only: Athena |GUI|
   *+GUI_neXtaw* Unix only: neXtaw |GUI|
   *+GUI_GTK* Unix only: GTK+ |GUI|
   *+GUI_Motif* Unix only: Motif |GUI|
   *+GUI_Photon* QNX only: Photon |GUI|
m *+hangul_input* Hangul input support |hangul|
   *+iconv* Compiled with the |iconv()| function
   *+iconv/dyn* Likewise |iconv-dynamic| |/dyn|
N *+insert_expand* |insert_expand| Insert mode completion
N *+jumplist* |jumplist|
B *+keymap* |'keymap'|
B *+langmap* |'langmap'|
N *+libcall* |libcall()|
N *+linebreak* |'linebreak'|, |'breakat'| and |'showbreak'|
N *+lispindent* |'lisp'|
N *+listcmds* Vim commands for the list of buffers |buffer-hidden|
and argument list |:argdelete|
N *+localmap* Support for mappings local to a buffer |:map-local|
N *+menu* |:menu|
N *+mksession* |:mksession|
N *+modify_fname* |filename-modifiers|
N *+mouse* Mouse handling |mouse-using|
N *+mouseshape* |'mouseshape'|
B *+mouse_dec* Unix only: Dec terminal mouse handling |dec-mouse|
N *+mouse_gpm* Unix only: Linux console mouse handling |gpm-mouse|
B *+mouse_netterm* Unix only: netterm mouse handling |netterm-mouse|
N *+mouse_pterm* QNX only: pterm mouse handling |qnx-terminal|
N *+mouse_sysmouse* Unix only: *BSD console mouse handling |sysmouse|
N *+mouse_xterm* Unix only: xterm mouse handling |xterm-mouse|
B *+multi_byte* 16 and 32 bit characters |multibyte|
   *+multi_byte_ime* Win32 input method for multibyte chars |multibyte-ime|
N *+multi_lang* non-English language support |multi-lang|
m *+mzscheme* Mzscheme interface |mzscheme|
m *+mzscheme/dyn* Mzscheme interface |mzscheme-dynamic| |/dyn|
m *+netbeans_intg* |netbeans|
m *+odbeditor* MacVim only: ODB Editor Protocol support |odbeditor|
m *+ole* Win32 GUI only: |ole-interface|
   *+osfiletype* Support for the 'osfiletype' option and filetype
checking in automatic commands. |autocmd-osfiletypes|
N *+path_extra* Up/downwards search in 'path' and 'tags'
m *+perl* Perl interface |perl|
m *+perl/dyn* Perl interface |perl-dynamic| |/dyn|
   *+postscript* |:hardcopy| writes a PostScript file
N *+printer* |:hardcopy| command
H *+profile* |:profile| command
m *+python* Python interface |python|
m *+python/dyn* Python interface |python-dynamic| |/dyn|
N *+quickfix* |:make| and |quickfix| commands
N *+reltime* |reltime()| function, 'hlsearch'/'incsearch' timeout,
'redrawtime' option
B *+rightleft* Right to left typing |'rightleft'|
m *+ruby* Ruby interface |ruby|
m *+ruby/dyn* Ruby interface |ruby-dynamic| |/dyn|
N *+scrollbind* |'scrollbind'|
B *+signs* |:sign|
N *+smartindent* |'smartindent'|
m *+sniff* SniFF interface |sniff|
N *+startuptime* |--startuptime| argument
N *+statusline* Options 'statusline', 'rulerformat' and special
formats of 'titlestring' and 'iconstring'
m *+sun_workshop* |workshop|
N *+syntax* Syntax highlighting |syntax|
   *+system()* Unix only: opposite of |+fork|
N *+tag_binary* binary searching in tags file |tag-binary-search|
N *+tag_old_static* old method for static tags |tag-old-static|
m *+tag_any_white* any white space allowed in tags file |tag-any-white|
m *+tcl* Tcl interface |tcl|
m *+tcl/dyn* Tcl interface |tcl-dynamic| |/dyn|
   *+terminfo* uses |terminfo| instead of termcap
N *+termresponse* support for |t_RV| and |v:termresponse|
N *+textobjects* |text-objects| selection
   *+tgetent* non-Unix only: able to use external termcap
N *+title* Setting the window 'title' and 'icon'
N *+toolbar* |gui-toolbar|
m *+transparency* MacVim only: window background transparency
N *+user_commands* User-defined commands. |user-commands|
N *+viminfo* |'viminfo'|
N *+vertsplit* Vertically split windows |:vsplit|
N *+virtualedit* |'virtualedit'|
S *+visual* Visual mode |Visual-mode|
N *+visualextra* extra Visual mode commands |blockwise-operators|
N *+vreplace* |gR| and |gr|
N *+wildignore* |'wildignore'|
N *+wildmenu* |'wildmenu'|
S *+windows* more than one window
m *+writebackup* |'writebackup'| is default on
m *+xim* X input method |xim|
   *+xfontset* X fontset support |xfontset|
   *+xsmp* XSMP (X session management) support
   *+xsmp_interact* interactive XSMP (X session management) support
N *+xterm_clipboard* Unix only: xterm clipboard handling
m *+xterm_save* save and restore xterm screen |xterm-screens|
N *+X11* Unix only: can restore window title |X11|

*/dyn* *E370* *E448*
To some of the features "/dyn" is added when the
feature is only available when the related library can
be dynamically loaded.

:ve[rsion] {nr} Is now ignored. This was previously used to check the
version number of a .vimrc file. It was removed,
because you can now use the ":if" command for
version-dependent behavior. {not in Vi}

*:redi* *:redir*
:redi[r][!] > {file} Redirect messages to file {file}. The messages which
are the output of commands are written to that file,
until redirection ends. The messages are also still
shown on the screen. When [!] is included, an
existing file is overwritten. When [!] is omitted,
and {file} exists, this command fails.
Only one ":redir" can be active at a time. Calls to
":redir" will close any active redirection before
starting redirection to the new target.
To stop the messages and commands from being echoed to
the screen, put the commands in a function and call it
with ":silent call Function()".
An alternative is to use the 'verbosefile' option,
this can be used in combination with ":redir".
{not in Vi}

:redi[r] >> {file} Redirect messages to file {file}. Append if {file}
already exists. {not in Vi}

:redi[r] @{a-zA-Z}
:redi[r] @{a-zA-Z}> Redirect messages to register {a-z}. Append to the
contents of the register if its name is given
uppercase {A-Z}. The ">" after the register name is
optional. {not in Vi}
:redi[r] @{a-z}>> Append messages to register {a-z}. {not in Vi}

:redi[r] @*>
:redi[r] @+> Redirect messages to the selection or clipboard. For
backward compatibility, the ">" after the register
name can be omitted. See |quotestar| and |quoteplus|.
{not in Vi}
:redi[r] @*>>
:redi[r] @+>> Append messages to the selection or clipboard.
{not in Vi}

:redi[r] @"> Redirect messages to the unnamed register. For
backward compatibility, the ">" after the register
name can be omitted. {not in Vi}
:redi[r] @">> Append messages to the unnamed register. {not in Vi}

:redi[r] => {var} Redirect messages to a variable. If the variable
doesn't exist, then it is created. If the variable
exists, then it is initialized to an empty string.
The variable will remain empty until redirection ends.
Only string variables can be used. After the
redirection starts, if the variable is removed or
locked or the variable type is changed, then further
command output messages will cause errors. {not in Vi}

:redi[r] =>> {var} Append messages to an existing variable. Only string
variables can be used. {not in Vi}

:redi[r] END End redirecting messages. {not in Vi}

*:sil* *:silent*
:sil[ent][!] {command} Execute {command} silently. Normal messages will not
be given or added to the message history.
When [!] is added, error messages will also be
skipped, and commands and mappings will not be aborted
when an error is detected. |v:errmsg| is still set.
When [!] is not used, an error message will cause
further messages to be displayed normally.
Redirection, started with |:redir|, will continue as
usual, although there might be small differences.
This will allow redirecting the output of a command
without seeing it on the screen. Example: >
:redir >/tmp/foobar
:silent g/Aap/p
:redir END
< To execute a Normal mode command silently, use the
|:normal| command. For example, to search for a
string without messages: >
:silent exe "normal /path\<CR>"
< ":silent!" is useful to execute a command that may
fail, but the failure is to be ignored. Example: >
:let v:errmsg = ""
:silent! /^begin
:if v:errmsg != ""
: ... pattern was not found
< ":silent" will also avoid the hit-enter prompt. When
using this for an external command, this may cause the
screen to be messed up. Use |CTRL-L| to clean it up
":silent menu ..." defines a menu that will not echo a
Command-line command. The command will still produce
messages though. Use ":silent" in the command itself
to avoid that: ":silent menu .... :silent command".

*:uns* *:unsilent*
:uns[ilent] {command} Execute {command} not silently. Only makes a
difference when |:silent| was used to get to this
Use this for giving a message even when |:silent| was
used. In this example |:silent| is used to avoid the
message about reading the file and |:unsilent| to be
able to list the first line of each file. >
     :silent argdo unsilent echo expand('%') . ": " . getline(1)

*:verb* *:verbose*
:[count]verb[ose] {command}
Execute {command} with 'verbose' set to [count]. If
[count] is omitted one is used. ":0verbose" can be
used to set 'verbose' to zero.
The additional use of ":silent" makes messages
generated but not displayed.
The combination of ":silent" and ":verbose" can be
used to generate messages and check them with
|v:statusmsg| and friends. For example: >
:let v:statusmsg = ""
:silent verbose runtime foobar.vim
:if v:statusmsg != ""
: " foobar.vim could not be found
< When concatenating another command, the ":verbose"
only applies to the first one: >
:4verbose set verbose | set verbose
< verbose=4 ~
verbose=0 ~
For logging verbose messages in a file use the
'verbosefile' option.

When 'verbose' is non-zero, listing the value of a Vim option or a key map or
an abbreviation or a user-defined function or a command or a highlight group
or an autocommand will also display where it was last defined. If it was
defined manually then there will be no "Last set" message. When it was
defined while executing a function, user command or autocommand, the script in
which it was defined is reported.
{not available when compiled without the +eval feature}

K Run a program to lookup the keyword under the
cursor. The name of the program is given with the
'keywordprg' (kp) option (default is "man"). The
keyword is formed of letters, numbers and the
characters in 'iskeyword'. The keyword under or
right of the cursor is used. The same can be done
with the command >
:!{program} {keyword}
< There is an example of a program to use in the tools
directory of Vim. It is called 'ref' and does a
simple spelling check.
Special cases:
- If 'keywordprg' is empty, the ":help" command is
used. It's a good idea to include more characters
in 'iskeyword' then, to be able to find more help.
- When 'keywordprg' is equal to "man", a count before
"K" is inserted after the "man" command and before
the keyword. For example, using "2K" while the
cursor is on "mkdir", results in: >
!man 2 mkdir
< - When 'keywordprg' is equal to "man -s", a count
before "K" is inserted after the "-s". If there is
no count, the "-s" is removed.
{not in Vi}

{Visual}K Like "K", but use the visually highlighted text for
the keyword. Only works when the highlighted text is
not more than one line. {not in Vi}

[N]gs *gs* *:sl* *:sleep*
:[N]sl[eep] [N] [m] Do nothing for [N] seconds. When [m] is included,
sleep for [N] milliseconds. The count for "gs" always
uses seconds. The default is one second. >
:sleep "sleep for one second
:5sleep "sleep for five seconds
:sleep 100m "sleep for a hundred milliseconds
10gs "sleep for ten seconds
< Can be interrupted with CTRL-C (CTRL-Break on MS-DOS).
"gs" stands for "goto sleep".
While sleeping the cursor is positioned in the text,
if at a visible position. {not in Vi}

g CTRL-A Only when Vim was compiled with MEM_PROFILING defined
(which is very rare): print memory usage statistics.
Only useful for debugging Vim.

2. Online help *online-help*

*help* *<Help>* *:h* *:help* *<F1>* *i_<F1>* *i_<Help>*
<Help> or
:h[elp] Open a window and display the help file in read-only
mode. If there is a help window open already, use
that one. Otherwise, if the current window uses the
full width of the screen or is at least 80 characters
wide, the help window will appear just above the
current window. Otherwise the new window is put at
the very top.
The 'helplang' option is used to select a language, if
the main help file is available in several languages.
{not in Vi}

*{subject}* *E149* *E661*
:h[elp] {subject} Like ":help", additionally jump to the tag {subject}.
{subject} can include wildcards like "*", "?" and
:help z? jump to help for any "z" command
:help z. jump to the help for "z."
If there is no full match for the pattern, or there
are several matches, the "best" match will be used.
A sophisticated algorithm is used to decide which
match is better than another one. These items are
considered in the computation:
- A match with same case is much better than a match
with different case.
- A match that starts after a non-alphanumeric
character is better than a match in the middle of a
- A match at or near the beginning of the tag is
better than a match further on.
- The more alphanumeric characters match, the better.
- The shorter the length of the match, the better.

The 'helplang' option is used to select a language, if
the {subject} is available in several languages.
To find a tag in a specific language, append "@ab",
where "ab" is the two-letter language code. See

Note that the longer the {subject} you give, the less
matches will be found. You can get an idea how this
all works by using commandline completion (type CTRL-D
after ":help subject" |c_CTRL-D|).
If there are several matches, you can have them listed
by hitting CTRL-D. Example: >
:help cont<Ctrl-D>
< To use a regexp |pattern|, first do ":help" and then
use ":tag {pattern}" in the help window. The
":tnext" command can then be used to jump to other
matches, "tselect" to list matches and choose one. >
:help index| :tse z.
< When there is no argument you will see matches for
"help", to avoid listing all possible matches (that
would be very slow).
The number of matches displayed is limited to 300.

This command can be followed by '|' and another
command, but you don't need to escape the '|' inside a
help command. So these both work: >
:help |
:help k| only
< Note that a space before the '|' is seen as part of
the ":help" argument.
You can also use <LF> or <CR> to separate the help
command from a following command. You need to type
CTRL-V first to insert the <LF> or <CR>. Example: >
:help so<C-V><CR>only
< {not in Vi}

:h[elp]! [subject] Like ":help", but in non-English help files prefer to
find a tag in a file with the same language as the
current file. See |help-translated|.

*:helpg* *:helpgrep*
:helpg[rep] {pattern}[@xx]
Search all help text files and make a list of lines
in which {pattern} matches. Jumps to the first match.
The optional [@xx] specifies that only matches in the
"xx" language are to be found.
You can navigate through the matches with the
|quickfix| commands, e.g., |:cnext| to jump to the
next one. Or use |:cwindow| to get the list of
matches in the quickfix window.
{pattern} is used as a Vim regexp |pattern|.
'ignorecase' is not used, add "\c" to ignore case.
Example for case sensitive search: >
:helpgrep Uganda
< Example for case ignoring search: >
:helpgrep uganda\c
< Example for searching in French help: >
:helpgrep backspace@fr
< The pattern does not support line breaks, it must
match within one line. You can use |:grep| instead,
but then you need to get the list of help files in a
complicated way.
Cannot be followed by another command, everything is
used as part of the pattern. But you can use
|:execute| when needed.
Compressed help files will not be searched (Fedora
compresses the help files).
{not in Vi}

*:lh* *:lhelpgrep*
:lh[elpgrep] {pattern}[@xx]
Same as ":helpgrep", except the location list is used
instead of the quickfix list. If the help window is
already opened, then the location list for that window
is used. Otherwise, a new help window is opened and
the location list for that window is set. The
location list for the current window is not changed.

*:exu* *:exusage*
:exu[sage] Show help on Ex commands. Added to simulate the Nvi
command. {not in Vi}

*:viu* *:viusage*
:viu[sage] Show help on Normal mode commands. Added to simulate
the Nvi command. {not in Vi}

When no argument is given to |:help| the file given with the 'helpfile' option
will be opened. Otherwise the specified tag is searched for in all "doc/tags"
files in the directories specified in the 'runtimepath' option.

The initial height of the help window can be set with the 'helpheight' option
(default 20).

Jump to specific subjects by using tags. This can be done in two ways:
- Use the "CTRL-]" command while standing on the name of a command or option.
  This only works when the tag is a keyword. "<C-Leftmouse>" and
  "g<LeftMouse>" work just like "CTRL-]".
- use the ":ta {subject}" command. This also works with non-keyword

Use CTRL-T or CTRL-O to jump back.
Use ":q" to close the help window.

If there are several matches for an item you are looking for, this is how you
can jump to each one of them:
1. Open a help window
2. Use the ":tag" command with a slash prepended to the tag. E.g.: >
:tag /min
3. Use ":tnext" to jump to the next matching tag.

It is possible to add help files for plugins and other items. You don't need
to change the distributed help files for that. See |add-local-help|.

To write a local help file, see |write-local-help|.

Note that the title lines from the local help files are automagically added to
the "LOCAL ADDITIONS" section in the "help.txt" help file |local-additions|.
This is done when viewing the file in Vim, the file itself is not changed. It
is done by going through all help files and obtaining the first line of each
file. The files in $VIMRUNTIME/doc are skipped.

If you want to have the help in another xterm window, you could use this
command: >
:!xterm -e vim +help &

*:helpfind* *:helpf*
:helpf[ind] Like |:help|, but use a dialog to enter the argument.
Only for backwards compatibility. It now executes the
ToolBar.FindHelp menu entry instead of using a builtin
dialog. {only when compiled with |+GUI_GTK|}
< {not in Vi}

*:helpt* *:helptags*
*E154* *E150* *E151* *E152* *E153* *E670*
:helpt[ags] [++t] {dir}
Generate the help tags file(s) for directory {dir}.
All "*.txt" and "*.??x" files in the directory are
scanned for a help tag definition in between stars.
The "*.??x" files are for translated docs, they
generate the "tags-??" file, see |help-translated|.
The generated tags files are sorted.
When there are duplicates an error message is given.
An existing tags file is silently overwritten.
The optional "++t" argument forces adding the
"help-tags" tag. This is also done when the {dir} is
equal to $VIMRUNTIME/doc.
To rebuild the help tags in the runtime directory
(requires write permission there): >
:helptags $VIMRUNTIME/doc
< {not in Vi}

TRANSLATED HELP *help-translated*

It is possible to add translated help files, next to the original English help
files. Vim will search for all help in "doc" directories in 'runtimepath'.
This is only available when compiled with the |+multi_lang| feature.

At this moment translations are available for:
Chinese - multiple authors
French - translated by David Blanchet
Italian - translated by Antonio Colombo
Polish - translated by Mikolaj Machowski
Russian - translated by Vassily Ragosin
See the Vim website to find them:

A set of translated help files consists of these files:


"ab" is the two-letter language code. Thus for Italian the names are:


The 'helplang' option can be set to the preferred language(s). The default is
set according to the environment. Vim will first try to find a matching tag
in the preferred language(s). English is used when it cannot be found.

To find a tag in a specific language, append "@ab" to a tag, where "ab" is the
two-letter language code. Example: >
:he user-manual@it
:he user-manual@en
The first one finds the Italian user manual, even when 'helplang' is empty.
The second one finds the English user manual, even when 'helplang' is set to

When using command-line completion for the ":help" command, the "@en"
extension is only shown when a tag exists for multiple languages. When the
tag only exists for English "@en" is omitted.

When using |CTRL-]| or ":help!" in a non-English help file Vim will try to
find the tag in the same language. If not found then 'helplang' will be used
to select a language.

Help files must use latin1 or utf-8 encoding. Vim assumes the encoding is
utf-8 when finding non-ASCII characters in the first line. Thus you must
translate the header with "For Vim version".

The same encoding must be used for the help files of one language in one
directory. You can use a different encoding for different languages and use
a different encoding for help files of the same language but in a different

Hints for translators:
- Do not translate the tags. This makes it possible to use 'helplang' to
  specify the preferred language. You may add new tags in your language.
- When you do not translate a part of a file, add tags to the English version,
  using the "tag@en" notation.
- Make a package with all the files and the tags file available for download.
  Users can drop it in one of the "doc" directories and start use it.
  Report this to Bram, so that he can add a link on
- Use the |:helptags| command to generate the tags files. It will find all
  languages in the specified directory.

3. Using Vim like less or more *less*

If you use the less or more program to view a file, you don't get syntax
highlighting. Thus you would like to use Vim instead. You can do this by
using the shell script "$VIMRUNTIME/macros/".

This shell script uses the Vim script "$VIMRUNTIME/macros/less.vim". It sets
up mappings to simulate the commands that less supports. Otherwise, you can
still use the Vim commands.

This isn't perfect. For example, when viewing a short file Vim will still use
the whole screen. But it works good enough for most uses, and you get syntax

The "h" key will give you a short overview of the available commands.

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