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*intro.txt* For Vim version 8.2. Last change: 2020 Dec 29
Introduction to Vim *ref* *reference*
1. Introduction |intro|
2. Vim on the internet |internet|
3. Credits |credits|
4. Notation |notation|
5. Modes, introduction |vim-modes-intro|
6. Switching from mode to mode |mode-switching|
7. The window contents |window-contents|
8. Definitions |definitions|
1. Introduction *intro*
Vim stands for Vi IMproved. It used to be Vi IMitation, but there are so many
improvements that a name change was appropriate. Vim is a text editor which
includes almost all the commands from the Unix program "Vi" and a lot of new
ones. It is very useful for editing programs and other plain text.
All commands are given with the keyboard. This has the advantage that you
can keep your fingers on the keyboard and your eyes on the screen. For those
who want it, there is mouse support and a GUI version with scrollbars and
menus (see |gui.txt|).
An overview of this manual can be found in the file "help.txt", |help.txt|.
It can be accessed from within Vim with the <Help> or <F1> key and with the
|:help| command (just type ":help", without the bars or quotes).
The 'helpfile' option can be set to the name of the help file, in case it
is not located in the default place. You can jump to subjects like with tags:
Use CTRL-] to jump to a subject under the cursor, use CTRL-T to jump back.
The differences between Vi and Vim are mentioned in |vi_diff.txt|.
This manual refers to Vim on various machines. There may be small differences
between different computers and terminals. Besides the remarks given in this
document, there is a separate document for each supported system, see
Vim is pronounced as one word, like Jim, not vi-ai-em. It's written with a
capital, since it's a name, again like Jim.
This manual is a reference for all the Vim commands and options. This is not
an introduction to the use of Vi or Vim, it gets a bit complicated here and
there. For beginners, there is a hands-on |tutor|. To learn using Vim, read
the user manual |usr_toc.txt|.
*book* *books*
Most books on Vi and Vim contain a section for beginners. Others are spending
more words on specific functionality. You can find an overview of Vim books
2. Vim on the internet *internet*
*www* *WWW* *faq* *FAQ* *distribution* *download*
The Vim pages contain the most recent information about Vim. They also
contain links to the most recent version of Vim. The FAQ is a list of
Frequently Asked Questions. Read this if you have problems.
Vim home page:
Vim FAQ:
Asking questions, finding answers:
"Vi and Vim Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people using the
vi and Vim families of text editors"
Usenet News group where Vim is discussed: *news* *usenet*
This group is also for other editors. If you write about Vim, don't forget to
mention that.
You can access it here:!topic/comp.editors
*mail-list* *maillist*
There are several mailing lists for Vim:
<> *vim-use* *vim_use*
For discussions about using existing versions of Vim: Useful mappings,
questions, answers, where to get a specific version, etc. There are
quite a few people watching this list and answering questions, also
for beginners. Don't hesitate to ask your question here.
<> *vim-dev* *vim_dev* *vimdev*
For discussions about changing Vim: New features, porting, patches,
beta-test versions, etc.
<> *vim-announce* *vim_announce*
Announcements about new versions of Vim; also for beta-test versions
and ports to different systems. This is a read-only list.
<> *vim-mac* *vim_mac*
For discussions about using and improving the Macintosh version of
See for the latest information.
- Anyone can see the archive, e.g. on Google groups. Search this if you have
- You can only send messages to these lists if you have subscribed!
- The first message is moderated, thus it may take a few hours to show up.
- You need to send the messages from the same location as where you subscribed
from (to avoid spam mail).
If you want to join, send a message to
Make sure that your "From:" address is correct. Then the list server will
give you help on how to subscribe.
For more information and archives look on the Vim maillist page:
Bug reports: *bugs* *bug-reports* *bugreport.vim*
There are three ways to report bugs:
1. Open an issue on GitHub:
The text will be forwarded to the vim-dev maillist.
2. For issues with runtime files, look in the header for an email address or
any other way to report it to the maintainer.
3. Send bug reports to: Vim Developers <>
This is a maillist, you need to become a member first and many people will
see the message. If you don't want that, e.g. because it is a security
issue, send it to <>, this only goes to the Vim maintainer
(that's Bram).
Please be brief; all the time that is spent on answering mail is subtracted
from the time that is spent on improving Vim! Always give a reproducible
example and try to find out which settings or other things trigger the bug.
Preferably start Vim with: >
vim --clean -u reproduce.vim
Where reproduce.vim is a script that reproduces the problem. Try different
machines, if relevant (is this an MS-Windows specific bug perhaps?).
Send me patches if you can! If you create a pull request on then the automated checks will run and report any
obvious problems. But you can also send the patch by email (use an attachment
to avoid white space changes).
It will help to include information about the version of Vim you are using and
your setup. You can get the information with this command: >
:so $VIMRUNTIME/bugreport.vim
This will create a file "bugreport.txt" in the current directory, with a lot
of information of your environment. Before sending this out, check if it
doesn't contain any confidential information!
If Vim crashes, please try to find out where. You can find help on this here:
In case of doubt or when you wonder if the problem has already been fixed but
you can't find a fix for it, become a member of the vim-dev maillist and ask
your question there. |maillist|
*year-2000* *Y2K*
Since Vim internally doesn't use dates for editing, there is no year 2000
problem to worry about. Vim does use the time in the form of seconds since
January 1st 1970. It is used for a time-stamp check of the edited file and
the swap file, which is not critical and should only cause warning messages.
There might be a year 2038 problem, when the seconds don't fit in a 32 bit int
anymore. This depends on the compiler, libraries and operating system.
Specifically, time_t and the ctime() function are used. And the time_t is
stored in four bytes in the swap file. But that's only used for printing a
file date/time for recovery, it will never affect normal editing.
The Vim strftime() function directly uses the strftime() system function.
localtime() uses the time() system function. getftime() uses the time
returned by the stat() system function. If your system libraries are year
2000 compliant, Vim is too.
The user may create scripts for Vim that use external commands. These might
introduce Y2K problems, but those are not really part of Vim itself.
3. Credits *credits* *author* *Bram* *Moolenaar*
Most of Vim was created by Bram Moolenaar <>.
Parts of the documentation come from several Vi manuals, written by:
W.N. Joy
Alan P.W. Hewett
Mark Horton
The Vim editor is based on Stevie and includes (ideas from) other software,
worked on by the people mentioned here. Other people helped by sending me
patches, suggestions and giving feedback about what is good and bad in Vim.
Vim would never have become what it is now, without the help of these people!
Ron Aaron Win32 GUI changes
Mohsin Ahmed encryption
Zoltan Arpadffy work on VMS port
Tony Andrews Stevie
Gert van Antwerpen changes for DJGPP on MS-DOS
Berkeley DB(3) ideas for swap file implementation
Keith Bostic Nvi
Walter Briscoe Makefile updates, various patches
Ralf Brown SPAWNO library for MS-DOS
Robert Colon many useful remarks
Marcin Dalecki GTK+ GUI port, toolbar icons, gettext()
Kayhan Demirel sent me news in Uganda
Chris & John Downey xvi (ideas for multi-windows version)
Henk Elbers first VMS port
Daniel Elstner GTK+ 2 port
Eric Fischer Mac port, 'cindent', and other improvements
Benji Fisher Answering lots of user questions
Bill Foster Athena GUI port
Google Lets me work on Vim one day a week
Loic Grenie xvim (ideas for multi windows version)
Sven Guckes Vim promoter and previous WWW page maintainer
Darren Hiebert Exuberant ctags
Jason Hildebrand GTK+ 2 port
Bruce Hunsaker improvements for VMS port
Andy Kahn Cscope support, GTK+ GUI port
Oezguer Kesim Maintainer of Vim Mailing Lists
Axel Kielhorn work on the Macintosh port
Steve Kirkendall Elvis
Roger Knobbe original port to Windows NT
Sergey Laskavy Vim's help from Moscow
Felix von Leitner Previous maintainer of Vim Mailing Lists
David Leonard Port of Python extensions to Unix
Avner Lottem Edit in right-to-left windows
Flemming Madsen X11 client-server, various features and patches
Tony Mechelynck answers many user questions
Paul Moore Python interface extensions, many patches
Katsuhito Nagano Work on multibyte versions
Sung-Hyun Nam Work on multibyte versions
Vince Negri Win32 GUI and generic console enhancements
Steve Oualline Author of the first Vim book |frombook|
Dominique Pelle Valgrind reports and many fixes
A.Politz Many bug reports and some fixes
George V. Reilly Win32 port, Win32 GUI start-off
Stephen Riehm bug collector
Stefan Roemer various patches and help to users
Ralf Schandl IBM OS/390 port
Olaf Seibert DICE and BeBox version, regexp improvements
Mortaza Shiran Farsi patches
Peter da Silva termlib
Paul Slootman OS/2 port
Henry Spencer regular expressions
Dany St-Amant Macintosh port
Tim Thompson Stevie
G. R. (Fred) Walter Stevie
Sven Verdoolaege Perl interface
Robert Webb Command-line completion, GUI versions, and
lots of patches
Ingo Wilken Tcl interface
Mike Williams PostScript printing
Juergen Weigert Lattice version, AUX improvements, UNIX and
MS-DOS ports, autoconf
Stefan 'Sec' Zehl Maintainer of
Yasuhiro Matsumoto many MS-Windows improvements
Ken Takata fixes and features
Kazunobu Kuriyama GTK 3
Christian Brabandt many fixes, features, user support, etc.
Yegappan Lakshmanan many quickfix features
I wish to thank all the people that sent me bug reports and suggestions. The
list is too long to mention them all here. Vim would not be the same without
the ideas from all these people: They keep Vim alive!
*love* *peace* *friendship* *gross-national-happiness*
In this documentation there are several references to other versions of Vi:
*Vi* *vi*
Vi "the original". Without further remarks this is the version
of Vi that appeared in Sun OS 4.x. ":version" returns
"Version 3.7, 6/7/85". Sometimes other versions are referred
to. Only runs under Unix. Source code is now available under a
BSD-style license. More information on Vi can be found through:
Posix From the IEEE standard 1003.2, Part 2: Shell and utilities.
Generally known as "Posix". This is a textual description of
how Vi is supposed to work.
See |posix-compliance|.
Nvi The "New" Vi. The version of Vi that comes with BSD 4.4 and FreeBSD.
Very good compatibility with the original Vi, with a few extensions.
The version used is 1.79. ":version" returns "Version 1.79
(10/23/96)". There has been no release the last few years, although
there is a development version 1.81.
Source code is freely available.
Elvis Another Vi clone, made by Steve Kirkendall. Very compact but isn't
as flexible as Vim. Development has stalled, Elvis has left the
building! Source code is freely available.
Neovim A Vim clone. Forked the Vim source in 2014 and went a different way.
Very much bound to github and has many more dependencies, making
development more complex and limiting portability. Code has been
refactored, resulting in patches not being exchangeable with Vim.
Supports a remote GUI and integration with scripting languages.
4. Notation *notation*
When syntax highlighting is used to read this, text that is not typed
literally is often highlighted with the Special group. These are items in [],
{} and <>, and CTRL-X.
Note that Vim uses all possible characters in commands. Sometimes the [], {}
and <> are part of what you type, the context should make this clear.
[] Characters in square brackets are optional.
*count* *[count]*
[count] An optional number that may precede the command to multiply
or iterate the command. If no number is given, a count of one
is used, unless otherwise noted. Note that in this manual the
[count] is not mentioned in the description of the command,
but only in the explanation. This was done to make the
commands easier to look up. If the 'showcmd' option is on,
the (partially) entered count is shown at the bottom of the
window. You can use <Del> to erase the last digit (|N<Del>|).
["x] An optional register designation where text can be stored.
See |registers|. The x is a single character between 'a' and
'z' or 'A' and 'Z' or '"', and in some cases (with the put
command) between '0' and '9', '%', '#', or others. The
uppercase and lowercase letter designate the same register,
but the lowercase letter is used to overwrite the previous
register contents, while the uppercase letter is used to
append to the previous register contents. Without the ""x" or
with """" the stored text is put into the unnamed register.
{} Curly braces denote parts of the command which must appear,
but which can take a number of different values. The
differences between Vim and Vi are also given in curly braces
(this will be clear from the context).
{char1-char2} A single character from the range char1 to char2. For
example: {a-z} is a lowercase letter. Multiple ranges may be
concatenated. For example, {a-zA-Z0-9} is any alphanumeric
*{motion}* *movement*
{motion} A command that moves the cursor. These are explained in
|motion.txt|. Examples:
w to start of next word
b to begin of current word
4j four lines down
/The<CR> to next occurrence of "The"
This is used after an |operator| command to move over the text
that is to be operated upon.
- If the motion includes a count and the operator also has a
count, the two counts are multiplied. For example: "2d3w"
deletes six words.
- The motion can be backwards, e.g. "db" to delete to the
start of the word.
- The motion can also be a mouse click. The mouse is not
supported in every terminal though.
- The ":omap" command can be used to map characters while an
operator is pending.
- Ex commands can be used to move the cursor. This can be
used to call a function that does some complicated motion.
The motion is always characterwise exclusive, no matter
what ":" command is used. This means it's impossible to
include the last character of a line without the line break
(unless 'virtualedit' is set).
If the Ex command changes the text before where the operator
starts or jumps to another buffer the result is
unpredictable. It is possible to change the text further
down. Jumping to another buffer is possible if the current
buffer is not unloaded.
{Visual} A selected text area. It is started with the "v", "V", or
CTRL-V command, then any cursor movement command can be used
to change the end of the selected text.
This is used before an |operator| command to highlight the
text that is to be operated upon.
See |Visual-mode|.
<character> A special character from the table below, optionally with
modifiers, or a single ASCII character with modifiers.
'c' A single ASCII character.
CTRL-{char} {char} typed as a control character; that is, typing {char}
while holding the CTRL key down. The case of {char} does not
matter; thus CTRL-A and CTRL-a are equivalent. But on some
terminals, using the SHIFT key will produce another code,
don't use it then.
'option' An option, or parameter, that can be set to a value, is
enclosed in single quotes. See |options|.
"command" A reference to a command that you can type is enclosed in
double quotes.
`command` New style command, this distinguishes it from other quoted
text and strings.
*key-notation* *key-codes* *keycodes*
These names for keys are used in the documentation. They can also be used
with the ":map" command (insert the key name by pressing CTRL-K and then the
key you want the name for).
notation meaning equivalent decimal value(s) ~
<Nul> zero CTRL-@ 0 (stored as 10) *<Nul>*
<BS> backspace CTRL-H 8 *backspace*
<Tab> tab CTRL-I 9 *tab* *Tab*
<NL> linefeed CTRL-J 10 (used for <Nul>)
<FF> formfeed CTRL-L 12 *formfeed*
<CR> carriage return CTRL-M 13 *carriage-return*
<Return> same as <CR> *<Return>*
<Enter> same as <CR> *<Enter>*
<Esc> escape CTRL-[ 27 *escape* *<Esc>*
<Space> space 32 *space*
<lt> less-than < 60 *<lt>*
<Bslash> backslash \ 92 *backslash* *<Bslash>*
<Bar> vertical bar | 124 *<Bar>*
<Del> delete 127
<CSI> command sequence intro ALT-Esc 155 *<CSI>*
<xCSI> CSI when typed in the GUI *<xCSI>*
<EOL> end-of-line (can be <CR>, <NL> or <CR><NL>,
depends on system and 'fileformat') *<EOL>*
<Up> cursor-up *cursor-up* *cursor_up*
<Down> cursor-down *cursor-down* *cursor_down*
<Left> cursor-left *cursor-left* *cursor_left*
<Right> cursor-right *cursor-right* *cursor_right*
<S-Up> shift-cursor-up
<S-Down> shift-cursor-down
<S-Left> shift-cursor-left
<S-Right> shift-cursor-right
<C-Left> control-cursor-left
<C-Right> control-cursor-right
<F1> - <F12> function keys 1 to 12 *function_key* *function-key*
<S-F1> - <S-F12> shift-function keys 1 to 12 *<S-F1>*
<Help> help key
<Undo> undo key
<Insert> insert key
<Home> home *home*
<End> end *end*
<PageUp> page-up *page_up* *page-up*
<PageDown> page-down *page_down* *page-down*
<kHome> keypad home (upper left) *keypad-home*
<kEnd> keypad end (lower left) *keypad-end*
<kPageUp> keypad page-up (upper right) *keypad-page-up*
<kPageDown> keypad page-down (lower right) *keypad-page-down*
<kPlus> keypad + *keypad-plus*
<kMinus> keypad - *keypad-minus*
<kMultiply> keypad * *keypad-multiply*
<kDivide> keypad / *keypad-divide*
<kEnter> keypad Enter *keypad-enter*
<kPoint> keypad Decimal point *keypad-point*
<k0> - <k9> keypad 0 to 9 *keypad-0* *keypad-9*
<S-...> shift-key *shift* *<S-*
<C-...> control-key *control* *ctrl* *<C-*
<M-...> alt-key or meta-key *meta* *alt* *<M-*
<A-...> same as <M-...> *<A-*
<D-...> command-key (Macintosh only) *<D-*
<t_xx> key with "xx" entry in termcap
Note: The shifted cursor keys, the help key, and the undo key are only
available on a few terminals. On the Amiga, shifted function key 10 produces
a code (CSI) that is also used by key sequences. It will be recognized only
after typing another key.
Note: There are two codes for the delete key. 127 is the decimal ASCII value
for the delete key, which is always recognized. Some delete keys send another
value, in which case this value is obtained from the termcap entry "kD". Both
values have the same effect. Also see |:fixdel|.
Note: The keypad keys are used in the same way as the corresponding "normal"
keys. For example, <kHome> has the same effect as <Home>. If a keypad key
sends the same raw key code as its non-keypad equivalent, it will be
recognized as the non-keypad code. For example, when <kHome> sends the same
code as <Home>, when pressing <kHome> Vim will think <Home> was pressed.
Mapping <kHome> will not work then.
Examples are often given in the <> notation. Sometimes this is just to make
clear what you need to type, but often it can be typed literally, e.g., with
the ":map" command. The rules are:
1. Any printable characters are typed directly, except backslash and '<'
2. A backslash is represented with "\\", double backslash, or "<Bslash>".
3. A real '<' is represented with "\<" or "<lt>". When there is no
confusion possible, a '<' can be used directly.
4. "<key>" means the special key typed. This is the notation explained in
the table above. A few examples:
<Esc> Escape key
<Up> cursor up key
<C-LeftMouse> Control- left mouse click
<S-F11> Shifted function key 11
<M-a> Meta- a ('a' with bit 8 set)
<M-A> Meta- A ('A' with bit 8 set)
<t_kd> "kd" termcap entry (cursor down key)
Although you can specify <M-{char}> with {char} being a multibyte
character, Vim may not be able to know what byte sequence that is and then
it won't work.
If you want to use the full <> notation in Vim, you have to make sure the '<'
flag is excluded from 'cpoptions' (when 'compatible' is not set, it already is
by default). >
:set cpo-=<
The <> notation uses <lt> to escape the special meaning of key names. Using a
backslash also works, but only when 'cpoptions' does not include the 'B' flag.
Examples for mapping CTRL-H to the six characters "<Home>": >
:imap <C-H> \<Home>
:imap <C-H> <lt>Home>
The first one only works when the 'B' flag is not in 'cpoptions'. The second
one always works.
To get a literal "<lt>" in a mapping: >
:map <C-L> <lt>lt>
For mapping, abbreviation and menu commands you can then copy-paste the
examples and use them directly. Or type them literally, including the '<' and
'>' characters. This does NOT work for other commands, like ":set" and
5. Modes, introduction *vim-modes-intro* *vim-modes*
Vim has seven BASIC modes:
*Normal* *Normal-mode* *command-mode*
Normal mode In Normal mode you can enter all the normal editor
commands. If you start the editor you are in this
mode (unless you have set the 'insertmode' option,
see below). This is also known as command mode.
Visual mode This is like Normal mode, but the movement commands
extend a highlighted area. When a non-movement
command is used, it is executed for the highlighted
area. See |Visual-mode|.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- VISUAL --" is shown
at the bottom of the window.
Select mode This looks most like the MS-Windows selection mode.
Typing a printable character deletes the selection
and starts Insert mode. See |Select-mode|.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- SELECT --" is shown
at the bottom of the window.
Insert mode In Insert mode the text you type is inserted into the
buffer. See |Insert-mode|.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- INSERT --" is shown
at the bottom of the window.
Command-line mode In Command-line mode (also called Cmdline mode) you
Cmdline mode can enter one line of text at the bottom of the
window. This is for the Ex commands, ":", the pattern
search commands, "?" and "/", and the filter command,
"!". |Cmdline-mode|
Ex mode Like Command-line mode, but after entering a command
you remain in Ex mode. Very limited editing of the
command line. |Ex-mode|
Terminal-Job mode Interacting with a job in a terminal window. Typed
keys go to the job and the job output is displayed in
the terminal window. See |terminal| about how to
switch to other modes.
There are seven ADDITIONAL modes. These are variants of the BASIC modes:
*Operator-pending* *Operator-pending-mode*
Operator-pending mode This is like Normal mode, but after an operator
command has started, and Vim is waiting for a {motion}
to specify the text that the operator will work on.
Replace mode Replace mode is a special case of Insert mode. You
can do the same things as in Insert mode, but for
each character you enter, one character of the existing
text is deleted. See |Replace-mode|.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- REPLACE --" is
shown at the bottom of the window.
Virtual Replace mode Virtual Replace mode is similar to Replace mode, but
instead of file characters you are replacing screen
real estate. See |Virtual-Replace-mode|.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- VREPLACE --" is
shown at the bottom of the window.
Insert Normal mode Entered when CTRL-O is typed in Insert mode (see
|i_CTRL-O|). This is like Normal mode, but after
executing one command Vim returns to Insert mode.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- (insert) --" is
shown at the bottom of the window.
Terminal-Normal mode Using Normal mode in a terminal window. Making
changes is impossible. Use an insert command, such as
"a" or "i", to return to Terminal-Job mode.
Insert Visual mode Entered when starting a Visual selection from Insert
mode, e.g., by using CTRL-O and then "v", "V" or
CTRL-V. When the Visual selection ends, Vim returns
to Insert mode.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- (insert) VISUAL --"
is shown at the bottom of the window.
Insert Select mode Entered when starting Select mode from Insert mode.
E.g., by dragging the mouse or <S-Right>.
When the Select mode ends, Vim returns to Insert mode.
If the 'showmode' option is on "-- (insert) SELECT --"
is shown at the bottom of the window.
6. Switching from mode to mode *mode-switching*
If for any reason you do not know which mode you are in, you can always get
back to Normal mode by typing <Esc> twice. This doesn't work for Ex mode
though, use ":visual".
You will know you are back in Normal mode when you see the screen flash or
hear the bell after you type <Esc>. However, when pressing <Esc> after using
CTRL-O in Insert mode you get a beep but you are still in Insert mode, type
<Esc> again.
TO mode ~
Normal Visual Select Insert Replace Cmd-line Ex ~
FROM mode ~
Normal v V ^V *4 *1 R gR : / ? ! Q
Visual *2 ^G c C -- : --
Select *5 ^O ^G *6 -- -- --
Insert <Esc> -- -- <Insert> -- --
Replace <Esc> -- -- <Insert> -- --
Command-line *3 -- -- :start -- --
Ex :vi -- -- -- -- --
-- not possible
*1 Go from Normal mode to Insert mode by giving the command "i", "I", "a",
"A", "o", "O", "c", "C", "s" or S".
*2 Go from Visual mode to Normal mode by giving a non-movement command, which
causes the command to be executed, or by hitting <Esc> "v", "V" or "CTRL-V"
(see |v_v|), which just stops Visual mode without side effects.
*3 Go from Command-line mode to Normal mode by:
- Hitting <CR> or <NL>, which causes the entered command to be executed.
- Deleting the complete line (e.g., with CTRL-U) and giving a final <BS>.
- Hitting CTRL-C or <Esc>, which quits the command-line without executing
the command.
In the last case <Esc> may be the character defined with the 'wildchar'
option, in which case it will start command-line completion. You can
ignore that and type <Esc> again.
*4 Go from Normal to Select mode by:
- use the mouse to select text while 'selectmode' contains "mouse"
- use a non-printable command to move the cursor while keeping the Shift
key pressed, and the 'selectmode' option contains "key"
- use "v", "V" or "CTRL-V" while 'selectmode' contains "cmd"
- use "gh", "gH" or "g CTRL-H" |g_CTRL-H|
*5 Go from Select mode to Normal mode by using a non-printable command to move
the cursor, without keeping the Shift key pressed.
*6 Go from Select mode to Insert mode by typing a printable character. The
selection is deleted and the character is inserted.
If the 'insertmode' option is on, editing a file will start in Insert mode.
Additionally the command CTRL-\ CTRL-N or <C-\><C-N> can be used to go to
Normal mode from any other mode. This can be used to make sure Vim is in
Normal mode, without causing a beep like <Esc> would. However, this does not
work in Ex mode. When used after a command that takes an argument, such as
|f| or |m|, the timeout set with 'ttimeoutlen' applies.
When focus is in a terminal window, CTRL-\ CTRL-N goes to Normal mode until an
edit command is entered, see |t_CTRL-\_CTRL-N|.
The command CTRL-\ CTRL-G or <C-\><C-G> can be used to go to Insert mode when
'insertmode' is set. Otherwise it goes to Normal mode. This can be used to
make sure Vim is in the mode indicated by 'insertmode', without knowing in
what mode Vim currently is.
*Q* *mode-Ex* *Ex-mode* *Ex* *EX* *E501*
Q Switch to "Ex" mode. This is a bit like typing ":"
commands one after another, except:
- You don't have to keep pressing ":".
- The screen doesn't get updated after each command.
- There is no normal command-line editing.
- Mappings and abbreviations are not used.
In fact, you are editing the lines with the "standard"
line-input editing commands (<Del> or <BS> to erase,
CTRL-U to kill the whole line).
Vim will enter this mode by default if it's invoked as
"ex" on the command-line.
Use the ":vi" command |:visual| to exit "Ex" mode.
Note: In older versions of Vim "Q" formatted text,
that is now done with |gq|. But if you use the
|vimrc_example.vim| script "Q" works like "gq".
gQ Switch to "Ex" mode like with "Q", but really behave
like typing ":" commands after another. All command
line editing, completion etc. is available.
Use the ":vi" command |:visual| to exit "Ex" mode.
7. The window contents *window-contents*
In Normal mode and Insert/Replace mode the screen window will show the current
contents of the buffer: What You See Is What You Get. There are two
- When the 'cpoptions' option contains '$', and the change is within one line,
the text is not directly deleted, but a '$' is put at the last deleted
- When inserting text in one window, other windows on the same text are not
updated until the insert is finished.
Lines longer than the window width will wrap, unless the 'wrap' option is off
(see below). The 'linebreak' option can be set to wrap at a blank character.
If the window has room after the last line of the buffer, Vim will show '~' in
the first column of the last lines in the window, like this:
|some line |
|last line |
|~ |
|~ |
Thus the '~' lines indicate that the end of the buffer was reached.
If the last line in a window doesn't fit, Vim will indicate this with a '@' in
the first column of the last lines in the window, like this:
|first line |
|second line |
|@ |
|@ |
Thus the '@' lines indicate that there is a line that doesn't fit in the
When the "lastline" flag is present in the 'display' option, you will not see
'@' characters at the left side of window. If the last line doesn't fit
completely, only the part that fits is shown, and the last three characters of
the last line are replaced with "@@@", like this:
|first line |
|second line |
|a very long line that d|
|oesn't fit in the wi@@@|
If there is a single line that is too long to fit in the window, this is a
special situation. Vim will show only part of the line, around where the
cursor is. There are no special characters shown, so that you can edit all
parts of this line.
The '@' occasion in the 'highlight' option can be used to set special
highlighting for the '@' and '~' characters. This makes it possible to
distinguish them from real characters in the buffer.
The 'showbreak' option contains the string to put in front of wrapped lines.
If the 'wrap' option is off, long lines will not wrap. Only the part that
fits on the screen is shown. If the cursor is moved to a part of the line
that is not shown, the screen is scrolled horizontally. The advantage of
this method is that columns are shown as they are and lines that cannot fit
on the screen can be edited. The disadvantage is that you cannot see all the
characters of a line at once. The 'sidescroll' option can be set to the
minimal number of columns to scroll.
All normal ASCII characters are displayed directly on the screen. The <Tab>
is replaced with the number of spaces that it represents. Other non-printing
characters are replaced with "^{char}", where {char} is the non-printing
character with 64 added. Thus character 7 (bell) will be shown as "^G".
Characters between 127 and 160 are replaced with "~{char}", where {char} is
the character with 64 subtracted. These characters occupy more than one
position on the screen. The cursor can only be positioned on the first one.
If you set the 'number' option, all lines will be preceded with their
number. Tip: If you don't like wrapping lines to mix with the line numbers,
set the 'showbreak' option to eight spaces:
":set showbreak=\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ "
If you set the 'list' option, <Tab> characters will not be shown as several
spaces, but as "^I". A '$' will be placed at the end of the line, so you can
find trailing blanks.
In Command-line mode only the command-line itself is shown correctly. The
display of the buffer contents is updated as soon as you go back to Command
The last line of the window is used for status and other messages. The
status messages will only be used if an option is on:
status message option default Unix default ~
current mode 'showmode' on on
command characters 'showcmd' on off
cursor position 'ruler' off off
The current mode is "-- INSERT --" or "-- REPLACE --", see |'showmode'|. The
command characters are those that you typed but were not used yet.
If you have a slow terminal you can switch off the status messages to speed
up editing:
:set nosc noru nosm
If there is an error, an error message will be shown for at least one second
(in reverse video).
Some commands show how many lines were affected. Above which threshold this
happens can be controlled with the 'report' option (default 2).
On the Amiga Vim will run in a CLI window. The name Vim and the full name of
the current file name will be shown in the title bar. When the window is
resized, Vim will automatically redraw the window. You may make the window as
small as you like, but if it gets too small not a single line will fit in it.
Make it at least 40 characters wide to be able to read most messages on the
last line.
On most Unix systems, resizing the window is recognized and handled correctly
by Vim.
8. Definitions *definitions*
buffer Contains lines of text, usually read from a file.
screen The whole area that Vim uses to work in. This can be
a terminal emulator window. Also called "the Vim
window A view on a buffer. There can be multiple windows for
one buffer.
A screen contains one or more windows, separated by status lines and with the
command line at the bottom.
screen | window 1 | window 2 |
| | |
| | |
|= status line =|= status line =|
| window 3 |
| |
| |
|==== status line ==============|
|command line |
The command line is also used for messages. It scrolls up the screen when
there is not enough room in the command line.
A difference is made between four types of lines:
buffer lines The lines in the buffer. This is the same as the
lines as they are read from/written to a file. They
can be thousands of characters long.
logical lines The buffer lines with folding applied. Buffer lines
in a closed fold are changed to a single logical line:
"+-- 99 lines folded". They can be thousands of
characters long.
window lines The lines displayed in a window: A range of logical
lines with wrapping, line breaks, etc. applied. They
can only be as long as the width of the window allows,
longer lines are wrapped or truncated.
screen lines The lines of the screen that Vim uses. Consists of
the window lines of all windows, with status lines
and the command line added. They can only be as long
as the width of the screen allows. When the command
line gets longer it wraps and lines are scrolled to
make room.
buffer lines logical lines window lines screen lines ~
1. one 1. one 1. +-- folded 1. +-- folded
2. two 2. +-- folded 2. five 2. five
3. three 3. five 3. six 3. six
4. four 4. six 4. seven 4. seven
5. five 5. seven 5. === status line ===
6. six 6. aaa
7. seven 7. bbb
8. ccc ccc c
1. aaa 1. aaa 1. aaa 9. cc
2. bbb 2. bbb 2. bbb 10. ddd
3. ccc ccc ccc 3. ccc ccc ccc 3. ccc ccc c 11. ~
4. ddd 4. ddd 4. cc 12. === status line ===
5. ddd 13. (command line)
6. ~