fancy vim image

Do you know vim?!

/usr/bin/vim is not an editor, it's a lifestyle...

You can scroll the document without the need to move the cursor to the top/bottom: Ctrl-e to scroll down and Ctrl-y to scroll up.


Sometimes you want to open a file in read-only mode to prevent accidentally saving changes you've done on the fly. (When opening /etc/passwd, some log-files or whatever-config files for testing e.g.). Just type:

$ view /etc/passwd

The file will be opened in vim read-only and protects you from writing ;)

Advanced Searching

You might already know you can search for a string using /searchpattern. If you want to quick switch between multiple results, you can easily search (in the whole file:

:lvim "<input" % followed by: :lopen

Will open a result buffer on the bottom. In this buffer, every line represents a search result containing the filename, line number and the content of the whole line itself. You can navigate using hjkl or the cursor buttons and hit enter to switch to the top buffer to the matching line. With Ctrl-w w you can switch back to the search results.

Visual Select Block

If you are editing css or c code you can quickly select the whole block in visual mode: Just type V%. If the cursor is inside the {} block, type vaB.

% will jump to the matching bracket (), {} or []. It will look in the current line and tries to find the matching one in the document.

Time Travel

You maybe already know you can scroll through VIMs history with undo or Ctrl-redo. But instead of stepping through the history tree you can do stuff like :earlier 10m which recovers the state of the document 10 minutes ago. From there you can go forward to the future and continue with :later 3m for example.

File Explorer

Vim has a builtin (and comfortable) file explorer. Type :Texplore (or shortened :Te). Now, a readonly document is generated. If you hit enter on a filename, the file will be opened. If you hit enter on a directory, the content will be loaded. You can navigate using hjkl, use the search with / or go one directory up by pressing -


I'm using vim for a couple of years now. To increase your effeciency I suggest you to learn movement using hjkl! To force myself, I remapped the arrow keys in the beginning like followed:

nnoremap <Up> ddkP
nnoremap <Down> ddp
nnoremap <Left> <<
nnoremap <Right> >>

This causes the left and right key to indent the current line, and the up down key to move the current line up or down. If you think that's horrible, you might be right. But it shouldn't take long and you don't even think about it to use the arrow keys to navigate.


Suggest this command: :%s/foo/&bar/g It replaces all occurence of foo to foobar ;)

Toggle in Visual-Mode

When in Visual-Mode press o.
If the cursor is on top, it will be toggled to bottom and back.

Goto last insert

If you reopen a file you edited recently, you can simply press g; to go to the last position where you modified something.

Reselect last selection

Press gv in normal mode to reselect last selection.


Another great feature in vim is motions! You don't need to remember every shortcut, even better: There are mnemonics! You might already know stuff like dd or cc. Both commands delete the entire line, but cc will end up in insert mode. Maybe delete is not the correct word, it moves the line from the screen to register X (from which you can paste with p). I try to memorise it like delete, cut or change and paste.
Now back to topic: Motions are very great, imagine you want to change the content of a div-container:

<div class="container">This is a standard div, and we want to change or cut the text inside this tag</div>
                    cursor standing here ---
                    Pressing cit will cause this:
<div class="container"></div>


If you press cit in normal-mode, it will do a cut/change (c) from the cursor position to the left until > and to the right until <. You can remember it by saying: cut in tag ;) The same works for yank (copy) in tag or delete in tag. But there are several other possibilities, you can also do viw - which means: visual in word, this might not be very useful but it can demonstrate you the power of vim-motions. I give you another example:

cursor standing here ---
Pressing vi"~ in normal-mode causes this:

print "this printed output is completely uppercase and we want to toggle case";

If you press vi"~ which means visual in ", the tilde will toggle the case.

What's also very useful, vat (visual around tag). If editing html, you can highlight the whole div container e.g. and pressing o in visual mode let you jump to the beginning/end of the selected block.
Now show me an editor where you can do something like this without using a mouse!

Summary / Examples

ct< - Clear 'til < (Usefule for html/xml editing)

vis - Visual in Sentence

dib - Delete in Brackets ()

dib - Delete in Curly-Brackets {}

vat - Visual around (html/xml)-tag

Increment / Decrement

You can increment the number under the cursor using Ctrl-a and decrement using Ctrl-x


Another powerful feature for doing simple steps on a lot of data is record and replay macros. qw starts recording a macro in register w. You can use almost each letter (0-9, a-z and A-Z). Now every step you do will be recorded in the macro you defined. To stop recording press q and to replay press @q, you can define also a count, e.g. 10@q repeats the macro ten times.
You can combine this cool feature with the tip above about Increment/Decrement to generate numbers from 1 to 50. To do so, open a new file insert 1 in the first line and hit:
qwyyp Ctrl-a q48@w

What happens here?!

qw - start recording macro in register w

yy - yank (copy) whole line

p - paste line above current line

Ctrl-a - increment number under cursor

q - stops recording

48@w - replay macro saved in register w 48-times

Now you should have lines from 1 until 50. Let's assume you want to delete odd numbers:

WTF is happening here?!

gg - goto first line

qe - start recording macro in register e

dd - delete line

j - move one line down

q - stop recording

24@e - replay macro saved in register e 24-times

Delete empty lines

To list all empty lines within vim: :g/^$.
If you wish them to be deleted: :g/^$/d.

Uppercase / Lowercase

Highlight the text you want to manipulate using V then you can:

u to convert text to lowercase

U to convert text to uppercase

~ to switch case

~ will toggle the case of the current character. g~iw will toggle the case of the current word. As a mnemonic you can think about go switch case in word for example (see motions for more examples you can combine)

Block Insert

Assume you have a script file and you want to comment out a couple of lines. Use visual-block mode Ctrl-v and move the cursor up/down to select the range. Press I and insert # for example. After you pressed Esc the # sign is inserted in every line you've selected.


In vim you can use advantage of the built-in encryption functionality! So you can protect sensitive data very easy! Open the document and simply type :X followed by your secret password. When you now save, quit and reopen the file you will be asked for your passphrase! Wasn't that easy?!


I recommend you to add set cryptmethod=blowfish2 to your ~/.vimrc to increasy security! If you're running vim less than v7.4.399 you're unable to use blowfish2 but you can use blowfish instead.

File completion

If you're typing filenames, for include in php for example you can let vim complete the path! In insert mode when typing press Ctrl-x Ctrl-f to get a popup where you can scroll using Ctrl-n for next or Ctrl-p for previous entry ;)

Delete Until End of File

Delete from current line until end of file: VGd.

V Start visual line mode

G Jump to end of file

d delete selection

Open file at

Sometimes, after editing a config file and restarting a service or compiling edited source code, there are errors. To reopen the file at a specific line type $ vim nginx.conf +24 which will open nginx.conf at line 24.

Gzipped files

Did you know? You can edit gzipped files in vim, on the fly!!! Just open them: $ vim passwordlist.gz