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Vi is free, open-source advanced text editor. A clone of Vi called Vim is now commonly used as a vImproved alternative. It is often used on Linux flavours although ports for Windows gVim portable and Mac OSX Vim for Mac are available. It has many keyboard-shortcut-based commands, just a few of which are listed here.




Command mode

Beginning of word: b
End of current word: e
Beginning of line: 0 or ^
End of line: $

Insert mode

Beginning of line: Home key
End of line: End key

Search and replace


Delete all occurances of a string


Delete all empty lines


Delete all lines with only spaces

:g/^ *$/d

Delete all duplicate lines

:sort u

Jump to beginning / end of file

'G' alone moves the cursor to the end of file; 'gg' to the beginning of the file.

Show line numbers

:set number

Hide line numbers

:set nonumber

Goto line number 20


Cut/Delete a whole line

To cut the current line:


To cut 10 lines below the cursor:


Copy/Yank many lines

To copy the current line:
To copy 10 lines below the cursor:
To copy all lines below the curosr:

Paste a whole line

The data from this line is placed in a local clipboard called a register and can be restored with 'p' (below cursor) or 'P' (above cursor).

Insert text at the beginning on each line

Insert a double quote " at the beginning of each line:

Insert text at the beginning of all lines below the cursor

Useful for commenting out text in bulk in Apache, insert a # at the beginning of all ines below the cursor:


. means current line
, range delimeter
$ refers to EOF/last line
s substitute command

Show Clipboard items / registers


Paste from register number 2


Allow pasting in Vi without Indents

:set paste

Create a new line below the current line


Append text at the end of the current line


Delete trailing white space form all lines


Visual mode commands

Whilst in command mode, press v to enter visual mode. The cursor keys can now be used to select text. the following commands will affect the text that has been selected. Copy/Yank and Cut/Delete can also be used with visual mode.

Indent text
De-Indent text
Sort text

To pipe any selected text into an external command and replace with its output:

:! command

Use sort:

:! sort

Using external commands

Vim can run an external command with the current file. The file saved on disk or the current unsaved buffer can be used:
% File on disk
- Current buffer

Diff current unsaved buffer with saved version
:w !diff % -
Get number of lines through wc
:w !wc -
Syntax check of PHP
:w !php5 -l -
Recall previous external command

Same as Bash: :!!

Insert command output
:r !echo hello

Cheat sheet

Settings commands by default

If a particular option or command needs to be the default in Vim - it needs to be run every time you start Vim - create a text file called .exrc or .vimrc in your home directory and place your commands in there without the proceeding colon. For example to display line numbers and search case insensitively by default your .vimrc file would look like this:

set number
set ignorecase

Viewing panes

To split the current file into two horizontal panes:
Use Ctrl+W to switch panes.

Recall previous command

Press Esc to enter command mode, type a single colon, after which the up and down keys can be used in the same manner as BASH.

Redo last typed text

Type a set of text in INSERT mode and go into COMMAND mode by pressing Esc. Now pressing . (a dot/period) will re-type the text typed in.


Vim can open many files at once and arrange them in tabs:

vim -p blah.csv blah2.csv

To move between tabs use :tabn and :tabp

Run a command on all files/tabs open

 :tabdo $s/replace/this/g

See Also

Regular Expressions

Personal tools