Common Software

Get familiar with the VIM editor

This text will provide you information about the Linux / Unix vi text editor and it’s options.


vi [ -| -s ] [-l] [-L] [-R] [ -r [ filename ] ] [-S] [-t tag] [-v] [-V] [-x] [-w] [-n ] [-C] [+command | -c command ] filename

– | -s Suppress all interactive user feedback. This is useful when processing editor scripts.

-l Set up for editing LISP programs.

-L List the name of all files saved as the result of an editor or system crash.

-R Readonly mode; the readonly flag is set, preventing accidental overwriting of the file.

-r filename Edit filename after an editor or system crash. (Recovers the version of filename that was in the buffer when the crash occurred.)

-S This option is used in conjunction with the -t tag option to tell vi that the tags file may not be sorted and that, if the binary search (which relies on a sorted tags file) for tag fails to find it, the much slower linear search should also be done. Since the linear search is slow, users of large tags files should ensure that the tags files are sorted rather than use this flag. Creation of tags files normally produces sorted tags files. See ctags for more information on tags files.

-t tag Edit the file containing the tag, tag, and position the editor at its definition.

-v Start up in display editing state using vi . You can achieve the same effect by simply typing the vi command itself.

-V Verbose. When ex commands are read by means of standard input, the input will be echoed to standard error. This may be useful when processing ex commands within shell scripts.

-x Encryption option; when used, vi simulates the X command of ex and prompts the user for a key. This key is used to encrypt and decrypt text using the algorithm of the crypt command. The X command makes an educated guess to determine whether text read in is encrypted or not. The temporary buffer file is encrypted also, using a transformed version of the key typed in for the -x option. If an empty encryption key is entered (that is, if the return key is pressed right after the prompt), the file will not be encrypted. This is a good way to decrypt a file erroneously encrypted with a mistyped encryption key, such as a backspace or undo key.

-wn Set the default window size to n. This is useful when using the editor over a slow speed line.

-C Encryption option; same as the -x option, except that vi simulates the C command of ex . The C command is like the X command of ex , except that all text read in is assumed to have been encrypted.

+command | -c command Begin editing by executing the specified editor
command (usually a search or positioning command).
filename The file to be edited.


Arrow keys Move cursor

hjkl Same as arrow keys

itextESC Insert text

cwnewESC Change word to new

easESC pluralize word (end of word; append s; escape from input state)

x delete a character

dw delete a word

dd delete a line

3dd deletes 3 lines

u undo previous change

ZZ exit vi , saving changes

:q!CR quit, discarding changes

/textCR search for text

^U ^D scroll up or down

:cmdCR any ex or ed command

ESC end insert or incomplete command

DEL (delete or rubout) interrupts

:wCR write back changes

:w!CR forced write, if permission originally not valid

:qCR quit

:q!CR quit, discard changes

:e nameCR edit file name

:e!CR reedit, discard changes

:e + nameCR edit, starting at end

:e +nCR edit, starting at line n

:e #CR edit alternate file

:e! #CR edit alternate file, discard changes

:w nameCR write file name

:w! nameCR overwrite file name

:shCR run shell, then return

:!cmdCR run cmd, then return

:nCR edit next file in arglist

:n argsCR specify new arglist

^G show current file and line

:ta tagCR position cursor to tag

F forward screen

^B backward screen

^D scroll down half screen

^U scroll up half screen

nG go to the beginning of the specified line (end default), where n is a line number

/pat next line matching pat

?pat previous line matching pat

n repeat last / or ? command

N reverse last / or ? command

/pat/+n nth line after pat

?pat?-n nth line before pat

]] next section/function

[[ previous section/function

( beginning of sentence

) end of sentence

{ beginning of paragraph

} end of paragraph

% find matching ( ) or { }

^L clear and redraw window

^R clear and redraw window if ^L is -> key

zCR redraw screen with current line at top of window

z-CR redraw screen with current line at bottom of window

z.CR redraw screen with current line at center of window

/pat/z-CR move pat line to bottom of window

zn.CR use n-line window

^E scroll window down one line

^Y scroll window up one line

“ move cursor to previous context

\’\’ move cursor to first non-white space in line

mx mark current position with the ASCII lower-case letter x

`x move cursor to mark x

\’x move cursor to first non-white space in line marked by x

H top line on screen

L last line on screen

M middle line on screen

+ next line, at first non-white space character

– previous line, at first non-white space character

CR return, same as +

down-arrow or j next line, same column

up-arrow or k previous line, same column

^ first non-white space character

0 beginning of line

$ end of line

l or -> forward

h or <- backward

^H same as <- (backspace)

space same as -> (space bar)

fx find next x

Fx find next x

tx move to character following the next x

Tx move to character following the previous x

; repeat last f, F, t, or T

, repeat inverse of last f, F, t, or T

n| move to column n

% find matching ( ) or { }

w forward a word

b back a word

e end of word

) to next sentence

} to next paragraph

( back a sentence

{ back a paragraph

W forward a blank-delimited word

B back a blank-delimited word

E end of a blank-delimited word

^H erase last character (backspace)

^W erase last word

erase your erase character, same as ^H (backspace)

kill your kill character, erase this line of input

\\ quotes your erase and kill characters

ESC ends insertion, back to command mode

CTRL-C interrupt, suspends insert mode

^D backtab one character; reset left margin of autoindent

^^D caret (^) followed by control-d (^D); backtab to beginning of line; do not reset left margin of autoindent

0^D backtab to beginning of line; reset left margin of autoindent

^V quote non-printable character

a append after cursor

A append at end of line

i insert before cursor

I insert before first non-blank

o open line below

O open line above

rx replace single character with x

RtextESC replace characters

d delete

c change

y yank lines to buffer

> left shift

< right shift

! filter through command

C change rest of line (c$)

D delete rest of line (d$)

s substitute characters (cl)

S substitute lines (cc)

J join lines

x delete characters (dl)

X delete characters before cursor dh)

Y yank lines (yy)

3yy yank 3 lines

3yl yank 3 characters

p put back text after cursor

P put back text before cursor \” .nr )I xp\”n

put from buffer x \” .nr )I xy\”n

yank to buffer x \” .nr )I xd\”n

delete into buffer x

u undo last change

U restore current line

. repeat last change \” .nr )I dp\”n

retrieve d\’th last delete

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