• Nearly all commands can be preceded by a number for a repeat count. eg. 5dd delete 5 lines
  • <Esc> gets you out of any mode and back to command mode
  • Commands preceded by : are executed on the command line at the bottom of the screen
  • :help help with any command


  • Cursor movement: ←h ↓j ↑k l→
  • By words:
    • w next word (by punctuation); W next word (by spaces)
    • b back word (by punctuation); B back word (by spaces)
    • e end word (by punctuation); E end word (by spaces)
  • By line:
    • 0 start of line; ^ first non-whitespace
    • $ end of line
  • By paragraph:
    • { previous blank line; } next blank line
  • By file:
    • gg start of file; G end of file
    • 123G go to specific line number
  • By marker:
    • mx set mark x'x go to mark x
    • '. go to position of last edit
    • ' ' go back to last point before jump
  • Scrolling:
    • ^F forward full screen; ^B backward full screen
    • ^D down half screen; ^U up half screen
    • ^E scroll one line up; ^Y scroll one line down
    • zz centre cursor line


  • u undo; ^R redo
  • . repeat last editing command


All insertion commands are terminated with <Esc> to return to command mode.

  • i insert text at cursor; I insert text at start of line
  • a append text after cursor; A append text after end of line
  • o open new line below; O open new line above


All change commands except r and R are terminated with <Esc> to return to command mode.

  • r replace single character; R replace multiple characters
  • s change single character
  • cw change word; C change to end of line; cc change whole line
  • c<motion> changes text in the direction of the motion
  • ci( change inside parentheses (see text object selection for more examples)


  • x delete char
  • dw delete word; D delete to end of line; dd delete whole line
  • d<motion> deletes in the direction of the motion

Cut and paste

  • yy copy line into paste buffer; dd cut line into paste buffer
  • p paste buffer below cursor line; P paste buffer above cursor line
  • xp swap two characters (x to delete one character, then p to put it back after the cursor position)


  • v visual block stream; V visual block line; ^V visual block column
    • most motion commands extend the block to the new cursor position
    • o moves the cursor to the other end of the block
  • d or x cut block into paste buffer
  • y copy block into paste buffer
  • > indent block; < unindent block
  • gv reselect last visual block


  • :%s/foo/bar/g substitute all occurrences of "foo" to "bar"
    • % is a range that indicates every line in the file
    • /g is a flag that changes all occurrences on a line instead of just the first one


  • / search forward; ? search backward
  • * search forward for word under cursor; # search backward for word under cursor
  • n next match in same direction; N next match in opposite direction
  • fx forward to next character xFx backward to previous character x
  • ; move again to same character in same direction; , move again to same character in opposite direction


  • :w write file to disk
  • :w name write file to disk as name
  • ZZ write file to disk and quit
  • :n edit a new file; :n! edit a new file without saving current changes
  • :q quit editing a file; :q! quit editing without saving changes
  • :e edit same file again (if changed outside vim)
  • :e . directory explorer


  • ^Wn new window
  • ^Wj down to next window; ^Wk up to previous window
  • ^W_ maximise current window; ^W= make all windows equal size
  • ^W+ increase window size; ^W- decrease window size

Source Navigation

  • % jump to matching parenthesis/bracket/brace, or language block if language module loaded
  • gd go to definition of local symbol under cursor; ^O return to previous position
  • ^] jump to definition of global symbol (requires tags file); ^T return to previous position (arbitrary stack of positions maintained)
  • ^N (in insert mode) automatic word completion

Show local changes

Vim has some features that make it easy to highlight lines that have been changed from a base version in source control. I have created a small vim script that makes this easy:

+ Recent posts