VIM Usage

These notes are how to use VIM in general use. They are based on A Byte of VIM and Practical VIM.


  • Multiple modes - the aim to make mouse redundant so we switch navigation from the mouse to a VIM mode and use the keyboard
    • insert mode for text entry
    • normal mode for running commands (rewriting, editing)
    • visual mode to visually select text


Press : to enter commands in VIM. You can use the up arrows to scroll through previous commands. You can also type a portion of the command and then press up to scroll through previous commands with that prefix.

  • :e <name> - edit a file & create it if it doesn't exist
  • :w - write (save) a file
  • :q - quit editor
  • /query - search for the next occurence of query
  • :help - open the vim help

Beginning to edit

Beginning editing starts from the normal mode. Some of these commands return you to normal mode after finishing editing.

  • . - repeat the last normal mode change command

  • I - go to the start of the line and enter insert mode

  • i - switch to insert mode before the current postion

  • A - go to the end of the line and enter insert mode

  • a - switch to insert mode after the current position

  • O - open a new line above the current line and enter insert mode

  • o - open a new line below the current line and enter insert mode.

  • S - substitute the entire line for a new one

  • s - substitute the current character for a new one and stay in insert mode.

  • r - replace the current character and go back to normal mode

  • R - replace continuous characters and go back to normal mode

  • C - change the rest of the line

Single Character Edits

  • ~ - change the case of the character under the cursor
  • x - delete the character under the cursor
  • r - replace the character under the cursor
  • h - move left
  • j - move down
  • k - move up
  • l - move right

  • Adding a count before these will repeat the operation that amount of times.


  • ^ - move to the start of the line
  • $ - move to the end of the line


  • Ctrl-b - move one screen up
  • Ctrl-f - move one screen down
  • G - move to the end of the file
  • 1G - move to the top of the file
  • 50G - move to line 50


  • H - move to top of the visible window (High)
  • M - move to middle of the visible window (Middle)
  • L - move to bottom of the visible window (Low)


  • w - move to the start of the next word
  • e - move to the end of the next word
  • b - move back to start of the previous word


  • ( - move to the previous sentence
  • ) - move to the next sentence
  • { - move to the previous paragraph
  • } - move to the next paragraph


  • This is a marker in a file identified by a single character (uppercase or lowercase) to which we can jump to
  • ma - create a mark named a
  • 'a - jump to mark named a


  • Ctrl-o - jump to the previous location
  • Ctrl-i - jump to the next location

Text selection

  • Press v to enter visual mode
  • Now combine a with a text object selector to select the text
    • aw - select a word
    • ap - select a paragraph
    • ab - select a block


  • :pc - close any preview window open


  • Vim can navigate based on what's under the cursor
  • gF - go to the file under the cursor
  • g] - go to the tag under the cursor

Special/Unicode Characters

  • To insert unicode characters type Ctrl-vu followed by the 4 digit hex code for that character.


  • From force of habit I sometimes press Ctrl-s in VIM. This hangs my version of VIM. To recover from this press Ctrl-q.

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