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vim Cheatsheet

Basic Tips and Tricks

  • i - insert mode. Next keys typed are inserted into the file.
  • <Esc> - Escape from insert mode so you can navigate and use edit commands
  • 1G - Go to line 1
  • gg - Go to top of file
  • G - Got to bottom of file (Shift + g)
  • S - Places you at insert mode at the right indentation (Shift + s)
  • % - Jump to the matching bracket/brace (Shift + 5)

Working with files

  • :w - Save file
  • :wq! - Save and write file
  • :q - Quit file with no changes
  • :q! - Quit without saving

Editing text

  • =G - Fix indentation in the whole file (Equal, Shift + G)
  • x - Delete char at current position
  • a - Append after current position
  • A - Append after end of line
  • o - Insert new line below
  • O - Insert new line above
  • dw - Delete word (and copy it to clipboard)1
  • dd - Delete current line (and copy it to clipboard)1
  • yy - Yank current line (aka copy to clipboard)1
  • p - Paste clipboard
  • guu - Lowercase line1
  • gUU - Uppercase line1
  • ~ - Invert case (upper->lower; lower->upper) of current character
  • ga - Display hex, ascii value of character under cursor
  • g8 - Display hex value of utf-8 character under cursor
  • set hlsearch highlight all matching patterns
  • :noh (short for :nohlsearch) will clear the current highlighted patterns
  • /foo - Search for the next occurance of "foo"
  • ?foo - Search for the previous occurance of "foo"

  • :%s/foo/bar/g - Search file for all occurances of foo and replace with bar globally

  • :%s/^M//g = Remove CRLF ^M line chars (Ctrl+V to get the ^ and then Ctrl+M to insert the M)

Deleting empty lines

  • Delete all empty lines:


  • Delete all lines that are empty or that contain only whitespace characters (spaces, tabs):

    Explanation: v operates on lines that do not match, \S matches anything that is not a whitespace, and d deletes the flagged lines (all lines that have no characters, or that have only whitespace characters).

  • Condense multiple blank lines into a single blank line.

    Explanation: Delete all trailing whitespace from each line, then replace three or more consecutive line endings with two line endings. e flag means that no error is displayed if the pattern is not found. In the second command, \n in the search pattern finds newline, while \r in the replacement inserts a newline.

Shell escapes

(More of a security tip, but seems fitting here)

:set shell=/bin/sh

Or alternatively:



$ cat ~/.vimrc 
set autoindent
set expandtab
set tabstop=2
set shiftwidth=2
set ignorecase
set visualbell
set mouse=a
set hlsearch
set number
syntax on

  1. Can be prefixed with number of lines that can be acted upon. For example dd to delete the current line and 5dd do delete the next 5 lines (starting with the current line).