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Mitesh Shah

Linux Enthusiast
System Administrator

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VIM - an Advance Text Editor


Introducing vim

  • The newer version of vi text editor is called vim (Vi IMproved).
  • vim is the standard Linux and UNIX text editor.
  • The default text editor is vi, unless explicitly changed by the system administrator.


  • Speed: Do more with fewer keystrokes
  • Simplicity: Not Dependence on Mouse/GUI
  • Availability: Included with most UNIX like OSes


  • Difficulty: Difficult for beginners.
  • Patience and persistence will lead to many great benefits on your way to becoming a Linux user.

Graphical vim

  • gvim is the Graphical version of vim.
  • Application -> Programming -> Vi IMproved
  • Provided by vim-X11 package

A Model Text Editor vim

  • Keystroke behavior is dependent upon vim’s mode.

Three Main Modes of vim

  • Command Mode Default Mode of vim. Move cursor, cut/copy/paste text, change mode
  • Insert Mode Insert/Modify text
  • Ex Mode Save, Save As, Quit, etc

  • Esc Exit current mode
  • EscEsc Always returns to command mode

Basics of vim

  • Open/Create file
  • Modify file (Insert Mode)
  • Save file (Ex Mode)

Opening a file in vim

  • vim filename
  • If the file exists, the file is opened and the contents are displayed
  • If the file does not exist, vim creates it when the edits are saved for the first time


# Open a file named /etc/passwd in vim
[mitesh@Matrix ~]$ vim /etc/passwd

# Creates a file with vim
[mitesh@Matrix ~]$ vim /tmp/file
  • This will create the file named /tmp/file, once you save it.

NOTE!: Until you save the file, all changes are kept in a temporary file.
The temporary file, in this case, is /tmp/.file.swp
(vim add a dot to the file name and adds the .swp extension).

  • Once you save and quits the vim, it will create this file, write your changes to it and remove the temporary file.
  • If the machine should crash while you are writing a file, this temporary file should still exist, when the machine is working again, and it should contain your changes.

Insert Mode

Many commands will take you into insert mode.

  • i: Insert before the cursor
  • a: Append after the cursor

  • I: Insert at beginning of the line
  • A: Append at end of the line

  • o: Open a new line below the current line
  • O: Open a new line above the current line

NOTE!: The letters i, a, I, A, o and O will not appears in your document, but all other characters that you type will appears, until you exit insert mode. To exit insert mode, hit the Esc key.

Ex Mode

  • Enter Ex Mode with :
  • Creates a command prompt at bottom-left of the screen

  • Common write/quit commands
|	:q		|	quit					|
|	:q!		|	quits, even if changes are lost		|
|			|						|
|	:w		|	writes (saves) the file to disk		|
|	:wq		|	writes and quits			|
|			|						|
|	:w filename	|	save as funactionality			|

Command Mode

  • Default mode of vim.
  • Keys describe Movements and Text manipulation Commands.
  • Commands repeat when preceded by a number:


  • Right Arrow moves right one character
  • 5+Right Arrow moves right five character

Moving Around (Command Mode)

< h       l >
|	Moves by characters	|	Arrow Keys		|
|				|	h    j    k  l		|
|				|	Left Down Up Right	|
|				|				|
|				|				|
|	Moves by words		|	w  b			|
|				|				|
|	Moves by sentence	|	(  )			|
|				|				|
|	Moves by paragraph	|	{  }			|
|				|				|
|	Jump to line x		|	xG  :x			|
|	Jump to end		|	G			|

Manipulating Text (Command Mode)

|				|	Change	|	Delete	|	Yank	|
|				|	replace |	cut	|	copy	|
|										|
|	Line			|	cc	|	dd	|	yy	|
|	Letter			|	cl	|	dl	|	yl	|
|	Word			|	cw	|	dw	|	yw	|
|										|
|	Sentence Above (Up)	|	c(	|	d(	|	y(	|
|	Sentence Below (Down)	|	c)	|	d)	|	y)	|
|										|
|	Paragraph Above	(Up)	|	c{	|	d{	|	y{	|
|	Paragraph Below	(Down)	|	c}	|	d}	|	y}	|

Search and Replace (Command Mode)

Search as in less

  • / /dog search downwards in the file for the string dog
  • ? ?mouse search upwards in the file for the string mouse
  • n/N next/previous match

Search/Replace Operation

  • vi and vim can perform search and replace operations, much like the sed command.
  • The primary difference between the sed and vim is that -
    • Absent an Address, sed works on the entire file
    • Absent an Address, vi and vim works only on the current line, the line on which the cursor resides
  • The default substitution delimiter is the / character.
  • However, vi treats whatever character follows the 's' command as the delimiter.

Address Range

  • Use 1,$ or %` for every line
  • Use x,y for specific no of line




Put/Paste (Command Mode)

  • Use p or P to put (paste) copied or deleted data.

For Line Oriented Data (Line or Paragraph)

  • p Puts the data below the current line
  • P Puts the data above the current line

For Character Oriented Data (Letter Word Sentence)

  • p Puts the data after the cursor
  • P Puts the data below the cursor

Undo (Command Mode)

  • u Undo most recent changes
  • U Undo all the changes to the current line since the cursor landed on the line

  • Ctrl+r Redo last ‘undone’ changes

Visual Mode

  • It is possible to highlight characters, lines, or even block and then take actions on them (change, delete, yank etc)
  • To begin visual mode, thus highlighting text, type:

  • v Start character oriented visual mode
  • V Start line oriented visual mode
  • Ctrl+v start block oriented visual mode

NOTE!: Visual mode is activated with Mouse in gvim.
Use Arrow Keys or Shortcuts Keys of vim such as h j k l w b ( ) { } to highlight the text.

Using Multiple Windows

  • The vim provides many features beyond those of vi.
  • Multiple Documents can be viewed in a single vim screen.
|											|
|	Ctrl+w n	|	Creates New Window With Empty Buffer (Horizontally)	|
|											|
|	Ctrl+w s	|	Split The Screen Horizontally	(Open Same File)	|
|	Ctrl+w v	|	Split The Screen Vertically	(Open Same File)	|
|											|
|	Ctrl+w +/-	|	Increse/Decrese Size Of The Window			|
|	Ctrl+w Arrow	|	Moves Between The Windows	(Works With h j k l)	|
|											|

NOTE!: The standard open command (such as :e filename) can be used to change the file being edited in a window.

  • To start vim in windowing mode use -o options
vim -o .bashrc .bash_profile
  • This will open both files Horizontally,
  • .bashrc in the top of the window.
  • .bash_profile in the bottom of the window.

Configuring vi and vim

  • Dozens of configuration items exist for vi and vim.
  • To examine current configuration, run

  • :set List a small number of important configuration items.
  • :set all List all the configuration items
  • :help option-list Complete options lists

Common Configuration Items

:set number
:set showmatch
:set autoindent
:set ignorecase
:set wrapmargin=15
:set textwidth=65 (vim only)

Show line Numbers :set number

:set number		:set nu		:se nu
:set nonumber		:set nonu	:se nonu

Highlight The Matching Brackets :set showmatch

:set showmatch		:set sm		:se sm
:set noshowmatch	:set nosm	:se nosm

Cause New Line To Inherit Independent Level Of The Previous Line :set autoindent

:set autoindent		:set ai		:se ai
:set noautoindent	:set noai	:se noai

Search Case-Insensitive :set ignorecase

:set ignorecase		:set ic		:se ic
:set noignorecase	:set noic	:se noic

Cause Text To Wrap When It Reaches 15 Characters From The Right Margin :set wrapmargin=15

:set wrapmargin=15	:set wm=15	:se wm=15
:set wrapmargin=0	:set wm=0	:se wm=0

Cause Text To Wrap When The Text Exceeds 65 Characters :set textwidth=65

:set textwidth=65
:set textwidth=0

NOTE!: vim only

Create Folds As Per Defined Methods :set foldmethod

# Methods
1. expr		3. manual	5. syntax
2. diff		4. marker	6. indent

List Of Fold Commands :help fold

:set foldmethod=indent	:set fdm=indent
:set foldmethod=syntax	:set fdm=syntax

Configuring Permanently

  • Save all your changes in following file

Learning More

  • Built-in vi/vim help
:help topic
  • vimtutor command is a great way to explore the functions of vim and get practice.

NOTE!: Use :q to exit help

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