Getting Started With Vim

Basic Vim Motions

  • hjkl - left, up, down, right

  • 0 - beginning of line

  • ^ - beginning of text (within a line)

  • $ - end of line

  • gg - beginning of file

  • G - end of file

Basic Vim Commands

  • i - go into insert mode before the current character

  • I - go into insert mode at the beginning of the line (shortcut for ^i)

  • a - go into insert mode after current character

  • A - go into insert mode at the end of the line (shorcut for $a)

  • c_ - change (delete and insert)

  • C - change everything till the end of the line (shorcut for c$)

  • s - change a letter (shorcut for cl)

  • x - delete a character

  • d_ - delete

  • . - repeat last change

  • > and < - indent/unindent

  • = - fix indentation

  • o - new line and insert mode (shortcut for A+<ENTER>)

  • O - new line above and insert mode (shortcut for ko)

Examples of Common Commands

  • x - Delete a character

  • dd - Delete a line

  • . - Repeat last change

  • >> - Increase indentation in current line

  • << - Decrease indentation in current line

  • >G - Increase indendation till the end of the file

The Vim Way

  1. Use the . command to repeat the last change
  2. Remove extraneous, unnecessary movement (f.i. use I instead of 0i or A instead of $a)
  3. Use compound commands that leave you directly in insert mode instead of separate commands (f.i. use cw instead of dwi or C instead of d$i)
  4. Attempt to make changes repeatable

{% blockquote %} The dot command (.) lest us repeat the last change. It is the most powerful and versatile command in vim. {% endblockquote %}

Miscellaneous tips

Run vim With Factory Settings

To run with with factory settings use the -u option to point vim to the following configuration file (vim -u essential.vimrc -N):

# essential.vimrc 
set notcompatible
filetype plugin on

Vim And The Command Line

To run a command-line command from vim use:

$ => execute this in external shell
: => execute this internally in command-line mode
/ => use command-line mode to perform a forward search
? => use command-line mode to perform a backward search
= => use command-line mode to evaluate a vim script expression

Interesting Tips from Vim’s Help

Jump to a subject: Position the cursor on a tag (e.g. |bars|) and hit CTRL-]. Use CTRL-T or CTRL-O to come back to the original position

Getting Specific Help With Context

It is possible to go directly to whatever you want help on, by giving an argument to the |:help| command. It is possible to further specify the context:

WHAT                    PREPEND     EXAMPLE  ~
Normal mode command     (nothing)   :help x
Visual mode command     v_          :help v_u
Insert mode command     i_          :help i_<Esc>
Command-line command    :           :help :quit
Command-line editing    c_          :help c_<Del>
Vim command argument    -           :help -r
Option                  '           :help 'textwidth'


  • Vim Help (in vim :help)
  • Vimtutor (in a shell $vimtutor)
  • Practical Vim