Mark Pearl



Mode: Normal

For navigation and manipulation of text. This is the mode that vim will usually start in, which you can get back to with ESC

For more info do the following in vim:

:help Normal-mode

To make a new line


Toggle highlighted cursor


Duplicate current line


Search for word under cursor

Use the \c for example…


Turn off beeping sound

In the vim resource file put the following…

set vb t_vb=

Search Strings

Using OR operator

Search applies a Regex.

The following would be valid to search in a file for ab OR cd


% all lines in a file
> first line of visual selection
< last line of visual selection
. current line
$ last line of file

Command line


Increase Num


Decrease Num


Navigate between functions

Mode: Insert

Insert mode is for inserting new text. This would be the mode most Windows users are used to as it is the mode you would get when you open up Notepad in Windows.

For more info do the following in vim:

:help Insert-mode

Mode: Visual

Visual mode is for visually selecting text

Mode: Select

Similar to visual, but with more MS Windows-like behavior

Mode: Last Line / Command Line

The “last line mode” or “command line mode” is for entering editor commands. You can get to last line mode from command mode by pressing the colon key, like this:


For more info do the following in vim:

:help Command-line-mode

Execute command against current file

  • : for command mode
  • ! to rum a shell command
  • % to refer to the file in the current buffer
  • :p to use the path of the current file

Tab spacing / Indentation

:set tabstop = 2  
:set shiftwidth = 2  
:set softtabstop = 2

tabstop - size of a hard tabstop
shiftwidth - size of an ‘indent’
softtabstop - a combination of spaces and tabs are used to simulate tab stops at a width other than the (hard) tabstop

View more info here


Jump to last line of file

Global Commands




Deletes inclusively from to

see more

Deletes all lines that don’t contain text


Deletes all lines that does contain text


Special Characters

shows special characters in file

:set list

hides special characters in file

:set nolist

represents a tab space


Line numbering

:set invnumber

Inverts the number setting

:set number

Turns on the number settings


Three different approaches to jumping to the line 42

Read file contents into another file

:r filename

list directory contents in file

:r !dir

Save and exit if modified


Run Macro against visual selection

:'<,'>normal @q

Where @q is the register the macro is stored against

Temporarily Exit Vim and Resume

  • exits
  • returns to vim

Set the syntax highlighting

:cal SetSyn("cs")  

Set language to csharp

Indention of Html

:filetype indent on
:set shiftwidth=2
:set filetype=html           # abbrev -  :set ft=html
:set smartindent             # abbrev -  :set si

Then either move the cursor to the top of the file and indent to the end: gg =G Or select the desired text to indent and hit = to indent it.



Setting GVim as external editor tool for Visual Studio

Using the arguments below, Visual Studio will open up GVim and set the cursor to the current location.

Settings in VS

It’s clipped below, but the Arguments are:

--servername VimStudio --remote-silent +"call cursor($(CurLine),$(CurCol))" "$(ItemFileName)$(ItemExt)"

After you’ve done this, just assign a shortcut key to the external tool in options.

Useful Plugins

Align Stuff
Pretty print SQL

Spell Checker

Turn on and off

:set spell on
:set nospell

Show alternate options for word


Add word to dictionary


Set language

set spell spelllang=en_us
vim -o $(grep -rl string directory) 

Repeat replace all

After making the first correction with z=, e.g. teh to the, use :spellrepall, or shorter: :spellr

Spell References

General Spell Rules


Setting Vim to use General Clipboard in Linux

When installing a new linux version, often the general clipboard register in vim (“*) does not work with the general system clipboard.

One way to determine if your version of vim supports X which is required for general clipboard support is to type the following in bash :

vim --version | grep clip

If you have a version that supports clipboard, you will see


If you do not have a version that supports it, you will see


In which case you can fix this by reinstalling vim as vim-gtk

sudo apt-get install vim-gtk

You then need to set in your vim rc that the clipboard should work with your general system clipboard. You can do this by having the following in your vimrc

set clipboard=unnamed

If you open up vim and type the following command you will see the clipboard setting.

set clipboard?

Command Line

Open vim with the first file found from search results

vim $(find . -iname "SomeFile.txt")

Open vim with a tab for each file matching results

vim -p $(find . -iname ".txt")

Window Tabs

Close all tabs but the current


Splitting Windows

Vertical split


Set vertical split to the right

:set splitright

Set horizontal split to below

:set splitbelow


:botright vnew

Read more on Window Splits

Opening the browser on a url

Reminder that in Vim you can hit gx when your cursor is on a URL and it will be opened in your browser.


There are several different levels that you can persist your vim settings, which include:

  • System wide configuration /etc/vimrc
  • User configuration ~/.vimrc


Format Json Data nicely

:%!python -m json.tool


Great Vim registers explanation

Cheat Sheets

Below are some useful vim cheat sheets to have handy.

Vim Cheat Sheet 2

Vim Cheat Sheet 1

Useful Summaries

Learn Vim in Y minutes

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