Vim text editor


Vim (vi improved) is a terminal text editor that is often used along nano mostly when there is no graphical interface πŸ‰.

# create or open a file
$ vim filename

πŸ‘‰ Some are using an unofficial "modern vim": neovim.

Install vim πŸ—ƒοΈ

$ sudo apt-get install vim

Learn vim πŸ“š

  • vimtutor: a command-line course (~30 minutes)
  • vimsheet or rtorr: some vim cheat sheets

Get started

The current one is shown at the bottom left of the screen.

  • <nothing> : the command/normal mode
  • INSERTION : the insert/edit mode
  • VISUAL : [...]

To exit VIM, you need to be in command mode. Press ESC (at least once) to go back to it. Then, press : followed by the exit without saving command: q!. πŸ‘‰ See the command section.

πŸ¦„ Not panicking is the key to success. Being trapped in VIM is a popular gag/meme, see these trolls: how-to-exit-vim and VimKiller.


You can configure your editor by creating a file ~/.virmrc. You can find useful configurations online. Look for dotfiles vim.

You can also add plugins to Vim such as ale for IDE-like features.

Add ALE to VIM
mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/git-plugins/start
git clone --depth 1 ~/.vim/pack/git-plugins/start/ale
  • viniciusgerevini dotfile
  • sudo apt-get install vim-runtime
  • sudo apt-get install vim-gui-common

Using CTRL+P, you now have autocompletion.

A basic configuration (syntax highlighting, cursor, tab size, and file encoding)

set fileencodings=UTF-8,utf-8,default,latin1 "file encoding
syntax enable "enable syntax
highlight Cursor guifg=white guibg=black "cursor color
filetype plugin indent on "indentations
set cursorline "show cursor
set tabstop=4 "tabulation size


Start editing

To switch to the INSERTION mode in which you can edit the file:

  • i/a: insert before/after the cursor
  • I/A: insert at the beginning/end of the line
  • o/O: insert at the line under/above ours

Move the cursor

🎯 You must be in command mode.

  • h: move left ⬅️
  • j: move down ⬇️
  • k: move up ⬆️
  • l: move right ➑️
  • 0 or CTRL-^/$ : move the beginning/end of the line
  • gg/G: start/end of the file
  • w/e: start/end of a word

You can jump to a line with: xG (ex: "5G") or :x (ex: ":5"). See CTRL-G.

You can use CTRL-F/CTRL-B to go down/up one screen.


  • :w: save
  • :wq: save and exit
  • :q!: exit and discard changes
  • :q: exit
  • u: undo
  • U : undo all actions of a line
  • CTRL-R : redo


  • yy: copy the current line
  • :yx: copy x lines from the cursor line
  • :n,my: copy lines from n (>=1) to m
  • p/P: paste copy after/before the cursor


  • nx/nX: n characters under/before the cursor
  • d^: every character of the line until the cursor
  • D or d$: every character until the end of the line
  • dd/ndd: delete the current line
  • :n,md: delete lines starting from the line n until the line m



  • /mot: search (descending)
  • ?mot: search (ascending)
  • n: next occurrence
  • N: previous occurrence
  • %symbol: return the matching symbol


  • <</>>: dedent/indent
  • ~: toggle lowercase/uppercase


  • :s/old/new: replace old with new
  • :s/old/new/g: same, for all lines
  • :s/old/new/gc: same but ask for confirmation before
  • :n,ms/old/new/g: same but only n to m lines

Apply an operation before switching to the INSERTION mode:

  • s: delete the character under the cursor
  • cc: delete the current line
  • cw: delete characters starting from the cursor position until the end of the word

Can only be used in command mode:

  • r: replace the character under the cursor
  • R: replace characters while ESC is not pressed

πŸ‘» To-do πŸ‘»

Stuff that I found, but never read/used yet.

  • :w !sudo tee %
  • investigate the . (current line?)
  • $: from the cursor until the end of the line
  • e: end of the word
  • .: under the cursor
  • c: a line
  • ^: from the cursor until the start of the line
  • :!: execute a command
  • :f nom: rename a file
  • :e fichier: open another file
  • :r fichier: print and insert file
  • :!gcc: compile inside vim