Vim is a terminal text editor, an extended version of vi with additional features. To primarily help with editing source code some of Vim's added features include syntax highlighting, a comprehensive help system, native scripting (vimscript), a visual mode for text selection, and comparison of files (vimdiff).
Vim's focus is keyboard-centric and is not a simple text editor like nano or pico—it requires time to learn, and a lifetime to master.
- 1 Installation
- 2 Usage
- 3 Configuration
- 4 Merging files
- 5 Tips and tricks
- 6 Plugins
- 7 See also
Install one of the following packages:
- vim — with Python 2/3, Lua, Ruby and Perl interpreters support but without GTK/X support.
- gvim — which also provides the same as the above
vimpackage with GTK/X support.
For a basic overview on how to use Vim, follow the vim tutorial by running either vimtutor (for the terminal version) or gvimtutor (for the graphical version).
Vim includes a broad help system that can be accessed with the
:h subject command. Subjects include commands, configuration options, key bindings, plugins etc. Use the
:h command (without any subject) for information about the help system and jumping between subjects.
Vim's user-specific configuration file is located in the home directory:
~/.vimrc, and Vim files of current user are located inside
~/.vim/. The global configuration file is located at
/etc/vimrc.local. Global Vim files are located inside
To get some commonly expected behaviors (such as syntax highlighting), add the Vim example configuration to
... runtime! vimrc_example.vim
To enable syntax highlighting (Vim supports a huge list of programming languages):
:filetype plugin on :syntax on
wrap option is on by default, which instructs Vim to wrap lines longer than the width of the window, so that the rest of the line is displayed on the next line. The
wrap option only affects how text is displayed, the text itself is not modified.
The wrapping normally occurs after the last character that fits the window, even when it is in the middle of a word. More intelligent wrapping can be controlled with the
linebreak option. When it is enabled with
set linebreak, the wrapping occurs after characters listed in the
breakat string option, which by default contains a space and some punctuation marks (see
Wrapped lines are normally displayed at the beginning of the next line, regardless of any indentation. The breakindent option instructs Vim to take indentation into account when wrapping long lines, so that the wrapped lines keep the same indentation of the previously displayed line. The behaviour of
breakindent can be fine-tuned with the
breakindentopt option, for example to shift the wrapped line another four spaces to the right for Python files (see
:help breakindentopt for details):
autocmd FileType python set breakindentopt=shift:4
Using the mouse
To enable this feature, add this line into
Traverse line breaks with arrow keys
By default, pressing
← at the beginning of a line, or pressing
→ at the end of a line, will not let the cursor traverse to the previous, or following, line.
The default behavior can be changed by adding
set whichwrap=b,s,<,>,[,] to your
Vim includes a diff editor (a program that shows differences between two or more files and aids to conveniently merge them). Use vimdiff to run the diff editor — just specify some couple of files to it:
vimdiff file1 file2. Here is the list of vimdiff-specific commands.
Tips and tricks
To show the line number column, use
:set number. By default absolute line numbers are shown, relative numbers can be enabled with
Jumping to a specific line is possible with
:line number or
line numbergg. Jumps are remembered in a jump list, see
:h jump-motions for details.
Vim has the ability to do spell checking, enable by entering:
By default, only English language dictionaries are installed. More dictionaries can be found in the official repositories by searching for
vim-spell. Additional dictionaries can be found in the Vim's FTP archive. Additional dictionaries can be put in the folder
~/.vim/spell/ and enabled with the command:
:setlocal spell spelllang=en_us (replacing the
en_us with the name of the needed dictionary).
|spelling good, add|
|spelling good, session|
|spelling wrong, add|
|spelling wrong, session|
|spelling repeat all in file|
Save cursor position
If you want the cursor to appear in its previous position after you open a file, add the following to your
augroup resCur autocmd! autocmd BufReadPost * call setpos(".", getpos("'\"")) augroup END
Replace vi command with Vim
Create an alias for
DOS/Windows carriage returns
If there is a
^M at the end of each line then this means you are editing a text file which was created in MS-DOS or Windows. This is because in Linux only a single line feed character (LF) used for line break, but in Windows/MS DOS systems they are using a sequence of a carriage return (CR) and a line feed (LF) for the same. And this carriage returns are displayed as
To remove all carriage returns from a file do:
Note that there
^ is a control letter. To enter the control sequence
Alternatively install the package dos2unix and run
dos2unix file to fix the file.
When using a window manager configured to ignore window size hints, gVim will fill the non-functional area with the GTK theme background color.
The solution is to adjust how much space gVim reserves at the bottom of the window. Put the following line in
Adding plugins to Vim can increase your productivity. Plugins can alter Vim's UI, add new commands, code completion support, integrate other programs and utilities with Vim, add support for additional languages and more.
Using a plugin manager
A plugin manager allows to install and manage Vim plugins in a similar way independently on which platform you are running Vim. It is a plugin that acts as a package manager for other Vim plugins.
- Vundle is currently the most popular plugin manager for Vim.
- Vim-plug is a minimalist Vim plugin manager with many features like on-demand plugin loading and parallel updating.
- pathogen.vim is a simple plugin for managing Vim's runtimepath.
- Dein.vim is a fairly new and fast Vim/Neovim plugin manager replacing NeoBundle.
Cscope is a tool for browsing a project. By navigating to a word/symbol/function and calling cscope (usually with shortcut keys) it can find: functions calling the function, the function definition, and more.
Copy the cscope default file where it will be automatically read by Vim:
mkdir -p ~/.vim/plugin wget -P ~/.vim/plugin http://cscope.sourceforge.net/cscope_maps.vim
Create a file which contains the list of files you wish cscope to index (cscope can handle many languages but this example finds .c, .cpp and .h files, specific for C/C++ project):
cd /path/to/project/dir find . -type f -print | grep -E '\.(c(pp)?|h)$' > cscope.files
Create database files that cscope will read:
Default keyboard shortcuts:
Ctrl-\ and c: Find functions calling this function d: Find functions called by this function e: Find this egrep pattern f: Find this file g: Find this definition i: Find files #including this file s: Find this C symbol t: Find assignments to
Feel free to change the shortcuts.
#Maps ctrl-c to find functions calling the function nnoremap <C-c> :cs find c <C-R>=expand("<cword>")<CR><CR>
Taglist provides an overview of the structure of source code files and allows you to efficiently browse through source code files in different programming languages.
Useful options to be put in
let Tlist_Compact_Format = 1 let Tlist_GainFocus_On_ToggleOpen = 1 let Tlist_Close_On_Select = 1 nnoremap <C-l> :TlistToggle<CR>
- vim Tutorial and Primer
- vi Tutorial and Reference Guide
- Graphical vi-Vim Cheat Sheet and Tutorial
- Vim Introduction and Tutorial
- Open Vim — collection of Vim learning tools
- Learn Vim Progressively
- Learning Vim in 2014
- Seven habits of effective text editing
- Basic Vim Tips
- HOWTO Vim
- Vimcasts — screencasts in .ogg format.
- Vim Tutorial Videos — covering the basics up to advanced topics.
- A detailed configuration from Amir Salihefendic
- Bart Trojanowski
- Steve Francia'http://vimawesome.com/s Vim Distribution
- W4RH4WK's Vim configuration
- Fast vimrc/colorscheme from askapache
- Basic vimrc