Emergency vim

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page is a basic tutorial for vi or vim.

vi is one of unix's fsckup. Sometimes in a emergency situation you are forced to deal with vi, and fscking unix admins refuse to install emacs. Here's your help.

vi man
vi man

To insert text, move cursor to the right place, then press i, then type your text. After you are done, type Escape to exit the insertion mode.

To delete text, move cursor to the right place and press x. (if x is inserted, that means you forgot to exit the insert mode. Type Escape to exit insertion mode. Type u to undo.)

When something doesn't work, or if you accidentally typed something and have no idea what is going on, try press Escape, then type u for undo. If a cat jumped onto your keyboard and you cannot exit vi, type the shell suspend command Ctrl+z, which should get you back on the unix command prompt, then you can kill. (by first find out the pid by ps auwwx | grep vi, then kill -9 pid).

Congratulation! You've learned emergency vi.

It may be confusing, but with the above you can edit any text files with vi.

Installing vim

By default, the vi in Ubuntu 12.04 (as of ) is “vim.tiny”, a very basic vi-like vim. You should install full vim.

For how to install and other detail, see: Ubuntu Linux: vim Location and Versions.

What is the difference between vi and vim?

“vi” was the original editor from 1976. “vim” is “Vi IMproved”, a enhanced version started in 1991.

Basic vi Commands

Remember, in vi, it has modes. At any one time, you are either in command mode or text insertion mode. To go to the command mode, just press Escape. To go into editing mode, press i.

Goto Insertion Mode

Undo and Redo

Cursor Movement

Deleting Text

Copy and Paste

How to copy?

press 【v】 at the beginning of copy/cut position, then move cursor, then press 【d】 to cut, 【y】 to copy.

Note that when you delete a word or many words, the word is automatically put into the clipboard.


Find Replace

Comment/Uncomment Block

How to comment/uncomment a text block?

press Ctrl+v (called “visual block”), move cursor to select, then press I # Escape to insert # to all lines in the block.

To uncomment a block, do the same except just press 【x】 to kill a char.

Syntax Coloring

Line Numbers

Advanced Topics

Opening File

vi clippy assistant

Vim Init Files

default vim init file path: ~/.vimrc

How to Remap the Escape Key?

Vim: How to Remap the Escape Key?

misc notes

How to refresh buffer?

Type 【:e】

Ctrl+s Freezes vi

Linux: Ctrl+s Freezes vi and Terminal Key History ⌨

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