VI cheatsheet

Advanced Vi Cheat Sheet


General Notes:

1. Before doing anything to a document, type the following
command followed by a carriage return: :set showmode

2. VI is CaSe
SEnsItiVe!!! So make sure Caps Lock is OFF.


Starting and Ending VI


Starting VI
vi filename Edits filename
vi -r filename Edits last save version of filename after a crash
vi + n filename Edits filename and places curser at line n
vi + filename Edits filename and places curser on last line
vi +/string filename Edits filename and places curser on first occurance of
string
vi filename file2 Edits filename, then edits file2 … After the save, use
:n
   
Ending VI
ZZ or :wq or :x Saves and exits VI
:w Saves current file but doesn’t exit
:w! Saves current file overriding normal checks but doesn’t exit

:w file Saves current as file but doesn’t exit
:w! file Saves to file overriding normal checks but doesn’t exit
:n,mw file Saves lines n through m to file
:n,mw
>>file
Saves lines n through m to the end of file
:q Quits VI and may prompt if you need to save
:q! Quits VI and without saving
:e! Edits file discarding any unsaved changes (starts over)
:we! Saves and continues to edit current
file

Status


:.= Shows current line number
:= Shows number of lines in file
Control-G Shows filename, current line number, total lines in file, and % of
file location
l Displays tab (^l) backslash (\) backspace (^H) newline ($) bell (^G)
formfeed (^L^) of current line

Modes


Vi has two modes insertion mode and command mode. The editor begins in
command mode, where the cursor movement and text deletion and pasting
occur. Insertion mode begins upon entering an insertion or change command.
[ESC] returns the editor to command mode (where you can quit, for example
by typing :q!). Most commands execute as soon as you type them except for
“colon” commands which execute when you press the ruturn key.

Inserting Text


i Insert before cursor
I Insert before line
a Append after cursor
A Append after line
o Open a new line after current line
O Open a new line before current line
r Replace one character
R Replace many characters
CTRL-v char While inserting, ignores special meaning of char (e.g., for inserting
characters like ESC and CTRL) until ESC is used
:r file Reads file and inserts it after current line
:nr file Reads file and inserts it after line n
CTRL-i or TAB While inserting, inserts one shift width

Things to do while in Insert Mode:
CTRL-h or Backspace While inserting, deletes previous character
CTRL-w While inserting, deletes previous word
CTRL-x While inserting, deletes to start of inserted text
CTRL-v Take the next character literally. (i.e. To insert a Control-H, type
Control-v Control-h)

Motion


h Move left
j Move down
k Move up
l Move right
Arrow Keys These do work, but they may be too slow on big files. Also may have
unpredictable results when arrow keys are not mapped correctly in
client.
w Move to next word
W Move to next blank delimited word
b Move to the beginning of the word
B Move to the beginning of blank delimted word
^ Moves to the first non-blank character in the current line
+ or Moves to the first character in the next line
Moves to the first non-blank character in the previous line
e Move to the end of the word
E Move to the end of Blank delimited word
( Move a sentance back
) Move a sentance forward
{ Move a paragraph back
} Move a paragraph forward
0 or | Move to the begining of the line
n| Moves to the column n in the current
line
$ Move to the end of the line
1G Move to the first line of the file
G Move to the last line of the file
nG Move to nth line of the file
:n Move to nth line of the file
fc Move forward to c
Fc Move back to c
H Move to top of screen
nH Moves to nth line from the top of the
screen
M Move to middle of screen
L Move to botton of screen
nL Moves to nth line from the bottom of the
screen
Control-d Move forward ½ screen
Control-f Move forward one full screen
Control-u Move backward ½ screen
Control-b Move backward one full screen
CTRL-e Moves screen up one line
CTRL-y Moves screen down one line
CTRL-u Moves screen up ½ page
CTRL-d Moves screen down ½ page
CTRL-b Moves screen up one page
CTRL-f Moves screen down one page
CTRL-I Redraws screen
z z-carriage return makes the current line the top line on the
page
nz Makes the line n the top line on the
page
z. Makes the current line the middle line on the page
nz. Makes the line n the middle line on the
page
z- Makes the current line the bottom line on the page
nz- Makes the line n the bottom line on the
page
% Move to associated ( ), { }, [ ]

Deleting Text


Almost all deletion commands are performed by typing d followed by a
motion. For example, dw deletes a word. A few other deletes
are:
x Delete character to the right of cursor
nx Deletes n characters starting with current; omitting n deletes current
character only
X Delete character to the left of cursor
nX Deletes previous n characters; omitting n deletes previous character
only
D Delete to the end of the line
d$ Deletes from the cursor to the end of the line
dd or :d Delete current line
ndw Deletes the next n words starting with
current
ndb Deletes the previous n words starting with
current
ndd Deletes n lines beginning with the current
line
:n,md

Deletes lines n through m dMotion_cmd Deletes everything included in the Motion Command
(e.g., dG would delete from current position to the end of the file, and
d4 would delete to the end of the fourth sentence).

np Retrieves the last nth delete (last 9 deletes
are kept in a buffer) “1pu.u. Scrolls through the delete buffer until the desired delete is
retrieved (repeat u.)

Yanking Text


Like deletion, almost all yank commands are performed by typing y
followed by a motion. For example, y$ yanks to the end of the line. Two
other yank commands are:
yy Yank the current line
:y Yank the current line
nyy or nY Places n lines in the buffer-copies
yMotion_cmd Copies everything from the curser to the Motion Command
(e.g., yG would copy from current position to the end of the file, and y4
would copy to the end of the fourth sentence)
“(az)nyy or “(az)ndd Copies or cuts (deletes) n lines into a named
buffer a through z;
omitting n works on current line

Changing text


The change command is a deletion command that leaves the editor in
insert mode. It is performed by typing c followed by a motion. For example
cw changes a word. A few other change commands are:
C Change to the end of the line
cc or S Change the whole line until ESC is pressed
xp Switches character at cursor with following character
stext Substitutes text for the current character until ESC is used
cwtext Changes current word to text until ESC is used
Ctext Changes rest of the current line to text until ESC is used
cMotion_cmd Changes to text from current position to Motion Command until
ESC is used
<< or >> Shifts the line left or right (respectively) by one shift width (a
tab)
n<< or n>> Shifts n lines left or right (respectively) by
one shift width (a tab)
<Motion_cmd or >Motion_cmd Use with Motion
Command
to shift multiple lines left or
right

Putting text


p Put after the position or after the line
P Put before the poition or before the line
“(az)p or “(az)P Pastes text from a named buffer a through
z after or before the current
line

Buffers


Named buffers may be specified before any deletion, change, yank or
put command. The general prefix has the form “c where c is any lowercase
character. for example, “adw deletes a word into buffer a. It may
thereafter be put back into text with an appropriate
“ap.

Markers


Named markers may be set on any line in a file. Any lower case letter
may be a marker name. Markers may also be used as limits for
ranges.
mc Set marker c on this line
`c Go to beginning of marker c line.
c Go to first non-blank character of marker c
line.

Search for strings


/string Search forward for string
?string Search back for string
n Search for next instance of string
N Search for previous instance of string
% Searches to beginning of balancing ( ) [ ] or { }
fc Searches forward in current line to char
Fc Searches backward in current line to char
tc Searches forward in current line to character before char
Tchar Searches backward in current line to character before char
?str Finds in reverse for str
:set ic Ignores case when searching
:set noic Pays attention to case when searching
:n,ms/str1/str2/opt Searches from n to m
for str1; replaces str1 to str2; using opt-opt can be
g for global change, c to confirm change (y to acknowledge, to
suppress), and p to print changed lines
& Repeats last :s command
:g/str/cmd Runs cmd on all lines that contain str
:g/str1/s/str2/str3/ Finds the line containing str1, replaces str2 with
str3
:v/str/cmd Executes cmd on all lines that do not match str
, Repeats, in reverse direction, last / or ? search
command

Replace


The search and replace function is accomplished with the :s command.
It is commonly used in combination with ranges or the :g command
(below).
:s/pattern/string/flags Replace pattern with string according to
flags.
g Flag – Replace all occurences of pattern
c Flag – Confirm replaces.
& Repeat last :s command

Regular Expressions


. (dot) Any single character except newline
* zero or more occurances of any character
[…] Any single character specified in the set
[^…] Any single character not specified in the set
\< Matches beginning of word
\> Matches end of word
^ Anchor – beginning of the line
$ Anchor – end of line
\< Anchor – begining of word
\> Anchor – end of word
\(…\) Grouping – usually used to group conditions
\n Contents of nth grouping
\ Escapes the meaning of the next character (e.g., \$ allows you to
search for $)
\\ Escapes the \ character

[…] – Set Examples
[A-Z] The SET from Capital A to Capital Z
[a-z] The SET from lowercase a to lowercase z
[0-9] The SET from 0 to 9 (All numerals)
[./=+] The SET containing . (dot), / (slash), =, and +
[-A-F] The SET from Capital A to Capital F and the dash (dashes must be
specified first)
[0-9 A-Z] The SET containing all capital letters and digits and a space
[A-Z][a-zA-Z] In the first position, the SET from Capital A to Capital Z
In the
second character position, the SET containing all letters
[a-z]{m} Look for m occurances of the SET from
lowercase a to lowercase z
[a-z]{m,n} Look for at least m occurances, but no more
than n occurances of the SET from lowercase a to
lowercase z

Regular Expression Examples
/Hello/ Matches if the line contains the value Hello
/^TEST$/ Matches if the line contains TEST by itself
/^[a-zA-Z]/ Matches if the line starts with any letter
/^[a-z].*/ Matches if the first character of the line is a-z and there is at
least one more of any character following it
/2134$/ Matches if line ends with 2134
/\(21|35\)/ Matches is the line contains 21 or 35
Note the use of ( ) with the
pipe symbol to specify the ‘or’ condition
/[0-9]*/ Matches if there are zero or more numbers in the line
/^[^#]/ Matches if the first character is not a # in the line
Notes:
1. Regular expressions are case sensitive
2.
Regular expressions are to be used where pattern is
specified

Counts


Nearly every command may be preceded by a number that specifies how
many times it is to be performed. For example, 5dw will delete 5 words and
3fe will move the cursor forward to the 3rd occurence of the letter e.
Even insertions may be repeated conveniently with this method, say to
insert the same line 100 times.

Ranges


Ranges may precede most “colon” commands and cause them to be executed
on a line or lines. For example :3,7d would delete lines 3-7. Ranges are
commonly combined with the :s command to perform a replacement on several
lines, as with :.,$s/pattern/string/g to make a replacement from the
current line to the end of the file.
:n,m Range – Lines nm
:. Range – Current line
:$ Range – Last line
:’c Range – Marker c
:% Range – All lines in file
:g/pattern/ Range – All lines that contain
pattern

Shell Functions


:! cmd Executes shell command cmd; you can add these special characters to
indicate:% name of current file# name of last file edited
!! cmd Executes shell command cmd, places output in file starting at current
line
:!! Executes last shell command
:r! cmd Reads and inserts output from cmd
:f file Renames current file to file
:w !cmd Sends currently edited file to cmd as standard input and execute
cmd
:cd dir Changes current working directory to dir
:sh Starts a sub-shell (CTRL-d returns to editor)
:so file Reads and executes commands in file (file is a shell script)
!Motion_cmd Sends text from current position to Motion Command to
shell command cmd
!}sort Sorts from current position to end of paragraph and replaces text with
sorted text

Files


:w file Write to file
:r file Read file in after line
:n Go to next file
:p Go to previous file
:e file Edit file
!!program Replace line with output from
program

VI Settings


Note: Options given are default. To change them, enter type :set
option to turn them on or :set nooptioni to turn them off.To make them
execute every time you open VI, create a file in your HOME directory called
.exrc and type the options without the colon (:) preceding the
option
:set ai Turns on auto indentation
:set all Prints all options to the screen
:set ap Prints line after d c J m :s t u commands
:set bf Discards control characters from input
:set dir=tmp Sets tmp to directory or buffer file
:set eb Precedes error messages with a bell
:set ic Ignores case when searching
:set lisp Modifies brackets for Lisp compatibility.
:set list Shows tabs (^l) and end of line ($)
:set magic Allows pattern matching with special characters
:set mesg Allows others to send messages
:set nooption Turns off option
:set nu Shows line numbers
:set opt Speeds output; eliminates automatic RETURN
:set prompt Prompts for command input with :
:set re Simulates smart terminal on dumb terminal
:set report Indicates largest size of changes reported on status line
:set ro Changes file type to “read only”
:set scroll=n set n lines for CTRL-d and z
:set sh=shell_path set shell escape (default is /bin/sh) to shell_path
:set showmode Indicates input or replace mode at bottom
:set sw=n Sets shift width to n characters
:set term Prints terminal type
:set terse Shorten messages with terse
:set timeout Eliminates one-second time limit for macros
:set tl=n Sets significance of tags beyond n characters
(0 means all)
:set ts=n Sets tab stops to n for text input
:set wa Inhibits normal checks before write commands
:set warn Warns “no write since last change”
:set window=n Sets number of lines in a text window to n
:set wm=n Sets automatic wraparound n spaces from right
margin.

Key Mapping


NOTE: Map allows you to define strings of VI commands. If you create
a file called “.exrc” in your home directory, any map or set command you place
inside this file will be executed every time you run VI. To imbed control
characters like ESC in the macro, you need to precede them with CTRL-v. If you
need to include quotes (“), precede them with a \ (backslash). Unused keys in
vi are: K V g q v * = and the function keys.
Example
(The actual VI commands are in blue): :map v /I CTRL-v
ESC dwiYou CTRL-v ESC ESC
Description: When v is
pressed, search for “I” (/I ESC), delete word (dw), and insert “You” (iYou
ESC). CTRL-v allows ESC to be inserted
:map key cmd_seq Defines key to run cmd_seq when pressed

:map Displays all created macros on status line
:unmap key Removes macro definition for key
:ab str string When str is input, replaces it with string
:ab Displays all abbreviations
:una str Unabbreviates str

Other


~ Toggle upp and lower case
J Join lines
nJ Joins the next n lines together; omitting n
joins the beginning of the next line to the end of the current line
. Repeat last text-changing command
u Undo last change (Note: u in combination with . can allow multiple
levels of undo in some versions)
U Undo all changes to line
; Repeats last f F t or T search
command


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