Published Nov 02 2020
vim is a very popular file editor, especially among programmers. It’s actively developed and frequently updated, and there’s a very big community around it. There’s even a Vim conference!
vi in modern systems is just an alias to
vim, which means
You start it by running
vi on the command line.
You can specify a filename at invocation time to edit that specific file:
You have to know that Vim has 2 main modes:
When you start the editor, you are in command mode. You can’t enter text like you expect from a GUI-based editor. You have to enter insert mode. You can do this by pressing the
i key. Once you do so, the
-- INSERT -- word appear at the bottom of the editor:
Now you can start typing and filling the screen with the file contents:
You can move around the file with the arrow keys, or using the
h-l for left-right,
j-k for down-up.
Once you are done editing you can press the
esc key to exit insert mode, and go back to command mode.
At this point you can navigate the file, but you can’t add content to it (and be careful which keys you press as they might be commands).
One thing you might want to do now is saving the file. You can do so by pressing
: (colon), then
You can save and quit pressing
You can quit without saving, pressing
You can undo and edit by going to command mode and pressing
u. You can redo (cancel an undo) by pressing
Those are the basics of working with Vim. From here starts a rabbit hole we can’t go into in this little introduction.
I will only mention those commands that will get you started editing with Vim:
xkey deletes the character currently highlighted
Agoes at the end of the currently selected line
0to go to the start of the line
wto delete that word. If you follow it with
w, the white space before the next word is preserved
wto delete more than 1 word, for example use
d3wto delete 3 words forward
dto delete a whole entire line. Press
$to delete the entire line from where the cursor is, until the end
To find out more about Vim I can recommend the Vim FAQ and especially running the
vimtutor command, which should already be installed in your system and will greatly help you start your
I wrote an entire book on this topic 👇