#A Great Vim Cheat Sheet

#Cursor movement (Inside command/normal mode)

The four directions in Vim, keys h, j, k, and l.

  • w — jump by start of words (punctuation considered words)
  • W — jump by words (spaces separate words)
  • e — jump to end of words (punctuation considered words)
  • E — jump to end of words (no punctuation)
  • b — jump backward by words (punctuation considered words)
  • B — jump backward by words (no punctuation)
  • 0 — (zero) start of line
  • ^ — first non-blank character of line (same as 0w)
  • $ — end of line
  • Advanced (in order of what I find useful)
    • Ctrl+d — move down half a page
    • Ctrl+u — move up half a page
    • } — go forward by paragraph (the next blank line)
    • { — go backward by paragraph (the next blank line)
    • gg — go to the top of the page
    • G — go the bottom of the page
    • : [num] [enter] — Go To that line in the document
    • Searching
      • f [char] — Move to the next char on the current line after the cursor
      • F [char] — Move to the next char on the current line before the cursor
      • t [char] — Move to before the next char on the current line after the cursor
      • T [char] — Move to before the next char on the current line before the cursor
      • All these commands can be followed by ; (semicolon) to go to the next searched item, and , (comma) to go the the previous searched item

##Insert/Appending/Editing Text

  • Results in insert mode
    • i — start insert mode at cursor
    • I — insert at the beginning of the line
    • a — append after the cursor
    • A — append at the end of the line
    • o — open (append) blank line below current line (no need to press return)
    • O — open blank line above current line
    • cc — change (replace) an entire line
    • c [movement command] — change (replace) from the cursor to the move-to point.
    • ex. ce changes from the cursor to the end of the cursor word
  • Esc or Ctrl+[ — exit insert mode
  • r [char] — replace a single character with the specified char (does not use insert mode)
  • d — delete
    • d — [movement command] deletes from the cursor to the move-to point.
    • ex. de deletes from the cursor to the end of the current word
  • dd — delete the current line
  • Advanced
    • J — join line below to the current one

##Marking text (visual mode)

  • v — starts visual mode
    • From here you can move around as in normal mode (hjkl, etc.) and can then do a command (such as yd, or c)
  • V — starts linewise visual mode
  • Ctrl+v — start visual block mode
  • Esc or Ctrl+[ — exit visual mode
  • Advanced
    • O — move to Other corner of block
    • o — move to other end of marked area

##Visual commands Type any of these while some text is selected to apply the action

  • y — yank (copy) marked text
  • d — delete marked text
  • c — delete the marked text and go into insert mode (like c does above)

##Cut and Paste

  • yy — yank (copy) a line
  • p — put (paste) the clipboard after cursor
  • P — put (paste) before cursor
  • dd — delete (cut) a line
  • x — delete (cut) current character
  • X — delete previous character (like backspace)


  • :w — write (save) the file, but don’t exit
  • :wq — write (save) and quit
  • :q — quit (fails if anything has changed)
  • :q! — quit and throw away changes


  • /pattern — search for pattern
  • ?pattern — search backward for pattern
  • n — repeat search in same direction
  • N — repeat search in opposite direction
  • :%s/old/new/g — replace all old with new throughout file (gn is better though)
  • :%s/old/new/gc — replace all old with new throughout file with confirmations

##Working with multiple files

  • :e filename — Edit a file
  • :tabe — Make a new tab
  • gt — Go to the next tab
  • gT — Go to the previous tab
  • Advanced
    • :vsp — vertically split windows
    • ctrl+ws — Split windows horizontally
    • ctrl+wv — Split windows vertically
    • ctrl+ww — switch between windows
    • ctrl+wq — Quit a window

##Marks Marks allow you to jump to designated points in your code.

  • m{a-z} — Set mark {a-z} at cursor position
  • A capital mark {A-Z} sets a global mark and will work between files
  • ‘{a-z} — move the cursor to the start of the line where the mark was set
  • ‘’ — go back to the previous jump location


  • u — undo
  • Ctrl+r — redo
  • . — repeat last command

#Making Vim actually useful Vim is quite unpleasant out of the box. For example, typeing :w for every file save is awkward and copying and pasting to the system clipboard does not work. But a few changes will get you much closer to the editor of your dreams.


  • My .vimrc file has some pretty great ideas I haven’t seen elsewhere.
  • This is a minimal vimrc that focuses on three priorities:
    • adding options that are strictly better (like more information showing in autocomplete)
    • more convenient keystrokes (like [space]w for write, instead of :w [enter])
    • a similar workflow to normal text editors (like enabling the mouse)


  • Copy this to your home directory and restart Vim. Read through it to see what you can now do (like [space]w to save a file)
    • Mac users — making a hidden normal file is suprisingly tricky. Here’s one way:
      • in the command line, go to the home directory
      • type nano .vimrc
      • paste in the contents of the .vimrc file
      • ctrl+xy[enter] to save
  • You should now be able to press [space]w in normal mode to save a file.
  • [space]p should paste from the system clipboard (outside of Vim).
    • If you can’t paste, it’s probably because Vim was not built with the system clipboard option. To check, run vim --version and see if +clipboard exists. If it says -clipboard, you will not be able to copy from outside of Vim.
    • For Mac users, homebrew install Vim with the clipboard option. Install homebrew and then run brew install vim.
      • then move the old Vim binary: $ mv /usr/bin/vim /usr/bin/vimold
      • restart your terminal and you should see vim --version now with +clipboard


  • The easiest way to make Vim more powerful is to use Vintageous in Sublime Text (version 3). This gives you Vim mode inside sublime. I suggest this (or a similar setup with the Atom editor) if you aren’t a Vim master. Check out Advanced Vim if you are.
  • Vintageous is great, but I suggest you change a few settings to make it better.
    • Clone this repository to ~/.config/sublime-text-3/Packages/Vintageous, or similar. Then check out the “custom” branch.
      • Alternatively, you can get a more updated Vintageous version by cloning the official repository and then copying over this patch.
    • Change the user settings (User/Preferences.sublime-settings) to include:
      • "caret_style": "solid"
      • This will make the cursor not blink, like in Vim.
      • Sublime Text might freeze when you do this. It’s a bug; just restart Sublime Text after changing the file.
    • ctrl+r in Vim means “redo”. But there is a handy Ctrl + R shortcut in Sublime Text that gives an “outline” of a file. I remapped it to alt+r by putting this in the User keymap
      • { "keys": ["alt+r"], "command": "show_overlay", "args": {"overlay": "goto", "text": "@"} },
    • Add the ability to toggle Vintageous on and off
    • Mac users: you will not have the ability to hold down a navigation key (like holding j to go down). To fix this, run the commands specified here: https://gist.github.com/kconragan/2510186
  • Now you should be able to restart sublime and have a great vim environment! Sweet Dude.

##Switch Caps Lock and Escape

  • I highly recommend you switch the mapping of your caps lock and escape keys. You’ll love it, promise! Switching the two keys is platform dependent; Google should get you the answer

##Other I don’t personally use these yet, but I’ve heard other people do!

  • :wqa — Write and quit all open tabs (thanks Brian Zick)