Vi/Ex Quick Reference

Vi and its terminal-based companion, ex, are editors available for all Linux and UNIX systems. This Notes contains reference guides to vi and ex commands.

See also the Vi Editor.

Vi Quick Reference

Entering/leaving vi

% vi name edit name at top
% vi +n name edit name at line n
% vi + name edit name at end
% vi -r list saved files
% vi -r name recover file name
% vi name ... edit first; rest via :n
% vi -t tag start at tag
% vi +/pat name search for pat
% view name read only mode
ZZ exit from vi, saving changes
^Z stop vi for later resumption

The display

Last line Error messages, echoing input to : / ? !, feedback about i/o and large changes.
@ lines On screen only, not in file.
~ lines Lines past end of file.
^x Control characters, ^? is delete.
tabs Expand to spaces, cursor at last.

Vi states

Command Normal and initial state. Others return here. ESC (escape) cancels partial command.
Insert Entered by a i A I o O c C s S R. Arbitrary text then terminates with ESC character, or abnormally with interrupt.
Last line Reading input for : / ? !; terminate with ESC or CR to execute, interrupt to cancel.

Counts before vi commands

line/column number z G |
scroll amount ^D ^U
replicate insert a i A I
repeat effect most rest

Simple commands

dw delete a word
de delete a word leaving punctuation
dd delete a line
3dd delete 3 lines
itextESC insert text text
cwnewESC change word to new
easESC pluralize word
xp transpose characters

Interrupting, cancelling

ESC end insert or incomplete cmd
^C Control-C interrupts
^R or ^L redraw screen if scrambled

File manipulation

:w write back changes
:wq write and quit
:q quit
:q! quit, discard changes
:e name edit file name
:e! reedit, discard changes
:e + name edit, starting at end
:e +n edit starting at line n
:e # edit alternate file
|/B> synonym for :e #
:w name write file name
:w! name overwrite file name
:sh run shell, then return
:!cmd run cmd, then return
:n edit next file in arglist
:n args specify new arglist
:f show current file and line
^G synonym for :f
:ta tag to tag file entry tag
^] :ta, following word is tag

Positioning within file

^F forward screenfull
^B backward screenfull
^D scroll down half screen
^U scroll up half screen
G goto line (end default)
/pat next line matching pat
?pat prev line matching pat
n repeat last / or ?
N reverse last / or ?
/pat/+n n'th line after pat
?pat?n n'th line before pat
]] next section/function
[[ previous section/function
% find matching ( ) { or }

Adjusting the screen

^R redraw, eliminate @ lines
zCR redraw, current at window top
z ... at bottom
z. ... at center
/pat/z pat line at bottom
zn. use n line window
^E scroll window down 1 line
^Y scroll window up 1 line

Marking and returning

`` previous context
'' ... at first non-white in line
mx mark position with letter x
`x to mark x
'x ... at first non-white in line

Line positioning

H home window line
L last window line
M middle window line
+ next line, at first non-white
- previous line, at first non-white
CR return, same as +
↓ or j next line, same column
↑ or k previous line, same column

Character positioning

^ first non white
0 beginning of line
$ end of line
h or → forward
l or ← backwards
^H same as ←
space same as →
fx find x forward
Fx f backward
tx upto x forward
Tx back upto x
; repeat last f F t or T
, inverse of ;
| to specified column
% find matching ( { ) or }

Words, sentences, paragraphs

w word forward
b back word
e end of word
) to next sentence
} to next paragraph
( back sentence
{ back paragraph
W blank delimited word
B back W
E to end of W

Commands for LISP

) Forward s-expression
} ... but don't stop at atoms
( Back s-expression
{ ... but don't stop at atoms

Corrections during insert

^H erase last character
^W erases last word
erase your erase, same as ^H
kill your kill, erase input this line
\ escapes ^H, your erase and kill
ESC ends insertion, back to command
^[ (alternative way of typing ESC)
^C interrupt, terminates insert
^D backtab over autoindent
kill autoindent, save for next
0^D ... but at margin next also
^V quote non-printing character

Insert and replace

a append after cursor
i insert before
A append at end of line
I insert before first non-blank
o open line below
O open above
rx replace single char with x
R replace characters

Operators (double to affect lines)

d delete
c change
< left shift
> right shift
! filter through command
= indent for LISP
y yank lines to buffer

Miscellaneous operations

C change rest of line
D delete rest of line
s substitute chars
S substitute lines
J join lines
x delete characters
X ... before cursor
Y yank lines

Yank and put

p put back lines
P put before
"xp put from buffer x
"xy yank to buffer x
"xd delete into buffer x

Undo, redo, retrieve

u undo last change
U restore current line
. repeat last change
"dp retrieve d'th last delete

Ex Quick Reference

Entering/leaving ex

% ex name edit name, start at end
% ex +n name ... at line n
% ex -t tag start at tag
% ex -r list saved files
% ex -r name recover file name
% ex name ... edit first; rest via :n
% ex -R name read only mode
:x exit, saving changes
:q! exit, discarding changes

Ex states

Command Normal and initial state. Input prompted for by :. Your kill character cancels partial command.
Insert Entered by a i and c. Arbitrary text then terminates with line having only . character on it or abnormally with interrupt.
Open/visual Entered by open or vi, terminates with Q or ^\

Ex commands

abbrev ab next n unabbrev una
append a number nu undo u
args ar open o unmap unm
change c preserve pre version ve
copy co print p visual vi
delete d put pu write w
edit e quit q xit x
file f read re yank ya
global g recover rec window z
insert i rewind rew escape !
join j set se lshift <
list l shell sh print next CR
map   source so resubst &
mark ma stop st rshift >
move m substitute s scroll ^D

Ex command addresses

n line n /pat next with pat
&. current ?pat previous with pat
$ last x-n n before x
+ next x,y x through y
  previous 'x marked with x
+n n forward previous context
% 1,$    

Specifying terminal type

set term=type

Some terminal types

tvi912c tvi905 tvi925 tvi950 tvi910+
NL vt100 kermit 4014 vt52

Initializing options

EXINIT place set's here in environment var.
set x enable option
set nox disable option
set x=val give value val
set show changed options
set all show all options
set x? show value of option x

Useful options

autoindent ai supply indent
autowrite aw write before changing files
ignorecase ic in scanning
lisp   ( ) { } are s-exp's
list   print ^I for tab, $ at end
magic   . [ * special in patterns
number nu number lines
paragraphs para macro names which start ...
redraw   simulate smart terminal
scroll   command mode lines
sections sect macro names ...
shiftwidth sw for < >, and input ^D
showmatch sm to ) and } as typed
slowopen slow choke updates during insert
window   visual mode lines
wrapscan ws around end of buffer?
wrapmargin wm automatic line splitting

Scanning pattern formation

^ beginning of line  
$ end of line  
. any character  
\< beginning of word  
\> end of word  
[str] any char in str  
[^str] ... not in str  
[xy] ... between x and y  
* any number of preceding