Saturday, April 9, 2016

vi cheat sheet in linux

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
Saves current file but doesn't exit
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
Saves lines n through m to file
:n,mw >>file
Saves lines n through m to the end of file
Quits VI and may prompt if you need to save
Quits VI and without saving
Edits file discarding any unsaved changes (starts over)
Saves and continues to edit current file


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


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

Insert before cursor
Insert before line
Append after cursor
Append after line
Open a new line after current line
Open a new line before current line
Replace one character
Replace many characters
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
Reads file and inserts it after line n
While inserting, inserts one shift width

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


Move left
Move down
Move up
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.
Move to next word
Move to next blank delimited word
Move to the beginning of the word
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
Move to the end of the word
Move to the end of Blank delimited word
Move a sentence back
Move a sentence forward
Move a paragraph back
Move a paragraph forward
Move a section back
Move a section forward
0 or |
Move to the begining of the line
Moves to the column n in the current line
Move to the end of the line
Move to the first line of the file
Move to the last line of the file
Move to nth line of the file
Move to nth line of the file
Move forward to c
Move back to c
Move to top of screen
Moves to nth line from the top of the screen
Move to middle of screen
Move to botton of screen
Moves to nth line from the bottom of the screen
Move forward ½ screen
Move forward one full screen
Move backward ½ screen
Move backward one full screen
Moves screen up one line
Moves screen down one line
Moves screen up ½ page
Moves screen down ½ page
Moves screen up one page
Moves screen down one page
Redraws screen
z-carriage return makes the current line the top line on the page
Makes the line n the top line on the page
Makes the current line the middle line on the page
Makes the line n the middle line on the page
Makes the current line the bottom line on the page
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:

Delete character to the right of cursor
Deletes n characters starting with current; omitting n deletes current character only
Delete character to the left of cursor
Deletes previous n characters; omitting n deletes previous character only
Delete to the end of the line
Deletes from the cursor to the end of the line
dd or :d
Delete current line
Deletes the next n words starting with current
Deletes the previous n words starting with current
Deletes n lines beginning with the current line
Deletes lines n through m
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).
Retrieves the last nth delete (last 9 deletes are kept in a buffer)
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:

Yank the current line
Yank the current line
nyy or nY
Places n lines in the buffer-copies
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)
"(a-z)nyy or "(a-z)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:

Change to the end of the line
cc or S
Change the whole line until ESC is pressed
Switches character at cursor with following character
Substitutes text for the current character until ESC is used
Changes current word to text until ESC is used
Changes rest of the current line to text until ESC is used
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

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


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.


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.

Set marker c on this line
Go to beginning of marker c line.
Go to first non-blank character of marker c line.

Search for strings

Search forward for string
Search back for string
Search for next instance of string
Search for previous instance of string
Searches to beginning of balancing ( ) [ ] or { }
Searches forward in current line to char
Searches backward in current line to char
Searches forward in current line to character before char
Searches backward in current line to character before char
Finds in reverse for str
:set ic
Ignores case when searching
:set noic
Pays attention to case when searching
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
Runs cmd on all lines that contain str
Finds the line containing str1, replaces str2 with str3
Executes cmd on all lines that do not match str
Repeats, in reverse direction, last / or ? search command


The search and replace function is accomplished with the :s command. It is commonly used in combination with ranges or the :g command (below).

Replace pattern with string according to flags.
Flag - Replace all occurences of pattern
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
Contents of nth grouping
Escapes the meaning of the next character (e.g., \$ allows you to search for $)
Escapes the \ character

[...] - Set Examples
The SET from Capital A to Capital Z
The SET from lowercase a to lowercase z
The SET from 0 to 9 (All numerals)
The SET containing . (dot), / (slash), =, and +
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
In the first position, the SET from Capital A to Capital Z
In the second character position, the SET containing all letters
Look for m occurances of the SET from lowercase a to lowercase z
Look for at least m occurances, but no more than n occurances of the SET from lowercase a to lowercase z

Regular Expression Examples
Matches if the line contains the value Hello
Matches if the line contains TEST by itself
Matches if the line starts with any letter
Matches if the first character of the line is a-z and there is at least one more of any character following it
Matches if line ends with 2134
Matches is the line contains 21 or 35
Note the use of ( ) with the pipe symbol to specify the 'or' condition
Matches if there are zero or more numbers in the line
Matches if the first character is not a # in the line
1. Regular expressions are case sensitive
2. Regular expressions are to be used where pattern is specified


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 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.

Range - Lines n-m
Range - Current line
Range - Last line
Range - Marker c
Range - All lines in file
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
Starts a sub-shell (CTRL-d returns to editor)
:so file
Reads and executes commands in file (file is a shell script)
Sends text from current position to Motion Command to shell command cmd
Sorts from current position to end of paragraph and replaces text with sorted text


:w file
Write to file
:r file
Read file in after line
Go to next file
Go to previous file
:e file
Edit file
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 aw
Automatic write on :n ! e# ^^ :rew ^} :tag
:set bf
Discards control characters from input
:set dir=tmp
dir = /tmp
Sets tmp to directory or buffer file
:set eb
Precedes error messages with a bell
:set ed
Precedes error messages with a bell
:set ht=
ht = 8
Sets terminal hardware tabs
: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 para=
para = LIlPLPPPQPbpP
macro names that start paragraphs for { and } operators
:set prompt
Prompts for command input with :
:set re
Simulates smart terminal on dumb terminal
:set remap
Accept macros within macros
:set report
Indicates largest size of changes reported on status line
:set ro
Changes file type to "read only"
:set scroll=n
scroll = 11
set n lines for CTRL-d and z
:set sh=shell_path
sh = /bin/sh
set shell escape (default is /bin/sh) toshell_path
:set showmode
Indicates input or replace mode at bottom
:set slow
Pospone display updates during inserts
:set sm
Show matching { or ( as ) or } is typed
:set sw=n
sw = 8
Sets shift width to n characters
:set tags=x
tags = /usr/lib/tags
Path for files checked for tags (current directory included in default)
:set term
Prints terminal type
:set terse
Shorten messages with terse
:set timeout
Eliminates one-second time limit for macros
:set tl=n
tl = 0
Sets significance of tags beyond n characters (0 means all)
:set ts=n
ts = 8
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
window = n
Sets number of lines in a text window to n
:set wm=n
wm = 0
Sets automatic wraparound n spaces from right margin.
:set ws
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 ESCdwiYou 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
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
Displays all abbreviations
:una str
Unabbreviates str


Toggle upper and lower case
Join lines
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
Undo last change (Note: u in combination with . can allow multiple levels of undo in some versions)
Undo all changes to line
Repeats last f F t or T search command
:N or :E
You can open up a new split-screen window in (n)vi and then use ^w to switch between the two.

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