Linux Articles March 13, 2009 0

Vi Reference Card – quick how-to

Vi has two modes: insertion mode, and command mode. The editor begins in command mode, where 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 return key.

  • Quitting
 exit, saving changes 😡 or :wq
 quit (unless changes)  :q
 quit (force, even if unsaved)  :q!
  • Inserting text
insert before cursor / before line i , I
append after cursor, after line a , A
open new line after, line before o , O
replace one char, many chars r , R
  •  Motion
left, down, up, right h , j , k , l
next word, blank delimited word w , W
beginning of word, of blank delimited word b , B
end of word, of blank delimited word e , E
sentence back, forward ( , )
paragraph back, forward { , }
beginning, end of line 0 , $
Beginning , end of file 1G , G
line n nG or :n
forward, back to char c Fc , Fc
top, middle, bottom of screen H , M , L
  • Deleting text
character to right, left x , X
to end of line D
delete a word.   dw
line dd or :d
  • Yanking text
yanks to the end of line y$
line yy or :y
  • Changing text

The change command is a deletion command (copy to vi’s clipboard) that leaves the editor in insert mode.

It is performed by typing c followed by a motion.

changes a word Cw
to end of line C
line cc
  • Putting / Pasting from vi’s clipboard text
put after position or after line p
put before position or before line P
  • Buffers

Named buffers may be specified before any deletion, change, yank, or put command.

The general prefix has the form cwhere cmay be any lower case letter.

For example, “adwdeletes a word into buffer a.

It may thereafter be put back into the text with an appropriate put command, for example “ap.

  • Markers

Named markers may be set on any line of a file. Any lower case letter may be a marker name. Markers may also be used as the limits for ranges.

set marker c on this line mc
goto marker c `c
goto marker c first non-blank c
  • Search for Strings
search forward /string
search backward ?string
repeat search in same, reverse direction n , N
  • Replace

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

replace pattern with string :s/pattern/string /flags
flags: all on each line, confirm each g , c
repeat last :s command &
  • Regular Expressions
any single character except newline . (dot)
zero or more repeats *
any character in set […]
any character not in set [^ …]
beginning, end of line ^ , $
beginning, end of word   < ,>
grouping ()
contents of n th grouping n
  • Counts

Nearly every command may be preceded by a number that specifies how many times it is to be performed.

For example 5dwwill delete 5 words and 3fewill move the cursor forward to the 3rd occurrence 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 :3,7dwould delete lines 37.

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.

lines n-m :n ,m
current line :.
last line :$
marker c :’c
all lines :%
all matching lines :g/pattern /
  • Files
write file (current _le if no name given) :w file
read file after line :r file
next file :n
previous file :p
edit file :e file
replace line with program output !!program
  • Other
toggle upper/lower case ~
join lines J
repeat last text-changing command .
undo last change, all changes on line u , U