My Vim Cheatsheet

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I have started transitioning slowly to lightweight editors, because of my low system configuration. And what can be better than vim. I will keep a log of things I learn in the process.

Update: I started using vim "actively" from Nov 12, 2020 and it has now been 1 month complete in Vim & I don't think I am moving to another text editor in future.

For starters I use neovim (v0.4.4).

All my Plugins & Colorschemes are listed in my dotfiles

Super Basic Stuff

Some must know stuff filtered from the vast array of vim things.


  • i insert text before the cursor position

  • a append text after the cursor position (my advice, always use this instead of i)

  • A append text at end of line

  • o open a new line after current line

  • O open a new line before current line

  • x delete character under cursor

  • D delete until the end of line

  • r replace the character under cursor

  • R replace stuff until we want

  • dd Delete current line.

  • cc delete current line and switch to insert mode.

  • C delete everything from the cursor position to the EOL.

Basic Stuff


  • u : Undo latest changes in vim.

  • Ctrl + r : to redo

  • . : repeat last change in vim.


I felt like a rookie when I used to search this, anyways here is how you do it:

  1. Enable visual mode by pressing v.

  2. Use arrow keys to select text.

  3. Use d to Cut. OR

  4. Use y to yank (copy) text (only inside vim)

    :"+y : for yanking(copying) text to system's clipboard.

  5. Use p to paste after the cursor position or P to paste before the cursor.

    :"+p : to paste from system's clipboard

Search & Replace

  1. Move your cursor to the desired word

  2. Use * to select all its occurrences.

  3. Hit Esc and use :%s//<replace-word>/ to replace all the selected words.

    :nohlsearch : for clearing search highlighting. Also read (:h usr_12.txt), section 12.2 for a nice overview on search.

    When in search mode instead of hitting Enter use Ctrl + g and Ctrl + t to traverse matches while still being in search mode.

Intermediate Stuff

  1. :earlier N : Time travel in past N seconds.

  2. :later N : Time travel in future N seconds.

  3. :echo $MYVIMRC : to view location of your default .vimrc file.

  4. Use == in Visual Mode to fix line indent.

  5. When in command mode (:), use Ctrl + f to browse through your command history, live edit any command and hit enter to run it (the quick fix window).

  6. Use :resize 60 to resize windows horizontally or :vertical resize 60 for vertical resizing. Also signed values can be used like +5, -2.

  7. Use :right, :left or :center to align text. Assuming width of document is textwidth (default is 80). You can also specify arguments for e.g :center 100 will move the start of line to 100th column.

  8. To list all your active/inactive buffers, use :buffers in command mode. You can switch to a buffer by providing the buffer name, :buffer <TAB> to see all buffers.

  9. Use :verb map <key> to check which key is mapped to what operation. Useful when debugging your mappings and differentiating them from that of a plugin.

    Read help for checking key notations :h key-notation

  10. Use vim's wildignore setting to exclude searching for files and directories according to your project. For e.g for python projects this could look like

    set wildignore+=*/.git/*,*/site-packages/*,*/lib/*,*/bin/*,*.pyc

    This should exclude searching through your virtual environments [Read manual :h 'wildignore']. Another handy trick is to exclude media files from appearing in search by excluding them as well.

    set wildignore+=*.jpg,*.bmp,*.gif,*.png,*.jpeg,*.avi,*.mp4,*.mkv,*.pdf,*.odt
  11. :syntax will output all highlight groups for syntax highlighting of the current open file. It can come handy when you are writing your own colorscheme.

  12. Scrolling 2 or more windows together. When in multiple windows (or splits), you can use scrollbind. Pick one window then :set scb, pick another window :set scb for disabling use :set noscb

  13. To search for pattern in vim help text use :helpgrep or :helpg

  14. If you have spell-checking (:set spell) enabled use zg to exclude certain words from being reported as misspelled. This adds the words to your own list of words called a spellfile. On NeoVim this fill is created automatically, although you can do it manually.

    mkdir -p ~/.vim/spell/

    then in vimrc

    set spellfile=~/.vim/spell/en.utf-8.add
  15. Use q: to open command line history or Ctrl + f when already in command mode

  16. Use q/ to open search history, this will list all the things you searched using search mode /. Press i to change anything and <CR> to execute again.

  17. To quickly jump to function definition or variable assignments under cursor use gd(local declaration) or gD(global declaration)

  18. To reselect the last visual selection use gv.

  19. When in visual mode use gU to make text uppercase & gu to lowercase.

Code Folding

It helps you view only a selected range of text. (Read :h usr_28.txt for a quick overview)

Quick settings to put in vimrc/init.vimrc

set foldmethod=indent
set foldcolumn=2

You can also setup foldmethod based on file type

  • za: Toggle code folding.

  • zR: Open all folds.

  • zM: Close all folds.

  • zo: Open current fold.

  • zc: Close current fold.

  • w jump through beginning of words in a line

  • e jump to end of words in a line

  • b to move backward

  • H jump to top of text under screen (not to be confused with top of file).

  • M jump to middle

  • L jump to bottom

  • gg go to top of file

  • GG go to end of file

  • 0 go to beginning of line

  • $ go to end of current line

  • ^ go to first character in a line

  • g_ go to last character of the line

  • zb put current line at bottom of screen

  • zt put current line at top of screen

  • Ctrl+f scroll down 1 page

  • Ctrl+b scroll up 1 page

Character Wise

  • f : find next

  • F : find backward

  • t : find next char & place cursor before

  • T : find next char & place cursor before backward

  • ; : go to the next occurrence of f/t

  • , : go to previous occurrence of f/t


Use Ctrl + x +

  1. f = File name completion

  2. l = Whole line completion (context aware, handy if you are copy pasting a previously typed line)

  3. i = Keywords in current & included file ("include" means when you import or #include)

  4. s = Spelling suggestions

  5. k = Keywords from dictionary. For this to work add set dictionary+=/usr/share/dict/words to your vimrc

use :help ins-completion to see more such completions


Take registers as "special vim storage locations". There are exactly 21 + 26 registers which store different kind of stuff

In command mode use :di or :reg to display contents of all these registers. Do h registers to read manual

10 flavors of registers

Register NameRegisterDescription

The unnamed register


Last yank/delete or change

10 numbered registers

"0 to "9

0 store the most recent yank 1 stores the most recent delete With successive deletes/changes vim shifts the contents of register 1 to 2, 2 to 3 & so on.

The small delete register


Text from commands that delete less than one line

26 named registers

"a to "z or "A to "Z

Add whatever you want, lowercase for clearing previous content. Uppercase for appending

3 read only registers

":, ". & "%

: contains the most recent executed command line, use @: % contains name of current file . contains the last inserted text

Alternate buffer register


The name of the alternate file for the current window

The Expression register


Evaluate expression press <C-R> then =

The black hole register


What goes in black hole, stays in black hole

The Selection registers

"* & "+

Store & retrieve selected text from GUIs (read quotestar & quoteplus)

Last search pattern register


The most recent search-pattern

File Browsing

Vim has a default file browser called netrw, below are some handy tips that will help:

  1. R : rename a file/directory.

  2. qf : Show file info.

  3. x : open file in associated program, use it open media files like images.

  4. Ctrl + l : refresh netrw, Opens a new buffer. Use :e . instead.

  5. d : Make a new directory.

  6. gh : toggle display of hidden files.

  7. D : Delete a file/directory (Doesn't work on non-empty directories).

Ex mode

It let's you run commands repetitively without using :.

Use Q to enter into Ex mode, vi or visual to go back.

The Ex mode in Vim is quite underrated in 2020 since we have a :term but learning about it can be quite helpful sometimes.

I will only add stuff here when I start using it or use it for the first time.

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