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The humble Vim cheat sheet

Basic Vim commands I keep forgetting.

This is my own minimalistic Vim cheat sheet. It contains most of the commands I use every day. It will get updated as new useful tricks are found.

File I/O

Open files

Open existing file in a new buffer :e <file> Support wildcards, e.g. **/<file>
Open new file in a horizontal split window :new
Open new file in a vertical split window :vnew
Open new file in the current window :enew
Open new file in a new tab :tabnew
Read file content :r[ead] <file> Insert text content of <file> below the cursor

Save files

Save current file :w
Save all files :wa
Save current file as new file :saveas <file-name>

Buffers operations

List open buffers :ls
Close current buffer :bd[elete]
Go to next buffer :bn[ext]
Go to previous buffer :bp[previous]

Copy and paste

Copy the current line yy
Copy n lines <n>yy
Paste below the current line p
Paste above the current line P

Screen layout


Split window horizontally :split
Split window vertically :vsplit
Move cursor across windows Ctrl-w + <direction key>
Close current window Ctrl-w + q


Create new empty tab :tabn[ew]
Create new tab with a buffer :tabe[dit] <file or path>
Move tab :tabm[ove] <numeric value> e.g. :tabm -1, :tabm +3 (relative), :tabm 2 (absolute)

Text editing

Insert mode i
Jump to next line and start editing o
Jump to the beginning of the line and start editing I
Jump to the end of the line and start editing A

Indentation, tabs and spaces

Insert tabs as spaces :set expandtab
Set tabs-as-spaces width :set shiftwidth=<x> Where x is the number of spaces to insert. Works only if :set expandtab is on
Insert tabs as real tabs :set expandtab! Returns to the default behavior


Delete line dd
Clear line from cursor to end D
Clear whole line 0D 0 moves the cursor to the beginning
Clear whole line and end up in insert mode S

Text selection

Visual mode (character) v
Visual block (blocks) Ctrl-v
Visual line (lines) V
Virtual mode :set virtualedit=<mode> Cursor can move where there is no actual character. <mode> can be: block for visual block mode, insert for insert mode, all for all modes, onemore allows the cursor to move just past the end of the line
Select current word under cursor viw
Select everything inside parentheses vi[parenthesis] e.g. vi(, vi[, vi{
Select everything inside block (curly braces) viB Same as vi{

Text navigation

Move to beginning of line 0
Move to end of line $
Move to first non-blank character of the line _
Move to last non-blank character of the line g_
Move to first line gg
Move to last line G
Jump between the last two positions ''


Set local mark m<lowercase-letter> Sets a mark in the current file, e.g. ma. Available letters: a-z
Set global mark m<uppercase-letter> Sets a unique, global mark in the current file, e.g. mA. Only one file can have a specific mark. Available letters: A-Z
Go to mark '<letter> E.g. 'a, 'B
Delete mark :delmarks <letter>
Delete all local marks :delmarks!

Text appearance

Word wrap :set wrap
Break lines at words :set linebreak
Highlight current line :set cursorline
Show vertical line :set colorcolumn=<x> Where <x> is the column number
Show all whitespaces :set list
Automatic word wrapping :set textwidth=<x> Text wraps automatically as you type, in order to make each line long <x> characters at most
Show existing tabs as x spaces :set tabstop=<x>

File browser

Vim has a built-in file browser called netrw.

Open file browser in the current window :Ex[plore]
Open file browser in a new split horizontal window :Sex[plore]
Open file browser in a new split vertical window :Vex[plore]
Open file browser in a new tab :Tex[plore]

Inside the file browser

Change view mode i Switch between normal, compact list, tree
Create a new directory d
Create a new file %
Delete file or directory D
Rename file or directory R

Running external commands

Run external command :! <command> % E.g. :! wc %: runs the wc command on the current file (%) and reports the results
Re-run last command :!!
Run external command and save output to current buffer :r[ead] ! <command> %
Daniel on July 30, 2019 at 17:24
I was looking at the cheat sheet, as it seems helpful, and I also noticed that vi{ is equivalent to viB, not vib. Also ctrl-w d is not close buffer, but it splits window and then jump to definition under cursor. Perhaps you meant ctrl-w q or ctrl-w c
Franck on August 02, 2019 at 05:22
learned a few new tricks, thanks!
Triangles on August 02, 2019 at 10:59
Thanks @Daniel, you're right! Both typos have been fixed ;)
John on September 08, 2019 at 00:03
I use these daily as well, though the parenthesis selections were new to me. Very useful indeed.
Larry on February 12, 2020 at 22:45
This is now my favorite vim cheat sheet. Good work! But...
How about copy/paste?
Copy the current line. yy
Copy lines. yy
Paste below the current line. p
Paste above the current line. P

Another one I use constantly is:
Read a file into the current buffer below the current line :r
Triangles on February 26, 2020 at 12:43
@Larry thank you! Sheet updated :)