Vi reminders

Cursor movement

  • h – move left
  • j – move down
  • k – move up
  • l – move right
  • w – jump by start of words (punctuation considered words)
  • W – jump by words (spaces separate words)
  • e – jump to end of words (punctuation considered words)
  • E – jump to end of words (no punctuation)
  • b – jump backward by words (punctuation considered words)
  • B – jump backward by words (no punctuation)
  • 0 – (zero) start of line
  • ^ – first non-blank character of line
  • $ – end of line
  • G – Go To command (prefix with number – 5G goes to line 5)

Note: Prefix a cursor movement command with a number to repeat it. For example, 4j moves down 4 lines.

Insert Mode – Inserting/Appending text

  • i – start insert mode at cursor
  • I – insert at the beginning of the line
  • a – append after the cursor
  • A – append at the end of the line
  • o – open (append) blank line below current line (no need to press return)
  • O – open blank line above current line
  • ea – append at end of word
  • Esc – exit insert mode


  • r – replace a single character (does not use insert mode)
  • J – join line below to the current one
  • cc – change (replace) an entire line
  • cw – change (replace) to the end of word
  • c$ – change (replace) to the end of line
  • s – delete character at cursor and subsitute text
  • S – delete line at cursor and substitute text (same as cc)
  • xp – transpose two letters (delete and paste, technically)
  • u – undo
  • . – repeat last command

Marking text (visual mode)

  • v – start visual mode, mark lines, then do command (such as y-yank)
  • V – start Linewise visual mode
  • o – move to other end of marked area
  • Ctrl+v – start visual block mode
  • O – move to Other corner of block
  • aw – mark a word
  • ab – a () block (with braces)
  • aB – a {} block (with brackets)
  • ib – inner () block
  • iB – inner {} block
  • Esc – exit visual mode

Visual commands

  • > – shift right
  • < – shift left
  • y – yank (copy) marked text
  • d – delete marked text
  • ~ – switch case

Cut and Paste

  • yy – yank (copy) a line
  • 2yy – yank 2 lines
  • yw – yank word
  • y$ – yank to end of line
  • p – put (paste) the clipboard after cursor
  • P – put (paste) before cursor
  • dd – delete (cut) a line
  • dw – delete (cut) the current word
  • x – delete (cut) current character


  • :w – write (save) the file, but don’t exit
  • :wq – write (save) and quit
  • :q – quit (fails if anything has changed)
  • :q! – quit and throw away changes


  • /pattern – search for pattern
  • ?pattern – search backward for pattern
  • n – repeat search in same direction
  • N – repeat search in opposite direction
  • :%s/old/new/g – replace all old with new throughout file
  • :%s/old/new/gc – replace all old with new throughout file with confirmations

Working with multiple files

  • :e filename – Edit a file in a new buffer
  • :bnext (or :bn) – go to next buffer
  • :bprev (of :bp) – go to previous buffer
  • :bd – delete a buffer (close a file)
  • :sp filename – Open a file in a new buffer and split window
  • ctrl+ws – Split windows
  • ctrl+ww – switch between windows
  • ctrl+wq – Quit a window
  • ctrl+wv – Split windows vertically

thanks to Tim at


Vi Basics

Linux Foundation

Commands Used to Start, Exit, Read, and Write Files in vi

Command Usage
vi myfile Start the vi editor and edit the m yfile file
vi -r myfile Start vi and edit m yfile in recovery mode from a system crash
:r file2<ret> Read in file2 and insert at current position
:w<ret> Write to the file
:w myfile<ret> Write out the file to m yfile
:w!    file2<ret> Overwrite file2
:x<ret> or :wq<ret> Exit vi and write out modified file
:q<ret> Quit vi
:q!<ret> Quit vi even though modifications have not been saved


Keystrokes Used When Changing Cursor Position in vi

Keys Usage
arrow keys To move up, down, left and right
j or <ret> To move one line down
k To move one line up
h or Backspace To move one character left
l or Space To move one character right
0 To move to beginning of line
$ To move to end of line
w To move to beginning of next word


 h  To move to top of file
b To move back to beginning of preceding word
:0 <ret> or (G To move to beginning of file
:n <ret> or nG To move to line n
:$ <ret> or G To move to last line in file
CTRL-F or Page Down To move forward one page
CTRL-B or Page Up To move backward one page
Al To refresh and center screen


Searching for Text in vi

Command Usage
/pattern<ret> Search forward for pattern
string<ret> Search backward for pattern


Key Usage
n Move to next occurrence of search pattern
N Move to previous occurrence of search pattern


Working with Text in vi

Key Usage
a Append text after cursor; stop upon Escape key
A Append text at end of current line; stop upon Escape key
i Insert text before cursor; stop upon Escape key
I Insert text at beginning of current line; stop upon Escape key
o Start a new line below current line, insert text there; stop upon Escape key
0 Start a new line above current line, insert text there; stop upon Escape key
r Replace character at current position
R Replace text starting with current position; stop upon Escape key


x Delete character at current position
Nx Delete N characters, starting at current position
dw Delete the word at the current position
D Delete the rest of the current line
dd Delete the current line
Ndd or dNd Delete N lines
u Undo the previous operation
yy Yank (cut) the current line and put it in buffer
Nyy or yNy Yank (cut) N lines and put it in buffer
P Paste at the current position the yanked line or lines from the buffer