Vim Cheat Sheet

My collection of vim tips to make the best editor even better. This is by no means complete or a tutorial on how to use vim, but a set of commands I don’t want to forget and need to write them down before they burn into memory.

See the resources section below for a more complete introduction and a set of in-depth tutorials.


:nn            " Jump to line nn
nn|            " Jump to column nn

Navigation Marks

ma             " mark spot label it a
'a             " jump to spot
''             " jump to last spot you were
:marks         " show all marks

To create marks across files, use capital letters. I’ll use this when working on an HTML View, CSS and Javascript. Mark the three spots H, C, J and easy to jump back and forth.

Copy and Paste Registers

Vim has a clipboard history stored in registers, you can also use these registers to cut and paste items to. Your past history of copies is also stored in these registers, use list regiter to find something you thought might be gone since not in clipboard

"ad            " cut something to register a
"ap            " paste something from register a
:reg           " list registers

Deleting Lines

S              " delete line and insert mode at start
:g/regexp/d    " delete all lines that match regexp
:v/regexp/d    " delete all lines that do NOT regexp
:v/w{3,}/d   " delete all lines with less than 3-chars
:15,20d        " delete lines 10-20

Buffer Management

:ls             " list open buffers
:b [num|name]   " switch to buffer 
:b#             " switch to last buffer
:bdel #         " delete buffer

Record Macro

qa              " start recording macro in buffer a
[do stuff]
q               " end recording

Playback Macro

50@a  (50 times)

Map System Command to Key Stroke

Map ctrl-j d to run system command /tmp/

:imap <C-j>d <C-r>=system('/tmp/')<CR>

Toggle Spellcheck

:map <F5> :setlocal spell! spelllang=en_us<CR>

Map F1 to Esc

I often find myself trying to hit escape and accidentally hit F1, which opens help. Since, I’ve never on purpose hit F1 for help, I map my F1 key to ESC.

map <F1> <Esc>
imap <F1> <Esc>


Here are a set of short cuts I have in my vimrc file that simplify some common operations. If I notice myself doing the same thing over and over, I try to add a shortcut when possible.

" Add spaces inside parentheses, WordPress coding style
map <Leader>o ci(hp

" Surround word with quote
map <Leader>' ysiw'
map <Leader>" ysiw"

" Add Trailing Semi-colon
map <Leader>; g_a;<Esc>

" Use :w!! to save with sudo
ca w!! w !sudo tee >/dev/null "%"

Vim Plug-ins

One of the best things about vim is all of the available plug-ins. Here is the set of plug-ins I use that make vim even easier and better.


Tabular.vim is a very useful plugin to lineup characters amongst several lines, for example lining up the equal sign in a set of variable assignments. See vimcasts on tabular


CtrlP.vim is a fuzzy file matching finder for vim. It works similar to the Command-T plugin, a copy of Textmate’s file search. CtrlP is easier to setup and works real nice.

Additional Resources


  1. That was useful! I’ve never used macros but often got into recording mode by accident!

    That Tabular plugin looks very useful but I know I’ll not use it half as much as I should and forget it’s there.

  2. That’s the problem I have with most of the cool plugins and features; I’ll read some tutorials,see a bunch of awesome things, but then don’t use them enough and forget within a few days.

    I’ve found mapping keys to something simple and intuitive helps, but still a limit in amount of new things I can handle.

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