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Basic Vim Commands

In this article, we will cover some basic commands in the Vim editor. First, we look at what Linux and VIM editors are and why we use them, followed by basic commands in Vim editor starting from creating/editing a file, different modes, quitting the editor, saving the changes to the file, navigation in the editor, deleting lines, displaying and hiding line numbers, search and replace, and syntax highlighting along with the syntax of commands and screenshots.

Linux

Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991 as a hobby project. It is an open-source (source code that can be used by anyone freely) kernel that is most popular and widely used in the industry as well as in personal systems. There are various operating systems based on the Linux kernel, some of the popular Linux distributions are Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat, Debian, and Kali Linux.



VIM Editor

Vi Editor is a widely used text editor in Unix/Linux systems and is known for its efficiency and flexibility. Vi editor was developed in 1976 by Bill Joy and later in 1991, an improved version of Vi editor was released which is known as VI Improved (VIM).

1. Create/Edit a file

To create/edit a file in the Vim editor run the below command

Syntax:

vim filename

Example:

vim new.txt

Replace [filename] with the name of the file you want to create or edit. In this case, the filename is new.txt

Creating Files in Vim

2. Changing modes in the Vim editor

There are Six modes in Vim editor.

Entering in Insert Mode

3. Quit the Vim editor

To quit the Vim editor enter command mode and use the following command,

Command

Description

:q

Quit the editor

:q!

Quit without saving changes i.e. discard changes.

:wq

Save the changes and quit the editor

Example/Screenshot:

Quitting Vim Editor

4. Save the changes

To save the changes to the file in the Vim editor enter command mode and use the following command,

Command

Description

:w

Write to file called [file_name] (save as).

:w!

Overwrite to file called [file_name] (save as forcefully).

:wq

Save the changes and quit the editor

5. Navigation in Vim editor

We have covered the navigation in Vim editor in a detailed article at GFG which you can check here.

Command

Description

k

Moves the cursor up one line.

j

Moves the cursor down one line.

h

Moves the cursor to the left one-character position.

l

Moves the cursor to the right one-character position.

6. Delete a line

To delete a single line Press the Esc key if you are in insert/editing mode, go to the file you want to delete Press ‘dd’ and then the line gets deleted.

To delete a range of lines use the following command,

Syntax:

:[start],[end]d 

Example::3,5d In this command the editor will delete the lines from 3 to 5 including the extremes.

Example Screenshot:

Deleting a Line

We have covered a detailed article on this at GFG which you can check out here.

7. Search and Replace

To find and replace words in the vim editor we use substitute or:s command syntax of the command is as follows:

:[range]s/{pattern}/{string}/[flags] [count]

The command searches the pattern in [range] lines and replaces the [pattern] with [string]. If [range] is not mentioned then the command will replace the words in the current line with [string] only.

Example:

Searching and Replacing

8. Display Line Numbers

To display absolute line numbers use any of the following commands,

Syntax:

:set number
or
:set nu

Example/Screenshot:

Displaying Line Number

To display relative line numbers: In relative line numbers the current line is shown as 0 and the lines above and below are incremented by 1,

Syntax:

:set relativenumber
or
:set rnu

Example/Screenshot:

Displaying Relative Line Number

We have covered a detailed article on this at GFG which you can check out here.

9. Hide Line numbers

To hide absolute line numbers use any of the following commands,

Syntax:

:set nonumber
or
:set nonu

Example/Screenshot:

Hiding Line Number

To hide relative line numbers use any of the following commands,

Syntax:

:set norelativenumber
Alternatively,
:set nornu

We have covered a detailed article on this at GFG which you can check out here.

10. Syntax Highlighting

To Enable syntax highlighting type the below command and press Enter.

Syntax:

:syntax on

Screenshot:

Enabling Syntax Highlighting

To disable syntax highlighting type the below command and press Enter.

Syntax:

:syntax off

Screenshot:

Disabling Syntax Highlighting

Basic Vim Commands -FAQs

How to delete the current line?

To delete the current line first leave the editing/insert mode by pressing Esc the press ‘dd’ to delete the current line.

How to navigate downwards in the editor?

To move downward in the editor first leave the editing/insert mode by pressing Esc the use key ‘j’ to move the cursor down by one line.

I’m not able to write in the editor.

If you aren’t able to modify the file first you have to enter in the insert/editing mode first, Press i or a to enter in the insert/editing mode.

How to save changes in the file?

To save changes in the file enter in command mode and write ‘:w’ command and press Enter to save the changes

How to quit the editor forcefully?

If you have any unsaved changes then you can’t quit the editor normally first, then you have to enter in the command mode and write ‘:q!’ command and press Enter to forcefully quit the editor.

Conclusion

In this article, we covered basic commands in Vim editor starting from creating/editing a file, different modes, quitting the editor, saving the changes to the file, navigation in the editor, deleting lines, displaying and hiding line numbers, searching and replace, and syntax highlighting along with the syntax of commands and screenshots. Thereafter we discussed some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs).


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