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Here are some useful references for using Vim, the powerful customizable wrist-friendly text-editor:

Basic editing

[ESC] to return in normal mode.

i key to insert text.

h, j, k, l keys for moving around the text.

x key to delete a character.

rx keys replaces current character with the x character.

u key to undo an editing operation.

U key to undo all editing operations performed to the current line.

[Ctrl]-r keys to redo (undo the undo).

Motion keys

$ key to move to the end of line.

0 key to move to the beginning of line.

w key to move to the first character of the next word.

e key to move to the last character of the current(or next) word.


Operators are useful to perform operations a repeated number of times. Syntax is

Op [count] motion

wher Op is the operator, [count] is the number of times, and motion is the scope of the operation.


d key.

dd deletes the whole line.


Whenever a delete operation is performed, the deleted characters are stored in the put variable.

p key.

example: 'dd' followed by 'p' performs a cut/paste one-line operation


c key.

Cursor location

[CTRL-g] shows the cursor current position in text.

gg Goes to the beginning of text.

G Goes to the end of text.

[line]G goes to the given line.


/text keys finds the first occurence of text in the buffer from the cursor.

?text keys finds the first backward occurence of text in the buffer from the cursor.

n key finds the next occurence of text.

N key finds the previous occurence of text.




s/old text/new text replaces first occurence in line.

s/old text/new text/g replaces all in line.

#,#s/old text/new text/g replaces all between lines # and #.

%s/old text/new text/g replaces all in buffer.

%s/old text/new text/gc replaces all in buffer but prompts before each replacement.

Replace in several files

You need two commands. The first uses wildcards to select the group of files to be added in the "args". The second applies a search-and-replace-in-all-text to the "args".

:args ./*Base1/*.F90
:argdo %s@FOO@BAR@ge | update

Add ftplugin

Copy the plugin into the $VIM/ftplugin directory then type at the vim prompt

:filetype plugin on

Configure VIM

Edit the /etc/vimrc file or the ~/.vimrc in linux or the $VIM/_vimrc file in windows.

Space indentation

This will correctly set <tabs> to 4 spaces.

set shiftwidth=4        " defines the indentation characters
set tabstop=4           " defines the indentation characters
set expandtab           " defines the indentation characters

Syntax highlighting

:syntax on

Adding a new language in syntax highlighting

> cp [lang].vim ~/.vim/syntax/[lang].vim
> locate filetype.vim
> sudo vim $PATHTOFILETYPE/filetype.vim
filetype.vim> au BufNewFile,BufRead *.[lang_suf]       setf [lang]

Code completion (intellisense) for C++

Installing auto-completion for C++ in Vim

> sudo apt-get install vim exuberant-ctags
> wget [omnicppcomplete]
> tar -xvf [omnicppcomplete] ~/.vim
> vim ~/.vimrc
vim> :helptags ~/.vim/doc
vim> [append in ~/.vimrc]
" --- OmniCppComplete ---
" -- required --
set nocp " non vi compatible mode
filetype plugin on " enable plugins
" -- optional --
" auto close options when exiting insert mode
autocmd InsertLeave * if pumvisible() == 0|pclose|endif
set completeopt=menu,menuone
" -- configs --
let OmniCpp_MayCompleteDot = 1 " autocomplete with .
let OmniCpp_MayCompleteArrow = 1 " autocomplete with ->
let OmniCpp_MayCompleteScope = 1 " autocomplete with ::
let OmniCpp_SelectFirstItem = 2 " select first item (but don't insert)
let OmniCpp_NamespaceSearch = 2 " search namespaces in this and included files
let OmniCpp_ShowPrototypeInAbbr = 1 " show function prototype (i.e. parameters) in popup window
" -- ctags --
" map <ctrl>+F12 to generate ctags for current folder:
map <C-F12> :!ctags -R --c++-kinds=+p --fields=+iaS --extra=+q .<CR><CR>
" add current directory's generated tags file to available tags
set tags+=./tags

Adding the tags for C++ STL (Standard Template Library)

> wget
> unzip
> find . -name '*.h' | xargs sed -i 's/__STL_BEGIN_NAMESPACE/namespace std {/'
> find . -name '*.h' | xargs sed -i 's/__STL_END_NAMESPACE/}/'
> ctags -R --c++-kinds=+p --fields=+iaS --extra=+q ./
> mkdir ~/.vim/mytags
> mv tags ~/.vim/mytags/c++stl.tag
> vim ~/.vimrc
vim> set tags+=~/.vim/mytags/c++stl.tag

Example code

> vim helloworld.cpp
vim> std::[will show autocompletion]

Hit Ctrl + F12 in order to add tags for the current program you're working on

Tips & tricks

# performing edits on multiple files (pipe separates commands) 
$ vim -c "argdo %s/ABC/DEF/g | w" *.txt  
> vim -c "argdo %s/FOO/BAR/g | update" `grep -l FOO *`

Windows users, you might want to check out Notepad++ instead of using vim.

External References