Unix: Vi Tip Sheet

Unlike most word processing software, the vi editor uses two different modes:

  • command mode (also called edit mode)
  • insert mode

The commands you type in command mode

  • allow you to alter text -- to fix typing errors, add or subtract lines, etc.
  • are not usually printed on the screen
  • do not usually require you to press the RETURN key after you type them
  • are "case-sensitive," which means there is a difference between upper- and lowercase letters.

To add text to your file, use a vi command such as i (insert). What you type in insert mode

  • becomes part of the file you are editing
  • requires you to press the RETURN key to begin a new line of text.

To return to command mode, press the ESCAPE key.

Command mode commands

File saving and Loading

:e  filename edit new file filename
:r  filename read in contents of filename
:q quit editing
:q! quit editing and discard changes
:wq write file and quit
:w  filename write to the file named filename
:w write to the file already named
:w!  filename overwrite the file filename

Insert mode commands (text entry)

a append text, after the cursor position
A append text to end of the line
i insert text, before the cursor position
I insert text at the beginning of the line
o open new line below cursor, enter insert mode
O open new line above cursor, enter insert mode
R enter overstrike mode, press the ESCAPE key to exit

Press the ESC key to exit insert mode and return to command mode.

Search commands

/text search forward for first occurrence of text
?text search backward for first occurrence of text

Cursor control commands

b go to beginning of word
e go to end of word
G go to the last line of the file
##G go to the ##th line of the file
h move left one character
j or RETURN move down one line
k move up one line
or SPACEBAR move right one character
{ move to the previous paragraph
} move to the next paragraph
$ move to the end of the line
^ move to the beginning of the line

Basic text manipulation commands

dd  delete one line (place in general buffer)
dj delete current line and one below
d} delete up to the end of the paragraph
D delete the rest of the line
J join two lines
r replace character on which the cursor rests
s enter insert mode to substitute text for the character on which the cursor rests
##s substitute ## characters, enter insert mode
u undo the last change
x delete one character
##x delete ## characters

Advanced text manipulation commands

cw deletes word starting at the cursor, enter insert mode
yy yank (copy) line into the general buffer
##yy yank ## lines into general buffer
##yl yank ## characters to left of cursor
"ay yank line into the buffer named "a"
p put contents of general buffer after current line
P put contents of general buffer before current line
"ap same as p but from buffer "a"
"aP same as P but from buffer "a"
> shift line right
< shift line left

Miscellaneous commands

CONTROL-G print information about file: name, current line number
:## go to the line numbered ##
:%s/pattern/text/ substitute first occurrence of pattern on each line with text
:%s/pattern/text/g substitute every occurrence of pattern with text
:g/pattern/d delete every line containing pattern
:10,50 ya yank the contents of lines 10 through 50 and place in the general buffer
:%!sort execute the UNIX command sort on every line, replace contents with output of command



Article ID: 534
Fri 9/6/19 4:13 PM
Thu 3/5/20 2:10 PM