Vim Quick References

Posted on September 07, 2022 in DevOps

This article is a quick getting started guide to Vim editor commands. Vim editor is an improved version of classic Vi editor, hence named 'Vi Improved' or Vim in short.

Note: I'm using macOS Terminal to run vim editor.

Installing Vim Editor (macOS)

You can download Vim editor on macOS using Homebrew package manager.

brew install vim

Verify the installation of Vim editor by checking its version as below:

vim --version

The above command will print the current version of Vim editor as below:

% vim --version
VIM - Vi IMproved 8.2 (2019 Dec 12, compiled Nov 13 2021 05:05:08)
macOS version - arm64

Opening Vim editor

You can start opening the editor by using vim followed by the file name as below:

vim test_file

The above command will open the test_file in vim editor. Press i to change to insert mode to start writing into file.

Modes of Vim

There are mainly three modes in Vim editor:

  1. Normal mode: This is the mode Vim editor opens in. If you try to type in this mode, you would not be able to. That may leave you in bit confusion on how to edit this file. You would need to change into Insert mode discussed next.

  2. Insert Mode: In order to write/edit the file, you will need to press i. This enables the editing mode for Vim. You will need to hit escape key to return back to Normal mode.

  3. Line Mode: This mode is activated by hitting escape key when in Insert mode followed by colon :. This is used to perform operation on the file like saving and closing the file or just discarding the edits.

    • :w!: This command is used to save the contents without closing the file.
    • :wq!: This command is for saving + closing the file.
    • :q!: This command is used for quiting out of file without saving any changes. Be careful using this command, since it will discard any changes to file that you might have made.

    Note: You will need to hit enter to execute the above commands.

Basic File operations

Creating file: You can create a file using one of the option below:

Option 1#

vim test.txt

Option 2#

vi test.txt

Option 3#

touch test.txt

Opening a file: In vim you can open a file using vim followed by the file name.


  1. Installing Homebrew


This article is in progress.

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