Vim Keyboard Shortcuts Cheatsheet

The Vim editor is a command-line based tool that’s an enhanced version of the venerable vi editor. Despite the abundance of graphical rich text editors, familiarity with Vim will help every Linux user — from an experienced system administrator to a newbie Raspberry Pi user.

The light-weight editor is a very powerful tool. In the hands of an experienced operator, it can do wonders. Besides regular text editing functions, the editor also supports advanced features such as find & replace based on regular expressions and encoding conversion as well as programming features such as syntax highlighting and code folding.

One important thing to note when using Vim, is that the function of a key depends on the “mode” the editor is in. For example, pressing the alphabet “j” will move the cursor down one line in the “command mode”. You’ll have to switch to the “insert mode” to make the keys input the character they represent.

Here’s a cheatsheet to help you get the most out of Vim.

Shortcut Keys
Function

Main

Escape keyGets out of the current mode into the “command mode”. All keys are bound of commands.
i“Insert mode” for inserting text. Keys behave as expected.
:“Last-line mode” where Vim expects you to enter a command such as to save the document.
 

Navigation keys

hmoves the cursor one character to the left.
j or Ctrl + Jmoves the cursor down one line.
k or Ctrl + Pmoves the cursor up one line.
lmoves the cursor one character to the right.
0moves the cursor to the beginning of the line.
$moves the cursor to the end of the line.
^moves the cursor to the first non-empty character of the line
wmove forward one word (next alphanumeric word)
Wmove forward one word (delimited by a white space)
5wmove forward five words
bmove backward one word (previous alphanumeric word)
Bmove backward one word (delimited by a white space)
5bmove backward five words
Gmove to the end of the file
ggmove to the beginning of the file.
 

Navigate around the document

(jumps to the previous sentence
)jumps to the next sentence
{jumps to the previous paragraph
}jumps to the next paragraph
[[jumps to the previous section
]]jumps to the next section
[]jump to the end of the previous section
][jump to the end of the next section
 

Insert text

aInsert text after the cursor
AInsert text at the end of the line
iInsert text before the cursor
oBegin a new line below the cursor
OBegin a new line above the cursor
 

Special inserts

:r [filename]Insert the file [filename] below the cursor
:r ![command]Execute [command] and insert its output below the cursor
 

Delete text

xdelete character at cursor
dwdelete a word.
d0delete to the beginning of a line.
d$delete to the end of a line.
d)delete to the end of sentence.
dggdelete to the beginning of the file.
dGdelete to the end of the file.
dddelete line
3dddelete three lines
 

Simple replace text

r{text}Replace the character under the cursor with {text}
RReplace characters instead of inserting them
 

Copy/Paste text

yycopy current line into storage buffer
["x]yyCopy the current lines into register x
ppaste storage buffer after current line
Ppaste storage buffer before current line
["x]ppaste from register x after current line
["x]Ppaste from register x before current line
 

Undo/Redo operation

uundo the last operation.
Ctrl+rredo the last undo.
 

Search and Replace keys

/search_textsearch document for search_text going forward
?search_textsearch document for search_text going backward
nmove to the next instance of the result from the search
Nmove to the previous instance of the result
:%s/original/replacementSearch for the first occurrence of the string “original” and replace it with “replacement”
:%s/original/replacement/gSearch and replace all occurrences of the string “original” with “replacement”
:%s/original/replacement/gcSearch for all occurrences of the string “original” but ask for confirmation before replacing them with “replacement”
 

Bookmarks

m {a-z A-Z}Set bookmark {a-z A-Z} at the current cursor position
:marksList all bookmarks
`{a-z A-Z}Jumps to the bookmark {a-z A-Z}
 

Select text

vEnter visual mode per character
VEnter visual mode per line
EscExit visual mode
  

Modify selected text

~Switch case
ddelete a word.
cchange
yyank
>shift right
<shift left
!filter through an external command
  

Save and quit

:qQuits Vim but fails when file has been changed
:wSave the file
:w new_nameSave the file with the new_name filename
:wqSave the file and quit Vim.
:q!Quit Vim without saving the changes to the file.
ZZWrite file, if modified, and quit Vim
ZQSame as :q! Quits Vim without writing changes

Can’t get enough of this? We have prepared a downloadable cheat sheet for you so you can access to it when you need it.

Download it here!