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Church Of The
Swimming Elephant


Vi Quick Reference

Common Commands

Positioning within file

Character positioning


Counts before vi commands

Adjusting the screen

Words, sentences, paragraphs

Miscellaneous Operations

Interrupting, canceling

Marking and returning

Corrections during insert

Yank and Put

File manipulation

Line positioning

Insert and replace

Undo, Redo, Retrieve


vi options (switches used when starting vi)

Invocation Options

- | -s Suppress all interactive user feedback. This
is useful when processing editor scripts.

-l Set up for editing LISP programs.

-L List the name of all files saved as the
result of an editor or system crash.

-R Readonly mode; the readonly flag is set,
preventing accidental overwriting of the file.

-r filename Edit filename after an editor or system
crash. (Recovers the version of filename that
was in the buffer when the crash occurred.)

-t tag Edit the file containing the tag and position
the editor at its definition.

-v Start up in display editing state using vi.
You can achieve the same effect by simply typ-
ing the -vi command itself.

-V Verbose. Any non-tty input will be echoed on
standard error. This may be useful when pro-
cessing editor commands within shell scripts.

-x Encryption option; when used, vi simulates
the X command of ex and prompts the user for a
key. This key is used to encrypt and decrypt
text using the algorithm of the crypt command.
The X command makes an educated guess to
determine whether text read in is encrypted or
not. The temporary buffer file is encrypted
also, using a transformed version of the key
typed in for the -x option.

-wn Set the default window size to n. This is
useful when using the editor over a slow speed

-C Encryption option; same as the - x option,
except that vi simulates the C command of ex.
The C command is like the X command of ex,
except that all text read in is assumed to
have been encrypted.

+command | -c command
Begin editing by executing the specified edi-
tor command (usually a search or positioning

If both the -t tag and the -c command options are given, the
-t tag will be processed first. That is, the file containing
the tag is selected by -t and then the command is executed.

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Common Commands
delete a character
dw delete a word
dd delete a line
3dd delete 3 lines
u undo previous change
ZZ exit vi, saving changes
:q!CR quit, discarding changes
/textCR search for text
^U ^D scroll up or down
:cmdCR any ex or ed command

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Counts before vi commands
Numbers may be typed as a prefix to some commands. They are
interpreted in one of these ways.
line/column number z G |
scroll amount ^D ^U
repeat effect most of the rest

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Interrupting, canceling
end insert or incomplete cmd
DEL (delete or rubout) interrupts

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File manipulation
if file modified, write and exit; otherwise, exit
:wCR write back changes
:w!CR forced write, if permission originally not valid
:qCR quit
:q!CR quit, discard changes
:e nameCR edit file name
:e!CR reedit, discard changes
:e + nameCR edit, starting at end
:e +nCR edit starting at line n
:e #CR edit alternate file
:e! #CR edit alternate file, discard changes
:w nameCR write file name
:w! nameCR overwrite file name
:shCR run shell, then return
:!cmdCR run cmd, then return
:nCR edit next file in arglist
:n argsCR specify new arglist
^G show current file and line
:ta tagCR position cursor to tag

In general, any ex or ed command (such as substitute or glo-
bal) may be typed, preceded by a colon and followed by a
carriage return.

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Positioning within file
forward screen
^B backward screen
^D scroll down half screen
^U scroll up half screen
nG go to the beginning of the specified line (end default),
where n is a line number
/pat next line matching pat
?pat previous line matching pat
n repeat last / or ? command
N reverse last / or ? command
/pat/+n nth line after pat
?pat?-n nth line before pat
]] next section/function
[[ previous section/function
( beginning of sentence
) end of sentence
{ beginning of paragraph
} end of paragraph
% find matching ( ) { or }

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Adjusting the screen
clear and redraw window
^R clear and redraw window if ^L is -> key
zCR redraw screen with current line at top of window
z-CR redraw screen with current line at bottom of window
z.CR redraw screen with current line at center of window
/pat/z-CR move pat line to bottom of window
zn.CR use n-line window
^E scroll window down 1 line
^Y scroll window up 1 line

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Marking and returning
move cursor to previous context
'' move cursor to first non-white space in line
mx mark current position with the ASCII lower-case letter x
`x move cursor to mark x
'x move cursor to first non-white space in line marked by x

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Line positioning
top line on screen
L last line on screen
M middle line on screen
+ next line, at first non-white
- previous line, at first non-white
CR return, same as +
v or j next line, same column
^ or k previous line, same column

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Character positioning
first non white-space character
0 beginning of line
$ end of line
l or -> forward
h or <- backward
^H same as <- (backspace)
space same as -> (space bar)
fx find next x
Fx find previous x
tx move to character prior to next x
Tx move to character following previous x
; repeat last f, F, t, or T
, repeat inverse of last f, F, t, or T
n| move to column n
% find matching ( { ) or }

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Words, sentences, paragraphs
forward a word
b back a word
e end of word
) to next sentence
} to next paragraph
( back a sentence
{ back a paragraph
W forward a blank-delimited word
B back a blank-delimited word
E end of a blank-delimited word

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Corrections during insert
erase last character (backspace)
^W erase last word
erase your erase character, same as ^H (backspace)
kill your kill character, erase this line of input
\ quotes your erase and kill characters
ESC ends insertion, back to command mode
CTRL-C interrupt, suspends insert mode
^D backtab one character; reset left margin of autoindent
^^D caret (^) followed by control-d (^D);
backtab to beginning of line;
do not reset left margin of autoindent
0^D backtab to beginning of line; reset left margin of autoindent
^V quote non-printable character

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Insert and replace
append after cursor
A append at end of line
i insert before cursor
I insert before first non-blank
o open line below
O open above
rx replace single char with x
RtextESC replace characters

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Operators are followed by a cursor motion, and affect all
text that would have been moved over. For example, since w
moves over a word, dw deletes the word that would be moved
over. Double the operator, for example, dd to affect whole

d delete
c change
y yank lines to buffer
< left shift
> right shift
! filter through command

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Miscellaneous Operations
change rest of line (c$)
D delete rest of line (d$)
s substitute chars (cl)
S substitute lines (cc)
J join lines
x delete characters (dl)
X delete characters before cursor (dh)
Y yank lines (yy)

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Yank and Put
Put inserts the text most recently deleted or yanked; how-
ever, if a buffer is named (using the ASCII lower-case
letters a - z), the text in that buffer is put instead.
3yy yank 3 lines
3yl yank 3 characters
p put back text after cursor
P put back text before cursor
"xp put from buffer x
"xy yank to buffer x
"xd delete into buffer x

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Undo, Redo, Retrieve
undo last change
U restore current line
. repeat last change
"dp retrieve d'th last delete

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