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A quick reference list of vi editor commands

denotes the Esc key, and <CR> denotes the Enter key.


The expression <cmd> means that you should enter a command, <f> means that
you should enter a filename, and <x> means that you should enter a character or
The symbol ^ (caret) means that you should hold down the Ctrl key while
pressing the indicated letter.

Vi editor command keys:

ZZ Exit, saving changes t<x> Up to <x> forward Q Enter ex mode T<x> Back up to <x>
<ESC> End of insert <x>| Go to column <x> :<cmd> Execute ex command w,W
Forward one word :!<cmd> Shell command b,B Back one word ^g Show filename/size
e,E End of word ^f Forward one screen ^h Erase last character ^b Back one screen ^w
Erase last word ^d Forward half screen ^? Interrupt ^u Backward half screen ~ Toggle
character case <x>G Go to line <x> a Append after /<x> Search forward for <x> i,I Insert
before ?<x> Search backward for <x> A Append at end of line n Repeat last search o
Open line below N Reverse last search O Open line above ]] Next section/function r
Replace character [[ Previous section/function R Replace characters % Find matching () {
or } d Delete ^l Redraw screen dd Delete line ^r Refresh screen c Change z<CR> Current
line at top y Yank lines to buffer z- Current line at bottom C Change rest of line ^e Scroll
down one line D Delete rest of line ^y Scroll up one line s Substitute character ``
Previous context S Substitute lines H Home window line J Join lines L Last window line
x Delete after M Middle window line X Delete before + Next line Y Yank current line
hjkl Cursor movement: p Put back lines left/down/up/right P Put before 0 Beginning of
line << Shift line left $ End of line >> Shift line right f<x> Find <x> forward u Undo last
change F<x> Find <x> backward U Restore current line

Ex mode commands:
q Quit set <x> Enable option q! Quit, discard changes set no<v> Disable option r <f>
Read in file <f> set all Show all options sh Invoke shell vi Vi mode wq Write and quit w
<f> Write file <f> w! <f> Overwrite file <f>

autoindent Automatic line indentation autowrite Write before quit ignorecase Ignore case
in searches number Display line numbers showmatch Show matches to ) and } as typed
terse Quiet mode wrapscan Wraparound in searches wrapmargin Automatic line splitting

Also see:

In vi, how can I do a global search and replace?

In vi, what should I do if my terminal has no Esc key?
In vi, how do I go to a particular line or word in a file?
How do I use the vi text editor?
When using vi to edit a large file, what should I do if I get the "not enough space"
error message?

This is document afdc in domain all.

Last modified on January 30, 2007.

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vi Editor Commands

Quick links...
General Startup
Cursor Movement
Screen Movement
Copying Code
Put Command
Find Commands
Miscellaneous Commands
Line Editor Mode
ex Commands
Reading Files
Write File
Shell Escape

General Startup
To use vi: vi filename
To exit vi and save changes: ZZ
or :wq
To exit vi without saving changes: :q!
To enter vi command mode: [esc]

A number preceding any vi command tells vi to repeat
that command that many times.

Cursor Movement

move left (backspace)

move down

move up

move right (spacebar)


move to the beginning of the next line

last column on the current line

move cursor to the first column on the

current line

move cursor to first nonblank column on the

current line

move to the beginning of the next word or

punctuation mark

move past the next space

move to the beginning of the previous word

or punctuation mark

move to the beginning of the previous word,

ignores punctuation

end of next word or punctuation mark

end of next word, ignoring punctuation

move cursor to the top of the screen

move cursor to the middle of the screen

move cursor to the bottom of the screen

Screen Movement

move to the last line in the file


move to line x


move current line to top of screen

move current line to the middle of screen


move current line to the bottom of screen


move forward one screen


move backward one line


move forward one half screen


move backward one half screen


redraw screen
( does not work with VT100 type terminals )


redraw screen
( does not work with Televideo terminals )


replace character under cursor with next

character typed

keep replacing character until [esc] is hit

insert before cursor

append after cursor

append at end of line

open line above cursor and enter append mode


delete character under cursor


delete line under cursor


delete word under cursor


delete word before cursor

Copying Code


(yank)'copies' line which may then be put by

the p(put) command. Precede with a count for
multiple lines.

Put Command
brings back previous deletion or yank of lines,
words, or characters

bring back before cursor

bring back after cursor

Find Commands

finds a word going backwards

finds a word going forwards

finds a character on the line under the

cursor going forward

finds a character on the line under the

cursor going backwards

find a character on the current line going

forward and stop one character before it

find a character on the current line going

backward and stop one character before it

repeat last f, F, t, T

Miscellaneous Commands

repeat last command

undoes last command issued

undoes all commands on one line


deletes first character and inserts after

second (swap)

join current line with the next line


display current line number

if at one parenthesis, will jump to its mate


mark current line with character x


find line marked with character x

NOTE: Marks are internal and not written to the file.

Line Editor Mode

Any commands form the line editor ex can be issued
upon entering line mode.

To enter: type ':'

To exit: press[return] or [esc]

ex Commands
For a complete list consult the
UNIX Programmer's Manual

copies (reads) filename after cursor in file
currently editing

:r filename



saves the current file without quitting


move to line #


move to last line of file


executes 'cmd' as a shell command.