vi Editor Minimal Reference

Here's how to start editing a file called filename.txt. If that file doesn't exist, it will be created:
$ vi filename.txt

vi commands (enter these once you start the vi editor)
Many of these commands happen immediately, without requiring you to press the Enter key. The ones that start with the characters : / or ? require that you press return after entering the command. Just watch what happens; if nothing happens, press the Enter (or Return) key.
CommandPurpose
Control
Esc (Esc key) puts you into command mode so that you can enter commands
i puts you into insert mode so that the characters you type will start to appear at the current cursor position
o puts you into insert mode so that the characters you type will start to appear on the line after at the current cursor position
File Management
:w save the current editor's contents to the file that you opened vi with
:w filename write the current editor's contents to a file called filename;
:w! filename write the current editor's contents to a file called filename, overwriting it if it already exists;
:q quit vi without saving any changes
ZZ save the current contents of the editor to the filename that you opened it with and then exit vi
Informational
Ctrl/g (press Ctrl and g at the same time) displays your current line number
/string searches for string in file in a forward direction; moves your cursor right to it if found; repeat string search with just /
?string searches for string in file in a backward direction; moves your cursor right to it if found; repeat string search with just ?
Moving the Cursor
space bar (space bar) moves cursor to the right
backspace (backspace key) moves cursor to the left
j moves cursor down
k moves cursor up
Text cutting, copying, and pasting
x deletes text under cursor
dw deletes the rest of the current word under cursor
dd deletes line under cursor
Y copy (yank) the current line under cursor into the buffer
p pastes buffer (last delete or yank)
Text changes
:1,$ s/old/new/g change all occurences in the file of old to new
J joins line below the cursor with the current line

More vi Resources

  • Use "VI Tutorial," from Engineering Computer Network, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA is a very thorough Web-based instructional guide on vi.
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2015-11-01 · John December · Contact · Terms of Use © December Communications, Inc.