Unix/Linux Vi editor quick reference

Vi has two modes: insertion mode and command mode. The editor begins in command mode, where the cursor movement and text deletion and pasting occur. Insertion mode begins upon entering an insertion or change command. [ESC] returns the editor to command mode (where you can quit, for example by typing :q!). Most commands execute as soon as you type them except for “colon” commands which execute when you press the ruturn key.

Inserting Text
i Insert before cursor
I Insert before line
a Append after cursor
A Append after line
o Open a new line after current line
O Open a new line before current line
r Replace one character
R Replace many characters

Deleting Text
Note: Almost all deletion commands are performed by typing d followed by a motion. For example, dw deletes a word. A few other deletes are:
x Delete character to the right of cursor
X Delete character to the left of cursor
D Delete to the end of the line
dd Delete current line
:d Delete current line

: x Exit, saving changes (use no space – wordpess makes it a “frowny” face emoticon if i leave out the space)
:q Exit as long as there have been no changes
ZZ Exit and save changes if any have been made
:q! Exit and ignore any changes

Search for strings
/string Search forward for string
?string Search back for string
n Search for next instance of string
N Search for previous instance of string

The search and replace function is accomplished with the :s command. It is commonly used in combination with ranges or the :g command (below).
:s/pattern/string/flags Replace pattern with string according to flags.
g Flag – Replace all occurences of pattern
c Flag – Confirm replaces.
& Repeat last :s command

There are literally dozens of others however, this is just a quick reference of the most valuable…


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