Vim - Vim's Interface: Selection, Changes, Deleting, Formatting


Visual modes can use movement keys to make selections. In Vim you have the following Visual modes:

  • Visual
  • Visual Line
  • Visual Block

Everything that you used to do with the mouse, you now do with the keyboard using editing commands that compose with movement commands. Vim’s editing commands are also called “verbs” because verbs act on nouns.

When you are in a Visual mode you can select any part of text using the movements that you have learned. This mode will be helpful to change, delete, yank text.

Changing and Deleting text

You can quickly change and deleting text in vim.

Key Description
cw change word
dw delete word

When you use to delete, you just delete the word. When you change you delete the word and vim puts you in insert mode so you can start typing and in fact change the word.

Key Description
C change line
D delete line

Formatting text

It's sometimes helpful to format text quickly, such as paragraphs, and this can easily be done with the following command:

Formatting the current paragraph

gq ap

gq works based on your text width setting.

Other ways of deleting text

Now you know some ways of deleting and changing text, let's see some more ways of deleting text:

Key Description
x delete the character under the cursor
X delete the character before the cursor

You can memorize *x as exterminate. Let´s see some more useful verbs:

Key Description
dd delete the current line
dt. delete from where you are to the period
J join the current line with the next one (delete what's between)


You can also combine verbs with a count, which will perform a given action a number of times. Examples:

Combination Description
7dw delete 7 words
c5w change 5 words
4dd delete the next 4 lines
3yy yank the next 4 lines

Note that you can use counts with almost every command, ex: 1000ctrl-a will increment the number in 1000


You can use modifiers to change the meaning of a noun. Some modifiers are i, which means “inner” or “inside”, and a, which means “around”.

Modifiers Description
ci{ change the contents inside the current pair of curly brackets
ci[ change the contents inside the current pair of square brackets
ca( change a single-quoted string, including the surrounding curve brackets
da' delete a single-quoted string, including the surrounding single quotes

Undo / Redo

Now you want to know how to undo and redo things in vim, let's see how!

Key Description
u Undo
Ctr-r Redo

Copy and pasting

Copying text

The command isn't c, as one might expect. If you'll remember, c is already taken for change. Vim instead uses y for yank.

Key Description
y yank (copy) whatever's selected
yy yank the current line

Pasting text

Pasting is fairly intuitive—it uses the p verb. So, if you delete a line using dd, you can paste it back using p.

One thing to remember about pasting is that it generally starts right after your cursor, and either pastes characters/words or lines or columns—based on what you copied (yanked). Also, remember that you can undo any paste with the universal undo command "u".

Key Description
p paste the copied (or deleted) text after the current cursor position
P paste the copied (or deleted) text before the current cursor position

Repeating actions

One of the most powerful verbs in all vim is period . Period allows you to repeat whatever it is that you just did.

Let's see an example.

First, we delete a word


Delete seven more words


Another example


Then you type the change the word that you want, and you can use period to make that exact change to any other word.

You can use period with anything in vim!

Split Screen

Like many other editors in Vim you can split-screen horizontal or vertical.

Key Description
:vs {file name} vertical split, if there is no file name, vim will split the current screen
:sp {file name} horizontal split, if there is no file name, vim will split the current screen
ctrl+w h Move to the left window from current window
ctrl+w j Move to the bottom window from current window
ctrl+w k Move to the top window from current window
ctrl+w l Move to the right window from current window
ctrl+w r Swap bottom/top if split horizontally
ctrl+w R Swap top/bottom if split horizontally
ctrl+w r Rotates the windows from left to right - only if the windows are split vertically
ctrl+w R Rotates the windows from right to left - only if the windows are split vertically
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