Live Chat Software by Kayako
Become a Vi Master by Learning These 30+ Key Bindings
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 16 September 2016 01:33 AM
Vi is a powerful text editor included on most Linux systems. Many people swear by vi and find it faster than any other editor once they’ve learned its key bindings. You can even use vi key bindings in Bash.
We’ve already covered getting started with vi for beginners. If you haven’t used vi in a while, you might want to give that post a look to get a refresher on the basics.
As a short recap, vi is a modal editor – there’s an insert mode and a standard command mode. In insert mode, vi functions similar to a normal text editor. In command mode, you take advantage of these key bindings.
Moving the Cursor
Vi uses the hjkl keys to move the cursor in command mode. Early computer systems didn’t always have arrow keys, so these keys were used instead. One advantage of these keyboard shortcuts is that you don’t have to move your fingers from the home row to use them.
You can also use search commands to quickly move the cursor.
Use these commands to quickly move to locations in the file:
Moving between words:
Copying & Pasting
Vi refers to the act of copying as “yanking.”
Some commands – including the y and v commands above and the d (delete) command accept cursor motion commands.
For example, when you press d to delete some text, nothing will happen until you enter a cursor motion command. For example:
As you can see, the combination of combining a command with a cursor movement command is very powerful.
Repeat & Undo
Vi’s repeat command is very powerful, as it can repeat complex, combined commands.
Bonus: Using Vi Key Bindings in Bash
Once you’ve mastered the vi key bindings, you may want to use them elsewhere on your system. No problem – you can set the Bash shell to use vi-style key bindings.
Try this out in the current session by running the following command in a Bash terminal:
Bash will start in insert mode – press Escape to enter command mode and use these key bindings.
If you like this, you can add the command to your ~/.bashrc file and it will be automatically run each time you log in. Use the vi .bashrc command to open and edit the file in vi.
This isn’t a complete list of key bindings for vi, but it should help you flex your vi wings and learn to fly. This list of key bindings at Harvard’s website is more complete and has more information, although it’s less organized and harder to digest all at once.