[Comp.Sci.Dept, Utrecht] Note from archiver<at>cs.uu.nl: This page is part of a big collection of Usenet postings, archived here for your convenience. For matters concerning the content of this page, please contact its author(s); use the source, if all else fails. For matters concerning the archive as a whole, please refer to the archive description or contact the archiver.

Subject: Vim Editor FAQ

This article was archived around: 10 Feb 1998 02:29:18 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: editor-faq
All FAQs posted in: comp.editors
Source: Usenet Version


Archive-name: editor-faq/vim Posting-Frequency: monthly (second Monday) Last-modified: Mon Feb 9 21:27:50 EST 1998 URL: http://www.grafnetix.com/~laurent/vim/faq.html
The Vim Editor FAQ Created: Tue Mar 12 00:00:00 EST 1996 Last Updated: Date: 1998/02/08 18:03:21 Version: Revision: 1.25 Author: Laurent DUPERVAL <laurent@grafnetix.com> This Page: <URL:http://www.grafnetix.com/~laurent/vim/faq.html> Vim Pages: <URL:http://www.vim.org/> This article contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Vim editor. Questions marked by [CHANGED] are questions that have been modified since the last release of the FAQ. Questions marked by [NEW] are new questions. The following topics are addressed: Contents * Contents * 1 ABOUT THIS FAQ o 1.1 What versions of Vim does this FAQ cover? o 1.2 Who maintains this FAQ? o 1.3 Why him? o 1.4 Can I add to it? o 1.5 What are the restrictions on this FAQ? o 1.6 [CHANGED] Acknowledgements * 2 GENERAL INFORMATION o 2.1 What is Vim? o 2.2 Who wrote Vim? o 2.3 Is Vim compatible with Vi? o 2.4 What are some of the improvements of Vim over Vi? o 2.5 What are the improvements of Vim 4 over Vim 3.x? o 2.6 What are the improvements of Vim 5.x over Vim 4.x? o 2.7 Is Vim free? * 3 RESOURCES o 3.1 [CHANGED] Where can I learn more about Vim? o 3.2 Is there a mailing list available? o 3.3 Is there an archive available for the Vim mailing list? o 3.4 [CHANGED] Where can I report bugs? o 3.5 Where can the FAQ be found? o 3.6 What if I don't find an answer in this FAQ? * 4 AVAILABILITY o 4.1 [CHANGED] What is the latest version of Vim? o 4.2 Where can I find the latest version of Vim? o 4.3 [CHANGED] What platform does it run on? o 4.4 [CHANGED] What do I need to compile and install Vim? * 5 TIPS AND TECHNIQUES o 5.1 How do I use the help files? o 5.2 Why is a backup file written even if I set nobackup? o 5.3 How can I keep Vim from beeping all the time? o 5.4 How do I map the Tab key? o 5.5 How do I map the Esc key? o 5.6 How do I tell Vim where the helpfile is? o 5.7 How do I get back to the exact position within a line I have marked with 'a'? o 5.8 How do I read in the output of a command? o 5.9 Why can't I abbreviate ``'xy''? o 5.10 How do I jump to the beginning/end of the highlighted text? o 5.11 Why does completion of ``:set n'' not show negated settings, e.g., ``noautoindent''? Completion of ``:set no'' seems to work. o 5.12 Is there a command to remove any or all digraphs? o 5.13 How do I use a spell checker with Vim? o 5.14 Can I copy the character above the cursor to the current cursor position? o 5.15 How do I remove empty lines? o 5.16 How do I reduce a range of empty lines into one line only? o 5.17 How can I paste large amounts of text between two running sessions of Vim? o 5.18 Can I use compressed versions of the help files? o 5.19 How come I can't set option ``xxxx''? o 5.20 How do I format a block of C code? o 5.21 How do I put a command onto the command history without executing it? o 5.22 Why do I hear a beep (why does my window flash) about 1 second after I hit the Escape key? o 5.23 How do I make the 'c' and 's' commands display a '$' instead of deleting the characters I'm changing? o 5.24 How do I add a line before each line with ``pattern'' in it? o 5.25 How can I delete the newline which is followed by a given character, such as ``|''? o 5.26 How do I use the join command within a range of lines that ends with ``*'' and begins with the previous ``|''? o 5.27 How do I map/unmap an abbreviation or a map!ed key sequence? o 5.28 When I use my arrow keys, Vim changes modes, inserts weird characters in my document but doesn't move the cursor properly. What's going on? o 5.29 How do I ``auto-outdent'' some lines containing certain keywords (i.e.have auto-indenting but towards the left margin instead of the right margin)? o 5.30 Is there a repository for Vim macros? o 5.31 If I have a mapping/abbreviation whose ending is the beginning of another mapping/abbreviation, how do I keep the first from expanding into the second one? o 5.32 Modelines are cool but Vim's modeline support is too restrictive. How can I improve it? o 5.33 How can I use different .vimrc settings for different types of files? o 5.34 How can I search for tags when running Vim over a telnet session? o 5.35 [NEW] I get errors when trying to put scripts in my mappings. Why? o 5.36 [NEW] When I try to remove mappings in my autocommands, Vim says my mappings don't exists. What's going on? * 6 DOS-, WINDOWS-, WIN32-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS o 6.1 Why does the Win32 version of Vim update the screen so slowly on Windows 95? o 6.2 So if the Win32 version updates the screen so slowly on Windows 95 and the 16-bit DOS version updates the screen quickly, why would I want to run the Win32 version? o 6.3 And what about the 16-bit DOS version versus the Win32 version on NT? o 6.4 Why can't I paste into Vim when running Windows 95? o 6.5 How do I type dead keys on Windows 95? o 6.6 How do I type dead keys on Windows NT? o 6.7 When will a real GUI version of Vim (gvim) for Win32 with scrollbars, menus, pasting from the clipboard, and so on become available? o 6.8 On a Win32 machine, I'm using Vim to edit a symbolically linked file on a Unix NFS file server. When I write the file, Vim does not "write through" the symlink. Instead, it deletes the symbolic link and creates a new file in its place. Why? o 6.9 How do I copy text from Windows applications to the DOS version of Vim? o 6.10 Why does my Caps Lock affect all the keys characters for all the keys instead of just the letters? o 6.11 How do I change Vim's window size in Windows? * 7 UNIX-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS o 7.1 How do I turn off the message ``Thanks for flying Vim'' on Unix stations? o 7.2 How do I prevent <Ctrl-Z> from suspending Vim? o 7.3 How can I make Vim faster on a Unix station? o 7.4 In Unix, how do I make Vim more colorful? 1 ABOUT THIS FAQ 1.1 What versions of Vim does this FAQ cover? At the time of its creation, version 4.0 was almost complete (3.21 was already available) therefore the FAQ covers mainly vim4-specific issues. But some answers may apply to Vim 3.0. There are no plans to make the FAQ ``backward compatible''. ;-) In particular, in various parts of the FAQ, you will see mentions of ``:h subject'' to get help about a specific subject. Although the help command works in 3.0, you cannot give it an argument. 1.2 Who maintains this FAQ? The current maintainer of this FAQ is Laurent Duperval. I can be reached at <laurent@grafnetix.com>. Please insert the keyword NOTSPAM in the Subject line of your message otherwise it may not reach me. 1.3 Why him? Well, I volunteered. You could have done it too, had you volunteered before me. ;-) Besides, after getting so much free and useful stuff off the 'Net, I decided to give something back in the form of this FAQ. 1.4 Can I add to it? Sure. Just send your questions (and answers!) to <laurent@grafnetix.com>. Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. 1.5 What are the restrictions on this FAQ? Disclaimer: This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, the author / maintainer / contributors (take your pick) assume(s) no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. This article is Copyright 1996-1997 Laurent Duperval. You may distribute it as you wish provided this copyright and the above disclaimer is also provided. You may not sell it without express consent from the author. You may not distribute a modified version of this article without express consent from the author. 1.6 [CHANGED] Acknowledgements The following people have contributed (from near or far) to the answers in this FAQ. Some of them may not even know about it. Bram Moolenar <bram@vim.org> Sven Guckes <guckes@vim.org> Robert Webb <robertw@wormald.com.au> George V. Reilly <georger@halcyon.com> Tony Nugent <tonyn@sctnugen.ppp.gu.edu.au> Ingolf Markhof <markhof@ls12r.informatik.uni-dortmund.de> Stan Brown <stbrown@nacs.net> Raul Segura Acevedo <raul@turing.iquimica.unam.mx> Benjamin Elijah Griffin <eli@NetUSA.Net> Dr. Charles Campbell <cec@gryphon.gsfc.nasa.gov> 2 GENERAL INFORMATION 2.1 What is Vim? Vim stands for Vi IMproved. It used to be Vi IMitation, but there are so many improvements that a name change was appropriate. Vim is a text editor which includes almost all the commands from the Unix program ``Vi'' and a lot of new ones. It is very useful for editing programs and other 7-bit or 8-bit ASCII text. All commands can be given with the keyboard. This has the advantage that you can keep your fingers on the keyboard and your eyes on the screen. For those who want it, there is mouse support and a GUI version with scrollbars and menus. Vim is an editor, not a word processor. A word processor is used mainly to do layout of text. This means positioning it, changing the way it appears on output. More often than not, the final document is meant to be printed or typeset or what have you, in order to present it in a pleasing manner to others. Examples of word processors are Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, FrameMaker, and AmiPro. An editor is simply for entering text. Any typesetting or laying out of the document is secondary. With an editor, one's main concern is entering text, not making the text look good. Examples of editors other than Vim and Vi are Emacs, Crisp, Brief, and xedit. 2.2 Who wrote Vim? Most of Vim was written by Bram Moolenar, with contributions from too many people to mention here. Try ``:h credits'' for a complete list. Vim is based on Stevie, worked on by Tim Thompson, Tony Andrews and G.R. (Fred) Walter. 2.3 Is Vim compatible with Vi? Very. A special mode (``:set compatible'') makes Vim behave almost exactly like Vi. 2.4 What are some of the improvements of Vim over Vi? Here is a short summary. For more information, do ``:h diff''. Multi-level undo Allows you to set the number of times you can undo your changes in a file buffer. You can also redo an undone change. Multiple windows and buffers Each file can be displayed in its own window. You can move easily from one window to another. Each file opened during a Vim session also has an associated buffer and you can easily jump from one to the other. Repeat a series of commands. Vim has a facility which allows you to record a sequence of typed characters and repeat them any number of times. Flexible insert mode. Vim allows you to use the arrow keys while in insert mode to move around in the file. No more hitting <Esc>, moving around, then hitting `i' or `a'. Visual mode. You can highlight sections of text and execute operations on this section of text only. Block operators Allow selection and highlighting of rectangular blocks of text in order do execute specific operations on them. Online help system. You can easily find help on any aspect of using Vim. Help is displayed in its own window. Command-line editing and history. History allows you to use the arrow keys to repeat or search for a command that has already been typed. Allows you to match the beginning of a command with the beginning of another similar command in the history buffer. You can also edit a command to correct typos or change a few values. Command line completion. Using the <Tab> key, you can complete commands, options, filenames, etc. as needed. Horizontal scrolling. Long lines can be scrolled horizontally (with or without the GUI). Text formatting. With two keystrokes, you can format large sections of text, without the use of external programs. Edit-compile-edit speedup. You can compile within Vim and automatically jump to the location of errors in the source code. Improved indenting for C programs Vim gives you more control over how your C programs appear on screen. Searching for words in include files Vim allows you to search for a match of the word under the cursor in the current and included files. Word completion in Insert mode Vim can complete words while you are typing, by matching the current word with other similar words in the file. Automatic commands Commands automatically executed when reading or writing a file, jumping to another buffer, etc. Viminfo Allows storing of the command line history, marks and registers in a file to be read on startup. Mouse support The mouse is supported in an xterm and for MS-DOS. It can be used to position the cursor, select the visual area, paste a register, etc. Graphical User Interface (GUI) (Motif and Athena) You can use the GUI and have access to a menu bar, scrollbar, etc. You can also define your own menus as well as do many operations with the mouse instead of the keyboard. 2.5 What are the improvements of Vim 4 over Vim 3.x? Here is a list of some of the improvements of Vim 4 over Vim 3. For a complete list, do ``:h vim_40''. * New on-line help system * Command-line editing improved * Improved indenting for C programs * Searching for words in include files * Word completion in Insert mode * Automatic commands * Text objects * New Options * Support for editing one-line paragraphs * Usage of key names * Viminfo * Compilation improvements * Tag support improved * Improved (error) messages * Swap file * Mouse support * Graphical User Interface (GUI) * Support for Windows 95 and NT * Vi compatibility improvements * And more! (As if all that preceded wasn't reason enough to upgrade) 2.6 What are the improvements of Vim 5.x over Vim 4.x? Vim 5.0 is not officially out yet, but it will have syntax highlighting! And a command language! And much, much more! 2.7 Is Vim free? Vim is Charityware. There are no restrictions on using or copying Vim, but the author encourages you to make a donation to charity. A document explaining how to do so is included in the distribution. You are allowed to include Vim on a CD-ROM but you should send the author a copy. Please try ``:h copying''. 3 RESOURCES 3.1 [CHANGED] Where can I learn more about Vim? A mailing list is available for Vim. See the next question. Vim does not have a newsgroup of its own. But the appropriate newsgroup to post to is comp.editors. There is a Vim home page available at <URL:http://www.vim.org/> More information can be found in * Eli's Vim Page <URL:http://www.netusa.net/~eli/src/vim.html> * The Vi Lovers Home Page <URL:http://www.cs.vu.nl/~tmgil/vi.html> There is a reference card which is only valid for version 5. It is available in Postscript by sending email to <raul@turing.iquimica.unam.mx>. Please specify a subject as follows: * ``send reference card'' for letter version * ``send reference card a4'' for a4 version * ``send reference card tex'' for the original LaTeX source Oleg Raisky <olrcc@scisun.sci.ccny.cuny.edu> has created a reference guide for Vim and is available at <URL:http://scisun.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/~olrcc/vim/>. There are versions available for A4 and US Letter paper sizes. 3.2 Is there a mailing list available? There are three mailing lists for Vim (description to follow). You can join any of the lists by sending an empty mail message to the appropriate list handler. If for any reason, things don't work, contact <vim-help@vim.org>. * To (un)subscribe to the Vim Help list mail vim-(un)subscribe@vim.org * To (un)subscribe to the Vim Announcements list mail vim-announce-(un)subscribe@vim.org * To (un)subscribe to the Vim Development list mail vim-dev-(un)subscribe@vim.org Each mailing list serves a different purpose and you should not crosspost between them. This is a brief description of each list: <vim@vim.org> For discussions about using existing versions of Vim: Useful mappings, questions, answers, where to get a specific version, etc. <vim-dev@vim.org> For discussions about changing Vim: New features, porting, etc. <vim-announce@vim.org> Announcements about new versions of Vim and also beta-test versions and ports to different systems. No discussions here, please. If you have a question about the usage of Vim then please post it to comp.editorsor to the vim mailing list. Please note that if you send a message to a Vim mailing list but are not subscribed, your message will be discarded. You must subscribe in order to send mail to the mailing lists. Do not send mail to the mailing lists for subscription or unsubscription. (The maintainer of the list hates that! So do the people subscribed to the lists.) 3.3 Is there an archive available for the Vim mailing list? There is an archive available for the announcements made on the vimannounce mailing list at <URL:http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/vimannounce.html>. There is also a mail archive available by FTP if you need to check out old messages sent to one of the other lists. They are available at: <URL:ftp://ftp.ii.uib.no/pub/vim/mail-archive/vim/maillist.html> <URL:ftp://ftp.ii.uib.no/pub/vim/mail-archive/vimdev/maillist.html> <URL:ftp://ftp.ii.uib.no/pub/vim/mail-archive/vimannounce/maillist.html> 3.4 [CHANGED] Where can I report bugs? Well, you don't need to because there are none. ;-) But on the off chance that you may find an unexpected feature, you may send a description of it to the Vim Developmentlist. Take a look at <URL:http://www.vim.org/deve.html#bugreport> to see what type of information should be sent when making a bug report. There is also a script included with newer versions of Vim, which can be used to create a bug report. We are looking for someone to take over the tasks of our previous bug maintainer. If you are interested, send a message to Bram <bram@vim.org>. If you have patches that you would like to submit for approval and incorporation in future versions of Vim, you can send them to Bram <bram@vim.org>. 3.5 Where can the FAQ be found? This FAQ will be posted on a (hopefully) regular basis to the comp.editorsnewsgroup. The latest version can be found on <URL:http://www.grafnetix.com/~laurent/vim/faq.html>. It will also be mirrored at <URL:http://www.vim.org/faq/>. Eventually, it should make its way into news.answersand rtfm.mit.edu. You can also find a searchable version of this and many more FAQs at the Hypertext FAQ Archiveat <URL:http://www.landfield.com/faqs/>. 3.6 What if I don't find an answer in this FAQ? This FAQ covers mainly Vim-specific questions. You may find more information suitable for most Vi clones by reading the Vi FAQ. It is posted regularly on comp.editors. You can also find a copy at <URL:ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-group/comp.editors>. Please note that although I maintain the FAQ, I am not the best resource to answer questions about Vim. If you send a question about using Vim diretly to me, 9 times out of 10 I will redirect you to the Vim mailing listor to comp.editors. So you might as well send your questions directly there since you're liable to get a more accurate and useful response than I could give you. 4 AVAILABILITY 4.1 [CHANGED] What is the latest version of Vim? The latest version is 4.6. The latest beta release is 5.0w (as of February 8, 1998). 4.2 Where can I find the latest version of Vim? The main archive for the latest versions of Vim is <URL:ftp://ftp.oce.nl/pub/vim> The directory structure: /pub/vim/amiga /pub/vim/atari /pub/vim/beta-test /pub/vim/os2 /pub/vim/pc /pub/vim/unix The latest public release can be found in the atari, amiga, os2, pc, and unix directories. The latest beta-test versions can be found in the beta-test subdirectories. For a complete and updated list of current FTP sites, please refer to <URL:http://www.vim.org/dist.html>. 4.3 [CHANGED] What platform does it run on? Vim should compile with no problems on most flavors of Unix and on DOS, OS/2, Ataris, Amigas, Windows 95, Windows NT, BeOS and VMS. Binaries for other systems are also available. A complete list of supported platforms and available binaries can be found at <URL:http://www.vim.org/dist.html> 4.4 [CHANGED] What do I need to compile and install Vim? Unless you are on a Unix station, you may not need to compile Vim since there are various binaries available for Windows, Windows 95, Windows NT, DOS, OS/2 and Amiga (please see <URL:http://www.vim.org/dist.html#binaries>. But if you need to compile it, you must have a C compiler and a make utility. Most commercial C compilers come bundled with a make utility, so if you've got one of those, you're in luck. If you need a compiler or if your make utility doesn't like the Makefiles provided with Vim, you can get the GNU C compiler and GNU make at <URL:ftp://prep.ai.mit/edu/pub/gnu> and its mirrors. At that same site, you can also find sed, binutils, and other GNU tools (such as gzip) which can be useful on certain systems. For DOS systems, you can look in <URL:ftp://ftp.coast.net/SimTel/msdos/>. If you plan on compiling the GUI version of Vim under Unix, you must have some kind of widget library. One of these three should suffice: Motif libraries These libraries are commercial but are distributed with a number of operating systems. You can find out how to purchase it by going to <URL:http://www.rdg.opengroup.org/>. Athena libraries This is a freely available widget set which is included in the X11 distribution. This is a no frills library which implements a number of widgets that are necessary when building a GUI. Various other similar libraries have been built from the Athena widget set. These variations allow a 3D look and a NextStep look. These variations are not part of the X11 distribution. The X11 distribution is available at <URL:ftp://ftp.x.org/>. Lesstif This is a free Motif clone. It is available at <URL:http://www.lesstif.org/>. 5 TIPS AND TECHNIQUES Note: This section contains various macros written in Vim's macro language, called ``<> notation'' (you can find the description by doing ``:h key_notation''). All macros should be entered as is in your .vimrc file or on Vim's command line. You should even be able to cut and paste the information. This is a short description of the language: * Any printable characters are typed directly, except backslash and '<'. * A backslash is represented with ``\\'', double backslash. * A real '<' is represented with ``\<''. * ``<key>'' means the special key typed. A few examples: <Esc> Escape key <C-G> CTRL-G <Up> cursor up key <C-LeftMouse> Control- left mouse click <S-F11> Shifted function key 11 <M-a> Meta- a ('a' with bit 8 set) <M-A> Meta- A ('A' with bit 8 set) <t_kd> "kd" termcap entry (cursor down key) If you want to use this notation in Vim, you have to remove the 'B' flag from 'cpoptions' and make sure the '<' flag is excluded. The default values for cpoptions should work fine. :set cpo=ceFs For mapping, abbreviation and menu commands you can then copy-paste the examples and use them directly. Or type them literally, including the '<' and '>' characters. This does NOT work for other commands, like ``:set'' and ``:autocmd''! Other tips, not appearing in this FAQ, can be found by doing ``:h tips''. 5.1 How do I use the help files? Help can be found for all functions of Vim. In order to use it, use ``:h''. This will bring you to the main help page. On that first page, you will find explanations on how to move around. Basically, you move around in the help pages the same way you would in a read-only document. You can jump to specific subjects by using tags. This can be done in two ways: * Use the ``<Ctrl-]>'' command while standing on the name of a command or option. This only works when the tag is a keyword. ``<Ctrl-LeftMouse>'' and ``g<LeftMouse>'' work just like ``<Ctrl-]>''. * use the ``:ta subject'' command. This works with all characters. Use ``<Ctrl-T>'' to jump back to previous positions in the help files. Use ``:q'' to close the help window. If you want to jump to a specific subject on the help pages, use ``:h {subject}''. If you don't know what to look for, try ``:h index'' to get a list of all available subjects. Use the standard search keys to locate the information you want. By version 6 or 7, we should have a search engine available. ;-) 5.2 Why is a backup file written even if I set nobackup? In order to keep Vim from writing a backup, you must also do ``:set nowritebackup''. 5.3 How can I keep Vim from beeping all the time? Well, you can use ``set noerrorbells" but it does not turn off the bell for all cases. It only makes a difference for error messages; the bell will be always be used for a lot of errors without a message (e.g., hitting <Esc> in Normal mode). If you want Vim to stop beeping then all you need is ``:set vb'' which tries to do a screen flash rather than an audible beep. Some terminals can't do screen flashes, but if yours does and you don't want it to flash or beep then use ``:set vb t_vb=''. 5.4 How do I map the Tab key? :map <Tab> right-hand-side 5.5 How do I map the Esc key? On some keyboards the escape key is not placed very well. It's either part of the numeric block or it can be a small button (as with some Macintosh keyboards). But do not despair - make your own escape key! You can map one of the commands keys you do not need to Esc. Example: map CTRL-O to ESC: :map <C-O> <Esc> 5.6 How do I tell Vim where the helpfile is? To tell Vim where to find the help file, ``:set helpfile'' to the correct value, i.e., including the full path. As with most options you can abbreviate ``helpfile'' to ``hf''. On the other hand, if your VIM environment variable points to the directory containing the help file, vim will find the help file with no need to ``:set hf=''. 5.7 How do I get back to the exact position within a line I have marked with 'a'? Use ```a'' (that's a backtick!). If the backtick is awkwardly placed on your keyboard, the following maping may be useful to you: map ' ` 5.8 How do I read in the output of a command? Use ``:r!command''. 5.9 Why can't I abbreviate ``'xy''? The abbreviation consists of a non-id character followed by two id characters, which does not satisfy either category of a ``full-id''. However, ``_ps'' and ``'p'' will work. 5.10 How do I jump to the beginning/end of the highlighted text? The command 'o' will jump to the beginning/end of the highlighted text. 5.11 Why does completion of ``:set n'' not show negated settings, e.g., ``noautoindent''? Completion of ``:set no'' seems to work. The thing is that the ``no'' is not actually part of the option's name; the name comes after that. So after ``no'', Vim knows to complete any boolean setting name (starts the completion just after the ``no'', which is not part of the name). After ``n'', Vim will complete all setting names starting with ``n''. It would be a bummer if you wanted to complete ``number'', but had to wade through all the boolean option names with ``no'' prepended too. 5.12 Is there a command to remove any or all digraphs? No. The digraphs table is defined at compile time. You can only add new ones. Adding a command to remove digraphs is on the todo list. 5.13 How do I use a spell checker with Vim? You can call a non-interactive spell checker from Vim without a problem. A function to look up a word is included with the command ``K''. So what you do is get such a spell checker, then you issue the command ``:set keywordprg=ispell'', and then hit ``K'' on the word you want to look up, i.e., check. If you need to give options to your spell checker command, escape all spaces with a backslash. If you need to use an interactive spell checker and are working with Unix, you can try this approach proposed by Ives Aerts <ives@sonycom.com>: noremap ;ispell :%! ispell-filter<CR><C-L> where ispell-filter is the following script: #!/bin/sh # # This little script can be used to run ispell on stdin, returning the result # through stdout. # It can be used from VI like this (or map it to a key sequence): # :%! ~/bin/ispell-filter # cat > /tmp/tmp.$$ ispell $* /tmp/tmp.$$ < /dev/tty > /dev/tty cat /tmp/tmp.$$ rm -f /tmp/tmp.$$ or this macro proposed by Dr. Charles E. Campbell Jr. <cec@gryphon.gsfc.nasa.gov>: map #fi :w<CR>:!ispell %<CR>:e %<CR> 5.14 Can I copy the character above the cursor to the current cursor position? In Insert mode, you can copy the character above the cursor to the current cursor position by typing <Ctrl-Y>. The same can be done with the characters below the cursor by using <Ctrl-E>. This is neat when you need to duplicate partial lines without going through the process of yanking a line and deleting the unwanted part. 5.15 How do I remove empty lines? To remove all empty lines do ``:g/^$/d''. ``:g/[ <Tab>]*$/d'' deletes lines that aren't blank but look it, too. 5.16 How do I reduce a range of empty lines into one line only? You can try ``:v/./.,/./-1join''. Note that this will give an error message if the empty lines are at the end of the file. To correct this, use the following mapping instead: map _b GoZ<Esc>:g/^[ <Tab>]*$/,/[^ <Tab>]/-j<CR>Gdd 5.17 How can I paste large amounts of text between two running sessions of Vim? If you are using the GUI version of Vim, with the Motif or Athena interface, you can actually cut and paste between the two, and text will be copied exactly; that is, tabs will not change into spaces, and if you copy a rectangular block, then that is what you will paste too! Otherwise, in a terminal Vim, use these mappings: " _Y: Yank the highlighted block of text (or a single line) to a tmp file. " _P: Put the text yanked with \_Y (possibly in another invocation of Vim). " nmap _Y :.w! ~/.vi_tmp<CR> vmap _Y :w! ~/.vi_tmp<CR> nmap _P :r ~/.vi_tmp<CR> Now you just highlight the area you want to copy with ``V'' etc, and yank it with ``_Y''. Then you can paste it in another Vim with ``_P''. 5.18 Can I use compressed versions of the help files? For those that are really short on disk space, you can compress the help files and still be able to view them with Vim. This example assumes you have gzip on your system. You do have it, don't you? :-) If not, you will need to adapt it to work with a different compression utility. 1. Compress all the help files: ``gzip doc/*.txt''. 2. Edit doc/vim_tags (doc/tags in 5.0) and do :%s=\.txt<Tab>/=.txt.gz<Tab>/= 3. Add these lines to your .vimrc: set helpfile=<dirname>/vim_help.txt.gz autocmd BufReadPost *.txt.gz set bin | '[,']!gunzip autocmd BufReadPost *.txt.gz set nobin set cmdheight=2 Where ``dirname'' is the directory where the help files are. If you already have included autocommands to edit ``.gz'' files you should omit the two ``autocmd'' lines. Note that you must ``set nocompatible'' for this to work in Vim 5.0. 5.19 How come I can't set option ``xxxx''? Some options are compiled into Vim. If you want to enable these options, then you must modify the feature.h file. You can see what compile-time options are available by looking at the version number (:ver). It will give you something like this: Compiled with (+) or without (-): +autocmd +builtin_terms +cindent -compatible +digraphs -emacs_tags +fork() -GUI +insert_expand -langmap +lispindent -rightleft +smartindent -terminfo +viminfo +writebackup +X11 As the example shows, all options compiled into the Vim binary are preceded by a '+'. All options that are not compiled in are preceded by a '-'. All options that do not appear in this list do not need to be compiled in. 5.20 How do I format a block of C code? To format C code, use = instead of Q. Try ``:h C_indenting'' to get more information on controlling the way your code is formatted. 5.21 How do I put a command onto the command history without executing it? You need only end the input with <ESC> (not <Ctrl-V><Esc>). 5.22 Why do I hear a beep (why does my window flash) about 1 second after I hit the Escape key? This is normal behavior. If your window flashes, then you've got the visual bell on. Otherwise, you should hear a beep. Vim (and most, if not all, other implementations of Vi) needs a timeout to tell the difference between a simple escape and, say, a cursor key sequence. When you press a key in normal mode (and even in insert mode) and that key is the beginning of a mapping, Vim waits a certain amount of time to see if the rest of the mapping sequence follows. If the mapping sequence is completed before a given timeout period, the mapping for that sequence of keys is applied. If you interrupt the mapping, the normal actions associated with the keys are executed. For example, if you have a mapping defined as ``:imap vvv Vim is great!!'' and you type ``vvv'' quickly, the ``Vim is great!!'' will be inserted into your text. But if you type ``vv v'' then that is what will put into your text. This is also true if you type ``vvv'' too slowly where ``too slowly'' is longer than the value for the timeout option. Setting the timeout option to a larger value can help alleviate problems that appear when using function keys over a slow line. Do ``:h timeout'' for more information on using this option and its cohorts. 5.23 How do I make the 'c' and 's' commands display a '$' instead of deleting the characters I'm changing? Add ``:set cpoptions=ces$'' to your .vimrc. Vi-compatible behavior can be controlled like this. Do ``:help cpoptions'' for more information. 5.24 How do I add a line before each line with ``pattern'' in it? 1. Yank the line using Y 2. Insert the line with ``:g/pattern/put!'' 5.25 How can I delete the newline which is followed by a given character, such as ``|''? Look at this problem this way: If there is a newline before the character then the character is the first character of the next line, i.e., it follows the start-of-line meta character (^). So the command to use is to look globally for all lines starting with the given character and the command to use on these lines is ``go back one line'' and ``join'' which will remove the next newline. The resulting command is: :g/^|/-1join 5.26 How do I use the join command within a range of lines that ends with ``*'' and begins with the previous ``|''? :?^|?,/*$/join 5.27 How do I map/unmap an abbreviation or a map!ed key sequence? In either case, ``:set paste'' will do the trick. Use ``:set nopaste'' to return to normal. For map!ed key sequences, you have a these tricks also; * After typing the first key of the key sequence, pause about 1 second before typing the rest of the sequence. * Type <Ctrl-V> before typing the first key in the key sequence. Normally, you shouldn't need these tricks. When ``:unmap'' finds an argument that is not a ``from'' part, it looks for a matching ``to'' part and unmaps that one. 5.28 When I use my arrow keys, Vim changes modes, inserts weird characters in my document but doesn't move the cursor properly. What's going on? There are a couple of things that could be going on: either you are using Vim over a slow connection or Vim doesn't understand the key sequence that your keyboard is generating. If you are working over a slow connection (such as a 2400 bps modem), you can try to set timeout or ttimeout. These options, combined with timeoutlen and ttimeoutlen, may fix the problem. Do ``:h timeout'' and ``:h timeoutlen'' for a better description on how to use them. The preceding procedure will not work correctly if your terminal sends key codes that Vim does not understand. In this situation, your best option is to map your key sequence to a matching cursor movement command and save these mappings in a file. You can then ``:source'' the file whenever you work from that terminal. 5.29 How do I ``auto-outdent'' some lines containing certain keywords (i.e.have auto-indenting but towards the left margin instead of the right margin)? For example (make sure you adapt the example to your personal needs): for k=1:10, stuff .. end; ^^^ This word marks the end of a loop and I'd like it to be automatically outdented to the same column as the word for. The following macro will do this (from Raul Segura Acevedo <raul@turing.iquimica.unam.mx>): :iab end; <C-D>end; This abbreviation takes effect when you type a non-keyword character after it (``;'', ``!'', space, tab, <Esc>, <CR>, etc). You can load this macro automatically using the following autocommands: au! BufEnter *.f,*.ff iab end; <C-D>end; au! BufLeave *.f,*.ff iunab end; 5.30 Is there a repository for Vim macros? As a matter of fact, there is. You can find the latest versions of contributed macros at <URL:http://www.grafnetix.com/~laurent/vim/macros.html>. At the time this version of the FAQ was updated, the following macros were available: * A file browser * Some macros to edit HTML code * Macros to deal with numbered lists * A Tic Tac Toe game 5.31 If I have a mapping/abbreviation whose ending is the beginning of another mapping/abbreviation, how do I keep the first from expanding into the second one? Instead of using :map lhs rhs, use :noremap lhs rhs. For abbreviations, use noreabbrev lhs rhs. The ``nore'' prefix prevents the mapping or abbreviation from being expanded again. You must be using version 4.5 or greater. 5.32 Modelines are cool but Vim's modeline support is too restrictive. How can I improve it? From Benjamin Elijah Griffin <eli@NetUSA.Net>: Vim modelines are crippled to reduce the security hazards of modelines. For much closer to vi modeline behavior (with the major risks involved) you can use Benjamin Elijah Griffin's modeline autocmd system. You can find it at <URL:http://www.netusa.net/~eli/src/modeline.html>. 5.33 How can I use different .vimrc settings for different types of files? There are a few ways to do this. All of them involve the use of autocommands. Try ``:h autocommand'' for more information. * You can define autocommands which do everything for you in your .vimrc file: au!BufRead *.c,*.cc,*.h set fo=croq cin noic au!BufEnter *.c,*.cc,*.h ab #i #include au BufEnter *.c,*.cc,*.h ab #d #define au BufEnter *.c,*.cc,*.h map _hello_world :"Hello World"<CR> au BufEnter *.c,*.cc,*.h normal _hello_world au!BufLeave *.c,*.cc,*.h unab #i | unab #d au BufLeave *.c,*.cc,*.h unmap _hello_world The ``!'' is used just in the first autocommand for each event (BufEnter, BufLeave, etc.). * Or you can define one autocommand for each file type which loads a specific .vimrc file containing the settings you require. autocmd BufNewFile *.tex read ~/.vim/texmodel autocmd BufEnter *.tex source ~/.vim/texrc autocmd BufLeave *.tex source ~/.vim/notexrc Remember that all settings that you modify in a BufEnter or BufNewFile event may need to be unset with a corresponding BufLeave event. By using a first file pattern with a value of ``*'', you can define default settings for all your files. The ``mapclear'' and ``abclear'' commands can clear all your mappings or abbreviations if needed. 5.34 How can I search for tags when running Vim over a telnet session? Darren Hiebert <darren@sirsi.com> says: Ctrl-] is the the default telnet escape key. Most version of telnet allow changing or disabling the default escape key. See the man page. If possible, try to use ``rsh'' instead of ``telnet''. It will avoid this problem. 5.35 [NEW] I get errors when trying to put scripts in my mappings. Why? This is a tricky one which deals with the way bars are treated in mappings. For example, if you have something like: nmap <f5> :if has("syntax_items") | syntax off | else | syntax on | endif Vim treats the line as: nmap <f5> :if has("syntax_items") and then tries syntax off (which is ok), then tries else (which now has no matching if). This parsing occurs because |'s are used as command separators in Vim. Since those |'s are really part of the command, they should be replaced by <Bar> in your mapping, to yied something like (on one line only): nmap <f5> :if has("syntax_items") <Bar> syntax off <Bar> else <Bar> syntax on <Bar> endif<CR> Thank you to <Dr. Charles Campbell >cec@gryphon.gsfc.nasa.gov far the explanation. 5.36 [NEW] When I try to remove mappings in my autocommands, Vim says my mappings don't exists. What's going on? The explanation for this phenomenon is similar to that of the previous question. Basically, when unmapping your commands, you must not leave any spaces after the |'s separating the unmap keyword. For example, using the following autocommand: au BufRead *.c map <C-N>:cn<CR> | map <C-P>:cp<CR> This will fail to unmap <C-P>: au BufLeave *.c unmap <C-N> | unmap <C-P> But this will succeed: au BufLeave *.c unmap <C-N> |unmap <C-P> 6 DOS-, WINDOWS-, WIN32-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS 6.1 Why does the Win32 version of Vim update the screen so slowly on Windows 95? The support for Win32 console mode applications is very buggy in Win95. For some unknown reason, the screen updates very slowly when Vim is run at one of the standard resolutions (80x25, 80x43, or 80x50) and the 16-bit DOS version updates the screen much more quickly than the Win32 version. However, if the screen is set to some other resolution, such as by ``:set columns=100'' or ``:set lines=40'', screen updating becomes about as fast as it is with the 16-bit version. Changing the screen resolution makes updates faster, but it brings problems with it of its own. External commands (e.g., ``:!dir'') can cause Vim to freeze when the screen is set to a non-standard resolution, particularly when columns is not equal to 80. It is not possible for Vim to reliably set the screen resolution back to the value it had upon startup before running external commands, so if you change the number of lines or columns, be very, very careful. In fact, Vim will not allow you to execute external commands when columns is not equal to 80, because it is so likely to freeze up afterwards. The maintainer of the Win32 port, George V. Reilly, says he's almost done with the GUI version of Vim. When it is completed, it should fix all these problems. In his own words: My position at this point is that the console mode APIs are irredeemably broken on Windows 95 and that I'm no longer interested in trying to come up with workarounds and hacks when my limited time is better spent trying to get an alpha of the Windows GUI version out the door. I strongly urge you to use one of the three standard resolutions (80x25, 80x43, or 80x50) and wait for the GUI version. Or upgrade to NT, where the console mode stuff works. Sorry. None of the above applies on Windows NT. Screen updates are fast, no matter how many lines or columns the window is set to, and external commands will not cause Vim to freeze. 6.2 So if the Win32 version updates the screen so slowly on Windows 95 and the 16-bit DOS version updates the screen quickly, why would I want to run the Win32 version? Firstly, the Win32 version isn't that slow, especially when the screen is set to some non-standard number of lines or columns. Secondly, the 16-bit DOS version has some severe limitations: it can't edit big files and it doesn't know about long filenames. The Win32 version doesn't have these limitations and it's faster overall (the same is true for the 32-bit DJGPP DOS version of Vim). The Win32 version is smarter about handling the screen, the mouse, and the keyboard than the DJGPP version is. 6.3 And what about the 16-bit DOS version versus the Win32 version on NT? There are no good reasons to run the 16-bit DOS version on NT. The Win32 version updates the screen just as fast as the 16-bit version when running on NT. All of the above disadvantages apply. Finally, 16-bit DOS applications can take a long time to start up and will run more slowly. On non-Intel NT platforms, the DOS version is almost unusably slow, because it runs on top of an 80x86 emulator. 6.4 Why can't I paste into Vim when running Windows 95? In the properties dialog box for the MS-DOS window, go to ``MS-DOS Prompt/Misc/Fast pasting'' and make sure that it is not checked. You should also do ``:set paste'' in VIM to avoid unexpected effects. See ``:h paste''. Also, in the Properties dialog's ``Misc'' tab, you want to make sure that ``Mouse Exclusive Mode'' is not checked. If you want to use the mouse in the Vim way, also make sure ``Mouse Quick Edit'' is not checked. (You can still cut and paste with the mouse by using the toolbar buttons.) 6.5 How do I type dead keys on Windows 95? (A dead key is an accent key, such as acute, grave, or umlaut, that doesn't produce a character by itself, but when followed by another key, produces an accented character, such as a-acute (), e-grave (), u-umlaut (), n-tilde (), and so on. Very useful for most European languages. English-language keyboard layouts don't use dead keys, as far as we know.) You don't. The console mode input routines simply do not work correctly in Windows 95, and we have not been able to work around them. In the words of a senior developer at Microsoft: Win95 console support has always been and will always be flaky. The flakiness is unavoidable because we are stuck between the world of MS-DOS keyboard TSRs like KEYB (which wants to cook the data; important for international) and the world of Win32. So keys that don't "exist" in MS-DOS land (like dead keys) have a very tenuous existence in Win32 console land. Keys that act differently between MS-DOS land and Win32 console land (like capslock) will act flaky. Don't even mention the problems with multiple language keyboard layouts... You may be able to fashion some sort of workaround with the digraphs mechanism. Alternatively, you can try one of the DOS versions, where deadkeys do work. 6.6 How do I type dead keys on Windows NT? Dead keys work on NT. Just type them as you would in any other application. 6.7 When will a real GUI version of Vim (gvim) for Win32 with scrollbars, menus, pasting from the clipboard, and so on become available? Work has begun on a GUI version of Vim for Win32. Apart from the features you might expect in gvim, it is expected that this version will also be able to handle dead keys correctly and that the problems with external commands will be a thing of the past. 6.8 On a Win32 machine, I'm using Vim to edit a symbolically linked file on a Unix NFS file server. When I write the file, Vim does not "write through" the symlink. Instead, it deletes the symbolic link and creates a new file in its place. Why? On Unix, Vim is prepared for links (symbolic or hard). A backup copy of the original file is made and then the original file is overwritten. This assures that all properties of the file remain the same. On non-Unix systems, the original file is renamed and a new file is written. Only the protection bits are set like the original file. However, this doesn't work properly when working on an NFS-mounted file system where links and other things exist. The only way to fix this in the current version is not making a backup file, by ``:set nobackup nowritebackup''. 6.9 How do I copy text from Windows applications to the DOS version of Vim? From John Velman, <velman@igate1.hac.com>: 1. To get Vim to run in a window, instead of full screen, press <Alt+Enter>. This toggles back and forth between full screen and a DOS window. 2. Issue the command ``:set paste''. 3. To paste something *into* Vim, put Vim in insert mode. 4. Put the text you want to paste on the windows clipboard. 5. Click the control box in the upper left of the Vim window. (This looks like a big minus sign). If you don't want to use the mouse, you can get this with <Alt+Spacebar>. 6. On the resulting dropdown menu choose 'Edit'. 7. On the child dropdown menu choose 'Paste' 8. Issue the command ``:set nopaste''. To copy something from the Vim window to the clipboard, 1. Select the control box to get the control drop down menu. 2. Select 'Edit'. 3. Select 'Mark'. 4. Using either the the keys or the mouse, select the part of the Vim window that you want to copy. To use the keys, use the arrow keys, and hold down shift to extend the selection. 5. When you've completed your selection, press ``<Enter>.'' The selection is now in the Windows clipboard. By the way, this can be any rectangular selection, for example columns 4-25 in rows 7-10. It can include anything in the Vim window: the output of a ``:!dir'', for example. From Stan Brown <stbrown@nacs.net>: In Windows 95, you can use a simpler procedure, which works even when you're using the mouse in the Vim way inside the Vim window (see question 6.4). To paste into Vim, put Vim in insert mode and click the Paste button on the Vim window's toolbar. (Depending on your setup, you may want to use ``:set paste'' before and ``:set nopaste'' after pasting.) To copy from Vim to the clipboard, click the Mark button (the square) on the toolbar, highlight the desired text with the mouse, and click the Copy button. 6.10 Why does my Caps Lock affect all the keys characters for all the keys instead of just the letters? It's actually caused by Windows 95. When CapsLock is down, it acts just as if Shift were being held down: everything gets shifted, not just the alphabetical keys. 6.11 How do I change Vim's window size in Windows? If ``:set lines=##'' doesn't work for you, then you should use the ``:mode'' command. Look up ``:h :mode'' for more info. 7 UNIX-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS 7.1 How do I turn off the message ``Thanks for flying Vim'' on Unix stations? When using Vim in an xterm it renames the title of that window to ``Thanks for flying Vim'' on exit. Use ``:set notitle'' to stop this behavior. 7.2 How do I prevent <Ctrl-Z> from suspending Vim? Map <Ctrl-Z> to prevent the suspending. Here are some suggestions: 1. Make <Ctrl-Z> do nothing: map <C-Z> <C-V><C-V> 2. Make <Ctrl-Z> start a shell: :map <C-Z> :shell<CR> 3. Make <Ctrl-Z> give an error message: :map <C-Z> :"suspending disabled<CR> For the last example, the double quote is necessary in order to keep the message on the status line. 7.3 How can I make Vim faster on a Unix station? The GUI support in Vim 4.0 can slow down the startup time noticeably. Until Vim supports dynamic loading, you can speed up the startup time by compiling two different versions of Vim: one with the GUI and one without the GUI and install both. Make sure you remove the link from $bindir/gvim to $bindir/vim when installing the GUI version, though. If screen updating is your problem, you can run Vim in screen. screen is an ascii terminal multiplexer. The latest version can be found at <URL:ftp://ftp.uni-erlangen.de:/pub/utilities/screen>. 7.4 In Unix, how do I make Vim more colorful? You can change some termcap values to send to the screen the proper codes to change some colors (providing your terminal supports color). Here are some examples of how to do this if you do ``:h unix'' but it seems as though they don't work all that well. But they help to understand what has to be done: :set t_me=<Esc>[0;1;36m " normal mode (undoes t_mr and t_md) :set t_mr=<Esc>[0;1;33;44m " reverse (invert) mode :set t_md=<Esc>[1;33;41m " bold mode :set t_se=<Esc>[1;36;40m " standout end :set t_so=<Esc>[1;32;45m " standout mode :set t_ue=<Esc>[0;1;36m " underline end :set t_us=<Esc>[1;32m " underline mode start Quoting Tony Nugent: You can do some interesting things by putting ansi colour sequences into those capabilities. What's given here are just examples, and some combinations don't work very well. You need to discover for yourself a configuration that works. For example, end-modes need to switch everything back to normal as well as turn things off. Just load ~/.vimrc, play around with the values, save it and then see what it looks like by sourcing it (:so ~/.vimrc). Don't forget to do things like ``:/<Ctrl-D>'' and ``:map'' to see all the different effects. And don't forget about the ``:set highlight='' string to fine-tune how the different capabilities are used. BTW, something like this also works for DOS and Win32 Vims! So it should also work well with windows or any ansi- and vt100- compatible terminal mode capable of displaying colours (which includes all colour pc's). It doesn't work so well in plain old xterm's (YMMV - your milage may vary). You can find a list of terminal codes here: <URL:http://www.cs.utk.edu/~shuford/terminal_index.html> <URL:ftp://cs.utk.edu/pub/shuford/terminal/> <URL:ftp://gatekeeper.dec.com/pub/DEC/termcaps> -- Laurent Duperval, Vim FAQ Maintainer <laurent@Grafnetix.COM> Vim Pages: http://www.vim.org/ Vim Mailing List: vim@vim.org Vim FAQ: http://www.vim.org/faq/ Vim FAQ Home: http://www.grafnetix.com/~laurent/vim/faq.html