Skip to content Mastodon

Notes and Tones

Reading the vim help files

I thought that I should improve my vim skills this morning and started by reading the vim help pages. I skimmed them in the past a couple of times, but actually learned most of the keys by doing.

My motivation was improving the gf command, which automatically opens the file under the cursor in a new buffer. Normally this fails if the file does not exists, but can be remapped with noremap gf :e <cfile><cr>. I then tried to create a group for auto-creating a subfolder where the current buffer path points and found the following snippets:

" create mkdir group and bind :M to it
augroup Mkdir
  autocmd BufWritePre * call mkdir(expand("<afile>:p:h"), "p")
augroup END

command M call mkdir(expand("%:p:h"), "p")

This works with :M now, but I can't combine it by doing :Me <cfile><cr> 😕 I then thought that I need to learn more of vim and am looking now at the help pages. Looking at the page vimhelp/usr_02.txt.html shows a really insightful and useful way of teaching.

This is a simp!!!

Learned modifiers

  • use J to join the current and next line
  • replace last character with combination $ x a, different to what I'm used to by doing A <backspace>
  • use ~ to change the case of a character and move to the next one

Using counts

I used counts before for search with f/F, but you can actually use it for navigating and repeating written stuff as well.

You can use 9A !<ESC> to write nine times the exclamation mark at the end of the line. You can use 3o Repeat<ESC> to create three lines with "Repeat" written You can navigate to the third line under the cursor with 3j You can jump to the end of the third line with 3$

The cool thing about the last discovery is that I can use that in my web-browser as well, because I'm using a vim plugin xD

Forward search for matching pair

The % modifier will search for the matching pair of a bracket. For example a expression like (a == (b * c) / d) will cause % under the first character to jump the last character, which is the matching pair :)

This is especially useful in visual mode to select everything between brackets.

I previously used :35 to jump into the 35th line, but with counts you I can also just do 35G

Relative jumps may also become handy if you are seeing a line at the beginning and you want to jump there, you can do:

  • H for jumping at the beginning of the page
  • M for jumping to the middle
  • L for jumping to the end

If you doing jumps in the text, you can reverse those jumps with CTRL-O or repeat them with CTRL-I. The latter on does not work in my configuration and I have no clue why :D

Centering the current line

You can bring the current line to the top, middle or bottom of the screen with zt, zz, zb. During presentation or showing someone something inside of vim, it may be useful to hide unrelevant information above the current section.

Using marks

Marks are a special syntax for remembering up to 26 (a-z) sections in your text. You can set a mark "a" with ma and then jump to the line with 'a. With '' you can jump to the last line, which is just a special mark "'" you can see in the whole list at :marks

The special marks are:

  • "'": The cursor position before doing a jump
  • """: The cursor position when last editing the file
  • "[": Start of the last change
  • "]": End of the last change


  • use \< and \> to mark the end of a word during searching
  • use # to search backward for the current word under the cursor


  • you can fast switch between open buffers with CTRL 6

Another useful thing for buffers is the use of automatically splitting when open a new buffer. By prepending s before a buffer command a new split is automatically created. Other commands I didn't know:

  • use :bf to jump to first buffer
  • use :bl to jump to last buffer
  • use :ba to open all buffers in splitted screens
  • use :ls to list all buffer, e.g. unlisted ones too

Let say you want to filter you buffer list for a specific file name, then you can use:

:filter juggle ls

to filter for all files with the juggle pattern.


You can collapse items with the operator zf. It accepts paragraphs, lines and words.

  • zf: create a new fold at that position
  • zo: open the fold
  • zc: close the fold
  • zr: reduce the folding
  • zm: more folding
  • zd: delete folding

To store and re-load the folds, use :mkview and :loadview