Skip to main content

Repeating commands in vim

One key shortcuts

This post is about one key shortcuts in vim.

Vim has macros to record complex sequences of commands.

We'll cover macros in a later post.

The most useful single key shortcut to repeat a command is the period.

n is a useful single key shortcut to repeat searches.

Let's look at how they work.

Repeating last change

Open vim.

Type 10i to go  into insert mode.

Type I love Lucy! and escape to normal mode with jj or the Esc key.

You should have ten lines that say I love Lucy!

Go to the top of the document with 1G.

Type dd to erase one line.

Type . (<- a period!) to erase another line.

The period repeats the last change.

You can quickly erase all the lines holding down the period key.

That was an artificial example, but here's a more practical one.

Type i to go into insert mode.

Type: This sentence would be all right, except that it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. That's kind of a problem with my sentences, that they are circular and never get to the point, ever.

Looking over the sentence, we want to get rid of the bold words: 

This sentence would be all right, except that it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. That's kind of a problem with my sentences, that they are circular and never get to the point, ever.

Type /on and followed by Enter to get to the first on.

Type www to get to first word you want to delete.

Type dw to delete the word. Now type . to delete each word that follows.

Fast!

Navigate to the other bold words and delete them in a similar manner.

Remember, we could also do something like this with delete followed by a search command.

Repeating search commands

Use n to repeat search commands in the same direction.

To change direction, type the command for the other direction alone.

For example, /gazelle searches forward for gazelle.

n searches forward for the next instance of gazelle.

? reverses direction to search for gazelle backwards.

If we type n after changing direction, it repeats the backwards search for gazelle.

Explanation

The dd key combination is new.

A repeated command means to apply that command to all of the current line.

dd means delete the current line.


Comments

Support blog with $5 contribution

Popular posts from this blog

Moving and deleting sentences in vim

What is a sentence?  Vim looks for punctuation to define a sentence.

Vim usually knows what a sentence is, but not always!

Here are two useful commands.

To move to the start of the next sentence, type ).

To move to the start of the current or previous sentence, type (.

Now let's see how these commands are used.

Open vim.

Hit i to go into insert mode.

Type or copy and paste this text:

Hello, Mr. Wilson. I was wondering if you could stop by this afternoon.

Hit <Esc> (or better yet, jj) to go back to normal mode.

Your cursor should be on the period of the second sentence.

Type ( to go back to the start of the current sentence.

Your cursor should be on the I at the start of the second sentence.

Type ( to go to the first letter of the previous sentence.

Oops! We ended up on the W of Wilson. Why?

Vim saw two sentences, "Hello, Mr." and "Wilson."

Two periods, two sentences.

Type ) to return to the start of the second sentence.

Type 2( to go to the start of the f…

Movement and reordering paragraphs in vim

Movement
Vim has many movement commands.

The four most important are h, j, k, and l.

They are consecutive keys under the right hand on the home row.

They function as the arrow keys do, but are easier to reach.

h and l move right and left respectively.

j moves down a line, and k moves up a line.

Reordering paragraphs
Download this file to your computer and open it in vim.

The five paragraphs in the document are out of order!

Before we fix the paragraphs, let's move around in the document to get used to the movement keys. Move to the bottom and top of the document by holding down j and k respectively. Go right and left within a line with l and h. Using h, j, k, and l to move will feel a little funny at first. Stick with it!

Now we're ready to go to work.

Move your cursor to the first line.

Your cursor can be anywhere within Paragraph 5.

Type dj. (No period! Just dj)

Paragraph 5 and the line below it are gone!

Use j to move your cursor to the empty line below Paragraph 4.

Type p…

Multiple line paragraphs in vim

Paragraphs in vim
Yesterday we moved around paragraphs of a single line.

Paragraphs are not always a single line.

Open this excerpt from War and Peace.

It's filled with multiple-line paragraphs.

We can move multiple-line paragraphs as they are.

A better solution is to make them single lines.

Before we do that, let's make sure we'll be able to see them!

Vim does not wrap text by default.

Type : to enter command mode.

Type set wrap <Enter> to make sure that long lines wrap.

Vim might break in the middle of words too.

Type : to enter command mode.

Type set linebreak <Enter> to make sure vim breaks at spaces.

To join lines, use J. (Just J, not the period!)

With your cursor on the first line of the first paragraph, type J to join the first and second lines. Type another J to join with the next line. When you reach the blank line, leave it. Always leave a space between paragraphs in vim. Move to the next paragraph with j, and join those lines with J. Continue until e…