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man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2019
 
 

vi(1)

Name

vi - screen-oriented (visual) display editor based on ex

Synopsis

/usr/xpg4/bin/vi [-| -s] [-l] [-L] [-R] [-r [filename]] 
     [-S] [-t tag] [-v] [-V] [-wn]
     [+command | -c command] filename...
/usr/xpg6/bin/vi [-| -s] [-l] [-L] [-R] [-r [filename]] 
     [-S] [-t tag] [-v] [-V] [-wn]
     [+command | -c command] filename...
/usr/xpg7/bin/vi [-| -s] [-l] [-L] [-R] [-r [filename]] 
     [-S] [-t tag] [-v] [-V] [-wn]
     [+command | -c command] filename...

Description

The vi (visual) utility is a display-oriented text editor based on an underlying line editor ex. It is possible to use the command mode of ex from within vi and to use the command mode of vi from within ex. The visual commands are described on this manual page; how to set options (like automatically numbering lines and automatically starting a new output line when you type carriage return) and all ex line editor commands are described on the ex(1) manual page.

When using vi, changes you make to the file are reflected in what you see on your terminal screen. The position of the cursor on the screen indicates the position within the file.

Options

The following options are supported:

Invocation Options

The following invocation options are interpreted by vi (previously documented options are discussed under NOTES):

| –s

Suppresses all interactive user feedback. This is useful when processing editor scripts.

–l

Sets up for editing LISP programs.

–L

Lists the name of all files saved as the result of an editor or system crash.

–r filename

Edits filename after an editor or system crash. (Recovers the version of filename that was in the buffer when the crash occurred.)

–R

Readonly mode. The readonly flag is set, preventing accidental overwriting of the file.

–S

This option is used in conjunction with the –t tag option to tell vi that the tags file can not be sorted and that, if the binary search (which relies on a sorted tags file) for tag fails to find it, the much slower linear search should also be done. Since the linear search is slow, users of large tags files should ensure that the tags files are sorted rather than use this flag. Creation of tags files normally produces sorted tags files. See ctags(1) for more information on tags files.

–t tag

Edits the file containing tag and position the editor at its definition. It is an error to specify more than one –t option.

–v

Starts up in display editing state, using vi. You can achieve the same effect by typing the vi command itself.

–V

Verbose. When ex commands are read by means of standard input, the input is echoed to standard error. This can be useful when processing ex commands within shell scripts.

–wn

Sets the default window size to n. This is useful when using the editor over a slow speed line.

command | –c command

Begins editing by executing the specified editor command (usually a search or positioning command).

/usr/xpg4/bin/vi, /usr/xpg6/bin/vi and /usr/xpg7/bin/vi

If both the –t tag and the –c command options are given, the –t tag option is processed first. That is, the file containing tag is selected by –t and then the command is executed.

Operands

The following operands are supported:

filename

A file to be edited.

COMMAND SUMMARY

The vi command modes are summarized in this section.

vi Modes

Command

Normal and initial mode. Other modes return to command mode upon completion. ESC (escape) is used to cancel a partial command.

Input

Entered by setting any of the following options:

a A i I o O c C s S R

Arbitrary text can then be entered. Input mode is normally terminated with the ESC character, or, abnormally, with an interrupt.

Last line

Reading input for : / ? or !. Terminate by typing a carriage return. An interrupt cancels termination.

Sample Commands

In the descriptions, CR stands for carriage return and ESC stands for the escape key.

←, →
down-arrow
up-arrow

arrow keys move the cursor

h j k l

same as arrow keys

itextESC

insert text

cwnewESC

change word to new

easESC

pluralize word (end of word; append s; escape from input state)

x

delete a character

dw

delete a word

dd

delete a line

3dd

delete 3 lines

u

undo previous change

ZZ

exit vi, saving changes

:q!CR

quit, discarding changes

/textCR

search for text

^U ^D

scroll up or down

:cmdCR

any ex or ed command

Counts Before vi Commands

Numbers can be typed as a prefix to some commands. They are interpreted in one of these ways:

line/column number

z G |

scroll amount

^D ^U

repeat effect

most of the rest

Interrupting, Canceling

ESC

end insert or incomplete command

DEL

(delete or rubout) interrupts

File Manipulation

ZZ

if file modified, write and exit; otherwise, exit

:wCR

write back changes

:w!CR

forced write, if permission originally not valid

:qCR

quit

:q!CR

quit, discard changes

:e nameCR

edit file name

:e!CR

reedit, discard changes

:e + nameCR

edit, starting at end

:e +nCR

edit, starting at line n

:e #CR

edit alternate file

:e! #CR

edit alternate file, discard changes

:w nameCR

write file name

:w! nameCR

overwrite file name

:shCR

run shell, then return

:!cmdCR

run cmd, then return

:nCR

edit next file in arglist

:n argsCR

specify new arglist

^G

show current file and line

:ta tagCR

position cursor to tag

In general, any ex or ed command (such as substitute or global) can be typed, preceded by a colon and followed by a carriage return.

Positioning Within a File

F

forward screen

^B

backward screen

^D

scroll down half screen

^U

scroll up half screen

nG

go to the beginning of the specified line (end default), where n is a line number

/pat

next line matching pat

?pat

previous line matching pat

n

repeat last / or ? command

N

reverse last / or ? command

/pat/+n

nth line after pat

?pat?−n

nth line before pat

]]

next section/function

[[

previous section/function

(

beginning of sentence

)

end of sentence

{

beginning of paragraph

}

end of paragraph

%

find matching ( ) or { }

Adjusting the Screen

^L

clear and redraw window

^R

clear and redraw window if ^L is → key

zCR

redraw screen with current line at top of window

z−CR

redraw screen with current line at bottom of window

z.CR

redraw screen with current line at center of window

/pat/z−CR

move pat line to bottom of window

zn.CR

use n−line window

^E

scroll window down one line

^Y

scroll window up one line

Marking and Returning

``

move cursor to previous context

´´

move cursor to first non-white space in line

mx

mark current position with the ASCII lower-case letter x

`x

move cursor to mark x

´x

move cursor to first non-white space in line marked by x

Line Positioning

H

top line on screen

L

last line on screen

M

middle line on screen

+

next line, at first non-white space character

previous line, at first non-white space character

CR

return, same as +

down-arrow
or j

next line, same column

up-arrow
or k

previous line, same column

Character Positioning

^

first non-white space character

0

beginning of line

$

end of line

l or

forward

h or

backward

^H

same as (backspace)

space

same as (space bar)

fx

find next x

Fx

find previous x

tx

move to character following the next x

Tx

move to character following the previous x

;

repeat last f, F, t, or T

,

repeat inverse of last f, F, t, or T

n|

move to column n

%

find matching ( ) or { }

Words, Sentences, Paragraphs

w

forward a word

b

back a word

e

end of word

)

to next sentence

}

to next paragraph

(

back a sentence

{

back a paragraph

W

forward a blank-delimited word

B

back a blank-delimited word

E

end of a blank-delimited word

Corrections During Insert

^H

erase last character (backspace)

^W

erase last word

erase

your erase character, same as ^H (backspace)

kill

your kill character, erase this line of input

\

quotes your erase and kill characters

ESC

ends insertion, back to command mode

Control−C

interrupt, suspends insert mode

^D

backtab one character; reset left margin of autoindent

^^D

caret (^) followed by control-d (^D); backtab to beginning of line; do not reset left margin of autoindent

0^D

backtab to beginning of line; reset left margin of autoindent

^V

quote non-printable character

Insert and Replace

a

append after cursor

A

append at end of line

i

insert before cursor

I

insert before first non-blank

o

open line below

O

open line above

rx

replace single character with x

RtextESC

replace characters

Operators

Operators are followed by a cursor motion and affect all text that would have been moved over. For example, since w moves over a word, dw deletes the word that would be moved over. Double the operator, for example dd, to affect whole lines.

d

delete

c

change

y

yank lines to buffer

<

left shift

>

right shift

!

filter through command

Miscellaneous Operations

C

change rest of line (c$)

D

delete rest of line (d$)

s

substitute characters (cl)

S

substitute lines (cc)

J

join lines

x

delete characters (dl)

X

delete characters before cursor dh)

Y

yank lines (yy)

Yank and Put

Put inserts the text most recently deleted or yanked; however, if a buffer is named (using the ASCII lower-case letters a - z), the text in that buffer is put instead.

3yy

yank 3 lines

3yl

yank 3 characters

p

put back text after cursor

P

put back text before cursor

"xp

put from buffer x

xy

yank to buffer x

xd

delete into buffer x

Undo, Redo, Retrieve

u

undo last change

U

restore current line

.

repeat last change

dp

retrieve d'th last delete

Environment Variables

See environ(7) for descriptions of the following environment variables that affect the execution of vi: LANG, LC_ALL, LC_COLLATE, LC_CTYPE, LC_TIME, LC_MESSAGES, NLSPATH, PATH, SHELL, and TERM.

COLUMNS

Override the system-selected horizontal screen size.

EXINIT

Determine a list of ex commands that are executed on editor start-up, before reading the first file. The list can contain multiple commands by separating them using a vertical-line (|) character.

LINES

Override the system-selected vertical screen size, used as the number of lines in a screenful and the vertical screen size in visual mode.

Files

/var/tmp

default directory where temporary work files are placed; it can be changed using the directory option (see the ex(1) command)

/usr/share/lib/terminfo/?/*

compiled terminal description database

/usr/lib/.COREterm/?/*

subset of compiled terminal description database

Attributes

See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:

/usr/xpg4/bin/vi

ATTRIBUTE TYPE
ATTRIBUTE VALUE
Availability
system/xopen/xcu4
CSI
Enabled
Interface Stability
Committed
Standard

/usr/xpg6/bin/vi

ATTRIBUTE TYPE
ATTRIBUTE VALUE
Availability
system/xopen/xcu6
CSI
Enabled
Interface Stability
Standard

/usr/xpg7/bin/vi

ATTRIBUTE TYPE
ATTRIBUTE VALUE
Availability
system/xopen/xcu7
CSI
Enabled
Interface Stability
Standard

See Also

Intro(1), ctags(1), ed(1), ex(1), attributes(7), environ(7), standards(7)

AUTHOR

vi and ex were developed by The University of California, Berkeley California, Computer Science Division, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Notes

Two options, although they continue to be supported, have been replaced in the documentation by options that follow the Command Syntax Standard (see Intro(1)). An –r option that is not followed with an option-argument has been replaced by –L and +command has been replaced by –c command.

The message file too large to recover with –r option, which is seen when a file is loaded, indicates that the file can be edited and saved successfully, but if the editing session is lost, recovery of the file with the –r option is not possible.

The editing environment defaults to certain configuration options. When an editing session is initiated, vi attempts to read the EXINIT environment variable. If it exists, the editor uses the values defined in EXINIT; otherwise the values set in $HOME/.exrc are used. If $HOME/.exrc does not exist, the default values are used.

To use a copy of .exrc located in the current directory other than $HOME, set the exrc option in EXINIT or $HOME/.exrc. Options set in EXINIT can be turned off in a local .exrc only if exrc is set in EXINIT or $HOME/.exrc. In order to be used, .exrc in $HOME or the current directory must fulfill these conditions:

  • It must exist.

  • It must be owned by the same userid as the real userid of the process, or the process has appropriate privileges.

  • It is not writable by anyone other than the owner.

Tampering with entries in /usr/share/lib/terminfo/?/* or /usr/share/lib/terminfo/?/* (for example, changing or removing an entry) can affect programs such as vi that expect the entry to be present and correct. In particular, removing the “dumb” terminal can cause unexpected problems.

Software tabs using ^T work only immediately after the autoindent.

Left and right shifts on intelligent terminals do not make use of insert and delete character operations in the terminal.

Loading an alternate malloc() library using the environment variable LD_PRELOAD can cause problems for vi.

The vi utility currently has the following limitations:

  1. Lines, including the trailing NEWLINE character, can contain no more than 4096 bytes.

    If a longer line is found, Line too long is displayed in the status line.

  2. The editor's temporary work file can be no larger than 128Mb.

    If a larger temporary file is needed, Tmp file too large is displayed in the status line.