Craft By Zen

5 min read

vimtutor notes

Vim tutor is a great guide to get you started with vim.

Getting Started

To start with Vim Tutor, simply type vimtutor in your terminal.

The tutorial says it should take about 25 to 30 minutes, but because I was also messing around with writing up this post and including their lesson summaries, all trying to use vim, I spend a bit longer with it.

If you’re running low on time, I’d say do each lesson in a 5 to 10 minute window span each day. You’re allowed to take it slow.

I learned it’s about the journey, not about the speed in which it takes for you to pick it up. It’s there where you can start nitpicking on how to do “x” or “y”.

The next following sections are summaries of what vim tutor teaches you. I modified some of the summaries to best fit markdown format.

Lesson 1 Summary

  1. The cursor is moved using either the arrow keys or the hjkl keys.
  1. To start Vim from the shell prompt type: vim FILENAME <ENTER>

  2. To exit Vim type: <ESC> :q! <ENTER> to trash all changes. OR type: <ESC> :wq <ENTER> to save the changes.

  3. To delete the character at the cursor type: x

  4. To insert or append text type: i type inserted text <ESC> insert before the cursor A type appended text <ESC> append after the line

NOTE: Pressing <ESC> will place you in Normal mode or will cancel an unwanted and partially completed command.

Lesson 2 Summary

  1. To delete from the cursor up to the next word type: dw

  2. To delete from the cursor to the end of a line type: d$

  3. To delete a whole line type: dd

  4. To repeat a motion prepend it with a number: 2w

  5. The format for a change command is:

operator [number] motion


- **operator** - is what to do, such as  d  for delete
- **[number]** - is an optional count to repeat the motion
- **motion**   - moves over the text to operate on, such as  w (word), (to the end of line), etc.

6. To move to the start of the line use a zero: 0

  1. Undo & redo actions

Lesson 3 Summary

  1. To put back text that has just been deleted, type p . This puts the deleted text AFTER the cursor (if a line was deleted it will go on the line below the cursor).

  2. To replace the character under the cursor, type r and then the character you want to have there.

  3. The change operator allows you to change from the cursor to where the motion takes you. eg. Type ce to change from the cursor to the end of the word, c$ to change to the end of a line.

  4. The format for change is:

c [number] motion

Lesson 4 Summary

  1. CTRL-G displays your location in the file and the file status.
  1. Find command
  1. Typing % while the cursor is on a ( , ), [, ], {, or } goes to its match.

  2. Substitute command

Lesson 5 Summary

  1. :!command executes an external command.

Some useful examples are:

:!dir:!lsshows a directory listing
:!del FILENAME:!rm FILENAMEremoves file FILENAME
  1. :w FILENAME writes the current Vim file to disk with name FILENAME.

  2. v motion :w FILENAME saves the Visually selected lines in file FILENAME.

  3. :r FILENAME retrieves disk file FILENAME and puts it below the cursor position.

  4. :r !dir reads the output of the dir command and puts it below the cursor position.

Lesson 6 Summary

  1. Open a line in insert mode
  1. Append text
  1. The e command moves to the end of a word.

  2. The y operator yanks (copies) text, p puts (pastes) it.

  3. Typing a capital R enters Replace mode until <ESC> is pressed.

  4. Typing :set xxx sets the option xxx. Some options are:

You can either use the long or the short option name.

  1. Prepend no to switch an option off: :set noic

Lesson 7 Summary

  1. Type :help or press <F1> or <Help> to open a help window.

  2. Type :help cmd to find help on cmd.

  3. Type CTRL-W CTRL-W to jump to another window

  4. Type :q to close the help window

  5. Create a vimrc startup script to keep your preferred settings.

  6. When typing a : command, press CTRL-D to see possible completions. Press <TAB> to use one completion.

Post Tutorial Reflection

The tutorial got me through the basics, and only scraps the surface of what you can do with vim. One of the things I found useful after going through this tutorial was saying out loud what the command I was using does.

For example, if I was using the w command, I would say “word”. If I was going to the word, and I was using the diw command, I would say “delete instance word”. Using words instead of letters helps with getting the commands down. It’s the same technique I used when learning the bash terminal, e.g. with pwd, I would say in my head, “print working directory”.

I wrote up a much longer post about vim that I will publish soon.