vi cheat sheet

In and out of vi

To Start vi

vi filename edit filename starting at line 1
vi -r filename recover filename that was being edited when system crashed

To Exit vi

:x<Return> quit vi, writing out modified file to file named in original invocation
:wq<Return> quit vi, writing out modified file to file named in original invocation
:q<Return> quit (or exit) vi
:q!<Return> quit vi even though latest changes have not been saved for this vi call

Moving the Cursor

j or <Return> [or down-arrow] move cursor down one line
k [or up-arrow] move cursor up one line
h or <Backspace> [or left-arrow] move cursor left one character
l or <Space> [or right-arrow] move cursor right one character
0 (zero) move cursor to start of current line (the one with the cursor)
$ move cursor to end of current line
w move cursor to beginning of next word
b move cursor back to beginning of preceding word
:0<Return> or 1G move cursor to first line in file
:n<Return> or nG move cursor to line n
:$<Return> or G move cursor to last line in file

Screen Manipulation

^f move forward one screen
^b move backward one screen
^d move down (forward) one half screen
^u move up (back) one half screen
^l redraws the screen
^r redraws the screen, removing deleted lines

Adding, Changing, and Deleting Text

u UNDO WHATEVER YOU JUST DID; a simple toggle

Inserting or Adding Text

i insert text before cursor, until <Esc> hit
I insert text at beginning of current line, until <Esc> hit
a append text after cursor, until <Esc> hit
A append text to end of current line, until <Esc> hit
o open and put text in a new line below current line, until <Esc> hit
O open and put text in a new line above current line, until <Esc> hit

Changing Text

r replace single character under cursor (no <Esc> needed)
R replace characters, starting with current cursor position, until <Esc> hit
cw change the current word with new text, starting with the character under cursor, until <Esc> hit
cNw change N words beginning with character under cursor, until <Esc> hit; e.g., c5w changes 5 words
C change (replace) the characters in the current line, until <Esc> hit
cc change (replace) the entire current line, stopping when <Esc> is hit
Ncc or cNc change (replace) the next N lines, starting with the current line, stopping when <Esc> is hit

Deleting Text

x delete single character under cursor
Nx delete N characters, starting with character under cursor
dw delete the single word beginning with character under cursor
dNw delete N words beginning with character under cursor; e.g., d5w deletes 5 words
D delete the remainder of the line, starting with current cursor position
dd delete entire current line
Ndd or dNd delete N lines, beginning with the current line; e.g., 5dd deletes 5 lines

Cutting and Pasting Text

yy copy (yank, cut) the current line into the buffer
Nyy or yNy copy (yank, cut) the next N lines, including the current line, into the buffer
p put (paste) the line(s) in the buffer into the text after the current line

Other Commands

Searching Text

/string search forward for occurrence of string in text
?string search backward for occurrence of string in text
n move to next occurrence of search string
N move to next occurrence of search string in opposite direction

Determining Line Numbers

:.= returns line number of current line at bottom of screen
:= returns the total number of lines at bottom of screen
^g provides the current line number, along with the total number of lines, in the file at the bottom of the screen

Saving and Reading Files

:r filename<Return> read file named filename and insert after current line (the line with cursor)
:w<Return> write current contents to file named in original vi call
:w newfile<Return> write current contents to a new file named newfile
:12,35w smallfile<Return> write the contents of the lines numbered 12 through 35 to a new file named smallfile
:w! prevfile<Return> write current contents over a pre-existing file named prevfile