Vi Editor & itS comMANDS

Vi Editor & its commands.

The VI editor is the most popular and classic text editor in the Linux family. Below, are some reasons which make it a widely used editor –

  • It is available in almost all Linux Distributions
  • It works the same across different platforms and Distributions
  • It is user-friendly. Hence, millions of Linux users love it and use it for their editing needs

Nowadays, there are advanced versions of the vi editor available, and the most popular one is VIM which is Vi Improved. Some of the other ones are Elvis, Nvi, Nano, and Vile. It is wise to learn vi because it is feature-rich and offers endless possibilities to edit a file.

To work on the VI editor, you need to understand its operation modes. They can be divided into two main parts.

VI Editing commands

  • i – Insert at cursor (goes into insert mode)
  • a – Write after the cursor (goes into insert mode)
  • A – Write at the end of the line (goes into insert mode)
  • ESC – Terminate insert mode
  • u – Undo last change
  • U – Undo all changes to the entire line
  • o – Open a new line (goes into insert mode)
  • dd – Delete line
  • 3dd – Delete 3 line
  • D – Delete contents of the line after the cursor
  • C – Delete contents of a line after the cursor and insert a new Press ESC key to end insertion.
  • DW – Delete word
  • 4dw – Delete 4 words
  • CW – Change word
  • x – Delete the character at the cursor
  • r – Replace character
  • R – Overwrite characters from cursor onward
  • s – Substitute one character under cursor continue to insert
  • S – Substitute the entire line and begin to insert at the beginning of the line
  • ~ – Change case of individual character

Note: You should be in the “command mode” to execute these commands. VI editor is case-sensitive so make sure you type the commands in the right letter-case.

Make sure you press the right command otherwise you will end up making undesirable changes to the file. You can also enter the insert mode by pressing a, A, o, as required.

Moving within a file

  • k – Move cursor up
  • j – Move cursor down
  • h – Move cursor left
  • l – Move cursor right

You need to be in the command mode to move within a file. The default keys for navigation are mentioned below else; You can also use the arrow keys on the keyboard.

Saving and Closing the file

  • Shift+zz – Save the file and quit
  • :w – Save the file but keep it open
  • :q – Quit without saving
  • :wq – Save the file and quit

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