VIM Cheat Sheet


For New VIM Enthusiasts

This cheat sheet assumes that the reader alreading has a basic understanding of how to open, edit, save, and exit, VIM.

This guide is a work-in-progress and I will be adding to it over time.

Table of Contents

  1. VIM Basic For New Users
    1. Modes
    2. Saving and Exiting
  2. Buffers
    1. Basics
    2. Delete Buffers
    3. Delete Other Buffers
  3. Advanced
    1. .vimrc Magic

VIM Basics For New Users


Normal/Command Mode

This the default mode when opening Vim. Vim keyboard commands can be used in this mode to perform various tasks.

You can return to Normal mode from other modes simple by pressing the <ESC> key.

Command Line Mode

Whenever you see instructions that supply a Vim comment that starts with : the you are working with a command line mode function.

Simply pressing : will enter you into Command Line mode, and information enter after it is the commant.

Insert Mode

This mode is where files are modified.

To enter Insert Mode press i or <Insert>.

Visual Mode

This mode enables the ability to select lines and blocks of text.

This mode is entered by pressing v for Visual Mode or <ctrl>-v to enter Visual-Block Mode.

Saving and Exiting


Command Function
:w Save
:wq / :x Save and close file
ZZ Save and quit


Command Function
:qa Close all files
:qa! Close all files, abandon changes
:q Close file
:q! Close file, abandon changes
ZQ Quit without checking changes



List all open buffers

Use the following command to list all buffers.


Example Output of :buffers:

1 #a   "MyFile.txt"                   line 5
3 %a   "Some_Other_File.txt"          line 1
4 #  + "~/.vimrc"                     line 28
5  a   "~/"   line 7
  • Column 1
    • Buffer number.
  • Column 2
    • The current buffer is marked by %.
    • An alternate buffer will be marked with #.
    • Active buffers, or buffers that are displayed on screen, will be marked with an a.
  • Column 3
    • This column will display a + if there are any unwritten changes in that buffer.
  • Column 4
    • Filename.
  • Column 5
    • Line number where the cursor is located in that buffer.

Delete Buffers

Delete Current Buffer

You will not want to use :q when working with multiple files as it will exit VIM entirely.

Instead, you can manage buffers with a couple of commands.

Delete Current buffer:




Delete Other Buffers

Deleting a Single Buffer

Enter the :bd command and the buffer number of the buffer to be deleted.
Alternative, start typing the name of the file in the target buffer and use tab completion to finish the filename.

:bd [<buffer number>|<>]

Deleting Multiple Buffers

To delete multiple buffers at once, append an "!" to the end of the :bd command:

:bd! <buffer 1> <buffer 2> ...


.vimrc Magic

Change Detection

Check if file has been changed externally and reload into buffer:

au FocusGained,BufEnter * :silent! checktime


Auto-save on window focus is lost:

au FocusLost,WinLeave * :silent! w

Mouse Functionality

Enable mouse interactivity:

set mouse=a

The mouse can be enabled for different modes:

Value description
n Normal mode and Terminal modes
v Visual mode
i Insert mode
c Command-line mode
h all previous modes when editing a help file
a all previous modes
r for hit-enter and more-prompt prompt

Pane Size Constraint

Automatically resize panes proportionately when terminal window size changes:

au VimResized * wincmd =