Ben Wasilewski

Web Application Developer

Bash Has a VIM mode!



One of the things I love about the terminal is that no matter how long you've been using it, there seems to always be something new to learn. I've been using the terminal to help me build my projects for years now, and its taken me up until now to discover this incredibly useful feature.

If you are a VIM user, then you are well aware of its myriad of features, most notably how to move the cursor around. Once you start to get comfortable in VIM, you find yourself wanting to use VIM's features in other editors and applications.

set -o vi

Once you've done this and restarted Bash, things will work as usual until you hit the escape key. So feel free to type whatever line you'd like to run in Bash, hit the escape key, and now you're in VIM mode, which works the same way as Normal mode does in VIM. Use j, k, h and l to move the cursor down, up, left and right respectively. The w key will take you forward by word, b will take you back by word, etc. Mess around with it and see what you think. You can always remove the line you added to your .bashrc if you decide you don't like it. I know I'll be trying all sorts of stuff with it.

A few more tips

To scroll back through your history, you can use the j and k keys to go up/down when your current line is blank. Current line's not blank? Easy. Hit escape to enter VIM mode, and type dd. After that you can scroll through your history or use the i key just like you would in VIM to type a new command you'd like to execute.

As you can imagine there's a ton of other things you can do, all requiring some basic VIM knowledge. If you need to brush up, try running vimtutor in your command line. That's it for now, thanks for reading!

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