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cmdline - Vim Documentation

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cmdline.txt   For Vim version 9.1.  Last change: 2024 Apr 27

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

                                Cmdline-mode Command-line-mode
Command-line mode               Cmdline Command-line mode-cmdline :

Command-line mode is used to enter Ex commands (":"), search patterns
("/" and "?"), and filter commands ("!").

Basic command line editing is explained in chapter 20 of the user manual

1. Command-line editing         cmdline-editing
2. Command-line completion      cmdline-completion
3. Ex command-lines             cmdline-lines
4. Ex command-line ranges       cmdline-ranges
5. Ex command-line flags        ex-flags
6. Ex special characters        cmdline-special
7. Command-line window          cmdline-window

1. Command-line editing                                 cmdline-editing

Normally characters are inserted in front of the cursor position.  You can
move around in the command-line with the left and right cursor keys.  With the
<Insert> key, you can toggle between inserting and overstriking characters.

Note that if your keyboard does not have working cursor keys or any of the
other special keys, you can use ":cnoremap" to define another key for them.
For example, to define tcsh style editing keys:         tcsh-style 
        :cnoremap <C-A> <Home>
        :cnoremap <C-F> <Right>
        :cnoremap <C-B> <Left>
        :cnoremap <Esc>b <S-Left>
        :cnoremap <Esc>f <S-Right>
(<> notation <>; type all this literally)

When the command line is getting longer than what fits on the screen, only the
part that fits will be shown.  The cursor can only move in this visible part,
thus you cannot edit beyond that.

                                                cmdline-history history
The command-lines that you enter are remembered in a history table.  You can
recall them with the up and down cursor keys.  There are actually five
history tables:
- one for ':' commands
- one for search strings
- one for expressions
- one for input lines, typed for the input() function.
- one for debug mode commands
These are completely separate.  Each history can only be accessed when
entering the same type of line.
Use the 'history' option to set the number of lines that are remembered
(default: 50).
- When you enter a command-line that is exactly the same as an older one, the
  old one is removed (to avoid repeated commands moving older commands out of
  the history).
- Only commands that are typed are remembered.  Ones that completely come from
  mappings are not put in the history.
- All searches are put in the search history, including the ones that come
  from commands like "*" and "#".  But for a mapping, only the last search is
  remembered (to avoid that long mappings trash the history).
{not available when compiled without the +cmdline_hist feature}

There is an automatic completion of names on the command-line; see

CTRL-V          Insert next non-digit literally.  Up to three digits form the
                decimal value of a single byte.  The non-digit and the three
                digits are not considered for mapping.  This works the same
                way as in Insert mode (see above, i_CTRL-V).
                Note: Under MS-Windows CTRL-V is often mapped to paste text.
                Use CTRL-Q instead then.
                When modifyOtherKeys is enabled then special Escape sequence
                is converted back to what it was without modifyOtherKeys,
                unless the Shift key is also pressed.
CTRL-Q          Same as CTRL-V.  But with some terminals it is used for
                control flow, it doesn't work then.

CTRL-SHIFT-V                            c_CTRL-SHIFT-V c_CTRL-SHIFT-Q
CTRL-SHIFT-Q    Works just like CTRL-V, unless modifyOtherKeys is active,
                then it inserts the Escape sequence for a key with modifiers.
                In the GUI the key-notation is inserted without simplifying.

                                                        c_<Left> c_Left
<Left>          cursor left.  See 'wildmenu' for behavior during wildmenu
                completion mode.
                                                        c_<Right> c_Right
<Right>         cursor right.  See 'wildmenu' for behavior during wildmenu
                completion mode.
<S-Left> or <C-Left>                                    c_<C-Left>
                cursor one WORD left
<S-Right> or <C-Right>                                  c_<C-Right>
                cursor one WORD right
CTRL-B or <Home>                                c_CTRL-B c_<Home> c_Home
                cursor to beginning of command-line
CTRL-E or <End>                                 c_CTRL-E c_<End> c_End
                cursor to end of command-line.  See 'wildmenu' for behavior
                during wildmenu completion mode.

<LeftMouse>     Move the cursor to the position of the mouse click.

<MiddleMouse>   Paste the contents of the clipboard (for X11 the primary
                selection).  This is similar to using CTRL-R *, but no CR
                characters are inserted between lines.

CTRL-H                                          c_<BS> c_CTRL-H c_BS
<BS>            Delete the character in front of the cursor (see :fixdel if
                your <BS> key does not do what you want).
                                                        c_<Del> c_Del
<Del>           Delete the character under the cursor (at end of line:
                character before the cursor) (see :fixdel if your <Del>
                key does not do what you want).
CTRL-W          Delete the word before the cursor.  This depends on the
                'iskeyword' option.
CTRL-U          Remove all characters between the cursor position and
                the beginning of the line.  Previous versions of vim
                deleted all characters on the line.  If that is the
                preferred behavior, add the following to your .vimrc:
                        :cnoremap <C-U> <C-E><C-U>

                                                c_<Insert> c_Insert
<Insert>        Toggle between insert and overstrike.

{char1} <BS> {char2}    or                              c_digraph
CTRL-K {char1} {char2}                                  c_CTRL-K
                enter digraph (see digraphs).  When {char1} is a special
                key, the code for that key is inserted in <> form.

CTRL-R {register}                                       c_CTRL-R c_<C-R>
                Insert the contents of a numbered or named register.  Between
                typing CTRL-R and the second character '"' will be displayed
                to indicate that you are expected to enter the name of a
                The text is inserted as if you typed it, but mappings and
                abbreviations are not used.  Command-line completion through
                'wildchar' is not triggered though.  And characters that end
                the command line are inserted literally (<Esc><CR><NL>,
                <C-C>).  A <BS> or CTRL-W could still end the command line
                though, and remaining characters will then be interpreted in
                another mode, which might not be what you intended.
                Special registers:
                        '"'     the unnamed register, containing the text of
                                the last delete or yank
                        '%'     the current file name
                        '#'     the alternate file name
                        '*'     the clipboard contents (X11: primary selection)
                        '+'     the clipboard contents
                        '/'     the last search pattern
                        ':'     the last command-line
                        '-'     the last small (less than a line) delete
                        '.'     the last inserted text
                        '='     the expression register: you are prompted to
                                enter an expression (see expression)
                                (doesn't work at the expression prompt; some
                                things such as changing the buffer or current
                                window are not allowed to avoid side effects)
                                When the result is a List the items are used
                                as lines.  They can have line breaks inside
                                When the result is a Float it's automatically
                                converted to a String.
                                Note that when you only want to move the
                                cursor and not insert anything, you must make
                                sure the expression evaluates to an empty
                                string.  E.g.:
                See registers about registers.
                Implementation detail: When using the expression register
                and invoking setcmdpos(), this sets the position before
                inserting the resulting string.  Use CTRL-R CTRL-R to set the
                position afterwards.

CTRL-R CTRL-F                           c_CTRL-R_CTRL-F c_<C-R>_<C-F>
CTRL-R CTRL-P                           c_CTRL-R_CTRL-P c_<C-R>_<C-P>
CTRL-R CTRL-W                           c_CTRL-R_CTRL-W c_<C-R>_<C-W>
CTRL-R CTRL-A                           c_CTRL-R_CTRL-A c_<C-R>_<C-A>
CTRL-R CTRL-L                           c_CTRL-R_CTRL-L c_<C-R>_<C-L>
                Insert the object under the cursor:
                        CTRL-F  the Filename under the cursor
                        CTRL-P  the Filename under the cursor, expanded with
                                'path' as in gf
                        CTRL-W  the Word under the cursor
                        CTRL-A  the WORD under the cursor; see WORD
                        CTRL-L  the line under the cursor

                When 'incsearch' is set the cursor position at the end of the
                currently displayed match is used.  With CTRL-W the part of
                the word that was already typed is not inserted again.

                                        c_CTRL-R_CTRL-R c_<C-R>_<C-R>
                                        c_CTRL-R_CTRL-O c_<C-R>_<C-O>
                Insert register or object under the cursor.  Works like
                c_CTRL-R but inserts the text literally.  For example, if
                register a contains "xy^Hz" (where ^H is a backspace),
                "CTRL-R a" will insert "xz" while "CTRL-R CTRL-R a" will
                insert "xy^Hz".

CTRL-\ e {expr}                                         c_CTRL-\_e
                Evaluate {expr} and replace the whole command line with the
                result.  You will be prompted for the expression, type <Enter>
                to finish it.  It's most useful in mappings though.  See
                See c_CTRL-R_= for inserting the result of an expression.
                Useful functions are getcmdtype()getcmdline() and
                The cursor position is unchanged, except when the cursor was
                at the end of the line, then it stays at the end.
                setcmdpos() can be used to set the cursor position.
                The sandbox is used for evaluating the expression to avoid
                nasty side effects.
                        :cmap <F7> <C-\>eAppendSome()<CR>
                        :func AppendSome()
                           :let cmd = getcmdline() .. " Some()"
                           :" place the cursor on the )
                           :call setcmdpos(strlen(cmd))
                           :return cmd
                This doesn't work recursively, thus not when already editing
                an expression.  But it is possible to use in a mapping.

CTRL-Y          When there is a modeless selection, copy the selection into
                the clipboard. modeless-selection
                If there is no selection CTRL-Y is inserted as a character.
                See 'wildmenu' for behavior during wildmenu completion mode.

CTRL-M or CTRL-J                c_CTRL-M c_CTRL-J c_<NL> c_<CR> c_CR
<CR> or <NL>    start entered command

CTRL-[                                          c_CTRL-[ c_<Esc> c_Esc
<Esc>           When typed and 'x' not present in 'cpoptions', quit
                Command-line mode without executing.  In macros or when 'x'
                present in 'cpoptions', start entered command.
                Note: If your <Esc> key is hard to hit on your keyboard, train
                yourself to use CTRL-[.
CTRL-C          quit command-line without executing

                                                        c_<Up> c_Up
<Up>            recall older command-line from history, whose beginning
                matches the current command-line (see below).  See 'wildmenu'
                for behavior during wildmenu completion mode.
                {not available when compiled without the +cmdline_hist
                                                        c_<Down> c_Down
<Down>          recall more recent command-line from history, whose beginning
                matches the current command-line (see below).  See 'wildmenu'
                for behavior during wildmenu completion mode.
                {not available when compiled without the +cmdline_hist

                                                        c_<S-Up> c_<PageUp>
<S-Up> or <PageUp>
                recall older command-line from history
                {not available when compiled without the +cmdline_hist
                                                c_<S-Down> c_<PageDown>
<S-Down> or <PageDown>
                recall more recent command-line from history
                {not available when compiled without the +cmdline_hist

CTRL-D          command-line completion (see cmdline-completion)
'wildchar' option
                command-line completion (see cmdline-completion)
CTRL-N          command-line completion (see cmdline-completion)
CTRL-P          command-line completion (see cmdline-completion)
CTRL-A          command-line completion (see cmdline-completion)
CTRL-L          command-line completion (see cmdline-completion)

CTRL-_          a - switch between Hebrew and English keyboard mode, which is
                private to the command-line and not related to hkmap.
                This is useful when Hebrew text entry is required in the
                command-line, searches, abbreviations, etc.  Applies only if
                Vim is compiled with the +rightleft feature and the
                'allowrevins' option is set.
                See rileft.txt.

                b - switch between Farsi and English keyboard mode, which is
                private to the command-line and not related to fkmap.  In
                Farsi keyboard mode the characters are inserted in reverse
                insert manner.  This is useful when Farsi text entry is
                required in the command-line, searches, abbreviations, etc.
                Applies only if Vim is compiled with the +farsi feature.
                See farsi.txt.

CTRL-^          Toggle the use of language :lmap mappings and/or Input
                When typing a pattern for a search command and 'imsearch' is
                not -1, VAL is the value of 'imsearch', otherwise VAL is the
                value of 'iminsert'.
                When language mappings are defined:
                - If VAL is 1 (langmap mappings used) it becomes 0 (no langmap
                  mappings used).
                - If VAL was not 1 it becomes 1, thus langmap mappings are
                When no language mappings are defined:
                - If VAL is 2 (Input Method is used) it becomes 0 (no input
                  method used)
                - If VAL has another value it becomes 2, thus the Input Method
                  is enabled.
                These language mappings are normally used to type characters
                that are different from what the keyboard produces.  The
                'keymap' option can be used to install a whole number of them.
                When entering a command line, langmap mappings are switched
                off, since you are expected to type a command.  After
                switching it on with CTRL-^, the new state is not used again
                for the next command or Search pattern.

CTRL-]          Trigger abbreviation, without inserting a character.

For Emacs-style editing on the command-line see emacs-keys.

The <Up> and <Down> keys take the current command-line as a search string.
The beginning of the next/previous command-lines are compared with this
string.  The first line that matches is the new command-line.  When typing
these two keys repeatedly, the same string is used again.  For example, this
can be used to find the previous substitute command: Type ":s" and then <Up>.
The same could be done by typing <S-Up> a number of times until the desired
command-line is shown.  (Note: the shifted arrow keys do not work on all

                                                        :his :history
:his[tory]      Print the history of last entered commands.
                {not available when compiled without the +cmdline_hist

:his[tory] [{name}] [{first}][, [{last}]]
                List the contents of history {name} which can be:
                c[md]    or :           command-line history
                s[earch] or / or ?      search string history
                e[xpr]   or =           expression register history
                i[nput]  or @           input line history
                d[ebug]  or >           debug command history
                a[ll]                   all of the above

                If the numbers {first} and/or {last} are given, the respective
                range of entries from a history is listed.  These numbers can
                be specified in the following form:
                A positive number represents the absolute index of an entry
                as it is given in the first column of a :history listing.
                This number remains fixed even if other entries are deleted.
                (see E1510)

                A negative number means the relative position of an entry,
                counted from the newest entry (which has index -1) backwards.

                List entries 6 to 12 from the search history:
                        :history / 6,12

                List the penultimate entry from all histories:
                        :history all -2

                List the most recent two entries from all histories:
                        :history all -2,

:keepp[atterns] {command}                       :keepp :keeppatterns
                Execute {command}, without adding anything to the search

2. Command-line completion                              cmdline-completion

When editing the command-line, a few commands can be used to complete the
word before the cursor.  This is available for:

- Command names: At the start of the command-line.
++opt values.
- Tags: Only after the ":tag" command.
- File names: Only after a command that accepts a file name or a setting for
  an option that can be set to a file name.  This is called file name
- Shell command names: After ":!cmd", ":r !cmd" and ":w !cmd".  $PATH is used.
- Options: Only after the ":set" command.
- Mappings: Only after a ":map" or similar command.
- Variable and function names: Only after a ":if", ":call" or similar command.

The number of help item matches is limited (currently to 300) to avoid a long
delay when there are very many matches.

These are the commands that can be used:

CTRL-D          List names that match the pattern in front of the cursor.
                When showing file names, directories are highlighted (see
                'highlight' option).  Names where 'suffixes' matches are moved
                to the end.
                The 'wildoptions' option can be set to "tagfile" to list the
                file of matching tags.
                                        c_CTRL-I c_wildchar c_<Tab>
'wildchar' option
                A match is done on the pattern in front of the cursor.  The
                match (if there are several, the first match) is inserted
                in place of the pattern.  (Note: does not work inside a
                macro, because <Tab> or <Esc> are mostly used as 'wildchar',
                and these have a special meaning in some macros.) When typed
                again and there were multiple matches, the next
                match is inserted.  After the last match, the first is used
                again (wrap around).
                The behavior can be changed with the 'wildmode' option.
<S-Tab>         Like 'wildchar' or <Tab>, but begin with the last match and
                then go to the previous match.
                <S-Tab> does not work everywhere.
CTRL-N          After using 'wildchar' which got multiple matches, go to next
                match.  Otherwise recall more recent command-line from history.
CTRL-P          After using 'wildchar' which got multiple matches, go to
                previous match.  Otherwise recall older command-line from
CTRL-A          All names that match the pattern in front of the cursor are
CTRL-L          A match is done on the pattern in front of the cursor.  If
                there is one match, it is inserted in place of the pattern.
                If there are multiple matches the longest common part is
                inserted in place of the pattern.  If the result is shorter
                than the pattern, no completion is done.
                When 'incsearch' is set, entering a search pattern for "/" or
                "?" and the current match is displayed then CTRL-L will add
                one character from the end of the current match.  If
                'ignorecase' and 'smartcase' are set and the command line has
                no uppercase characters, the added character is converted to
                                                    c_CTRL-G /_CTRL-G
CTRL-G          When 'incsearch' is set, entering a search pattern for "/" or
                "?" and the current match is displayed then CTRL-G will move
                to the next match (does not take search-offset into account)
                Use CTRL-T to move to the previous match.  Hint: on a regular
                keyboard T is above G.
                                                    c_CTRL-T /_CTRL-T
CTRL-T          When 'incsearch' is set, entering a search pattern for "/" or
                "?" and the current match is displayed then CTRL-T will move
                to the previous match (does not take search-offset into
                Use CTRL-G to move to the next match.  Hint: on a regular
                keyboard T is above G.

The 'wildchar' option defaults to <Tab> (CTRL-E when in Vi compatible mode; in
a previous version <Esc> was used).  In the pattern standard wildcards are
accepted when matching file names.

When repeating 'wildchar' or CTRL-N you cycle through the matches, eventually
ending up back to what was typed.  If the first match is not what you wanted,
you can use <S-Tab> or CTRL-P to go straight back to what you typed.

The 'wildmenu' option can be set to show the matches just above the command

The 'wildoptions' option provides additional configuration to use a popup menu
for 'wildmenu', and to use fuzzy matching.

The 'wildignorecase' option can be set to ignore case in filenames.  For
completing other texts (e.g. command names), the 'ignorecase' option is used
instead (fuzzy matching always ignores case, however).

If you like tcsh's autolist completion, you can use this mapping:
        :cnoremap X <C-L><C-D>
(Where X is the command key to use, <C-L> is CTRL-L and <C-D> is CTRL-D)
This will find the longest match and then list all matching files.

If you like tcsh's autolist completion, you can use the 'wildmode' option to
emulate it.  For example, this mimics autolist=ambiguous:
        :set wildmode=longest,list
This will find the longest match with the first 'wildchar', then list all
matching files with the next.

When completing user function names, prepend "s:" to find script-local

For file name completion you can use the 'suffixes' option to set a priority
between files with almost the same name.  If there are multiple matches,
those files with an extension that is in the 'suffixes' option are ignored.
The default is ".bak,~,.o,.h,.info,.swp,.obj", which means that files ending
in ".bak", "~", ".o", ".h", ".info", ".swp" and ".obj" are sometimes ignored.

An empty entry, two consecutive commas, match a file name that does not
contain a ".", thus has no suffix.  This is useful to ignore "prog" and prefer


  pattern:      files:                          match:
   test*        test.c test.h test.o            test.c
   test*        test.h test.o                   test.h and test.o
   test*        test.i test.h test.c            test.i and test.c

It is impossible to ignore suffixes with two dots.

If there is more than one matching file (after ignoring the ones matching
the 'suffixes' option) the first file name is inserted.  You can see that
there is only one match when you type 'wildchar' twice and the completed
match stays the same.  You can get to the other matches by entering
'wildchar'CTRL-N or CTRL-P.  All files are included, also the ones with
extensions matching the 'suffixes' option.

To completely ignore files with some extension use 'wildignore'.

To match only files that end at the end of the typed text append a "$".  For
example, to match only files that end in ".c":
        :e *.c$
This will not match a file ending in ".cpp".  Without the "$" it does match.

If you would like using <S-Tab> for CTRL-P in an xterm, put this command in
your .cshrc:
        xmodmap -e "keysym Tab = Tab Find"
And this in your .vimrc:
        :cmap <Esc>[1~ <C-P>
When setting an option using :set=, the old value of an option can be
obtained by hitting 'wildchar' just after the '='.  For example, typing
'wildchar' after ":set dir=" will insert the current value of 'dir'.  This
overrules file name completion for the options that take a file name.

When using :set=:set+=, or :set^=, string options that have
pre-defined names or syntax (e.g. 'diffopt''listchars') or are a list of
single-character flags (e.g. 'shortmess') will also present a list of possible
values for completion when using 'wildchar'.

When using :set-=, comma-separated options like 'diffopt' or 'backupdir'
will show each item separately.  Flag list options like 'shortmess' will show
both the entire old value and the individual flags.  Otherwise completion will
just fill in with the entire old value.

3. Ex command-lines                                     cmdline-lines

The Ex commands have a few specialties:

                                                        :quote :comment
'"' at the start of a line causes the whole line to be ignored.  '"'
after a command causes the rest of the line to be ignored.  This can be used
to add comments.  Example:
        :set ai         "set 'autoindent' option
It is not possible to add a comment to a shell command ":!cmd" or to the
":map" command and a few others (mainly commands that expect expressions)
that see the '"' as part of their argument:

    :cexpr (and the like)
    :cdo (and the like)
    :cscope (and the like)
    :echo (and the like)
    :grep (and the like)
    :help (and the like)
    :map (and the like including :abbrev commands)
    :menu (and the like)
    :promptfind (and the like)
    :vimgrep (and the like)

                                                        :bar :\bar
'|' can be used to separate commands, so you can give multiple commands in one
line.  If you want to use '|' in an argument, precede it with '\'.

These commands see the '|' as their argument, and can therefore not be
followed by another Vim command:
    :read !
    :write !
    a user defined command without the "-bar" argument :command

    and the following Vim9-script keywords:

Note that this is confusing (inherited from Vi): With ":g" the '|' is included
in the command, with ":s" it is not.

To be able to use another command anyway, use the ":execute" command.
Example (append the output of "ls" and jump to the first line):
        :execute 'r !ls' | '[

There is one exception: When the 'b' flag is present in 'cpoptions', with the
":map" and ":abbr" commands and friends CTRL-V needs to be used instead of
'\'.  You can also use "<Bar>" instead.  See also map_bar.

        :!ls | wc               view the output of two commands
        :r !ls | wc             insert the same output in the text
        :%g/foo/p|>             moves all matching lines one shiftwidth
        :%s/foo/bar/|>          moves one line one shiftwidth
        :map q 10^V|            map "q" to "10|"
        :map q 10\| map \ l     map "q" to "10\" and map "\" to "l"
                                        (when 'b' is present in 'cpoptions')

You can also use <NL> to separate commands in the same way as with '|'.  To
insert a <NL> use CTRL-V CTRL-J.  "^@" will be shown.  Using '|' is the
preferred method.  But for external commands a <NL> must be used, because a
'|' is included in the external command.  To avoid the special meaning of <NL>
it must be preceded with a backslash.  Example:
        :r !date<NL>-join
This reads the current date into the file and joins it with the previous line.

Note that when the command before the '|' generates an error, the following
commands will not be executed.

Because of Vi compatibility the following strange commands are supported:
        :|                      print current line (like ":p")
        :3|                     print line 3 (like ":3p")
        :3                      goto line 3

A colon is allowed between the range and the command name.  It is ignored
(this is Vi compatible).  For example:

When the character '%' or '#' is used where a file name is expected, they are
expanded to the current and alternate file name (see the chapter "editing
files" :_% :_#).

Embedded spaces in file names are allowed on the Amiga if one file name is
expected as argument.  Trailing spaces will be ignored, unless escaped with a
backslash or CTRL-V.  Note that the ":next" command uses spaces to separate
file names.  Escape the spaces to include them in a file name.  Example:
        :next foo\ bar goes\ to school\
starts editing the three files "foo bar", "goes to" and "school ".

When you want to use the special characters '"' or '|' in a command, or want
to use '%' or '#' in a file name, precede them with a backslash.  The
backslash is not required in a range and in the ":substitute" command.
See also `=.

The '!' (bang) character after an Ex command makes the command behave in a
different way.  The '!' should be placed immediately after the command, without
any blanks in between.  If you insert blanks the '!' will be seen as an
argument for the command, which has a different meaning.  For example:
        :w! name        write the current buffer to file "name", overwriting
                        any existing file
        :w !name        send the current buffer as standard input to command

4. Ex command-line ranges       cmdline-ranges [range] E16

Some Ex commands accept a line range in front of them.  This is noted as
[range].  It consists of one or more line specifiers, separated with ',' or

The basics are explained in section 10.3 of the user manual.

In Vim9 script a range needs to be prefixed with a colon to avoid ambiguity
with continuation lines.  For example, "+" can be used for a range but is also
a continuation of an expression:
        var result = start
        + print
If the "+" is a range then it must be prefixed with a colon:
        var result = start
        :+ print

                                                :, :;
When separated with ';' the cursor position will be set to that line
before interpreting the next line specifier.  This doesn't happen for ','.
   4,/this line/
        from line 4 till match with "this line" after the cursor line.
   5;/that line/
        from line 5 till match with "that line" after line 5.

The default line specifier for most commands is the cursor position, but the
commands ":write" and ":global" have the whole file (1,$) as default.

If more line specifiers are given than required for the command, the first
one(s) will be ignored.

Line numbers may be specified with:             :range {address}
        {number}        an absolute line number  E1247
        .               the current line                          :.
        $               the last line in the file                 :$
        %               equal to 1,$ (the entire file)            :%
        't              position of mark t (lowercase)            :'
        'T              position of mark T (uppercase); when the mark is in
                        another file it cannot be used in a range
        /{pattern}[/]   the next line where {pattern} matches     :/
                                also see :range-pattern below
        ?{pattern}[?]   the previous line where {pattern} matches :?
                                also see :range-pattern below
        \/              the next line where the previously used search
                        pattern matches
        \?              the previous line where the previously used search
                        pattern matches
        \&              the next line where the previously used substitute
                        pattern matches

Each may be followed (several times) by '+' or '-' and an optional number.
This number is added or subtracted from the preceding line number.  If the
number is omitted, 1 is used.  If there is nothing before the '+' or '-' then
the current line is used.
When a line number after the comma is in a closed fold it is adjusted to the
last line of the fold, thus the whole fold is included.

When a number is added this is done after the adjustment to the last line of
the fold.  This means these lines are additionally included in the range.  For
On this text:
        1 one
        2 two
        3 three
        4 four FOLDED
        5 five FOLDED
        6 six
        7 seven
        8 eight
Where lines four and five are a closed fold, ends up printing lines 3 to 7.
The 7 comes from the "4" in the range, which is adjusted to the end of the
closed fold, which is 5, and then the offset 2 is added.

An example for subtracting (which isn't very useful):
On this text:
        1 one
        2 two
        3 three FOLDED
        4 four FOLDED
        5 five FOLDED
        6 six FOLDED
        7 seven
        8 eight
Where lines three to six are a closed fold, ends up printing lines 2 to 6.
The 6 comes from the "4" in the range, which is adjusted to the end of the
closed fold, which is 6, and then 1 is subtracted, then this is still in the
closed fold and the last line of that fold is used, which is 6.

The "/" and "?" after {pattern} are required to separate the pattern from
anything that follows.

The "/" and "?" may be preceded with another address.  The search starts from
there.  The difference from using ';' is that the cursor isn't moved.
        /pat1//pat2/    Find line containing "pat2" after line containing
                        "pat1", without moving the cursor.
        7;/pat2/        Find line containing "pat2", after line 7, leaving
                        the cursor in line 7.

The {number} must be between 0 and the number of lines in the file.  When
using a 0 (zero) this is interpreted as a 1 by most commands.  Commands that
use it as a count do use it as a zero (:tag:pop, etc).  Some commands
interpret the zero as "before the first line" (:read, search pattern, etc).

        .+3             three lines below the cursor
        /that/+1        the line below the next line containing "that"
        .,$             from current line until end of file
        0;/that         the first line containing "that", also matches in the
                        first line.
        1;/that         the first line after line 1 containing "that"

Some commands allow for a count after the command.  This count is used as the
number of lines to be used, starting with the line given in the last line
specifier (the default is the cursor line).  The commands that accept a count
are the ones that use a range but do not have a file name argument (because
a file name can also be a number).  The count cannot be negative.

        :s/x/X/g 5      substitute 'x' by 'X' in the current line and four
                        following lines
        :23d 4          delete lines 23, 24, 25 and 26

Folds and Range

When folds are active the line numbers are rounded off to include the whole
closed fold.  See fold-behavior.

Reverse Range                                           E493

A range should have the lower line number first.  If this is not the case, Vim
will ask you if it should swap the line numbers.
        Backwards range given, OK to swap
This is not done within the global command ":g".

You can use ":silent" before a command to avoid the question, the range will
always be swapped then.

Count and Range                                         N:

When giving a count before entering ":", this is translated into:
                :.,.+(count - 1)
In words: The "count" lines at and after the cursor.  Example: To delete
three lines:
                3:d<CR>         is translated into: .,.+2d<CR>

Visual Mode and Range
{Visual}:       Starts a command-line with the Visual selected lines as a
                range.  The code :'<,'> is used for this range, which makes
                it possible to select a similar line from the command-line
                history for repeating a command on different Visually selected

:*                                              :star :star-visual-range
                When Visual mode was already ended, a short way to use the
                Visual area for a range is :*.  This requires that "*" does
                not appear in 'cpo', see cpo-star.  Otherwise you will have
                to type :'<,'>
                For when "*" is in 'cpo' see :star-compatible.

5. Ex command-line flags                                ex-flags

These flags are supported by a selection of Ex commands.  They print the line
that the cursor ends up after executing the command:

        l       output like for :list
        #       add line number
        p       output like for :print

The flags can be combined, thus "l#" uses both a line number and :list style

6. Ex special characters                                cmdline-special

Note: These are special characters in the executed command line.  If you want
to insert special things while typing you can use the CTRL-R command.  For
example, "%" stands for the current file name, while CTRL-R % inserts the
current file name right away.  See c_CTRL-R.

Note:  If you want to avoid the effects of special characters in a Vim script
you may want to use fnameescape().  Also see `=.

In Ex commands, at places where a file name can be used, the following
characters have a special meaning.  These can also be used in the expression
function expand().
        %       Is replaced with the current file name.           :_% c_%
        #       Is replaced with the alternate file name.         :_# c_#
                This is remembered for every window.
        #n      (where n is a number) is replaced with            :_#0 :_#n
                the file name of buffer n.  "#0" is the same as "#".     c_#n
        ##      Is replaced with all names in the argument list   :_## c_##
                concatenated, separated by spaces.  Each space in a name
                is preceded with a backslash.
        #<n     (where n is a number > 0) is replaced with old    :_#< c_#<
                file name n.  See :oldfiles or v:oldfiles to get the
                number.                                                 E809
                {only when compiled with the +eval and +viminfo features}
In Vim9-script # is used to start a comment, use %% for the alternate file
        %       Is replaced with the current file name.
        %%      Is replaced with the alternate file name.       :_%% c_%%
        %%n     (where n is a number) is replaced with          :_%%0 :_%%n
                the file name of buffer n.  "%%0" is the same as "%%".   c_%%n
        %%%     Is replaced with all names in the argument      :_%%% c_%%%#
                list concatenated, separated by spaces.
        %%<n    (where n is a number > 0) is replaced with old  :_%%< c_%%<
                file name n.

Note that these, except "#<n", give the file name as it was typed.  If an
absolute path is needed (when using the file name from a different directory),
you need to add ":p".  See filename-modifiers.

The "#<n" item returns an absolute path, but it will start with "~/" for files
below your home directory.

Note that backslashes are inserted before spaces, so that the command will
correctly interpret the file name.  But this doesn't happen for shell
commands.  For those you probably have to use quotes (this fails for files
that contain a quote and wildcards):
        :!ls "%"
        :r !spell "%"

To avoid the special meaning of '%' and '#' insert a backslash before it.
Detail: The special meaning is always escaped when there is a backslash before
it, no matter how many backslashes.
        you type:               result
           #                    alternate.file
           \#                   #
           \\#                  \#
Also see `=.

                                                        E499 E500
Note: these are typed literally, they are not special keys!
                                                        :<cword> <cword>
        <cword>    is replaced with the word under the cursor (like star)
                                                        :<cWORD> <cWORD>
        <cWORD>    is replaced with the WORD under the cursor (see WORD)
                                                        :<cexpr> <cexpr>
        <cexpr>    is replaced with the word under the cursor, including more
                   to form a C expression.  E.g., when the cursor is on "arg"
                   of "ptr->arg" then the result is "ptr->arg"; when the
                   cursor is on "]" of "list[idx]" then the result is
                   "list[idx]".  This is used for v:beval_text.
                                                        :<cfile> <cfile>
        <cfile>    is replaced with the path name under the cursor (like what
                   gf uses)
                                                        :<afile> <afile>
        <afile>    When executing autocommands, is replaced with the file name
                   of the buffer being manipulated, or the file for a read or
                   write.  E495
                                                        :<abuf> <abuf>
        <abuf>     When executing autocommands, is replaced with the currently
                   effective buffer number.  It is not set for all events,
                   also see bufnr().  For ":r file" and ":so file" it is the
                   current buffer, the file being read/sourced is not in a
                   buffer.  E496
                                                        :<amatch> <amatch>
        <amatch>   When executing autocommands, is replaced with the match for
                   which this autocommand was executed.  E497
                   It differs from <afile> when the file name isn't used to
                   match with (for FileType, Syntax and SpellFileMissing
                   When the match is with a file name, it is expanded to the
                   full path.
                                                        :<sfile> <sfile>
        <sfile>    When executing a :source command, is replaced with the
                   file name of the sourced file.  E498
                   When executing a legacy function, is replaced with the call
                   stack, as with <stack> (this is for backwards
                   compatibility, using <stack> or <script> is preferred).
                   In Vim9 script using <sfile> in a function gives error
                   E1245 .
                   Note that filename-modifiers are useless when <sfile> is
                   not used inside a script.
                                                        :<stack> <stack>
        <stack>    is replaced with the call stack, using
                   "function {function-name}[{lnum}]" for a function line
                   and "script {file-name}[{lnum}]" for a script line, and
                   ".." in between items.  E.g.:
                   "function {function-name1}[{lnum}]..{function-name2}[{lnum}]"
                   If there is no call stack you get error E489 .
                                                        :<script> <script>
        <script>   When executing a :source command, is replaced with the file
                   name of the sourced file.  When executing a function, is
                   replaced with the file name of the script where it is
                   If the file name cannot be determined you get error E1274 .
                                                        :<slnum> <slnum>
        <slnum>    When executing a :source command, is replaced with the
                   line number.  E842
                   When executing a function it's the line number relative to
                   the start of the function.
                                                        :<sflnum> <sflnum>
        <sflnum>   When executing a script, is replaced with the line number.
                   It differs from <slnum> in that <sflnum> is replaced with
                   the script line number in any situation.  E961
                                                        :<client> <client>
        <client>   is replaced with the {clinetid} of the last received
                   message in server2client()

:_%: ::8 ::p ::. ::~ ::h ::t ::r ::e ::s ::gs ::S
     %:8 %:p %:. %:~ %:h %:t %:r %:e %:s %:gs %:S
The file name modifiers can be used after "%", "#", "#n", "<cfile>", "<sfile>",
"<afile>" or "<abuf>".  They are also used with the fnamemodify() function.

These modifiers can be given, in this order:
        :p      Make file name a full path.  Must be the first modifier.  Also
                changes "~/" (and "~user/" for Unix and VMS) to the path for
                the home directory.  If the name is a directory a path
                separator is added at the end.  For a file name that does not
                exist and does not have an absolute path the result is
                unpredictable.  On MS-Windows an 8.3 filename is expanded to
                the long name.
        :8      Converts the path to 8.3 short format (currently only on
                MS-Windows).  Will act on as much of a path that is an
                existing path.
        :~      Reduce file name to be relative to the home directory, if
                possible.  File name is unmodified if it is not below the home
        :.      Reduce file name to be relative to current directory, if
                possible.  File name is unmodified if it is not below the
                current directory.
                For maximum shortness, use ":~:.".
        :h      Head of the file name (the last component and any separators
                removed).  Cannot be used with :e, :r or :t.
                Can be repeated to remove several components at the end.
                When the file name ends in a path separator, only the path
                separator is removed.  Thus ":p:h" on a directory name results
                on the directory name itself (without trailing slash).
                When the file name is an absolute path (starts with "/" for
                Unix; "x:\" for Win32; "drive:" for Amiga), that part is not
                removed.  When there is no head (path is relative to current
                directory) the result is empty.
        :t      Tail of the file name (last component of the name).  Must
                precede any :r or :e.
        :r      Root of the file name (the last extension removed).  When
                there is only an extension (file name that starts with '.',
                e.g., ".vimrc"), it is not removed.  Can be repeated to remove
                several extensions (last one first).
        :e      Extension of the file name.  Only makes sense when used alone.
                When there is no extension the result is empty.
                When there is only an extension (file name that starts with
                '.'), the result is empty.  Can be repeated to include more
                extensions.  If there are not enough extensions (but at least
                one) as much as possible are included.
                Substitute the first occurrence of "pat" with "sub".  This
                works like the :s command.  "pat" is a regular expression.
                Any character can be used for '?', but it must not occur in
                "pat" or "sub".
                After this, the previous modifiers can be used again.  For
                example ":p", to make a full path after the substitution.
                Substitute all occurrences of "pat" with "sub".  Otherwise
                this works like ":s".
        :S      Escape special characters for use with a shell command (see
                shellescape()). Must be the last one. Examples:
                    :!dir <cfile>:S
                    :call system('chmod +w -- ' . expand('%:S'))

Examples, when the file name is "src/version.c", current dir
  :p                    /home/mool/vim/src/version.c
  :p:.                                 src/version.c
  :p:~                           ~/vim/src/version.c
  :h                                   src
  :p:h                  /home/mool/vim/src
  :p:h:h                /home/mool/vim
  :t                                       version.c
  :p:t                                     version.c
  :r                                   src/version
  :p:r                  /home/mool/vim/src/version
  :t:r                                     version
  :e                                               c
  :s?version?main?                     src/main.c
  :s?version?main?:p    /home/mool/vim/src/main.c
  :p:gs?/?\\?           \home\mool\vim\src\version.c

Examples, when the file name is "src/version.c.gz":
  :p                    /home/mool/vim/src/version.c.gz
  :e                                                 gz
  :e:e                                             c.gz
  :e:e:e                                           c.gz
  :e:e:r                                           c
  :r                                   src/version.c
  :r:e                                             c
  :r:r                                 src/version
  :r:r:r                               src/version

                                        extension-removal :_%<
If a "<" is appended to "%", "#", "#n" or "CTRL-V p" the extension of the file
name is removed (everything after and including the last '.' in the file
name).  This is included for backwards compatibility with version 3.0, the
":r" form is preferred.  Examples:

        %               current file name
        %<              current file name without extension
        #               alternate file name for current window
        #<              idem, without extension
        #31             alternate file number 31
        #31<            idem, without extension
        <cword>         word under the cursor
        <cWORD>         WORD under the cursor (see |WORD|)
        <cfile>         path name under the cursor
        <cfile><        idem, without extension

Note: Where a file name is expected wildcards expansion is done.  On Unix the
shell is used for this, unless it can be done internally (for speed).
Unless in restricted-mode, backticks work also, like in
        :n `echo *.c`
But expansion is only done if there are any wildcards before expanding the
'%', '#', etc..  This avoids expanding wildcards inside a file name.  If you
want to expand the result of <cfile>, add a wildcard character to it.
Examples: (alternate file name is "?readme?")
        command         expands to 
        :e #            :e ?readme?
        :e `ls #`       :e {files matching "?readme?"}
        :e #.*          :e {files matching "?readme?.*"}
        :cd <cfile>     :cd {file name under cursor}
        :cd <cfile>*    :cd {file name under cursor plus "*" and then expanded}
Also see `=.

When the expanded argument contains a "!" and it is used for a shell command
(":!cmd", ":r !cmd" or ":w !cmd"), the "!" is escaped with a backslash to
avoid it being expanded into a previously used command.  When the 'shell'
option contains "sh", this is done twice, to avoid the shell trying to expand
the "!".

For filesystems that use a backslash as directory separator (MS-Windows), it's
a bit difficult to recognize a backslash that is used to escape the special
meaning of the next character.  The general rule is: If the backslash is
followed by a normal file name character, it does not have a special meaning.
Therefore "\file\foo" is a valid file name, you don't have to type the
backslash twice.

An exception is the '$' sign.  It is a valid character in a file name.  But
to avoid a file name like "$home" to be interpreted as an environment variable,
it needs to be preceded by a backslash.  Therefore you need to use "/\$home"
for the file "$home" in the root directory.  A few examples:

        $home           expanded to value of environment var $home
        \$home          file "$home" in current directory
        /\$home         file "$home" in root directory
        \\$home         file "\\", followed by expanded $home

Also see `=.

7. Command-line window                          cmdline-window cmdwin
In the command-line window the command line can be edited just like editing
text in any window.  It is a special kind of window, because you cannot leave
it in a normal way.

OPEN                                            c_CTRL-F q: q/ q?

There are two ways to open the command-line window:
1. From Command-line mode, use the key specified with the 'cedit' option.
   The default is CTRL-F when 'compatible' is not set.
2. From Normal mode, use the "q:", "q/" or "q?" command.
   This starts editing an Ex command-line ("q:") or search string ("q/" or
   "q?").  Note that this is not possible while recording is in progress (the
   "q" stops recording then).

When the window opens it is filled with the command-line history.  The last
line contains the command as typed so far.  The left column will show a
character that indicates the type of command-line being edited, see

Vim will be in Normal mode when the editor is opened, except when 'insertmode'
is set.
Once a command-line window is open it is not possible to open another one.

The height of the window is specified with 'cmdwinheight' (or smaller if there
is no room).  The window is always full width and is positioned just above the


You can now use commands to move around and edit the text in the window.  Both
in Normal mode and Insert mode.

It is possible to use ":", "/" and other commands that use the command-line,
but it's not possible to open another command-line window then.  There is no
                                                        E11 E1188
The command-line window is not a normal window.  It is not possible to move to
another window or edit another buffer.  All commands that would do this are
disabled in the command-line window.  Of course it _is_ possible to execute
any command that you entered in the command-line window.  Other text edits are
discarded when closing the window.

CLOSE                                                   E199

There are several ways to leave the command-line window:

<CR>            Execute the command-line under the cursor.  Works both in
                Insert and in Normal mode.
CTRL-C          Continue in Command-line mode.  The command-line under the
                cursor is used as the command-line.  Works both in Insert and
                in Normal mode.  There is no redraw, thus the window will
                remain visible.
:quit           Discard the command line and go back to Normal mode.
                ":close", CTRL-W c, ":exit", ":xit" and CTRL-\ CTRL-N also
:qall           Quit Vim, unless there are changes in some buffer.
:qall!          Quit Vim, discarding changes to any buffer.

Once the command-line window is closed the old window sizes are restored.  The
executed command applies to the window and buffer where the command-line was
started from.  This works as if the command-line window was not there, except
that there will be an extra screen redraw.
The buffer used for the command-line window is deleted.  Any changes to lines
other than the one that is executed with <CR> are lost.

If you would like to execute the command under the cursor and then have the
command-line window open again, you may find this mapping useful:

        :autocmd CmdwinEnter * map <buffer> <F5> <CR>q:


The command-line window cannot be used:
- when there already is a command-line window (no nesting)
- for entering an encryption key or when using inputsecret()

Some options are set when the command-line window is opened:
'filetype'      "vim", when editing an Ex command-line; this starts Vim syntax
                highlighting if it was enabled
'rightleft'     off
'modifiable'    on
'buftype'       "nofile"
'swapfile'      off

It is allowed to write the buffer contents to a file.  This is an easy way to
save the command-line history and read it back later.

If the 'wildchar' option is set to <Tab>, and the command-line window is used
for an Ex command, then two mappings will be added to use <Tab> for completion
in the command-line window, like this:
        :inoremap <buffer> <Tab> <C-X><C-V>
        :nnoremap <buffer> <Tab> a<C-X><C-V>
Note that hitting <Tab> in Normal mode will do completion on the next
character.  That way it works at the end of the line.
If you don't want these mappings, disable them with:
        au CmdwinEnter [:>] iunmap <Tab>
        au CmdwinEnter [:>] nunmap <Tab>
You could put these lines in your vimrc file.

While in the command-line window you cannot use the mouse to put the cursor in
another window, or drag statuslines of other windows.  You can drag the
statusline of the command-line window itself and the statusline above it.
Thus you can resize the command-line window, but not others.

The getcmdwintype() function returns the type of the command-line being
edited as described in cmdwin-char.


Two autocommand events are used: CmdwinEnter and CmdwinLeave.  You can use
the Cmdwin events to do settings specifically for the command-line window.
Be careful not to cause side effects!
        :au CmdwinEnter :  let b:cpt_save = &cpt | set cpt=.
        :au CmdwinLeave :  let &cpt = b:cpt_save
This sets 'complete' to use completion in the current window for i_CTRL-N.
Another example:
        :au CmdwinEnter [/?]  startinsert
This will make Vim start in Insert mode in the command-line window.

The character used for the pattern indicates the type of command-line:
        :       normal Ex command
        >       debug mode command debug-mode
        /       forward search string
        ?       backward search string
        =       expression for "= expr-register
        @       string for input()
        -       text for :insert or :append