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editing - Vim Documentation

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editing.txt   For Vim version 9.0.  Last change: 2022 Apr 16

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

Editing files                                           edit-files

1.  Introduction                edit-intro
2.  Editing a file              edit-a-file
3.  The argument list           argument-list
4.  Writing                     writing
5.  Writing and quitting        write-quit
6.  Dialogs                     edit-dialogs
7.  The current directory       current-directory
8.  Editing binary files        edit-binary
9.  Encryption                  encryption
10. Timestamps                  timestamps
11. File Searching              file-searching

1. Introduction                                         edit-intro

Editing a file with Vim means:

1. reading the file into a buffer
2. changing the buffer with editor commands
3. writing the buffer into a file

As long as you don't write the buffer, the original file remains unchanged.
If you start editing a file (read a file into the buffer), the file name is
remembered as the "current file name".  This is also known as the name of the
current buffer.  It can be used with "%" on the command line :_%.

If there already was a current file name, then that one becomes the alternate
file name.  It can be used with "#" on the command line :_# and you can use
the CTRL-^ command to toggle between the current and the alternate file.
However, the alternate file name is not changed when :keepalt is used.
An alternate file name is remembered for each window.

                                                        :keepalt :keepa
:keepalt {cmd}          Execute {cmd} while keeping the current alternate file
                        name.  Note that commands invoked indirectly (e.g.,
                        with a function) may still set the alternate file

All file names are remembered in the buffer list.  When you enter a file name,
for editing (e.g., with ":e filename") or writing (e.g., with ":w filename"),
the file name is added to the list.  You can use the buffer list to remember
which files you edited and to quickly switch from one file to another (e.g.,
to copy text) with the CTRL-^ command.  First type the number of the file
and then hit CTRL-^.

CTRL-G          or                              CTRL-G :f :fi :file
:f[ile]                 Prints the current file name (as typed, unless ":cd"
                        was used), the cursor position (unless the 'ruler'
                        option is set), and the file status (readonly,
                        modified, read errors, new file).  See the 'shortmess'
                        option about how to make this message shorter.

:f[ile]!                like :file, but don't truncate the name even when
                        'shortmess' indicates this.

{count}CTRL-G           Like CTRL-G, but prints the current file name with
                        full path.  If the count is higher than 1 the current
                        buffer number is also given.

                                        g_CTRL-G word-count byte-count
CTRL-G                Prints the current position of the cursor in five
                        ways: Column, Line, Word, Character and Byte.  If the
                        number of Characters and Bytes is the same then the
                        Character position is omitted.

                        If there are characters in the line that take more
                        than one position on the screen (<Tab> or special
                        character), or characters using more than one byte per
                        column (characters above 0x7F when 'encoding' is
                        utf-8), both the byte column and the screen column are
                        shown, separated by a dash.

                        Also see the 'ruler' option and the wordcount()

{Visual}CTRL-G        Similar to "g CTRL-G", but Word, Character, Line, and
                        Byte counts for the visually selected region are
                        In Blockwise mode, Column count is also shown.  (For
                        {Visual} see Visual-mode.)

:f[ile][!] {name}       Sets the current file name to {name}.  The optional !
                        avoids truncating the message, as with :file.
                        If the buffer did have a name, that name becomes the
                        alternate-file name.  An unlisted buffer is created
                        to hold the old name.
:0f[ile][!]             Remove the name of the current buffer.  The optional !
                        avoids truncating the message, as with :file.

:ls                     List all the currently known file names.  See
                        windows.txt :files :buffers :ls.

Vim will remember the full path name of a file name that you enter.  In most
cases when the file name is displayed only the name you typed is shown, but
the full path name is being used if you used the ":cd" command :cd.

If the environment variable $HOME is set, and the file name starts with that
string, it is often displayed with HOME replaced with "~".  This was done to
keep file names short.  When reading or writing files the full name is still
used, the "~" is only used when displaying file names.  When replacing the
file name would result in just "~", "~/" is used instead (to avoid confusion
between options set to $HOME with 'backupext' set to "~").

When writing the buffer, the default is to use the current file name.  Thus
when you give the "ZZ" or ":wq" command, the original file will be
overwritten.  If you do not want this, the buffer can be written into another
file by giving a file name argument to the ":write" command.  For example:

        vim testfile
        [change the buffer with editor commands]
        :w newfile

This will create a file "newfile", that is a modified copy of "testfile".
The file "testfile" will remain unchanged.  Anyway, if the 'backup' option is
set, Vim renames or copies the original file before it will be overwritten.
You can use this file if you discover that you need the original file.  See
also the 'patchmode' option.  The name of the backup file is normally the same
as the original file with 'backupext' appended.  The default "~" is a bit
strange to avoid accidentally overwriting existing files.  If you prefer ".bak"
change the 'backupext' option.  Extra dots are replaced with '_' on MS-Windows
machines, when Vim has detected that an MS-DOS-like filesystem is being used
(e.g., messydos or crossdos) or when the 'shortname' option is on.  The
backup file can be placed in another directory by setting 'backupdir'.

Technical: On the Amiga you can use 30 characters for a file name.  But on an
           MS-DOS-compatible filesystem only 8 plus 3 characters are
           available.  Vim tries to detect the type of filesystem when it is
           creating the .swp file.  If an MS-DOS-like filesystem is suspected,
           a flag is set that has the same effect as setting the 'shortname'
           option.  This flag will be reset as soon as you start editing a
           new file.  The flag will be used when making the file name for the
           ".swp" and ".~" files for the current file.  But when you are
           editing a file in a normal filesystem and write to an MS-DOS-like
           filesystem the flag will not have been set.  In that case the
           creation of the ".~" file may fail and you will get an error
           message.  Use the 'shortname' option in this case.

When you started editing without giving a file name, "No File" is displayed in
messages.  If the ":write" command is used with a file name argument, the file
name for the current file is set to that file name.  This only happens when
the 'F' flag is included in 'cpoptions' (by default it is included) cpo-F.
This is useful when entering text in an empty buffer and then writing it to a
file.  If 'cpoptions' contains the 'f' flag (by default it is NOT included)
cpo-f the file name is set for the ":read file" command.  This is useful
when starting Vim without an argument and then doing ":read file" to start
editing a file.
When the file name was set and 'filetype' is empty the filetype detection
autocommands will be triggered.
Because the file name was set without really starting to edit that file, you
are protected from overwriting that file.  This is done by setting the
"notedited" flag.  You can see if this flag is set with the CTRL-G or ":file"
command.  It will include "[Not edited]" when the "notedited" flag is set.
When writing the buffer to the current file name (with ":w!"), the "notedited"
flag is reset.

Vim remembers whether you have changed the buffer.  You are protected from
losing the changes you made.  If you try to quit without writing, or want to
start editing another file, Vim will refuse this.  In order to overrule this
protection, add a '!' to the command.  The changes will then be lost.  For
example: ":q" will not work if the buffer was changed, but ":q!" will.  To see
whether the buffer was changed use the "CTRL-G" command.  The message includes
the string "[Modified]" if the buffer has been changed, or "+" if the 'm' flag
is in 'shortmess'.

If you want to automatically save the changes without asking, switch on the
'autowriteall' option.  'autowrite' is the associated Vi-compatible option
that does not work for all commands.

If you want to keep the changed buffer without saving it, switch on the
'hidden' option.  See hidden-buffer.  Some commands work like this even when
'hidden' is not set, check the help for the command.

2. Editing a file                                       edit-a-file

                                                        :e :edit reload
:e[dit] [++opt] [+cmd]  Edit the current file.  This is useful to re-edit the
                        current file, when it has been changed outside of Vim.
                        This fails when changes have been made to the current
                        buffer and 'autowriteall' isn't set or the file can't
                        be written.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

                                                        :edit! discard
:e[dit]! [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Edit the current file always.  Discard any changes to
                        the current buffer.  This is useful if you want to
                        start all over again.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:e[dit] [++opt] [+cmd] {file}
                        Edit {file}.
                        This fails when changes have been made to the current
                        buffer, unless 'hidden' is set or 'autowriteall' is
                        set and the file can be written.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:e[dit]! [++opt] [+cmd] {file}
                        Edit {file} always.  Discard any changes to the
                        current buffer.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.
                                                        :edit_# :e#
:e[dit] [++opt] [+cmd] #[count]
                        Edit the [count]th buffer (as shown by :files).
                        This command does the same as [count] CTRL-^.  But ":e
                        #" doesn't work if the alternate buffer doesn't have a
                        file name, while CTRL-^ still works then.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

                                                        :ene :enew
:ene[w]                 Edit a new, unnamed buffer.  This fails when changes
                        have been made to the current buffer, unless 'hidden'
                        is set or 'autowriteall' is set and the file can be
                        If 'fileformats' is not empty, the first format given
                        will be used for the new buffer.  If 'fileformats' is
                        empty, the 'fileformat' of the current buffer is used.

                                                        :ene! :enew!
:ene[w]!                Edit a new, unnamed buffer.  Discard any changes to
                        the current buffer.
                        Set 'fileformat' like :enew.

                                                        :fin :find
:fin[d][!] [++opt] [+cmd] {file}
                        Find {file} in 'path' and then :edit it.
                        {not available when the +file_in_path feature was
                        disabled at compile time}

:{count}fin[d][!] [++opt] [+cmd] {file}
                        Just like ":find", but use the {count} match in
                        'path'.  Thus ":2find file" will find the second
                        "file" found in 'path'.  When there are fewer matches
                        for the file in 'path' than asked for, you get an
                        error message.

:ex [++opt] [+cmd] [file]
                        Same as :edit.

                                                        :vi :visual
:vi[sual][!] [++opt] [+cmd] [file]
                        When used in Ex mode: Leave Ex-mode, go back to
                        Normal mode.  Otherwise same as :edit.

                                                        :vie :view
:vie[w][!] [++opt] [+cmd] file
                        When used in Ex mode: Leave Ex-mode, go back to
                        Normal mode.  Otherwise same as :edit, but set
                        'readonly' option for this buffer.

                                                        CTRL-^ CTRL-6
CTRL-^                  Edit the alternate file.  Mostly the alternate file is
                        the previously edited file.  This is a quick way to
                        toggle between two files.  It is equivalent to ":e #",
                        except that it also works when there is no file name.

                        If the 'autowrite' or 'autowriteall' option is on and
                        the buffer was changed, write it.
                        Mostly the ^ character is positioned on the 6 key,
                        pressing CTRL and 6 then gets you what we call CTRL-^.
                        But on some non-US keyboards CTRL-^ is produced in
                        another way.

{count}CTRL-^           Edit [count]th file in the buffer list (equivalent to
                        ":e #[count]").  This is a quick way to switch between
                        See CTRL-^ above for further details.

[count]]f                                               ]f [f
[count][f               Same as "gf".  Deprecated.

                                                        gf E446 E447
[count]gf               Edit the file whose name is under or after the cursor.
                        Mnemonic: "goto file".
                        Uses the 'isfname' option to find out which characters
                        are supposed to be in a file name.  Trailing
                        punctuation characters ".,:;!" are ignored. Escaped
                        spaces "\ " are reduced to a single space.
                        Uses the 'path' option as a list of directory names to
                        look for the file.  See the 'path' option for details
                        about relative directories and wildcards.
                        Uses the 'suffixesadd' option to check for file names
                        with a suffix added.
                        If the file can't be found, 'includeexpr' is used to
                        modify the name and another attempt is done.
                        If a [count] is given, the count'th file that is found
                        in the 'path' is edited.
                        This command fails if Vim refuses to abandon the
                        current file.
                        If you want to edit the file in a new window use
                        If you do want to edit a new file, use:
                                :e <cfile>
                        To make gf always work like that:
                                :map gf :e <cfile><CR>
                        If the name is a hypertext link, that looks like
                        "type://machine/path", you need the netrw plugin.
                        For Unix the '~' character is expanded, like in
                        "~user/file".  Environment variables are expanded too
                        {not available when the +file_in_path feature was
                        disabled at compile time}

{Visual}[count]gf       Same as "gf", but the highlighted text is used as the
                        name of the file to edit.  'isfname' is ignored.
                        Leading blanks are skipped, otherwise all blanks and
                        special characters are included in the file name.
                        (For {Visual} see Visual-mode.)

[count]gF               Same as "gf", except if a number follows the file
                        name, then the cursor is positioned on that line in
                        the file.
                        The file name and the number must be separated by a
                        non-filename (see 'isfname') and non-numeric
                        character. " line " is also recognized, like it is
                        used in the output of :verbose command UserCmd
                        White space between the filename, the separator and
                        the number are ignored.
                                eval.c @ 20
                                eval.c (30)
                                eval.c 40

{Visual}[count]gF       Same as "v_gf".

These commands are used to start editing a single file.  This means that the
file is read into the buffer and the current file name is set.  The file that
is opened depends on the current directory, see :cd.

See read-messages for an explanation of the message that is given after the
file has been read.

You can use the ":e!" command if you messed up the buffer and want to start
all over again.  The ":e" command is only useful if you have changed the
current file name.

                                                        :filename {file}
Besides the things mentioned here, more special items for where a filename is
expected are mentioned at cmdline-special.

Note for systems other than Unix: When using a command that accepts a single
file name (like ":edit file") spaces in the file name are allowed, but
trailing spaces are ignored.  This is useful on systems that regularly embed
spaces in file names (like MS-Windows and the Amiga).  Example: The command
":e   Long File Name " will edit the file "Long File Name".  When using a
command that accepts more than one file name (like ":next file1 file2")
embedded spaces must be escaped with a backslash.

                                                wildcard wildcards
Wildcards in {file} are expanded, but as with file completion, 'wildignore'
and 'suffixes' apply.  Which wildcards are supported depends on the system.
These are the common ones:
        ?       matches one character
        *       matches anything, including nothing
        **      matches anything, including nothing, recurses into directories
        [abc]   match 'a', 'b' or 'c'

To avoid the special meaning of the wildcards prepend a backslash.  However,
on MS-Windows the backslash is a path separator and "path\[abc]" is still seen
as a wildcard when "[" is in the 'isfname' option.  A simple way to avoid this
is to use "path\[[]abc]", this matches the file "path\[abc]".

Expanding "**" is possible on Unix, Win32, macOS and a few other systems.
This allows searching a directory tree.  This goes up to 100 directories deep.
Note there are some commands where this works slightly differently, see
        :n **/*.txt
Finds files:
When non-wildcard characters are used right before or after "**" these are
only matched in the top directory.  They are not used for directories further
down in the tree. For example:
        :n /usr/inc**/types.h
Finds files:
Note that the path with "/sys" is included because it does not need to match
"/inc".  Thus it's like matching "/usr/inc*/*/*...", not

                                        backtick-expansion `-expansion
On Unix and a few other systems you can also use backticks for the file name
argument, for example:
        :next `find . -name ver\\*.c -print`
        :view `ls -t *.patch  \| head -n1`
Vim will run the command in backticks using the 'shell' and use the standard
output as argument for the given Vim command (error messages from the shell
command will be discarded).
To see what shell command Vim is running, set the 'verbose' option to 4. When
the shell command returns a non-zero exit code, an error message will be
displayed and the Vim command will be aborted. To avoid this make the shell
always return zero like so:
       :next `find . -name ver\\*.c -print \|\| true`

The backslashes before the star are required to prevent the shell from
expanding "ver*.c" prior to execution of the find program.  The backslash
before the shell pipe symbol "|" prevents Vim from parsing it as command
This also works for most other systems, with the restriction that the
backticks must be around the whole item.  It is not possible to have text
directly before the first or just after the last backtick.

                                                `= E1083
You can have the backticks expanded as a Vim expression, instead of as an
external command, by putting an equal sign right after the first backtick,
        :e `=tempname()`
The expression can contain just about anything, thus this can also be used to
avoid the special meaning of '"', '|', '%' and '#'.  However, 'wildignore'
does apply like to other wildcards.

Environment variables in the expression are expanded when evaluating the
expression, thus this works:
        :e `=$HOME .. '/.vimrc'`
This uses $HOME inside a string and it will be used literally, most likely not
what you intended:
        :e `='$HOME' .. '/.vimrc'`

If the expression returns a string then names are to be separated with line
breaks.  When the result is a List then each item is used as a name.  Line
breaks also separate names.
Note that such expressions are only supported in places where a filename is
expected as an argument to an Ex-command.

                                                        ++opt [++opt]
The [++opt] argument can be used to force the value of 'fileformat',
'fileencoding' or 'binary' to a value for one command, and to specify the
behavior for bad characters.  The form is:

Where {optname} is one of:          ++ff ++enc ++bin ++nobin ++edit
    ff     or  fileformat   overrides 'fileformat'
    enc    or  encoding     overrides 'fileencoding'
    bin    or  binary       sets 'binary'
    nobin  or  nobinary     resets 'binary'
    bad                     specifies behavior for bad characters
    edit                    for :read only: keep option values as if editing
                            a file

{value} cannot contain white space.  It can be any valid value for these
options.  Examples:
        :e ++ff=unix
This edits the same file again with 'fileformat' set to "unix".

        :w ++enc=latin1 newfile
This writes the current buffer to "newfile" in latin1 format.

The message given when writing a file will show "[converted]" when
'fileencoding' or the value specified with ++enc differs from 'encoding'.

There may be several ++opt arguments, separated by white space.  They must all
appear before any +cmd argument.

The argument of "++bad=" specifies what happens with characters that can't be
converted and illegal bytes.  It can be one of three things:
    ++bad=X      A single-byte character that replaces each bad character.
    ++bad=keep   Keep bad characters without conversion.  Note that this may
                 result in illegal bytes in your text!
    ++bad=drop   Remove the bad characters.

The default is like "++bad=?": Replace each bad character with a question
mark.  In some places an inverted question mark is used (0xBF).

Note that not all commands use the ++bad argument, even though they do not
give an error when you add it.  E.g. :write.

Note that when reading, the 'fileformat' and 'fileencoding' options will be
set to the used format.  When writing this doesn't happen, thus a next write
will use the old value of the option.  Same for the 'binary' option.

                                                        +cmd [+cmd]
The [+cmd] argument can be used to position the cursor in the newly opened
file, or execute any other command:
        +               Start at the last line.
        +{num}          Start at line {num}.
        +/{pat}         Start at first line containing {pat}.
        +{command}      Execute {command} after opening the new file.
                        {command} is any Ex command.
To include a white space in the {pat} or {command}, precede it with a
backslash.  Double the number of backslashes.
        :edit  +/The\ book           file
        :edit  +/dir\ dirname\\      file
        :edit  +set\ dir=c:\\\\temp  file
Note that in the last example the number of backslashes is halved twice: Once
for the "+cmd" argument and once for the ":set" command.

The 'fileformat' option sets the <EOL> style for a file:
'fileformat'    characters         name                 
  "dos"         <CR><NL> or <NL>   DOS format           DOS-format
  "unix"        <NL>               Unix format          Unix-format
  "mac"         <CR>               Mac format           Mac-format
Previously 'textmode' was used.  It is obsolete now.

When reading a file, the mentioned characters are interpreted as the <EOL>.
In DOS format (default for Win32), <CR><NL> and <NL> are both interpreted as
the <EOL>.  Note that when writing the file in DOS format, <CR> characters
will be added for each single <NL>.  Also see file-read.

When writing a file, the mentioned characters are used for <EOL>.  For DOS
format <CR><NL> is used.  Also see DOS-format-write.

You can read a file in DOS format and write it in Unix format.  This will
replace all <CR><NL> pairs by <NL> (assuming 'fileformats' includes "dos"):
        :e file
        :set fileformat=unix
If you read a file in Unix format and write with DOS format, all <NL>
characters will be replaced with <CR><NL> (assuming 'fileformats' includes
        :e file
        :set fileformat=dos

If you start editing a new file and the 'fileformats' option is not empty
(which is the default), Vim will try to detect whether the lines in the file
are separated by the specified formats.  When set to "unix,dos", Vim will
check for lines with a single <NL> (as used on Unix and Amiga) or by a <CR>
<NL> pair (MS-Windows).  Only when ALL lines end in <CR><NL>'fileformat' is
set to "dos", otherwise it is set to "unix".  When 'fileformats' includes
"mac", and no <NL> characters are found in the file, 'fileformat' is set to

If the 'fileformat' option is set to "dos" on non-MS-Windows systems the
message "[dos format]" is shown to remind you that something unusual is
happening.  On MS-Windows systems you get the message "[unix format]" if
'fileformat' is set to "unix".  On all systems but the Macintosh you get the
message "[mac format]" if 'fileformat' is set to "mac".

If the 'fileformats' option is empty and DOS format is used, but while reading
a file some lines did not end in <CR><NL>, "[CR missing]" will be included in
the file message.
If the 'fileformats' option is empty and Mac format is used, but while reading
a file a <NL> was found, "[NL missing]" will be included in the file message.

If the new file does not exist, the 'fileformat' of the current buffer is used
when 'fileformats' is empty.  Otherwise the first format from 'fileformats' is
used for the new file.

Before editing binary, executable or Vim script files you should set the
'binary' option.  A simple way to do this is by starting Vim with the "-b"
option.  This will avoid the use of 'fileformat'.  Without this you risk that
single <NL> characters are unexpectedly replaced with <CR><NL>.

You can encrypt files that are written by setting the 'key' option.  This
provides some security against others reading your files. encryption

3. The argument list                            argument-list arglist

If you give more than one file name when starting Vim, this list is remembered
as the argument list.  You can jump to each file in this list.

Do not confuse this with the buffer list, which you can see with the
:buffers command.  The argument list was already present in Vi, the buffer
list is new in Vim.  Every file name in the argument list will also be present
in the buffer list (unless it was deleted with :bdel or :bwipe).  But it's
common that names in the buffer list are not in the argument list.

This subject is introduced in section 07.2 of the user manual.

There is one global argument list, which is used for all windows by default.
It is possible to create a new argument list local to a window, see

You can use the argument list with the following commands, and with the
expression functions argc() and argv().  These all work on the argument
list of the current window.

                                                        :ar :arg :args
:ar[gs]                 Print the argument list, with the current file in
                        square brackets.

:ar[gs] [++opt] [+cmd] {arglist}                        :args_f
                        Define {arglist} as the new argument list and edit
                        the first one.  This fails when changes have been made
                        and Vim does not want to abandon the current buffer.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:ar[gs]! [++opt] [+cmd] {arglist}                       :args_f!
                        Define {arglist} as the new argument list and edit
                        the first one.  Discard any changes to the current
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]arge[dit][!] [++opt] [+cmd] {name} ..           :arge :argedit
                        Add {name}s to the argument list and edit it.
                        When {name} already exists in the argument list, this
                        entry is edited.
                        This is like using :argadd and then :edit.
                        Spaces in filenames have to be escaped with "\".
                        [count] is used like with :argadd.
                        If the current file cannot be abandoned {name}s will
                        still be added to the argument list, but won't be
                        edited. No check for duplicates is done.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]arga[dd] {name} ..                      :arga :argadd E479
:[count]arga[dd]                                                E1156
                        Add the {name}s to the argument list.  When {name} is
                        omitted add the current buffer name to the argument
                        If [count] is omitted, the {name}s are added just
                        after the current entry in the argument list.
                        Otherwise they are added after the [count]'th file.
                        If the argument list is "a b c", and "b" is the
                        current argument, then these commands result in:
                                command         new argument list
                                :argadd x       a b x c
                                :0argadd x      x a b c
                                :1argadd x      a x b c
                                :$argadd x      a b c x
                        And after the last one:
                                :+2argadd y     a b c x y
                        There is no check for duplicates, it is possible to
                        add a file to the argument list twice.  You can use
                        :argdedupe to fix it afterwards:
                                :argadd *.txt | argdedupe
                        The currently edited file is not changed.
                        Note: you can also use this method:
                                :args ## x
                        This will add the "x" item and sort the new list.

:argded[upe]                                    :argded :argdedupe
                        Remove duplicate filenames from the argument list.
                        If your current file is a duplicate, your current file
                        will change to the original file index.

:argd[elete] {pattern} ..               :argd :argdelete E480 E610
                        Delete files from the argument list that match the
                        {pattern}s.  {pattern} is used like a file pattern,
                        see file-pattern.  "%" can be used to delete the
                        current entry.
                        This command keeps the currently edited file, also
                        when it's deleted from the argument list.
                                :argdel *.obj

:[range]argd[elete]     Delete the [range] files from the argument list.
                        Deletes arguments 10 and further, keeping 1-9.
                        Deletes just the last one.
                        Deletes the current argument.
                        Removes all the files from the arglist.
                        When the last number in the range is too high, up to
                        the last argument is deleted.

                                                        :argu :argument
:[count]argu[ment] [count] [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Edit file [count] in the argument list.  When [count]
                        is omitted the current entry is used.  This fails
                        when changes have been made and Vim does not want to
                        abandon the current buffer.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]argu[ment]! [count] [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Edit file [count] in the argument list, discard any
                        changes to the current buffer.  When [count] is
                        omitted the current entry is used.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]n[ext] [++opt] [+cmd]                   :n :ne :next E165 E163
                        Edit [count] next file.  This fails when changes have
                        been made and Vim does not want to abandon the
                        current buffer.  Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]n[ext]! [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Edit [count] next file, discard any changes to the
                        buffer.  Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:n[ext] [++opt] [+cmd] {arglist}                        :next_f
                        Same as :args_f.

:n[ext]! [++opt] [+cmd] {arglist}
                        Same as :args_f!.

:[count]N[ext] [count] [++opt] [+cmd]                   :Next :N E164
                        Edit [count] previous file in argument list.  This
                        fails when changes have been made and Vim does not
                        want to abandon the current buffer.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]N[ext]! [count] [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Edit [count] previous file in argument list.  Discard
                        any changes to the buffer.  Also see ++opt and

:[count]prev[ious] [count] [++opt] [+cmd]               :prev :previous
                        Same as :Next.  Also see ++opt and +cmd.

                                                        :rew :rewind
:rew[ind] [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Start editing the first file in the argument list.
                        This fails when changes have been made and Vim does
                        not want to abandon the current buffer.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:rew[ind]! [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Start editing the first file in the argument list.
                        Discard any changes to the buffer.  Also see ++opt
                        and +cmd.

                                                        :fir :first
:fir[st][!] [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Other name for ":rewind".

                                                        :la :last
:la[st] [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Start editing the last file in the argument list.
                        This fails when changes have been made and Vim does
                        not want to abandon the current buffer.
                        Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:la[st]! [++opt] [+cmd]
                        Start editing the last file in the argument list.
                        Discard any changes to the buffer.  Also see ++opt
                        and +cmd.

                                                        :wn :wnext
:[count]wn[ext] [++opt]
                        Write current file and start editing the [count]
                        next file.  Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]wn[ext] [++opt] {file}
                        Write current file to {file} and start editing the
                        [count] next file, unless {file} already exists and
                        the 'writeany' option is off.  Also see ++opt and

:[count]wn[ext]! [++opt] {file}
                        Write current file to {file} and start editing the
                        [count] next file.  Also see ++opt and +cmd.

:[count]wN[ext][!] [++opt] [file]               :wN :wNext
:[count]wp[revious][!] [++opt] [file]           :wp :wprevious
                        Same as :wnext, but go to previous file instead of

The [count] in the commands above defaults to one.  For some commands it is
possible to use two counts.  The last one (rightmost one) is used.

If no [+cmd] argument is present, the cursor is positioned at the last known
cursor position for the file.  If 'startofline' is set, the cursor will be
positioned at the first non-blank in the line, otherwise the last know column
is used.  If there is no last known cursor position the cursor will be in the
first line (the last line in Ex mode).

The wildcards in the argument list are expanded and the file names are sorted.
Thus you can use the command "vim *.c" to edit all the C files.  From within
Vim the command ":n *.c" does the same.

White space is used to separate file names.  Put a backslash before a space or
tab to include it in a file name.  E.g., to edit the single file "foo bar":
        :next foo\ bar

On Unix and a few other systems you can also use backticks, for example:
        :next `find . -name \\*.c -print`
The backslashes before the star are required to prevent "*.c" to be expanded
by the shell before executing the find program.

When there is an argument list you can see which file you are editing in the
title of the window (if there is one and 'title' is on) and with the file
message you get with the "CTRL-G" command.  You will see something like
        (file 4 of 11)
If 'shortmess' contains 'f' it will be
        (4 of 11)
If you are not really editing the file at the current position in the argument
list it will be
        (file (4) of 11)
This means that you are position 4 in the argument list, but not editing the
fourth file in the argument list.  This happens when you do ":e file".


:argl[ocal]             Make a local copy of the global argument list.
                        Doesn't start editing another file.

:argl[ocal][!] [++opt] [+cmd] {arglist}
                        Define a new argument list, which is local to the
                        current window.  Works like :args_f otherwise.

:argg[lobal]            Use the global argument list for the current window.
                        Doesn't start editing another file.

:argg[lobal][!] [++opt] [+cmd] {arglist}
                        Use the global argument list for the current window.
                        Define a new global argument list like :args_f.
                        All windows using the global argument list will see
                        this new list.

There can be several argument lists.  They can be shared between windows.
When they are shared, changing the argument list in one window will also
change it in the other window.

When a window is split the new window inherits the argument list from the
current window.  The two windows then share this list, until one of them uses
:arglocal or :argglobal to use another argument list.


:[range]argdo[!] {cmd}  Execute {cmd} for each file in the argument list or
                        if [range] is specified only for arguments in that
                        range.  It works like doing this:
                        When the current file can't be abandoned and the [!]
                        is not present, the command fails.
                        When an error is detected on one file, further files
                        in the argument list will not be visited.
                        The last file in the argument list (or where an error
                        occurred) becomes the current file.
                        {cmd} can contain '|' to concatenate several commands.
                        {cmd} must not change the argument list.
                        Note: While this command is executing, the Syntax
                        autocommand event is disabled by adding it to
                        'eventignore'.  This considerably speeds up editing
                        each file.
                        Also see :windo:tabdo:bufdo:cdo:ldo,
                        :cfdo and :lfdo

        :args *.c
        :argdo set ff=unix | update
This sets the 'fileformat' option to "unix" and writes the file if it is now
changed.  This is done for all *.c files.

        :args *.[ch]
        :argdo %s/\<my_foo\>/My_Foo/ge | update
This changes the word "my_foo" to "My_Foo" in all *.c and *.h files.  The "e"
flag is used for the ":substitute" command to avoid an error for files where
"my_foo" isn't used.  ":update" writes the file only if changes were made.

4. Writing                                      writing save-file

Note: When the 'write' option is off, you are not able to write any file.

                                                        :w :write
                                        E502 E503 E504 E505
                                        E512 E514 E667 E949
:w[rite] [++opt]        Write the whole buffer to the current file.  This is
                        the normal way to save changes to a file.  It fails
                        when the 'readonly' option is set or when there is
                        another reason why the file can't be written.
                        For ++opt see ++opt, but only ++bin, ++nobin, ++ff
                        and ++enc are effective.

:w[rite]! [++opt]       Like ":write", but forcefully write when 'readonly' is
                        set or there is another reason why writing was
                        Note: This may change the permission and ownership of
                        the file and break (symbolic) links.  Add the 'W' flag
                        to 'cpoptions' to avoid this.

:[range]w[rite][!] [++opt]
                        Write the specified lines to the current file.  This
                        is unusual, because the file will not contain all
                        lines in the buffer.

                                                        :w_f :write_f
:[range]w[rite] [++opt] {file}
                        Write the specified lines to {file}, unless it
                        already exists and the 'writeany' option is off.

:[range]w[rite]! [++opt] {file}
                        Write the specified lines to {file}.  Overwrite an
                        existing file.

                                                :w_a :write_a E494
:[range]w[rite][!] [++opt] >>
                        Append the specified lines to the current file.

:[range]w[rite][!] [++opt] >> {file}
                        Append the specified lines to {file}.  '!' forces the
                        write even if file does not exist.

                                                        :w_c :write_c
:[range]w[rite] [++opt] !{cmd}
                        Execute {cmd} with [range] lines as standard input
                        (note the space in front of the '!').  {cmd} is
                        executed like with ":!{cmd}", any '!' is replaced with
                        the previous command :!.

The default [range] for the ":w" command is the whole buffer (1,$).  If you
write the whole buffer, it is no longer considered changed.  When you
write it to a different file with ":w somefile" it depends on the "+" flag in
'cpoptions'.  When included, the write command will reset the 'modified' flag,
even though the buffer itself may still be different from its file.

If a file name is given with ":w" it becomes the alternate file.  This can be
used, for example, when the write fails and you want to try again later with
":w #".  This can be switched off by removing the 'A' flag from the
'cpoptions' option.

Note that the 'fsync' option matters here.  If it's set it may make writes
slower (but safer).

                                                        :sav :saveas
:sav[eas][!] [++opt] {file}
                        Save the current buffer under the name {file} and set
                        the filename of the current buffer to {file}.  The
                        previous name is used for the alternate file name.
                        The [!] is needed to overwrite an existing file.
                        When 'filetype' is empty filetype detection is done
                        with the new name, before the file is written.
                        When the write was successful 'readonly' is reset.

                                                        :up :update
:[range]up[date][!] [++opt] [>>] [file]
                        Like ":write", but only write when the buffer has been

WRITING WITH MULTIPLE BUFFERS                           buffer-write

                                                        :wa :wall
:wa[ll]                 Write all changed buffers.  Buffers without a file
                        name cause an error message.  Buffers which are
                        readonly are not written.

:wa[ll]!                Write all changed buffers, even the ones that are
                        readonly.  Buffers without a file name are not
                        written and cause an error message.

Vim will warn you if you try to overwrite a file that has been changed
elsewhere.  See timestamp.

                            backup E207 E506 E507 E508 E509 E510
If you write to an existing file (but do not append) while the 'backup',
'writebackup' or 'patchmode' option is on, a backup of the original file is
made.  The file is either copied or renamed (see 'backupcopy').  After the
file has been successfully written and when the 'writebackup' option is on and
the 'backup' option is off, the backup file is deleted.  When the 'patchmode'
option is on the backup file may be renamed.

'backup' 'writebackup'  action
   off       off        no backup made
   off       on         backup current file, deleted afterwards (default)
   on        off        delete old backup, backup current file
   on        on         delete old backup, backup current file

When the 'backupskip' pattern matches with the name of the file which is
written, no backup file is made.  The values of 'backup' and 'writebackup' are
ignored then.

When the 'backup' option is on, an old backup file (with the same name as the
new backup file) will be deleted.  If 'backup' is not set, but 'writebackup'
is set, an existing backup file will not be deleted.  The backup file that is
made while the file is being written will have a different name.

On some filesystems it's possible that in a crash you lose both the backup and
the newly written file (it might be there but contain bogus data).  In that
case try recovery, because the swap file is synced to disk and might still be
there. :recover

The directories given with the 'backupdir' option are used to put the backup
file in.  (default: same directory as the written file).

Whether the backup is a new file, which is a copy of the original file, or the
original file renamed depends on the 'backupcopy' option.  See there for an
explanation of when the copy is made and when the file is renamed.

If the creation of a backup file fails, the write is not done.  If you want
to write anyway add a '!' to the command.

When writing a new file the permissions are read-write.  For unix the mask is
0o666 with additionally umask applied.  When writing a file that was read Vim
will preserve the permissions, but clear the s-bit.

When the 'cpoptions' option contains 'W', Vim will refuse to overwrite a
readonly file.  When 'W' is not present, ":w!" will overwrite a readonly file,
if the system allows it (the directory must be writable).

If the writing of the new file fails, you have to be careful not to lose
your changes AND the original file.  If there is no backup file and writing
the new file failed, you have already lost the original file!  DON'T EXIT VIM
UNTIL YOU WRITE OUT THE FILE!  If a backup was made, it is put back in place
of the original file (if possible).  If you exit Vim, and lose the changes
you made, the original file will mostly still be there.  If putting back the
original file fails, there will be an error message telling you that you
lost the original file.

If the 'fileformat' is "dos", <CR><NL> is used for <EOL>.  This is default
for Win32.  On other systems the message "[dos format]" is shown to remind you
that an unusual <EOL> was used.
If the 'fileformat' is "unix", <NL> is used for <EOL>.  On Win32 the message
"[unix format]" is shown.
If the 'fileformat' is "mac", <CR> is used for <EOL>.  On non-Mac systems the
message "[mac format]" is shown.

See also file-formats and the 'fileformat' and 'fileformats' options.

ACL stands for Access Control List.  It is an advanced way to control access
rights for a file.  It is used on new MS-Windows and Unix systems, but only
when the filesystem supports it.
   Vim attempts to preserve the ACL info when writing a file.  The backup file
will get the ACL info of the original file.
   The ACL info is also used to check if a file is read-only (when opening the

When MS-Windows shares a drive on the network it can be marked as read-only.
This means that even if the file read-only attribute is absent, and the ACL
settings on NT network shared drives allow writing to the file, you can still
not write to the file.  Vim on Win32 platforms will detect read-only network
drives and will mark the file as read-only.  You will not be able to override
it with :write.

When the file name is actually a device name, Vim will not make a backup (that
would be impossible).  You need to use "!", since the device already exists.
Example for Unix:
        :w! /dev/lpt0
and for MS-Windows:
        :w! lpt0
For Unix a device is detected when the name doesn't refer to a normal file or
a directory.  A fifo or named pipe also looks like a device to Vim.
For MS-Windows the device is detected by its name:
        COMn    n=1,2,3... etc
        LPTn    n=1,2,3... etc
The names can be in upper- or lowercase.

5. Writing and quitting                                 write-quit

                                                        :q :quit
:q[uit]                 Quit the current window.  Quit Vim if this is the last
                        edit-window.  This fails when changes have been made
                        and Vim refuses to abandon the current buffer, and
                        when the last file in the argument list has not been
                        If there are other tab pages and quitting the last
                        window in the current tab page the current tab page is
                        closed tab-page.
                        Triggers the QuitPre autocommand event.
                        See CTRL-W_q for quitting another window.

:conf[irm] q[uit]       Quit, but give prompt when changes have been made, or
                        the last file in the argument list has not been
                        edited.  See :confirm and 'confirm'.

:q[uit]!                Quit without writing, also when the current buffer has
                        changes.  The buffer is unloaded, also when it has
                        'hidden' set.
                        If this is the last window and there is a modified
                        hidden buffer, the current buffer is abandoned and the
                        first changed hidden buffer becomes the current
                        Use ":qall!" to exit always.

:cq[uit]                Quit always, without writing, and return an error
                        code.  See :cq.  Used for Manx's QuickFix mode (see

:wq [++opt]             Write the current file and close the window.  If this
                        was the last edit-window Vim quits.
                        Writing fails when the file is read-only or the buffer
                        does not have a name.  Quitting fails when the last
                        file in the argument list has not been edited.

:wq! [++opt]            Write the current file and close the window.  If this
                        was the last edit-window Vim quits.  Writing fails
                        when the current buffer does not have a name.

:wq [++opt] {file}      Write to {file} and close the window.  If this was the
                        last edit-window Vim quits.  Quitting fails when the
                        last file in the argument list has not been edited.

:wq! [++opt] {file}     Write to {file} and close the current window.  Quit
                        Vim if this was the last edit-window.

:[range]wq[!] [++opt] [file]
                        Same as above, but only write the lines in [range].

                                                        :x :xit
:[range]x[it][!] [++opt] [file]
                        Like ":wq", but write only when changes have been
                        When 'hidden' is set and there are more windows, the
                        current buffer becomes hidden, after writing the file.
                        This command is not supported in Vim9 script,
                        because it is too easily confused with a variable

                                                        :exi :exit
:[range]exi[t][!] [++opt] [file]
                        Same as :xit.

ZZ                      Write current file, if modified, and close the current
                        window (same as ":x").
                        If there are several windows for the current file,
                        only the current window is closed.

ZQ                      Quit without checking for changes (same as ":q!").

MULTIPLE WINDOWS AND BUFFERS                            window-exit

                                                        :qa :qall
:qa[ll]         Exit Vim, unless there are some buffers which have been
                changed.  (Use ":bmod" to go to the next modified buffer).
                When 'autowriteall' is set all changed buffers will be
                written, like :wqall.

:conf[irm] qa[ll]
                Exit Vim.  Bring up a prompt when some buffers have been
                changed.  See :confirm.

:qa[ll]!        Exit Vim.  Any changes to buffers are lost.
                Also see :cquit, it does the same but exits with a non-zero

                                                        :quita :quitall
:quita[ll][!]   Same as ":qall".

:wqa[ll] [++opt]                                :wqa :wqall :xa :xall
:xa[ll]         Write all changed buffers and exit Vim.  If there are buffers
                without a file name, which are readonly or which cannot be
                written for another reason, Vim will not quit.

:conf[irm] wqa[ll] [++opt]
:conf[irm] xa[ll]
                Write all changed buffers and exit Vim.  Bring up a prompt
                when some buffers are readonly or cannot be written for
                another reason.  See :confirm.

:wqa[ll]! [++opt]
:xa[ll]!        Write all changed buffers, even the ones that are readonly,
                and exit Vim.  If there are buffers without a file name or
                which cannot be written for another reason, or there is a
                terminal with a running job, Vim will not quit.

6. Dialogs                                              edit-dialogs

                                                        :confirm :conf
:conf[irm] {command}    Execute {command}, and use a dialog when an
                        operation has to be confirmed.  Can be used on the
                        :q:qa and :w commands (the latter to override
                        a read-only setting), and any other command that can
                        fail in such a way, such as :only:buffer,
                        :bdelete, etc.

  :confirm w foo
        Will ask for confirmation when "foo" already exists.
  :confirm q
        Will ask for confirmation when there are changes.
  :confirm qa
        If any modified, unsaved buffers exist, you will be prompted to save
        or abandon each one.  There are also choices to "save all" or "abandon

If you want to always use ":confirm", set the 'confirm' option.

                                                        :browse :bro E338
:bro[wse] {command}     Open a file selection dialog for an argument to
                        {command}.  At present this works for :e:w,
                        and :qall if 'confirm' is set.
                        {only in Win32, Motif, GTK and Mac GUI, in
                        console `browse edit` works if the FileExplorer
                        autocommand group exists}
                        When ":browse" is not possible you get an error
                        message.  If the +browse feature is missing or the
                        {command} doesn't support browsing, the {command} is
                        executed without a dialog.
                        ":browse set" works like :options.
                        See also :oldfiles for ":browse oldfiles".

The syntax is best shown via some examples:
        :browse e $vim/foo
                Open the browser in the $vim/foo directory, and edit the
                file chosen.
        :browse e
                Open the browser in the directory specified with 'browsedir',
                and edit the file chosen.
        :browse w
                Open the browser in the directory of the current buffer,
                with the current buffer filename as default, and save the
                buffer under the filename chosen.
        :browse w C:/bar
                Open the browser in the C:/bar directory, with the current
                buffer filename as default, and save the buffer under the
                filename chosen.
Also see the 'browsedir' option.
For versions of Vim where browsing is not supported, the command is executed

For MS-Windows and GTK, you can modify the filters that are used in the browse
dialog.  By setting the g:browsefilter or b:browsefilter variables, you can
change the filters globally or locally to the buffer.  The variable is set to
a string in the format "{filter label}\t{pattern};{pattern}\n" where {filter
label} is the text that appears in the "Files of Type" comboBox, and {pattern}
is the pattern which filters the filenames.  Several patterns can be given,
separated by ';'.

For Motif the same format is used, but only the very first pattern is actually
used (Motif only offers one pattern, but you can edit it).

For example, to have only Vim files in the dialog, you could use the following

     let g:browsefilter = "Vim Scripts\t*.vim\nVim Startup Files\t*vimrc\n"

You can override the filter setting on a per-buffer basis by setting the
b:browsefilter variable.  You would most likely set b:browsefilter in a
filetype plugin, so that the browse dialog would contain entries related to
the type of file you are currently editing.  Disadvantage: This makes it
difficult to start editing a file of a different type.  To overcome this, you
may want to add "All Files\t*.*\n" as the final filter, so that the user can
still access any desired file.

To avoid setting browsefilter when Vim does not actually support it, you can
use has("browsefilter"):

        if has("browsefilter")
           let g:browsefilter = "whatever"

7. The current directory                                current-directory

You can use the :cd:tcd and :lcd commands to change to another
directory, so you will not have to type that directory name in front of the
file names.  It also makes a difference for executing external commands, e.g.

Changing directory fails when the current buffer is modified, the '.' flag is
present in 'cpoptions' and "!" is not used in the command.

                                                        :cd E747 E472
:cd[!]                  On non-Unix systems when 'cdhome' is off: Print the
                        current directory name.
                        Otherwise: Change the current directory to the home
                        directory.  Clear any window-local directory.
                        Use :pwd to print the current directory on all

:cd[!] {path}           Change the current directory to {path}.
                        If {path} is relative, it is searched for in the
                        directories listed in 'cdpath'.
                        Clear any window-local directory.
                        Does not change the meaning of an already opened file,
                        because its full path name is remembered.  Files from
                        the arglist may change though!
                        On MS-Windows this also changes the active drive.
                        To change to the directory of the current file:
                                :cd %:h

                                                        :cd- E186
:cd[!] -                Change to the previous current directory (before the
                        previous ":cd {path}" command).

                                                        :chd :chdir
:chd[ir][!] [path]      Same as :cd.

                                                        :tc :tcd
:tc[d][!] {path}        Like :cd, but only set the directory for the current
                        tab.  The current window will also use this directory.
                        The current directory is not changed for windows in
                        other tabs and for windows in the current tab that
                        have their own window-local directory.

:tc[d][!] -             Change to the previous current directory, before the
                        last ":tcd {path}" command.

                                                        :tch :tchdir
:tch[dir][!]            Same as :tcd.

                                                        :lc :lcd
:lc[d][!] {path}        Like :cd, but only set the current directory when
                        the cursor is in the current window.  The current
                        directory for other windows is not changed, switching
                        to another window will stop using {path}.

:lcd[!] -               Change to the previous current directory, before the
                        last ":lcd {path}" command.

                                                        :lch :lchdir
:lch[dir][!]            Same as :lcd.

                                                        :pw :pwd E187
:pw[d]                  Print the current directory name.
                        Also see getcwd().
                        When 'verbose' is non-zero, :pwd will also display
                        what scope the current directory was set. Example:

                                " Set by :cd
                                :verbose pwd
                                [global] /path/to/current

                                " Set by :lcd
                                :verbose pwd
                                [window] /path/to/current

                                " Set by :tcd
                                :verbose pwd
                                [tabpage] /path/to/current

So long as no :lcd or :tcd command has been used, all windows share the
same current directory.  Using a command to jump to another window doesn't
change anything for the current directory.

When a :lcd command has been used for a window, the specified directory
becomes the current directory for that window.  Windows where the :lcd
command has not been used stick to the global or tab-local current directory.
When jumping to another window the current directory is changed to the last
specified local current directory.  If none was specified, the global or
tab-local current directory is used.  When creating a new window it inherits
the local directory of the current window.

When a :tcd command has been used for a tab page, the specified directory
becomes the current directory for the current tab page and the current window.
The current directory of other tab pages is not affected.  When jumping to
another tab page, the current directory is changed to the last specified local
directory for that tab page. If the current tab has no local current directory
the global current directory is used.

When a :cd command is used, the current window and tab page will lose the
local current directory and will use the global current directory from now on.

After using :cd the full path name will be used for reading and writing
files.  On some networked file systems this may cause problems.  The result of
using the full path name is that the file names currently in use will remain
referring to the same file.  Example: If you have a file a:test and a
directory a:vim the commands ":e test" ":cd vim" ":w" will overwrite the file
a:test and not write a:vim/test.  But if you do ":w test" the file a:vim/test
will be written, because you gave a new file name and did not refer to a
filename before the ":cd".

8. Editing binary files                                 edit-binary

Although Vim was made to edit text files, it is possible to edit binary
files.  The -b Vim argument (b for binary) makes Vim do file I/O in binary
mode, and sets some options for editing binary files ('binary' on, 'textwidth'
to 0, 'modeline' off, 'expandtab' off).  Setting the 'binary' option has the
same effect.  Don't forget to do this before reading the file.

There are a few things to remember when editing binary files:
- When editing executable files the number of bytes must not change.
  Use only the "R" or "r" command to change text.  Do not delete characters
  with "x" or by backspacing.
- Set the 'textwidth' option to 0.  Otherwise lines will unexpectedly be
  split in two.
- When there are not many <EOL>s, the lines will become very long.  If you
  want to edit a line that does not fit on the screen reset the 'wrap' option.
  Horizontal scrolling is used then.  If a line becomes too long (more than
  about 32767 bytes on the Amiga, much more on 32-bit and 64-bit systems, see
  limits) you cannot edit that line.  The line will be split when reading
  the file.  It is also possible that you get an "out of memory" error when
  reading the file.
- Make sure the 'binary' option is set BEFORE loading the
  file.  Otherwise both <CR><NL> and <NL> are considered to end a line
  and when the file is written the <NL> will be replaced with <CR><NL>.
<Nul> characters are shown on the screen as ^@.  You can enter them with
  "CTRL-V CTRL-@" or "CTRL-V 000"
- To insert a <NL> character in the file split a line.  When writing the
  buffer to a file a <NL> will be written for the <EOL>.
- Vim normally appends an <EOL> at the end of the file if there is none.
  Setting the 'binary' option prevents this.  If you want to add the final
  <EOL>, set the 'endofline' option.  You can also read the value of this
  option to see if there was an <EOL> for the last line (you cannot see this
  in the text).

9. Encryption                                           encryption

Vim is able to write files encrypted, and read them back.  The encrypted text
cannot be read without the right key.
{only available when compiled with the +cryptv feature}  E833

The text in the swap file and the undo file is also encrypted.  E843
However, this is done block-by-block and may reduce the time needed to crack a
password.  You can disable the swap file, but then a crash will cause you to
lose your work.  The undo file can be disabled without too much disadvantage.
        :set noundofile
        :noswapfile edit secrets

Note: The text in memory is not encrypted.  A system administrator may be able
to see your text while you are editing it.  When filtering text with
":!filter" or using ":w !command" the text is also not encrypted, this may
reveal it to others.  The 'viminfo' file is not encrypted.

You could do this to edit very secret text:
        :set noundofile viminfo=
        :noswapfile edit secrets.txt
Keep in mind that without a swap file you risk losing your work in the event
of a crash or a power failure.

WARNING: If you make a typo when entering the key and then write the file and
exit, the text will be lost!

The normal way to work with encryption, is to use the ":X" command, which will
ask you to enter a key.  A following write command will use that key to
encrypt the file.  If you later edit the same file, Vim will ask you to enter
a key.  If you type the same key as that was used for writing, the text will
be readable again.  If you use a wrong key, it will be a mess.

:X      Prompt for an encryption key.  The typing is done without showing the
        actual text, so that someone looking at the display won't see it.
        The typed key is stored in the 'key' option, which is used to encrypt
        the file when it is written.
        The file will remain unchanged until you write it.  Note that commands
        such as :xit and ZZ will NOT write the file unless there are other
        See also -x.

The value of the 'key' options is used when text is written.  When the option
is not empty, the written file will be encrypted, using the value as the
encryption key.  A magic number is prepended, so that Vim can recognize that
the file is encrypted.

To disable the encryption, reset the 'key' option to an empty value:
        :set key=

You can use the 'cryptmethod' option to select the type of encryption, use one
of these:
        :setlocal cm=zip        " weak method, backwards compatible
        :setlocal cm=blowfish   " method with flaws
        :setlocal cm=blowfish2  " medium strong method

Do this before writing the file.  When reading an encrypted file it will be
set automatically to the method used when that file was written.  You can
change 'cryptmethod' before writing that file to change the method.

To set the default method, used for new files, use this in your vimrc
        set cm=blowfish2
Using "blowfish2" is highly recommended.  Only use another method if you
must use an older Vim version that does not support it.

The message given for reading and writing a file will show "[crypted]" when
using zip, "[blowfish]" when using blowfish, etc.

When writing an undo file, the same key and method will be used for the text
in the undo file. persistent-undo.

To test for blowfish support you can use these conditions:
This works since Vim 7.4.1099 while blowfish support was added earlier.
Thus the condition failing doesn't mean blowfish is not supported. You can
test for blowfish with:
        v:version >= 703
And for blowfish2 with:
        v:version > 704 || (v:version == 704 && has('patch401'))
If you are sure Vim includes patch 7.4.237 a simpler check is:

                                                E817 E818 E819 E820
When encryption does not work properly, you would be able to write your text
to a file and never be able to read it back.  Therefore a test is performed to
check if the encryption works as expected.  If you get one of these errors
don't write the file encrypted!  You need to rebuild the Vim binary to fix

E831 This is an internal error, "cannot happen".  If you can reproduce it,
please report to the developers.

When reading a file that has been encrypted and the 'key' option is not empty,
it will be used for decryption.  If the value is empty, you will be prompted
to enter the key.  If you don't enter a key, or you enter the wrong key, the
file is edited without being decrypted.  There is no warning about using the
wrong key (this makes brute force methods to find the key more difficult).

If want to start reading a file that uses a different key, set the 'key'
option to an empty string, so that Vim will prompt for a new one.  Don't use
the ":set" command to enter the value, other people can read the command over
your shoulder.

Since the value of the 'key' option is supposed to be a secret, its value can
never be viewed.  You should not set this option in a vimrc file.

An encrypted file can be recognized by the "file" command, if you add these
lines to "/etc/magic", "/usr/share/misc/magic" or wherever your system has the
"magic" file:
     0  string  VimCrypt~       Vim encrypted file
     >9 string  01      - "zip" cryptmethod
     >9 string  02      - "blowfish" cryptmethod
     >9 string  03      - "blowfish2" cryptmethod

- Encryption is not possible when doing conversion with 'charconvert'.
- Text you copy or delete goes to the numbered registers.  The registers can
  be saved in the .viminfo file, where they could be read.  Change your
  'viminfo' option to be safe.
- Someone can type commands in Vim when you walk away for a moment, he should
  not be able to get the key.
- If you make a typing mistake when entering the key, you might not be able to
  get your text back!
- If you type the key with a ":set key=value" command, it can be kept in the
  history, showing the 'key' value in a viminfo file.
- There is never 100% safety.  The encryption in Vim has not been tested for
- The algorithm used for 'cryptmethod' "zip" is breakable.  A 4 character key
  in about one hour, a 6 character key in one day (on a Pentium 133 PC).  This
  requires that you know some text that must appear in the file.  An expert
  can break it for any key.  When the text has been decrypted, this also means
  that the key can be revealed, and other files encrypted with the same key
  can be decrypted.
- Pkzip uses the same encryption as 'cryptmethod' "zip", and US Govt has no
  objection to its export.  Pkzip's public file APPNOTE.TXT describes this
  algorithm in detail.
- The implementation of 'cryptmethod' "blowfish" has a flaw.  It is possible
  to crack the first 64 bytes of a file and in some circumstances more of the
  file. Use of it is not recommended, but it's still the strongest method
  supported by Vim 7.3 and 7.4.  The "zip" method is even weaker.
- Vim originates from the Netherlands.  That is where the sources come from.
  Thus the encryption code is not exported from the USA.

10. Timestamps                                  timestamp timestamps

Vim remembers the modification timestamp, mode and size of a file when you
begin editing it.  This is used to avoid that you have two different versions
of the same file (without you knowing this).

After a shell command is run (:!cmd suspend :read! K) timestamps,
file modes and file sizes are compared for all buffers in a window.   Vim will
run any associated FileChangedShell autocommands or display a warning for
any files that have changed.  In the GUI this happens when Vim regains input

                                                        E321 E462
If you want to automatically reload a file when it has been changed outside of
Vim, set the 'autoread' option.  This doesn't work at the moment you write the
file though, only when the file wasn't changed inside of Vim.
If you do not want to be asked or automatically reload the file, you can use
        set buftype=nofile

Or, when starting gvim from a shell:
        gvim file.log -c "set buftype=nofile"

Note that if a FileChangedShell autocommand is defined you will not get a
warning message or prompt.  The autocommand is expected to handle this.

There is no warning for a directory (e.g., with netrw-browse).  But you do
get warned if you started editing a new file and it was created as a directory

When Vim notices the timestamp of a file has changed, and the file is being
edited in a buffer but has not changed, Vim checks if the contents of the file
is equal.  This is done by reading the file again (into a hidden buffer, which
is immediately deleted again) and comparing the text.  If the text is equal,
you will get no warning.

If you don't get warned often enough you can use the following command.

                                                        :checkt :checktime
:checkt[ime]            Check if any buffers were changed outside of Vim.
                        This checks and warns you if you would end up with two
                        versions of a file.
                        If this is called from an autocommand, a ":global"
                        command or is not typed the actual check is postponed
                        until a moment the side effects (reloading the file)
                        would be harmless.
                        Each loaded buffer is checked for its associated file
                        being changed.  If the file was changed Vim will take
                        action.  If there are no changes in the buffer and
                        'autoread' is set, the buffer is reloaded.  Otherwise,
                        you are offered the choice of reloading the file.  If
                        the file was deleted you get an error message.
                        If the file previously didn't exist you get a warning
                        if it exists now.
                        Once a file has been checked the timestamp is reset,
                        you will not be warned again.
                        Syntax highlighting, marks, diff status,
                        'fileencoding''fileformat' and 'binary' options
                        are not changed.  See v:fcs_choice to reload these
                        too (for example, if a code formatting tools has
                        changed the file).

:[N]checkt[ime] {filename}
:[N]checkt[ime] [N]
                        Check the timestamp of a specific buffer.  The buffer
                        may be specified by name, number or with a pattern.

                                                        E813 E814
Vim will reload the buffer if you chose to.  If a window is visible that
contains this buffer, the reloading will happen in the context of this window.
Otherwise a special window is used, so that most autocommands will work.  You
can't close this window.  A few other restrictions apply.  Best is to make
sure nothing happens outside of the current buffer.  E.g., setting
window-local options may end up in the wrong window.  Splitting the window,
doing something there and closing it should be OK (if there are no side
effects from other autocommands).  Closing unrelated windows and buffers will
get you into trouble.

Before writing a file the timestamp is checked.  If it has changed, Vim will
ask if you really want to overwrite the file:

        WARNING: The file has been changed since reading it!!!
        Do you really want to write to it (y/n)?

If you hit 'y' Vim will continue writing the file.  If you hit 'n' the write is
aborted.  If you used ":wq" or "ZZ" Vim will not exit, you will get another
chance to write the file.

The message would normally mean that somebody has written to the file after
the edit session started.  This could be another person, in which case you
probably want to check if your changes to the file and the changes from the
other person should be merged.  Write the file under another name and check for
differences (the "diff" program can be used for this).

It is also possible that you modified the file yourself, from another edit
session or with another command (e.g., a filter command).  Then you will know
which version of the file you want to keep.

The accuracy of the time check depends on the filesystem.  On Unix it is
usually sub-second.  With old file systems and on MS-Windows it is normally one
second.  Use has('nanotime') to check if sub-second time stamp checks are

There is one situation where you get the message while there is nothing wrong:
On a Win32 system on the day daylight saving time starts.  There is something
in the Win32 libraries that confuses Vim about the hour time difference.  The
problem goes away the next day.

11. File Searching                                      file-searching

{not available when compiled without the +path_extra feature}

The file searching is currently used for the 'path''cdpath' and 'tags'
options, for finddir() and findfile().  Other commands use wildcards
which is slightly different.

There are three different types of searching:

1) Downward search:                                     starstar
   Downward search uses the wildcards '*', '**' and possibly others
   supported by your operating system.  '*' and '**' are handled inside Vim,
   so they work on all operating systems.  Note that "**" only acts as a
   special wildcard when it is at the start of a name.

   The usage of '*' is quite simple: It matches 0 or more characters.  In a
   search pattern this would be ".*".  Note that the "." is not used for file

   '**' is more sophisticated:
      - It ONLY matches directories.
      - It matches up to 30 directories deep by default, so you can use it to
        search an entire directory tree
      - The maximum number of levels matched can be given by appending a number
        to '**'.
        Thus '/usr/**2' can match:
        It does NOT match '/usr/include/g++/std' as this would be three
        The allowed number range is 0 ('**0' is removed) to 100
        If the given number is smaller than 0 it defaults to 30, if it's
        bigger than 100 then 100 is used.  The system also has a limit on the
        path length, usually 256 or 1024 bytes.
      - '**' can only be at the end of the path or be followed by a path
        separator or by a number and a path separator.

   You can combine '*' and '**' in any order:

2) Upward search:
   Here you can give a directory and then search the directory tree upward for
   a file.  You could give stop-directories to limit the upward search.  The
   stop-directories are appended to the path (for the 'path' option) or to
   the filename (for the 'tags' option) with a ';'.  If you want several
   stop-directories separate them with ';'.  If you want no stop-directory
   ("search upward till the root directory) just use ';'.
    will search in:

   If you use a relative path the upward search is started in Vim's current
   directory or in the directory of the current file (if the relative path
   starts with './' and 'd' is not included in 'cpoptions').

   If Vim's current path is /u/user_x/work/release and you do
        :set path=include;/u/user_x
   and then search for a file with gf the file is searched in:

    Note: If your 'path' setting includes a non-existing directory, Vim will
   skip the non-existing directory, and also does not search in the parent of
   the non-existing directory if upwards searching is used.

3) Combined up/downward search:
   If Vim's current path is /u/user_x/work/release and you do
        set path=**;/u/user_x
   and then search for a file with gf the file is searched in:

   BE CAREFUL!  This might consume a lot of time, as the search of
   '/u/user_x/**' includes '/u/user_x/work/**' and
   '/u/user_x/work/release/**'.  So '/u/user_x/work/release/**' is searched
   three times and '/u/user_x/work/**' is searched twice.

   In the above example you might want to set path to:
        :set path=**,/u/user_x/**
   This searches:
   This searches the same directories, but in a different order.

   Note that completion for ":find", ":sfind", and ":tabfind" commands do not
   currently work with 'path' items that contain a URL or use the double star
   with depth limiter (/usr/**2) or upward search (;) notations.