Vim documentation: usr_01
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*usr_01.txt* For Vim version 8.0. Last change: 2010 Nov 03
VIM USER MANUAL - by Bram Moolenaar
About the manuals
This chapter introduces the manuals available with Vim. Read this to know the
conditions under which the commands are explained.
|01.1| Two manuals
|01.2| Vim installed
|01.3| Using the Vim tutor
Next chapter: |usr_02.txt| The first steps in Vim
Table of contents: |usr_toc.txt|
*01.1* Two manuals
The Vim documentation consists of two parts:
1. The User manual
Task oriented explanations, from simple to complex. Reads from start to
end like a book.
2. The Reference manual
Precise description of how everything in Vim works.
The notation used in these manuals is explained here: |notation|
The text contains hyperlinks between the two parts, allowing you to quickly
jump between the description of an editing task and a precise explanation of
the commands and options used for it. Use these two commands:
Press CTRL-] to jump to a subject under the cursor.
Press CTRL-O to jump back (repeat to go further back).
Many links are in vertical bars, like this: |bars|. The bars themselves may
be hidden or invisible, see below. An option name, like 'number', a command
in double quotes like ":write" and any other word can also be used as a link.
Try it out: Move the cursor to CTRL-] and press CTRL-] on it.
Other subjects can be found with the ":help" command, see |help.txt|.
The bars and stars are usually hidden with the |conceal| feature. They also
use |hl-Ignore|, using the same color for the text as the background. You can
make them visible with:
:hi link HelpBar Normal
:hi link HelpStar Normal
*01.2* Vim installed
Most of the manuals assume that Vim has been properly installed. If you
didn't do that yet, or if Vim doesn't run properly (e.g., files can't be found
or in the GUI the menus do not show up) first read the chapter on
The manuals often assume you are using Vim with Vi-compatibility switched
off. For most commands this doesn't matter, but sometimes it is important,
e.g., for multi-level undo. An easy way to make sure you are using a nice
setup is to copy the example vimrc file. By doing this inside Vim you don't
have to check out where it is located. How to do this depends on the system
you are using:
:!cp -i $VIMRUNTIME/vimrc_example.vim ~/.vimrc
MS-DOS, MS-Windows, OS/2:
:!copy $VIMRUNTIME/vimrc_example.vim $VIM/_vimrc
:!copy $VIMRUNTIME/vimrc_example.vim $VIM/.vimrc
If the file already exists you probably want to keep it.
If you start Vim now, the 'compatible' option should be off. You can check it
with this command:
If it responds with "nocompatible" you are doing well. If the response is
"compatible" you are in trouble. You will have to find out why the option is
still set. Perhaps the file you wrote above is not found. Use this command
to find out:
If your file is not in the list, check its location and name. If it is in the
list, there must be some other place where the 'compatible' option is switched
For more info see |vimrc| and |compatible-default|.
This manual is about using Vim in the normal way. There is an
alternative called "evim" (easy Vim). This is still Vim, but used in
a way that resembles a click-and-type editor like Notepad. It always
stays in Insert mode, thus it feels very different. It is not
explained in the user manual, since it should be mostly self
explanatory. See |evim-keys| for details.
*01.3* Using the Vim tutor *tutor* *vimtutor*
Instead of reading the text (boring!) you can use the vimtutor to learn your
first Vim commands. This is a 30 minute tutorial that teaches the most basic
Vim functionality hands-on.
On Unix, if Vim has been properly installed, you can start it from the shell:
On MS-Windows you can find it in the Program/Vim menu. Or execute
vimtutor.bat in the $VIMRUNTIME directory.
This will make a copy of the tutor file, so that you can edit it without
the risk of damaging the original.
There are a few translated versions of the tutor. To find out if yours is
available, use the two-letter language code. For French:
On Unix, if you prefer using the GUI version of Vim, use "gvimtutor" or
"vimtutor -g" instead of "vimtutor".
For OpenVMS, if Vim has been properly installed, you can start vimtutor from a
VMS prompt with:
Optionally add the two-letter language code as above.
On other systems, you have to do a little work:
1. Copy the tutor file. You can do this with Vim (it knows where to find it):
vim -u NONE -c 'e $VIMRUNTIME/tutor/tutor' -c 'w! TUTORCOPY' -c 'q'
This will write the file "TUTORCOPY" in the current directory. To use a
translated version of the tutor, append the two-letter language code to the
filename. For French:
vim -u NONE -c 'e $VIMRUNTIME/tutor/tutor.fr' -c 'w! TUTORCOPY' -c 'q'
2. Edit the copied file with Vim:
vim -u NONE -c "set nocp" TUTORCOPY
The extra arguments make sure Vim is started in a good mood.
3. Delete the copied file when you are finished with it:
*01.4* Copyright *manual-copyright*
The Vim user manual and reference manual are Copyright (c) 1988-2003 by Bram
Moolenaar. This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and
conditions set forth in the Open Publication License, v1.0 or later. The
latest version is presently available at:
People who contribute to the manuals must agree with the above copyright
Parts of the user manual come from the book "Vi IMproved - Vim" by Steve
Oualline (published by New Riders Publishing, ISBN: 0735710015). The Open
Publication License applies to this book. Only selected parts are included
and these have been modified (e.g., by removing the pictures, updating the
text for Vim 6.0 and later, fixing mistakes). The omission of the |frombook|
tag does not mean that the text does not come from the book.
Many thanks to Steve Oualline and New Riders for creating this book and
publishing it under the OPL! It has been a great help while writing the user
manual. Not only by providing literal text, but also by setting the tone and
If you make money through selling the manuals, you are strongly encouraged to
donate part of the profit to help AIDS victims in Uganda. See |iccf|.
Next chapter: |usr_02.txt| The first steps in Vim
Copyright: see |manual-copyright| vim:tw=78:ts=8:ft=help:norl:
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