VIM Course


vim, for vi improved, is a console text editor, at least in the basic version of it. This tutorial won't cover the two famous extensions of vim

  • neovim
  • gVim Portable

How to install and run vim?

You can install it using sudo apt-get install vim or whatever command you are using to install packages, such as sudo aptitude install vim.

  • vim: open vim
  • vim file: open a file in vim (and create it, if it didn't exist)

HELP, I can't exit vim.

If you are trapped in vim, keep calm, and press esc (escape key), then :q!.

  • esc will bring back vim to its normal mode
  • :q! is the command to exit vim without saving.

Basic configuration

You can configure your editor by creating a file ~/.virmrc, here is an example of a basic configuration

set fileencodings=UTF-8,utf-8,default,latin1 "file encoding
syntax enable "enable syntax
highlight Cursor guifg=white guibg=black "cursor color
filetype plugin indent on "indentations
set cursorline "show cursor
set tabstop=4 "tabulation size

You should look on GitHub or the web for "dotfiles vim" if you want to find an advanced configuration.

Surviving in vim ...

You have two modes (at least for now), check at the bottom left of your screen

  • INSERTION : called insert/edit mode
  • <nothing> : called command/normal mode

More generally, the normal mode is used to do special actions (move the cursor, copy, paste, erase...).

: is used to run a command. E.g, q is the command to exit vim. q! to exit without saving and wq to save and exit...

In normal mode, press i to enter in insert mode, which is the mode where you can write some text such as every other text editor. Press esc to exit this mode and return to the normal one.

Here is a short summary of the commands (so in normal mode) that you will most likely need to know

  • i (or a): switch to INSERTION, you can now modify the file
  • :wq : save and exit
  • :q! : exit without saving
  • :q : exit
  • u : undo
  • h, j, l, k : move cursor to left, top, right, bottom

... and now mastering it

The best way to learn how to use vim is... to use it. However, and thankfully, you can open a terminal and write vimtutor, which will teach you the basic commands to use vim peacefully (in exchange for around 30 minutes of your life and brain attention).

Here are some details about basic commands


Because now that you learned a lot about vim, you may need a cheat sheet to remember these or to learn more. Check these

Code completion

This is something that I only discovered recently, but vim supports code completion! This is available using ale, which will give you hints about mistakes (like ';' missing) when going back to command mode.

mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/git-plugins/start
git clone --depth 1 ~/.vim/pack/git-plugins/start/ale

But since you will want more, I tested this configuration, and using CTRL-P, VIM is showing a list of autocompletion choices

I'm not using VIM singe ages, but I stumbled upon ALE, and I wanted to add it here.