Search and search-and-replace in Vim

The Basics and Beyond

Article from Issue 147/2013

We show you how to build on the basic functionality of Vim by introducing some useful search commands.

As a descendant of vi, a text editor written in 1976, Vim could be the oldest application on any Linux system. Most distributions include it by default, and few users have never been exposed to it. However, very few learn more than the basics of functioning within Vim. To most, intricacies like the different ways to search remain forever mysteries.

Staying at this level of knowledge is in some ways understandable. With its dozens of commands and plugins, Vim can feel less like a text editor than a choice of lifestyle (even if you don’t get involved in the traditional rivalry with Emacs). However, confining yourself to searching by eye and arrow keys is need-lessly limited. You can easily choose your level of knowledge by learning a handful of additional search commands, by using Vim’s internal version of grep, or even by adding a few plugins to enhance the control you have. Many of the commands are organized so that you can remember their variations easily.

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