Vim For Developers


I use Vim quite often in my day to day activities. I do not use it to write code on it, but I tend to find myself logged into a linux host, where I need to edit or update files. Vim is my editor of choice for doing that.

I am not really an expert on Vim, and I tend to use a particular set of commands, hence I decided to summarize the most common commands and shortcuts I use and have this blog post as a cheatsheet whenever I want to refresh my memory.

VIM Command Categories

I tried to group the commands I use into categories like Navigation, Edit, Search and Options.

Navigating in VIM can be done using the arrows. This navigates the cursor wherever the user wants. However, as VIM is really optimized to do everything with keyboard, in the most efficient way, navigation can also be achieved with keys ‘h‘, ‘j‘, ‘k‘, ‘l‘. Those keys map nicely into the user’s fingers, without the need to move your hand to reach the arrows.

Another very common function I find myself doing is going to lines. Someone can switch on line number by :set numbers (see options section). Moving directly to a line is as simple as ${lineNumber}G, which can be read as ‘go to line ${lineNumber}’.

Additionally moving to absolute positions like the file’s start or end, or to the begginning or end of a line is also fairly common.

Moving one word at a time, or a continuous block (like a camel case word) can be achieved with ‘w’ and ‘W’ respectively


I have grouped actions like inserting characters, deleting character, copying and pasting under the Edit category

Operations like copying and pasting are fairly common when editing files on a unix host

Search commands are very useful either in VIM or in less. Fortunately enough both tools have the same mechanism for searching

VIM can highlight any found search terms by setting the option :set hlsearch (see options section)


VIM is highly customizable. User can set a profile with the desired properties and VIM behaviour at .vimrc file. The most common options I personally used are the below.