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Practical Vim, Second Edition: Edit Text at the Speed of Thought


Cover image for Practical Vim, Second Edition

Practical Vim, Second Edition

Edit Text at the Speed of Thought


Vim is a fast and efficient text editor that will make you a faster and more efficient developer. It’s available on almost every OS, and if you master the techniques in this book, you’ll never need another text editor. In more than 120 Vim tips, you’ll quickly learn the editor’s core functionality and tackle your trickiest editing and writing tasks. This beloved bestseller has been revised and updated to Vim 8 and includes three brand-new tips and five fully revised tips.

Customer Reviews

I’ve learned more about Vim by reading this book than I have from any other resource.

- Robert Evans

Software Engineer, Code Wranglers

After reading a couple of chapters of Practical Vim, I realized how little I knew.
From intermediate to beginner in thirty minutes!

- Henrik Nyh

Software Engineer

Practical Vim continues to change what I believe a text editor can do.

- John P. Daigle

Developer, Thoughtworks, Inc.

Drew has continued the wonderful work he has done with Vimcasts in this book,
a must-read for anyone serious about Vim.

- Anders Janmyr

Developer, Jayway

Practical Vim bridges the gap between the official documentation and how to really
use Vim. After reading a few chapters, I switched to using Vim as my default editor.
I’ve never looked back.

- Javier Collado

QA Automation Engineer, Canonical Ltd.

Drew Neil does more than show the right tool for the job. He paces the narrative,
laying out the philosophy behind each decision. Instead of expecting you to
memorize everything, Practical Vim teaches you to think with Vim under your

- Mislav Marohnic


I’ve been using Vim for server maintenance for more than fifteen years now, but
I’ve only recently started using it for software development. I thought I knew Vim,
but Practical Vim has massively improved my code-wrangling productivity.

- Graeme Mathieson

Software Engineer, Rubaidh Ltd.

Practical Vim made me realize how much there is still to learn about Vim. Every
single tip can be easily and immediately applied to your workflow and will improve
your productivity manifold.

- Mathias Meyer

Author, "Riak Handbook"

Practical Vim is the ultimate treasure chest when it comes to Vim knowledge. I’ve
used Vim daily for over two years now, and this book has been nothing short of
a revelation for me.

- Felix Geisendörfer

Cofounder, Transloadit

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About this Title

Pages: 354
Published: 2015-10-31
Release: P2.0 (2017-01-17)
ISBN: 978-1-68050-127-8

A highly configurable, cross-platform text editor, Vim is a serious tool for programmers, web developers, and sysadmins who want to raise their game. No other text editor comes close to Vim for speed and efficiency; it runs on almost every system imaginable and supports most coding and markup languages.

Learn how to edit text the “Vim way”: complete a series of repetitive changes with The Dot Formula using one keystroke to strike the target, followed by one keystroke to execute the change. Automate complex tasks by recording your keystrokes as a macro. Discover the “very magic” switch that makes Vim’s regular expression syntax more like Perl’s. Build complex patterns by iterating on your search history. Search inside multiple files, then run Vim’s substitute command on the result set for a project-wide search and replace. All without installing a single plugin! Three new tips explain how to run multiple ex commands as a batch, autocomplete sequences of words, and operate on a complete search match.

Practical Vim, Second Edition will show you new ways to work with Vim 8 more efficiently, whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate Vim user. All this, without having to touch the mouse.

What You Need

Vim version 8

Contents & Extracts

Full Table of Contents


The Vim Way

  • Modes
    • Normal Mode
    • Insert Mode
    • Visual Mode
    • Command-Line Mode
  • Files
    • Manage Multiple Files
    • Open Files and Save Them to Disk
  • Getting Around Faster
    • Navigate Inside Files with Motions
    • Navigate Between Files with Jumps excerpt
  • Registers
    • Copy and Paste
    • Macros
  • Patterns
    • Matching Patterns and Literals
    • Search
    • Substitution excerpt
    • Global Commands
  • Tools
    • Index and Navigate Source Code with ctags
    • Compile Code and Navigate Errors with the Quickfix List
    • Search Project-Wide with grep, vimgrep, and Others
    • Dial X for Autocompletion
    • Find and Fix Typos with Vim’s Spell Checker


Drew Neil is a programmer, trainer, and entrepreneur. He runs Studio Nelstrom, which specializes in making educational screencasts. At he publishes live coding videos; at he publishes articles and video tutorials about Vim.