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In Development Last updated: July 14, 2023
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Mastering the art of handling Vim editor is essential for efficient text editing.

Vim is a highly configurable and widely used text editor known for its efficiency, flexibility, and power. It was created as an extended version of the Vi editor, which was developed for the Unix operating system in the 1970s.

Vim stands for “Vi IMproved.”


Unlike traditional graphical text editors, Vim is a command-line-based editor. That means it is operated primarily through keyboard commands rather than mouse interactions.

This command-driven approach allows for quick and efficient text editing, which makes it popular among programmers, system administrators, and power users.

Key Features of Vim

The key features of Vim are:

Modal Editing

Vim follows a modal editing paradigm, which means it has different modes for different tasks.


Vim is highly customizable and extensible. It offers an extensive set of configuration options that allow users to personalize the editor to match their preferences and workflow.

Users can customize key mappings, define macros, install plugins, and modify various aspects of the editor’s behavior to suit their needs.

Syntax Highlighting and Code Editing

It provides syntax highlighting for a wide range of programming languages & file types which makes it a popular choice for coding and software development.

It offers features like auto-indentation, code folding, bracket matching, and integration with external compilers & debuggers that enhance the coding experience.

Remote Editing and Collaboration

Vim supports remote editing through various protocols, such as SSH that allow users to edit files on remote servers or collaborate with others in real-time.

Efficiency and Speed

It provides numerous keyboard shortcuts and powerful commands, allowing users to perform complex editing operations quickly.

Vim’s modal editing and customizable environment contribute to increased productivity and a faster editing workflow once mastered.

And here is a list of the best Vim-inspired editors for productivity; feel free to visit this page.

Understanding Vim Modes

Vim operates in different modes, each serving a specific purpose. To switch between modes in the Vim editor, follow these key commands:

Switch to Insert Mode

Press the “i” key: This will allow you to start inserting and editing text at the current cursor position.

Switch to Command Mode

Press the “Esc” key: This will bring you back to Command Mode from any other mode. If you’re uncertain about the current mode, press”Esc” multiple times ensures you’re in Command Mode.

Switch to Visual Mode

Press the “v” key: This will enter Visual Mode, allowing you to select and manipulate text.

Alternatively, you can use other variations of Visual Mode, such as the “V” key: Line-based Visual Mode. It selects entire lines.

Ctrl+v” key: Block-based Visual Mode. It selects rectangular blocks of text.

Switch to Command-line Mode

Press the “:” (colon) key: This will activate the command line at the bottom of the screen, where you can enter more complex commands.

Switch to Replace Mode

Press the “R” key: This will switch to Replace Mode, where characters you type will replace the existing text character-by-character.

Limitations of Command Mode

While Command Mode in Vim provides extensive functionality and control over editing operations, it has some limitations. Here are a few limitations of Command Mode.

Inability to directly edit text

Command Mode is primarily focused on executing commands and navigating the file. It does not allow direct text editing. To modify the content of a file, you must switch to Insert Mode.

Limited cursor movement

Cursor movement is limited to moving between lines, words, or characters. While you can navigate effectively, you cannot manipulate text at the cursor position without entering Insert Mode.

Lack of immediate visual feedback

It does not provide immediate visual feedback for changes made to the text. For example, if you delete a line or modify a word using a command, you won’t see the actual changes until you execute the command.

Complex commands for certain operations

Some advanced editing operations, such as global search and replace, require complex command sequences in Command Mode. Remembering and executing these commands accurately can be challenging for new users.

Limited Undo/Redo functionality

While Vim does support undo and redo operations, they are limited to the last changes made in Command Mode. If you switch to Insert Mode and make changes, you will need to return to Command Mode to undo or redo those changes.

Despite these limitations, Command Mode remains an integral part of Vim’s editing workflow. It provides powerful commands and navigation options which allow users to efficiently manipulate & manage text files.

To overcome the limitations, it is essential to understand when to switch to Insert Mode for direct text editing and take advantage of Vim’s extensive command set.

Methods of Saving a File in Vim

#1. Saving a File Without Exiting

To save a file without exiting Vim, follow these steps:

a. Make sure you are in Command Mode (press Esc if needed)

b. Type :w and hit Enter. You can also give a filename to save as you want.


c. Vim will save the file, and you can continue editing.

#2. Exiting Without Saving

If you want to exit Vim without saving changes, use the following steps:

a. Ensure you are in Command Mode (press Esc if necessary)

b. Type :q! and press Enter.


c. Vim will exit, discarding any unsaved changes.

#3. Saving and Exiting the Editor

To save your changes and exit Vim, follow these steps:

a. Ensure you are in Command Mode

b. Type :wq and hit Enter.


c. Vim will save the file and quit the editor.

#4. Save and Quit (Alternative)

If you prefer a slightly different command to save and quit, you can use “:x” or “:wq” interchangeably. Both commands will save changes and exit Vim.

#5. Save As a Different File

To save the current file under a different name, follow these steps:

a. Enter Command Mode

b. Type :saveas (replace with the desired name) and press Enter.


c. Vim will create a new file with the provided name and save the content

Author’s note✍️

Remember the key differences between Command Mode & Insert Mode and practice the various methods of saving files in Vim.

With time and experience, you will become proficient in using Vim’s powerful features to edit and manipulate text effectively.

I hope you found this article helpful in learning about how to save and quit the Vim editor after making changes.

You may also be interested in learning about the best Vim cheat sheets for developers and Sysadmin.

  • Ashlin Jenifa
    Hey there, my name is Ashlin, and I’m a senior technical writer. I’ve been in the game for a while now, and I specialize in writing about all sorts of cool technology topics like Linux, Networking, Security, Dev Tools, Data Analytics, and Cloud… read more
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