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Recipe 6.9. Learning Vim Quickly

6.9.1 Problem

You have done a bit of homework, including reading the "Introduction" to this chapter, and you have decided to use Vim. So you want to get up to speed on Vim as quickly as possible, and learn it right the first time.

6.9.2 Solution

Run the Vim tutor. Simply type vimtutor at any command line. Within 30-60 minutes, you'll be cruising like an old pro. This is the #1 best way to get proficient quickly.

6.9.3 Discussion

Vim rewards good typing skills. If you're a not-so-good typist, consider brushing up your skills with Gtypist, the free typing tutor.

It may be that the tutorial teaches all the commands you'll ever need to know. For additional study and a reference for Vim's nine zillion and four abilities, make use of the excellent user and reference manual by Bram Moolenaar, the author of Vim. This comes in Vim's own internal help system, and in several versions online at (searchable HTML, .pdf, and printable HTML).

To access the user manual inside Vim, type:


Use arrow keys to scroll through the table of contents, and hit ^] to open a chapter.

Or you can go directly to a topic:

:help quickref

:help tutor

:help usr_06.txt

To search for a particular term and bring up a list of choices, type:

:help vimrc

Do not hit Return, but hit ^D. The output looks like this:

:help vimrc

vimrc      vimrc-intro         system-vimrc     _gvimrc

vimrc      vimrc-filetype      gvimrc           :mkvimrc

_vimrc     vimrc_example.vim  .gvimrc

Then choose the one you want:

:help  vimrc_example.vim

There are two very good actual printed books on VIM:

  • Vi IMproved—Vim, by Steve Oualline, available at Not only is this an excellent book, but a percentage of the proceeds goes to helping orphans in Uganda.

  • Learning the vi Editor, by Linda Lamb and Arnold Robbins (O'Reilly).

If you're new to Vim, be sure to practice with the Vim tutor first. The following recipes show how to customize your work environment and navigate Vim.

6.9.4 See Also

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