vimInserting text

Leaving insert mode

<Esc>Leaves insert mode, triggers autocommands and abbreviations
<C-[>Exact synonymous of <Esc>
<C-c>Leaves insert mode, doesn't trigger autocommands

Some people like to use a relatively uncommon pair of characters like jk as shortcut for <Esc> or <C-[> which can be hard to reach on some keyboards:

inoremap jk <Esc>l

Different ways to get into insert mode

aAppend text following current cursor position
AAppend text at the end of current line
iInsert text before the current cursor position
IInsert text before first non-blank character of current line
gIInsert text in first column of cursor line
giInsert text at same position where it was left last time in Insert mode
OOpen up a new line above the current line and add text there (CAPITAL O)
oOpen up a new line below the current line and add text there (lowercase o)
s or clDelete character under the cursor and switch to insert mode
S or ccDelete entire line and switch to Insert mode
CDelete from the cursor position to the end of the line and start insert mode
c{motion}Delete {motion} and start insert mode (see Basic Motion)

Insert mode shortcuts

<C-w>Delete word before cursor
<C-t>Indent current line with by one shiftwidth
<C-d>Unindent current line with by one shiftwidth
<C-f>reindent the line, (move cursor to auto indent position)
<C-a>Insert previously inserted text
<C-e>Insert the character below
<C-h>Delete one character backward
<C-y>Insert the character above
<C-r>{register}Insert the content of {register}
<C-o>{normal mode command}execute {normal mode command} without leaving insert mode
<C-n>Next autocomplete option for the current word
<C-p>Previous autocomplete option for the current word
<C-v>Insert a character by its ASCII value in decimal
<C-v>xInsert a character by its ASCII value in hexadecimal
<C-v>uInsert a character by its unicode value in hexadecimal
<C-k>Enter a digraph

Running normal commands from insert mode

While in insert mode, press <C-o> to temporarily leave insert mode and execute a one-off normal command.


<C-o>2w jumps to the second word to the left and returns to insert mode.

Note: Repeating with . will only repeat the actions from returning to insert mode

This allows for some useful mappings, e.g.

inoremap <C-f> <Right>
inoremap <C-b> <Left>
inoremap <C-a> <C-o>^
inoremap <C-e> <C-o>$

Now ctrl+a will put the cursor to the beginning of the line and ctrl+e - to the end of line. These mappings are used by default in readline, so might be useful for people who want consistency.

Insert text into multiple lines at once

Press Ctrl + v to enter into visual block mode.

Use / / j / k to select multiple lines.

Press Shift + i and start typing what you want.

After you press Esc, the text will be inserted into all the lines you selected.

Remember that Ctrl+c is not 100% equivalent to Esc and will not work in this situation!

There are slight variations of Shift + i that you can press while in visual block mode:

c or sDelete selected block and enter insert mode
CDelete selected lines (from cursor until end) and enter insert mode
RDelete selected lines and enter insert mode
AAppend to selected lines, with the column at the end of the first line

Also note that pressing . after a visual block operation will repeat that operation where the cursor is!

Paste text using terminal "paste" command

If you use the paste command from your terminal emulator program, Vim will interpret the stream of characters as if they were typed. That will cause all kind of undesirable effects, particularly bad indendation.

To fix that, from command mode:

:set paste

Then move on to insert mode, with i, for example. Notice the mode is now -- INSERT (paste) --. Now paste with your terminal emulator command, or with the mouse. When finished go to command mode, with Esc and run:

:set nopaste

There is a simpler way, when one wants to paste just once. Put this in your .vimrc (or use the plugin unimpaired.vim):

function! s:setup_paste() abort
  set paste
  augroup unimpaired_paste
    autocmd InsertLeave *
      \ set nopaste |
      \ autocmd! unimpaired_paste
  augroup end

nnoremap <silent> yo :call <SID>setup_paste()<CR>o
nnoremap <silent> yO :call <SID>setup_paste()<CR>O

Now one can simply press yo to paste code under the cursor, and then <Esc> to go back to normal/nopaste mode.

Pasting from a register while in insert mode

While in insert mode, you can use <C-r> to paste from a register, which is specified by the next keystroke. <C-r>" for example pastes from the unnamed (") register.

See :help registers.

Advanced Insertion Commands and Shortcuts

Here is a quick reference for advanced insertion, formatting, and filtering commands/shortcuts.

g + ? + mPerform rot13 encoding, on movement m
n + ctrl + a+n to number under cursor
n + ctrl + x-n to number under cursor
g + q+ mFormat lines of movement m to fixed width
:rce wCenter lines in range r to width w
:rle iLeft align lines in range r with indent i
:rri wRight align lines in range r to width w
!mcFilter lines of movement m through command c
n!!cFilter n lines through command c
:r!cFilter range r lines through command c

Disable auto-indent to paste code

When pasting text through a terminal emulator, the auto-indent feature may destroy the indentation of the pasted text.

For example:

function () {
    echo 'foo'
    echo 'bar'
    echo 'baz'

will be pasted as:

function () {
    echo 'foo'
        echo 'bar'
            echo 'baz'

In these cases, use the paste/nopaste option to disable / enable the auto-indent feature:

:set paste
:set nopaste

Adding to this, there is a simpler approach to the problem: Add the following line in your .vimrc:

set pastetoggle=<F3>

And if you want to paste as is from the clipboard. Just press F3 in insert mode, and paste. Press F3 again to exit from the paste mode.