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Office of Information Technology (OIT)

UT Arlington
OIT: Office of Information Technology

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Using the vi Editor

There are three basic modes of vi:

Command Mode

This is the default when you enter vi. In command mode, most letters, or short sequences of letters, that you type will be interpreted as commands, without explicitly pressing Enter . If you press Esc when you're in command mode, your terminal may beep at you. This is a very good way to tell when you're in command mode.

Insert Mode

In insert mode, whatever you type is inserted in the file at the cursor position. Type a (lowercase letter a, for append) to enter insert mode from command mode; press Esc to end insert mode, and return to command mode.

Line Mode

Use line mode to enter line oriented commands. In command mode, type a colon ( : ). Your cursor moves to the bottom of the screen, by a colon prompt. Type a line mode command, then press Enter. Any sensible command from the UNIX line editor ex will work, and a few are good to know about. These commands are indicated in this handout by a colon in front of the command. Each time you use a line mode command, you must type a colon to enter line mode, then type the command by the colon prompt at the bottom of the screen, then press Enter when you finish typing the command. (The search commands starting with / and ? work similarly).

Click HERE to download a vi quick reference card.

Available To:

  • Students Admitted to UT Arlington