Getting Help

The most useful software is sometimes rendered useless by poor or altogether missing document, but not VIM :)

Vim has a comprehensive on-line help system. To get started, try one of these three:

  • press the <HELP> key (if you have one);
  • press the <F1> key (if you have one);
  • type :help .

Jump to a subject: Position the cursor on a tag (e.g. bars) and hit CTRL-], and you can jump back: Type CTRL-o.

Get specific help:

Normal mode command :help x
Visual mode command v_ :help v_u
Insert mode command i_ :help i_<Esc>
Command-line command : :help :quit
Command-line editing c_ :help c_<Del>
Vim command argument - :help -r
Option ' :help 'textwidth'
Regular expression / :help /[

See help-summary for more contexts and an explantion.

Search for help: Type :help word, then hit CTRL-D to see matching help entries for “word”. Or use :helpgrep word.


  1. Make sure Vim is not in compatible mode: :set nocp
  2. Look what files exist in the directory: :!ls or :!dir
  3. Type the start of a command: :e
  4. Press CTRL-D and Vim will show a list of commands that start with “e”.
  5. Type d<TAB> and Vim will complete the command name to “:edit”.
  6. Now add a space and the start of an existing file name: :edit FIL
  7. Press <TAB>. Vim will complete the name (if it is unique).

NOTE: Completion works for many commands. Just try pressing CTRL-D and <TAB>. It is especially useful for :help .


Just config it in ~/.vimrc or ~/.vim/vimrc.