Tools of the Trade: vi/vim

Jason DeFillippo —  February 27, 2014

In the ever expanding world of graphical user interfaces, the arcane arts of the command line are going the way of manual transmissions. Driving a stick shift is becoming more and more unnecessary as automobile technology advances but it’s still an incredibly useful skill to have in a pinch. I believe that everyone should have at least a fundamental knowledge of at least one or two command line text editors.

My editor of choice is vi or vim. The first editor I learned back in the early 90’s was on the shared Unix machines at my ISP and it was called Pico. When I got around more seasoned nerds I had to make the choice between vi or Emacs because nerds can’t have nice thins without an unnecessary holy war. I simply chose vi because, no joke, the nerd that liked Emacs had TERRIBLE b.o. and I wanted to stay as far away from him as possible. True story.

There are a million vi tutorials out there to choose from. What I will leave you with is the most best cheat sheet I’ve ever come across. Once you learn the basics of navigation this little card will save you hours of banging your head against the desk. If you have a Mac vim is installed by default. Just open your Terminal app to start playing!

vi vim Cheat Sheet

Chest sheet courtesy viemu.com.


The vi/vim editor – Lesson 1 – Introduction to vi/vim


The vi/vim editor – Lesson 2 – Navigation Commands


The vi/vim editor – Lesson 3 – Inserting Text


The vi/vim editor – Lesson 4 – Deleting Text