My all-time favourite commands for vim. Check out these classic hits.


Installing the full version of Vim

Some Linux distros don’t include the full version of VIM by default (the fools!!).

For example, Fedora only includes vim-minimal. You can see this by running:

$ rpm -qf /usr/bin/vi

This means you don’t get additional features like syntax highlighting. To install the full version of Vim on Fedora:

sudo dnf install vim-enhanced


Format/indent/pretty-print an XML document:

:%!xmllint --format %

Change the language/filetype/syntax of a document, for highlighting:

:set syntax=groovy

Insert spaces instead of tabs (expandtab) when pressing the Tab key - how to switch on and off:

:set expandtab
:set noexpandtab

Change the indent level to 4 spaces:

:set shiftwidth=4

To insert 4 spaces when pressing the Tab key:

:set tabstop=8 softtabstop=0 expandtab shiftwidth=4 smarttab

Line manipulation

Append “some text” at the front of every line from here to the end of a file:

i "some text \n"


Search multiple words:


Search and highlight multiple phrases (this uses the built-in highlight groups “Search” and “Todo”; to see more groups, type :highlight):

:match Search /Server is now live/
:2match Todo /backup announced/
:3match Title /another string/


How I set up my Vim ready to use:

  1. Install Vundle for managing Vim plugins

To install/manage plugins with Vundle:

  1. Add any plugins required into /.vimrc
  2. From Vim, type :PluginInstall.

To configure syntax highlighting for a file type/extension, add the following to your ~/.vimrc file:

au BufRead,BufNewFile *.adoc set filetype=asciidoc

Using Vim as a Java IDE

Install SpaceVim.


  • Install using the instructions at
  • If you installed vim using Homebrew, then the SpaceVim install script will install itself into your Homebrew install of Vim, so use that by setting an alias, e.g. alias vim="/usr/local/Cellar/vim/8.0.0604/bin/vim"
  • If colours don’t work on Mac, you need to disable “true colours” (??) - add this line to ~/.SpaceVim.d/init.vim: let g:spacevim_enable_guicolors = 0


  • Toggle file explorer (VimFiler) - F3