Emergency Vim Quickstart


You’ve ssh’d onto a server.
You need to edit a file now.
You need to use vim, and you haven’t a clue.
You don’t have time for long explanations.

Let’s go!


  1. You’re in the terminal so normal mouse usage for editing isn’t an option. Sorry, that’s a terminal thing, not Vim.
  2. Vim has a writing mode, and a not writing mode.
  3. You type i to start Inserting text into the document.
  4. You press <ESC> when you’re done inserting text.
  5. To save hit <ESC> then type :write
  6. To quit hit <ESC> then type :quit
  7. Navigate with the arrow keys. Yes, there are better ways, but you don’t have time for that.

**STOP READING. Go edit that file! **


“AAH! AAAH! I accidentally edited something and don’t know how to fix it!” - - You, when you don’t have time for this s@#$.

Hit <ESC> then add a bang to your quit :quit! That’s vim for “I didn’t mean it! Don’t save any of that!. Let me out!”

Read Later

That was the “emergency” version. If you were on a desktop, using the mouse and your standard key combos for saving and quitting would have been an option. When the crisis has passed and you’ve got some time, please check out the getting started posts.