Hello World in Vim

Every programmer starts a new language by writing hello world, and as you’ll see, Vim is a small DSL for text editing. So, here goes.

On the command line, tell Vim you want to create a new text document called hello_world.txt. Note, there are some great grapical Vim clients if you’re not a fan of working on the command line.

	$ vim hello_world.txt

Once you’re in vim, tell it you want to insert some text into this file


Now, insert some text.

hello world

Tell Vim you’re done inserting.


Tell vim you want to write the file out to disk and then quit.


Congratulations, you’ve just written “hello world” in Vim. The “write and quit” command will work in any Vim, even when you’re ssh’d into a remote server.

Things are even easier on the grapical Vim clients though. Instead of :wq you could have just hit your standard save and quit key combos. On macOS that would be ⌘+s and ⌘+q. You don’t even have to exit Insert mode to save with Command+s.

Abbreviated Commands

Vim’s got a lot of wordy commands, like :write and :quit, but almost all of them have shorter variants. The alternatives for :write and :quit are :w and :q Because this is such a common thing to do Vim’s got a combo command for doing both. :wq


Sooner or later you’ll find a post online with a strange combination of letters that you aren’t familiar with like :nohl. People like to use the really short, and obscure variants, even in their config files. I encourage you to look them up in Vim’s help docs where you can see the expanded forms and learn what they do.