I know that vim (like emacs) is very powerful editor for programmers, as long as you know how to use it, its shortcuts, and so on. What steps can I take and what tutorials can I read to become an advanced vim user?


12 Answers 12


Step 0: learn to touch type. Seriously - if your fingers don't know where the keys are then vim is going to be a pain. And even if you reject vim, touch typing will improve your programming (ask Steve Yegge) by making the mind to monitor link friction free. There is a lot of software that can help you improve your typing.

Step 1: Use the keyboard preferences to swap Caps Lock and Escape - seriously, how often do you use Caps Lock? Using vim you will be using Escape all the time, and having it available on the home row makes a huge difference. With the standard Ubuntu desktop, go through the menus: System -> Preferences -> Keyboard -> Layouts tab. Then hit the "Layout Options" button, click on the triangle next to "Caps Lock key behaviour" and select "Swap ESC and CapsLock". (Note how to do this has changed - see this for how to do this in 14.04.

Step 2: use vimtutor to get you started. It is in gvim (under the help menu I think) or you can just type 'vimtutor' at the command line. It will take 30-45 minutes of your time and then your fingers will know the basics of vi/vim and you should be able to edit files without wanting to hurl your keyboard out of the window.

Step 3: use vim everywhere. See this question from StackOverflow for tips and links for using vim and vi key bindings at the command line, from your web browser, for composing emails, in your IDE ... You need to use vim to embed the key bindings in your muscle memory.

Step 4: learn more about vim. You will only have scratched the surface with vimtutor. You can

Learn a litle often would be my advice - there is so much out there that sticking to bite-size chunks will be the best way to make the knowledge stick.

Step 5: Profit :)

  • 10
    can't up vote this enough :)
    – tutuca
    Aug 5, 2010 at 17:33
  • Thank you very mush for the best answer! Fortunately, I'm already touch typist. :) So, I will follow next steps ...
    – Zango
    Aug 5, 2010 at 18:00
  • 1
    Step 2 is so important. Changed vim from a being a pain to my favorite editor.
    – Matthew
    Oct 24, 2010 at 22:41
  • 2
    I want to push Step 3, you can even use (g)vim on Windows or Mac or ... (see vim.org/download.php) Only using one editor will make you more familiar with it.
    – ddeimeke
    Oct 25, 2010 at 6:26
  • Make caps lock an extra control (or swap them). Vim has plenty of uses of ctrl, more than I use escape (I imap kj to escape anyway), but that handy, easier control key is useful in every other program I use, too.
    – Roger Pate
    Oct 28, 2010 at 11:27

"vimtutor" form package "vim" is probably the best place to start.


Two things:

  1. Learn touch-typing. There's really no other way. Then bind ESC to ";;" so you never have to leave your home row: inoremap ;; <esc>

  2. Search github for other people's .vimrcs

And a third: VimCasts



That is a pretty good tutorial. It has videos and such.


This will sound silly, but get to know vim's help command. The help system is remarkably intuitive and easy to navigate.

Help is available by typing :help . You can find out about a specific topic by including that on the command line (eg :help insert). You can cycle through topics by hitting tab after typing one or more characters of topic.

The help is hyperlinked, with links denoted at either bold or coloured text. You can follow links by hitting <Ctrl-]> when your cursor is on it, and <Ctrl-t> to go back. To get out of help, type :q.

  • 1
    And it has two complete manuals in it: user's manual and reference manual. You don't need anything more than vimtutor and :help to become a Vim expert. Aug 29, 2010 at 18:38

Some great answers. Definitely try to integrate it into daily life and make sure you don't try to flood your brain with too much at a time. There's just too much to vim to learn it all in a week.

At first just start with one/two new commands/keys a week. Use them and ingrain them into your brain. You don't want to have to refer to a cheat sheet all day.

I've got a sample vim config setup that's really well documented I publish for people: http://github.com/mitechie/pyvim

Don't just copy/paste though. Make sure you understand what's going into your vim config so you don't forget/misunderstand what it's doing for you.

and I've started doing some vim screencasts: http://lococast.net/archives/111


PeepCode's Smash into VIM 1 & 2 are a great resource. You can also check out Rob Conery's blog, he has some good VIM related information/blogs available there.


I used a book that I found from Vim's website


I know that I might get negative feedback for this answer, as it may hurt vim fans and users: First ask yourself what you want to do. And only if vim is the best tool for that specific task, do what all the other answers tell you.

Or to say it with more images: You can try to get twice as fast or good with a hammer than you are now. But depending on the situation a screw driver may help more than the hammer. :)

  • 4
    Yea, as a vim fan I have to say that vim's a bit more than a hammer. It can provide helpful uses for anyone from sysadmin, db admin, programmer (of any language) and even just plain no frills text editor. It's installed by default on every system for a reason and I don't know that there's much of a case for "well do you really need to know it at all" Beyond that, the user posted this explicitly for finding ways/help to advancing their vim knowledge and experience.
    – Rick
    Aug 30, 2010 at 0:15
  • 1
    I totally agree with you!
    – ddeimeke
    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:51

I haven't really learned Vim yet but I think that by doing all my browsing with the Pentadactyl extension for Firefox it will be less difficult when I get around to do so.

Any text fields and the command line can be treated like Vim normal mode with a Ctrl T (or automatically, if you change a setting); however, here's where it falls down at the moment for me since many actions are interpreted to be global e.g. attempting to paste with p opens a url with the text that's in the buffer and attempting to overwrite text with r reloads the page. But you can open the text field in Gvim by pressing Control I, so it's not really an issue.

Another problem is that it makes websites like Gmail or Remember the Milk trickier to use since you have yet another mode to contend with.


See the answers on beginner's tips for learning Vim from Programmers SE

To reiterate my answer from that question:

I learnt a lot from the O'Reilly book "Learning the Vi and Vim editors". It's the best Vim book I've read.

I'd also recommend checking out:

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