Is there a way to access the terminal while using Vim?

I do not like to open another terminal or save and exit the current terminal.

  • Open a new tab? (Ctrl + Shift + T)
    – Wilf
    Jul 12, 2014 at 12:44
  • 2
    How many times do that :) I do not like to do that D: Jul 12, 2014 at 12:49
  • 1
    Have you tried using a terminal window manager like tmux?
    – jrg
    Jul 15, 2014 at 20:46

7 Answers 7


You can send vim the SIGTSTP signal. You do this by pressing ctrl+z. Vim will get suspended in the background, and you can use the terminal. Type fg in the terminal to resume with vim.

Bonus tip: This works on nearly all terminal applications. Use bg to enable the application to continue running in the background.

  • 23
    Or just % instead of fg. Or %1, %2, etc. if you have many background jobs. jobs command will list them. (Assuming bash as the shell.)
    – Ruslan
    Jul 12, 2014 at 16:26
  • 4
    I vote for the ^z (and later fg) method, because this can be used in almost all shell processes - it's not a vim thing, it's a how-to-use-shell trick that is incredibly useful in other contexts.
    – dman
    Jul 14, 2014 at 10:12

In vim, just type:


:! launches an external process -- in this case sh, another shell. Control will return to vim once you exit the shell. If you want to use the shell concurrently with vim, add & to the end of the sh command:

  • 9
    Or just use :shell.
    – wchargin
    Jul 12, 2014 at 15:54
  • 2
    This is the best answer for most purposes. Jul 13, 2014 at 4:08
  • That's nice but what about when the command is running a server, like http-server and it prints out logs that I want to view? I'd like to be able to switch over to my files, make edits, then switch back to the logs. Dec 5, 2016 at 19:36

You can use the :shell command (or the short form :sh). From :help :shell:

This command starts a shell. When the shell exits (after the "exit" command) you return to Vim. The name for the shell command comes from 'shell' option.

By default, on Ubuntu, this will give you bash. type exit to return to vim when you're done.


Since recent vim you can now do:


This was initially added in Vim 8.0.693, but with lots of bugs. See :help terminal:


The terminal feature is optional, use this to check if your Vim has it: 
        echo has('terminal')
If the result is "1" you have it.   


The terminal feature requires the +multi_byte, +job and +channel features.

1. Basic use                                            terminal-use

This feature is for running a terminal emulator in a Vim window.  A job can be
started connected to the terminal emulator. For example, to run a shell: 
     :term bash

Or to run a debugger: 
     :term gdb vim

The job runs asynchronously from Vim, the window will be updated to show
output from the job, also  while editing in any other window.

As addition to all answers.

You can install ConqueTerm plugin

This plugin provide ability to run interactive programs inside vim buffers.

After installation you can add this 2 lines to your .vimrc:

:nnoremap <S-w> :q!<CR>
:nnoremap <S-t> :ConqueTermSplit bash<CR>

And you will be able to run bash by pressing Shift + T, and close current Conque tab by pressing Shift + W

It is perferct if you need fast open/close bash.

Here is gif that showing how it is look like

  • can you please consider updating the posts? The links you mentioned seems outdated
    – ggulgulia
    Sep 25, 2018 at 12:37

Another option with either screen or byobu is to open a tab within those programs. These programs make it fairly easy to keep a terminal-session c.q. shell open and switch between those screens with the keyboard.


With new version of vim 8.1 all you need to do is just :terminal and voila! (this is built in)

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