I have a large sql file and I would like to rename the table name from `feedback` to `comments` but I don't want to replace the word feedback in case any row has that text so I was trying to select it with the quotes but vim can't find it. I'm using


Any idea how to do it? maybe vim is not te best option for this?

  • You should probably consider something like sed or perl, but vim will do. Shouldn't you use some SQL tool for this? How could you distinguish feedback as a table name from feedback as a word in content? Or does it come quoted using backticks?
    – muru
    Nov 7 '14 at 10:38
  • @muru The sql file has already the backticks. I have never use sed or perl. That's why I tried with Vim
    – SERPRO
    Nov 7 '14 at 10:41
  • If they are quoted using backticks, it should work. You can try using the c flag (:s/.../.../c) to make it confirm each change.
    – muru
    Nov 7 '14 at 10:45
  • @muru I tried that E486: Pattern not found: `feedback` The funny thing is that the word is highlighted now in the editor.
    – SERPRO
    Nov 7 '14 at 10:46
  • Did you escape the backticks? I could substitute if I used it as seen in the question, but if I escaped, I get the same error as you and the highlighting happened.
    – muru
    Nov 7 '14 at 10:49

While vim certainly is capable of doing this, my first thought would be to use sed or perl. Using sed:

sed -i.bak 's/`feedback`/`comments`/g' path/to/file

The -i flag makes sed perform operations in the files specified instead of writing to stdout (-isuffix makes a backup copy path/to/filesuffix).

  • 1
    It's also good to use -i.bak, so that the original file gets backed up to path/to/file.bak.
    – fedorqui
    Nov 7 '14 at 15:51

Try in vim:


this should work as you expected

  • Thanks for your answer That will do the trick too.. I need to check the difference between :s and :%s
    – SERPRO
    Nov 7 '14 at 11:01
  • @SERPRO % replaces in the entire file. It's an address range for the operation.
    – muru
    Nov 7 '14 at 11:02
  • please enter with the quotes. as you wanted
    – Ramya A
    Nov 7 '14 at 11:06

Here's a vi/vim one-liner (using ex -s to avoid opening the full screen editor resulting in a short flash):

ex -s -c 'w %~ | %s/`feedback`/`comments`/g' -c 'x' <file>


  • w %~ saves a copy of the file with the ~ suffix. This is handy as a backup in case you mess up something.
  • | is the command separator.
  • % means "do this action on every line".
  • s/`feedback`/`comments`, as you probably already know, means "substitute text matching the regex `feedback` with `comments` on the current line".
  • g means "global", i.e. don't stop after the first substitution on the line.
  • x is a shorthand for wq, i.e. it means write the file and quit. It needs to be separate because otherwise it will hang if there's no match.

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