Vim documentation: visual

main help file
*visual.txt*    For Vim version 7.2.  Last change: 2006 Sep 26


		  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar



Visual mode				*Visual* *Visual-mode* *visual-mode*

Visual mode is a flexible and easy way to select a piece of text for an
operator.  It is the only way to select a block of text.

This is introduced in section |04.4| of the user manual.

1. Using Visual mode			|visual-use|
2. Starting and stopping Visual mode	|visual-start|
3. Changing the Visual area		|visual-change|
4. Operating on the Visual area		|visual-operators|
5. Blockwise operators			|blockwise-operators|
6. Repeating				|visual-repeat|
7. Examples				|visual-examples|
8. Select mode				|Select-mode|

{Vi has no Visual mode, the name "visual" is used for Normal mode, to
distinguish it from Ex mode}
{not available when the |+visual| feature was disabled when compiling}


1. Using Visual mode *visual-use* Using Visual mode consists of three parts: 1. Mark the start of the text with "v", "V" or CTRL-V. The character under the cursor will be used as the start. 2. Move to the end of the text. The text from the start of the Visual mode up to and including the character under the cursor is highlighted. 3. Type an operator command. The highlighted characters will be operated upon. The 'highlight' option can be used to set the display mode to use for highlighting in Visual mode. The 'virtualedit' option can be used to allow positioning the cursor to positions where there is no actual character. The highlighted text normally includes the character under the cursor. However, when the 'selection' option is set to "exclusive" and the cursor is after the Visual area, the character under the cursor is not included. With "v" the text before the start position and after the end position will not be highlighted. However, all uppercase and non-alpha operators, except "~" and "U", will work on whole lines anyway. See the list of operators below. *visual-block* With CTRL-V (blockwise Visual mode) the highlighted text will be a rectangle between start position and the cursor. However, some operators work on whole lines anyway (see the list below). The change and substitute operators will delete the highlighted text and then start insertion at the top left position.
2. Starting and stopping Visual mode *visual-start* *v* *characterwise-visual* v start Visual mode per character. *V* *linewise-visual* V start Visual mode linewise. *CTRL-V* *blockwise-visual* CTRL-V start Visual mode blockwise. Note: Under Windows CTRL-V could be mapped to paste text, it doesn't work to start Visual mode then, see |CTRL-V-alternative|. If you use <Esc>, click the left mouse button or use any command that does a jump to another buffer while in Visual mode, the highlighting stops and no text is affected. Also when you hit "v" in characterwise Visual mode, "CTRL-V" in blockwise Visual mode or "V" in linewise Visual mode. If you hit CTRL-Z the highlighting stops and the editor is suspended or a new shell is started |CTRL-Z|. new mode after typing: *v_v* *v_CTRL-V* *v_V* old mode "v" "CTRL-V" "V" Normal Visual blockwise Visual linewise Visual Visual Normal blockwise Visual linewise Visual blockwise Visual Visual Normal linewise Visual linewise Visual Visual blockwise Visual Normal *gv* *v_gv* *reselect-Visual* gv Start Visual mode with the same area as the previous area and the same mode. In Visual mode the current and the previous Visual area are exchanged. After using "p" or "P" in Visual mode the text that was put will be selected. *<LeftMouse>* <LeftMouse> Set the current cursor position. If Visual mode is active it is stopped. Only when 'mouse' option is contains 'n' or 'a'. If the position is within 'so' lines from the last line on the screen the text is scrolled up. If the position is within 'so' lines from the first line on the screen the text is scrolled down. *<RightMouse>* <RightMouse> Start Visual mode if it is not active. The text from the cursor position to the position of the click is highlighted. If Visual mode was already active move the start or end of the highlighted text, which ever is closest, to the position of the click. Only when 'mouse' option contains 'n' or 'a'. Note: when 'mousemodel' is set to "popup", <S-LeftMouse> has to be used instead of <RightMouse>. *<LeftRelease>* <LeftRelease> This works like a <LeftMouse>, if it is not at the same position as <LeftMouse>. In an older version of xterm you won't see the selected area until the button is released, unless there is access to the display where the xterm is running (via the DISPLAY environment variable or the -display argument). Only when 'mouse' option contains 'n' or 'a'. If Visual mode is not active and the "v", "V" or CTRL-V is preceded with a count, the size of the previously highlighted area is used for a start. You can then move the end of the highlighted area and give an operator. The type of the old area is used (character, line or blockwise). - Linewise Visual mode: The number of lines is multiplied with the count. - Blockwise Visual mode: The number of lines and columns is multiplied with the count. - Normal Visual mode within one line: The number of characters is multiplied with the count. - Normal Visual mode with several lines: The number of lines is multiplied with the count, in the last line the same number of characters is used as in the last line in the previously highlighted area. The start of the text is the Cursor position. If the "$" command was used as one of the last commands to extend the highlighted text, the area will be extended to the rightmost column of the longest line. If you want to highlight exactly the same area as the last time, you can use "gv" |gv| |v_gv|. *v_<Esc>* <Esc> In Visual mode: Stop Visual mode. *v_CTRL-C* CTRL-C In Visual mode: Stop Visual mode. When insert mode is pending (the mode message shows "-- (insert) VISUAL --"), it is also stopped.
3. Changing the Visual area *visual-change* *v_o* o Go to Other end of highlighted text: The current cursor position becomes the start of the highlighted text and the cursor is moved to the other end of the highlighted text. The highlighted area remains the same. *v_O* O Go to Other end of highlighted text. This is like "o", but in Visual block mode the cursor moves to the other corner in the same line. When the corner is at a character that occupies more than one position on the screen (e.g., a <Tab>), the highlighted text may change. *v_$* When the "$" command is used with blockwise Visual mode, the right end of the highlighted text will be determined by the longest highlighted line. This stops when a motion command is used that does not move straight up or down. For moving the end of the block many commands can be used, but you cannot use Ex commands, commands that make changes or abandon the file. Commands (starting with) ".", "&", CTRL-^, "Z", CTRL-], CTRL-T, CTRL-R, CTRL-I and CTRL-O cause a beep and Visual mode continues. When switching to another window on the same buffer, the cursor position in that window is adjusted, so that the same Visual area is still selected. This is especially useful to view the start of the Visual area in one window, and the end in another. You can then use <RightMouse> (or <S-LeftMouse> when 'mousemodel' is "popup") to drag either end of the Visual area.
4. Operating on the Visual area *visual-operators* The operators that can be used are: ~ switch case |v_~| d delete |v_d| c change (4) |v_c| y yank |v_y| > shift right (4) |v_>| < shift left (4) |v_<| ! filter through external command (1) |v_!| = filter through 'equalprg' option command (1) |v_=| gq format lines to 'textwidth' length (1) |v_gq| The objects that can be used are: aw a word (with white space) |v_aw| iw inner word |v_iw| aW a WORD (with white space) |v_aW| iW inner WORD |v_iW| as a sentence (with white space) |v_as| is inner sentence |v_is| ap a paragraph (with white space) |v_ap| ip inner paragraph |v_ip| ab a () block (with parenthesis) |v_ab| ib inner () block |v_ib| aB a {} block (with braces) |v_aB| iB inner {} block |v_iB| a< a <> block (with <>) |v_a<| i< inner <> block |v_i<| a[ a [] block (with []) |v_a[| i[ inner [] block |v_i[| Additionally the following commands can be used: : start ex command for highlighted lines (1) |v_:| r change (4) |v_r| s change |v_s| C change (2)(4) |v_C| S change (2) |v_S| R change (2) |v_R| x delete |v_x| D delete (3) |v_D| X delete (2) |v_X| Y yank (2) |v_Y| p put |v_p| J join (1) |v_J| U make uppercase |v_U| u make lowercase |v_u| ^] find tag |v_CTRL-]| I block insert |v_b_I| A block append |v_b_A| (1): Always whole lines, see |:visual_example|. (2): Whole lines when not using CTRL-V. (3): Whole lines when not using CTRL-V, delete until the end of the line when using CTRL-V. (4): When using CTRL-V operates on the block only. Note that the ":vmap" command can be used to specifically map keys in Visual mode. For example, if you would like the "/" command not to extend the Visual area, but instead take the highlighted text and search for that: :vmap / y/<C-R>"<CR> (In the <> notation |<>|, when typing it you should type it literally; you need to remove the 'B' and '<' flags from 'cpoptions'.) If you want to give a register name using the """ command, do this just before typing the operator character: "v{move-around}"xd". If you want to give a count to the command, do this just before typing the operator character: "v{move-around}3>" (move lines 3 indents to the right). *{move-around}* The {move-around} is any sequence of movement commands. Note the difference with {motion}, which is only ONE movement command. Another way to operate on the Visual area is using the |/\%V| item in a pattern. For example, to replace all '(' in the Visual area with '#': :%s/\%V(/X/g
5. Blockwise operators *blockwise-operators* {not available when compiled without the |+visualextra| feature} Reminder: Use 'virtualedit' to be able to select blocks that start or end after the end of a line or halfway a tab. Visual-block Insert *v_b_I* With a blockwise selection, I{string}<ESC> will insert {string} at the start of block on every line of the block, provided that the line extends into the block. Thus lines that are short will remain unmodified. TABs are split to retain visual columns. See |v_b_I_example|. Visual-block Append *v_b_A* With a blockwise selection, A{string}<ESC> will append {string} to the end of block on every line of the block. There is some differing behavior where the block RHS is not straight, due to different line lengths: 1. Block was created with <C-v>$ In this case the string is appended to the end of each line. 2. Block was created with <C-v>{move-around} In this case the string is appended to the end of the block on each line, and whitespace is inserted to pad to the end-of-block column. See |v_b_A_example|. Note: "I" and "A" behave differently for lines that don't extend into the selected block. This was done intentionally, so that you can do it the way you want. Visual-block change *v_b_c* All selected text in the block will be replaced by the same text string. When using "c" the selected text is deleted and Insert mode started. You can then enter text (without a line break). When you hit <Esc>, the same string is inserted in all previously selected lines. Visual-block Change *v_b_C* Like using "c", but the selection is extended until the end of the line for all lines. *v_b_<* Visual-block Shift *v_b_>* The block is shifted by 'shiftwidth'. The RHS of the block is irrelevant. The LHS of the block determines the point from which to apply a right shift, and padding includes TABs optimally according to 'ts' and 'et'. The LHS of the block determines the point upto which to shift left. Note: v_< padding is buggy if the Visual Block starts and ends in the same TAB. (Vim 5.4c) See |v_b_>_example|. See |v_b_<_example|. Visual-block Replace *v_b_r* Every screen char in the highlighted region is replaced with the same char, ie TABs are split and the virtual whitespace is replaced, maintaining screen layout. See |v_b_r_example|.
6. Repeating *visual-repeat* When repeating a Visual mode operator, the operator will be applied to the same amount of text as the last time: - Linewise Visual mode: The same number of lines. - Blockwise Visual mode: The same number of lines and columns. - Normal Visual mode within one line: The same number of characters. - Normal Visual mode with several lines: The same number of lines, in the last line the same number of characters as in the last line the last time. The start of the text is the Cursor position. If the "$" command was used as one of the last commands to extend the highlighted text, the repeating will be applied up to the rightmost column of the longest line.
7. Examples *visual-examples* *:visual_example* Currently the ":" command works on whole lines only. When you select part of a line, doing something like ":!date" will replace the whole line. If you want only part of the line to be replaced you will have to make a mapping for it. In a future release ":" may work on partial lines. Here is an example, to replace the selected text with the output of "date": :vmap _a <Esc>`>a<CR><Esc>`<i<CR><Esc>!!date<CR>kJJ (In the <> notation |<>|, when typing it you should type it literally; you need to remove the 'B' and '<' flags from 'cpoptions') What this does is: <Esc> stop Visual mode `> go to the end of the Visual area a<CR><Esc> break the line after the Visual area `< jump to the start of the Visual area i<CR><Esc> break the line before the Visual area !!date<CR> filter the Visual text through date kJJ Join the lines back together *visual-search* Here is an idea for a mapping that makes it possible to do a search for the selected text: :vmap X y/<C-R>"<CR> (In the <> notation |<>|, when typing it you should type it literally; you need to remove the 'B' and '<' flags from 'cpoptions') Note that special characters (like '.' and '*') will cause problems. Visual-block Examples *blockwise-examples* With the following text, I will indicate the commands to produce the block and the results below. In all cases, the cursor begins on the 'a' in the first line of the test text. The following modeline settings are assumed ":ts=8:sw=4:". It will be helpful to :set hls /<TAB> where <TAB> is a real TAB. This helps visualise the operations. The test text is: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abc defghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdef ghi jklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 1. fo<C-v>3jISTRING<ESC> *v_b_I_example* abcdefghijklmnSTRINGopqrstuvwxyz abc STRING defghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdef ghi STRING jklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmnSTRINGopqrstuvwxyz 2. fo<C-v>3j$ASTRING<ESC> *v_b_A_example* abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzSTRING abc defghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzSTRING abcdef ghi jklmnopqrstuvwxyzSTRING abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzSTRING 3. fo<C-v>3j3l<.. *v_b_<_example* abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abc defghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdef ghi jklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 4. fo<C-v>3j>.. *v_b_>_example* abcdefghijklmn opqrstuvwxyz abc defghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdef ghi jklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmn opqrstuvwxyz 5. fo<C-v>5l3jrX *v_b_r_example* abcdefghijklmnXXXXXXuvwxyz abc XXXXXXhijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdef ghi XXXXXX jklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmnXXXXXXuvwxyz
8. Select mode *Select* *Select-mode* Select mode looks like Visual mode, but the commands accepted are quite different. This resembles the selection mode in Microsoft Windows. When the 'showmode' option is set, "-- SELECT --" is shown in the last line. Entering Select mode: - Using the mouse to select an area, and 'selectmode' contains "mouse". 'mouse' must also contain a flag for the current mode. - Using a non-printable movement command, with the Shift key pressed, and 'selectmode' contains "key". For example: <S-Left> and <S-End>. 'keymodel' must also contain "startsel". - Using "v", "V" or CTRL-V command, and 'selectmode' contains "cmd". - Using "gh", "gH" or "g_CTRL-H" command in Normal mode. - From Visual mode, press CTRL-G. *v_CTRL-G* Commands in Select mode: - Printable characters, <NL> and <CR> cause the selection to be deleted, and Vim enters Insert mode. The typed character is inserted. - Non-printable movement commands, with the Shift key pressed, extend the selection. 'keymodel' must include "startsel". - Non-printable movement commands, with the Shift key NOT pressed, stop Select mode. 'keymodel' must include "stopsel". - ESC stops Select mode. - CTRL-O switches to Visual mode for the duration of one command. *v_CTRL-O* - CTRL-G switches to Visual mode. Otherwise, typed characters are handled as in Visual mode. When using an operator in Select mode, and the selection is linewise, the selected lines are operated upon, but like in characterwise selection. For example, when a whole line is deleted, it can later be pasted halfway a line. Mappings and menus in Select mode. *Select-mode-mapping* When mappings and menus are defined with the |:vmap| or |:vmenu| command they work both in Visual mode and in Select mode. When these are used in Select mode Vim automatically switches to Visual mode, so that the same behavior as in Visual mode is effective. If you don't want this use |:xmap| or |:smap|. After the mapping or menu finishes, the selection is enabled again and Select mode entered, unless the selected area was deleted, another buffer became the current one or the window layout was changed. When a character was typed that causes the selection to be deleted and Insert mode started, Insert mode mappings are applied to this character. This may cause some confusion, because it means Insert mode mappings apply to a character typed in Select mode. Language mappings apply as well. *gV* *v_gV* gV Avoid the automatic reselection of the Visual area after a Select mode mapping or menu has finished. Put this just before the end of the mapping or menu. At least it should be after any operations on the selection. *gh* gh Start Select mode, characterwise. This is like "v", but starts Select mode instead of Visual mode. Mnemonic: "get highlighted". *gH* gH Start Select mode, linewise. This is like "V", but starts Select mode instead of Visual mode. Mnemonic: "get Highlighted". *g_CTRL-H* g CTRL-H Start Select mode, blockwise. This is like CTRL-V, but starts Select mode instead of Visual mode. Mnemonic: "get Highlighted". top - main help file