Vi Editor Tips and Tricks

By: Tariq Nazir (



  For introduction to vi editor and commands, click here 

1-                        Search and Replace
Search STRING forward :   / STRING.
Search STRING backward:   ? STRING.
Repeat search:   n
Repeat search in opposite direction:  N  (SHIFT-n)

Search and Replace

First occurrence on current line:      :s/OLD/NEW
Globally (all) on current line:        :s/OLD/NEW/g 
Between two lines #,#:                 :#,#s/OLD/NEW/g
Every occurrence in file:              :%s/OLD/NEW/g 
2-                        Reading the output from a command into current file.
In a vi session, move the cursor to the position in the file where you want to bring the output of a command and run the command like: 
      :r !df -h 


Here df command is used for example. Replace it with your command.



3-                        To sort contents of the file.
Move the cursor to the line where apple is located, then run the following
:.,$ !sort
   . - represents the current line
   $ - represents the last line of the file
If you don't want to replace the text, but want to see the sorted output, do the following:
   :.,$w !sort | more



Introduction to vi editor