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Searching in Vim

Searching in Vim

Neeran Gul
Neeran Gul
Staff Site Reliability Engineer, Mozn

Search for next word (forward search)

To search in vim, open up your file with vim [.inline-code]vim myfile.txt[.inline-code], and press [.inline-code]ESC[.inline-code] to switch to normal mode. Type [.inline-code]/[.inline-code] followed by the word you are searching for. For example, if we want to search for ‘ERROR’ in our file. We type [.inline-code]/ERROR[.inline-code]. This will take us to the first occurrence of the word.

To find the next occurrence, simply type [.inline-code]n[.inline-code]. And to go back to the previous occurrence, type [.inline-code]N[.inline-code]. To stop searching press [.inline-code]ESC[.inline-code] to go normal mode.

[#search-for-previous-word]Search for previous word (backwards search)[#search-for-previous-word]

To search backwards in a file, open up the file, [.inline-code]vim myfile.txt[.inline-code], and press [.inline-code]ESC[.inline-code] to switch to normal mode. Type [.inline-code]?[.inline-code] followed by the word. If we are searching for the word ‘INFO’ backwards, we type [.inline-code]?INFO[.inline-code]. Type [.inline-code]N[.inline-code] to search backwards and [.inline-code]n[.inline-code] to search forwards. To stop searching press [.inline-code]ESC[.inline-code] to go normal mode.

[#for-current-word]Find current word[#for-current-word]

It is possible to find the current word the cursor is currently on. Open up a file in normal mode. Put the cursor on a word, then press [.inline-code]*[.inline-code] to find the next occurrence and [.inline-code]#[.inline-code] for the previous occurrence. On the bottom left corner, we can see the word that is being searched.

[#case-insensitive]Case insensitive search[#case-insensitive]

To ignore the case whilst searching, type [.inline-code]/[.inline-code] followed by a word, followed by [.inline-code]\c[.inline-code]. Let’s go through some examples, [.inline-code]/Linux[.inline-code] is case sensitive, [.inline-code]/Linux\C[.inline-code] is case sensitive, [.inline-code]/Linux\c[.inline-code] is case insensitive. It is also possible to set case sensitive search off in your vim config or the current file, by running [.inline-code]:set ignorecase[.inline-code] in normal mode.

[#highlight-matches]Highlight search[#highlight-matches]

To highlight search matches, set the [.inline-code]hlsearch[.inline-code] option by running [.inline-code]:set hlsearch[.inline-code] in normal mode or inside [.inline-code]~/.vimrc[.inline-code]. Now try searching for a word and it will be highlighted everywhere in the file. To clear search highlighting, run [.inline-code]:set nohlsearch[.inline-code] in normal mode.

[#line-starting-with-word]Search for any line starting with a word[#line-starting-with-word]

Starting with ‘def’: [.inline-code]/^def[.inline-code]

[#line-ending-with-word]Search for any line ending with a word[#line-ending-with-word]

Ending with ‘return': [.inline-code]/return$[.inline-code]

[#escape-special-characters]Escaping special characters[#escape-special-characters]

Find ‘[0]’: [.inline-code]/\[0\][.inline-code]

[#find-tabs-in-file]Find tabs in file[#find-tabs-in-file]

Use [.inline-code]/^][.inline-code], to insert the “tab” character, do not type [.inline-code]^][.inline-code], rather after typing [.inline-code]/[.inline-code] press the tab key.

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