Vim - Tips And Tricks


Now we got fair idea about Vim. Let us discuss few tips and tricks of Vim to improve productivity. In this section, we will discuss following items −

  • Convert spaces to tabs and vice-versa
  • Highlight miss-spelled words
  • Word completion
  • Copy line character by character
  • Indent code
  • Change file format

Convert spaces to tabs and vice-versa

Convert tabs to spaces

If you are editing a file and you want to convert entered tab character to spaces then execute following command −

:set expandtab

Note that, this command will not change existing tabs to spaces. To achieve this execute following command −

:set tabstop = 4 shiftwidth = 4 expandtab 

In above command we are instructing Vim to convert tabs into 4 spaces

Convert spaces to tabs

To convert spaces to tabs execute below command −

:set noexpandtab :retab!

Highlight miss-spelled words

We can instruct Vim to highlight miss-spelled words. To do this execute following command −

:set spell

Below image highlights misspelled word in Vim −


Word completion

Vim also provides word completion. For this execute following command in insert mode −

Ctrl + p


Copy character line by line

Use following command to copy and paste line character by character −

Sr.No Command & Description
1 Ctrl + y

Copy and paste text located above the cursor

2 Ctrl + e

Copy and paste text located below the cursor

Note the we have to use these commands in insert mode.

Indent code

If you have un-indented code to indent it execute following command −


For instance, if you have un-indented code like this −


Then go to line 4 and execute =% command. It will indent code like this −

Indent Code

Change file format

To change file format to UNIX execute following command −

:set ff = unix

To change file format to DOS execute following command −

:set ff = dos