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VI Editor / Linux Terminal Cheat Sheet (PDF)


We’ve been releasing many icon sets and WordPress themes1 on Smashing Magazine, yet today we are glad to announce the release of a bit different freebie. This post features a VI Help Sheet, a cheat sheet for the VI Editor, for all web-developers out there who are working on Linux. The help sheet was designed by GoSquared2 and released for Smashing Magazine and its readers.


The cheat sheet contains terminal commands for modes and controls, inserting text, cursor navigation, deleting text, searching and replacing. Download it. Print it. Stick it on the wall and get commanding.

Download the cheat sheet for free! Link



Behind the design Link

As always, here are some insights from the designers:

We created the VI Editor cheat sheet because of the amount of time members of our team spend working in the Linux Terminal. Working on our web app is a full time occupation and for the developers, using the command line 24/7 can be exhausting. Forgetting a command here or there can really break up their workflow. So we put together the VI cheat sheet that can be used for quick reference as and when you need!

Thank you, guys. We really appreciate your work and your good intentions.

Footnotes Link

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  1. 1

    I don’t quite get how they can spend 24/7 on the shell and still need such a small cheat sheet. Thanks anyway, it will be of great help for anyone trying to learn vi.

    • 2

      This is VI cheatsheet, not VIM, so since VI is less powerfull than VIM, the number of important things to remember might be smaller.

  2. 3

    Many thanks to Smashing Mag for posting this. We wanted to get the basics down on one sheet, but we’re looking into creating a more advanced version for anyone with extra über skills.

    Hope you like it!

  3. 4

    Thank you SM, it is time to learn VI.

  4. 5

    The most underrated editor ever.Get VIM, get the power. :)
    Thanks SM!

    • 6

      Underrated? Who underrates vim? I’ve never read of heard any statement as much as hinting to vim not being being a powerful, quality editor.

      It has a steep learning curve, sure, but that’s most of the criticism it gets.

  5. 7

    That’s awesome, I simply love VIm! Great work!

  6. 8

    It took me a week of on and off use (editing config files in Arch Linux) to learn the commands. Don’t tell me those programmers need a cheat sheet after working that long!

    (Btw, vim rocks)

  7. 9


    May 3, 2010 12:54 pm

    Too many cheat-sheets on my wall, lol. It would be included one more. Thanks, it’s really useful!

  8. 10

    Awesome sheet. I love using VIM.
    However, I think I found a problem under the “Searching” section

    It says:
    “:x,ys/str Search for str from line x to line y”

    It should say:
    “:x,yg/str Search for str from line x to line y”

    Since it uses ‘s’ as the command it’s actually substituting instead of searching (‘g’). In fact, this essentially erases str from the lines, which is not a good thing if your searching for something.

  9. 11

    What I’m really looking for is the innovations used in vi by great developers who use it like the great GUI IDEs out there. I mean I seek to learn the real wizardry of vi :)

    Hope commenters will post such links including the patches, tips, snippets to customize vi.

    Thanks in advance

  10. 12

    Not only for Linuxians, I personally use OSX exclusively, and my one and only editor remains Vim (well, MacVim, but I almost never use its GUI functionnalities apart from the tabs).

  11. 13

    @Joe – good spot there, we’ll update the file on Liquidicity soon and make sure SM has the latest version too.

    And if anyone else spots any other little errors, just post them here or over on Liquidicity and we’ll make sure we pick them up :)

    • 14

      Smashing Editorial

      May 4, 2010 1:35 am

      Thanks, James – just received your files. The files are updated now.

  12. 15

    Marin Todorov

    May 3, 2010 1:56 pm

    That’s a really great resource for designers, I bet all Photoshop masters are going to use it on daily basis. Thanks Smashing editorial

    • 16

      Why does everything on smashing have to be directed towards designers who sit in photoshop? Being a developer myself its nice to see these types of posts. I love design and try to progress as a designer (fail miserably ha). You don’t see all the developers who come here complain about all the design posts do you? If you were on the old forums there were quite a few developers who read smashing and all they do is develop. So the article might not be directed at you, but some one like me who develops and spends a good bit of time in ssh to my servers a cheat sheet like this can come in handy.

  13. 17

    I am just seeing morse code in the PDF. It can’t extract the font MyriadPro.

  14. 18

    Use vim not vi.

  15. 19

    Hi guys, we’ve updated the Help Sheet with a few more commands, and made a correction to one of the search commands as pointed out by Joe in the comments above.

    I’ve sent the files to Vitaly, but for now if you would like to download the updated version, it’s on our blog:

    Thanks for your support!

  16. 20

    Why not the extended version of VI – VIM ?

    • 21

      Everything in the cheatsheet works in vim also.

      • 22

        Yes, I know but there are some nasty features absent from VI.

        Anyway. It is one of the best editors and one of the first I’ve ever touched. Like it very much.

  17. 23

    Every day, something helpful. Thanks.

  18. 24


    May 3, 2010 10:09 pm

    man VI love VI. Nice work.

  19. 25

    Yay! This saved my day. The usage of VIM was always confusing for me. But now it’s more clear and looks like fun. Great post. Thank you!

  20. 26

    I really needed this last week. I’ve been throw in the deep end with vi, and now I have a reference. It’s like SM knew what I wanted and made it. Superb.

  21. 27

    Chris F.A. Johnson

    May 4, 2010 1:49 am

    The fact that this is needed is a mark against vi!

  22. 28

    Thanks for this, VIM is my favorite editor!

  23. 29

    Very handy. Thank you kindly!

  24. 30

    Oh yeah, VI is great. Quite possibly the only editor that made me want to shoot myself last time I was forced to use it. So I guess the cheat sheet might come in handy if there is a next time.

    • 31

      It is not the most user friendly editor out there at first site and it is very hard to work with at first. But there are very useful features.

      My best are – like browsing the same file at two different places. Also deleting single word or a sentence with a key combinations are very useful. Also it has tabbed interface…

  25. 32

    Great quick reference resource for beginners and seldom users of VI like me :)


  26. 33

    You guys know what I want.^_^

  27. 34

    I love you just a little more, now :)

  28. 35

    Thank you so much for a very-nice cheat-sheet. Really Handy.

  29. 36

    I’ve been using vi since before 1984. vi has many more commands than are documented in the cheat-sheet. Of course, many are redundant ways to accomplish the same task. For example ZZ is equivalent to :wq. I would have to say that the cheat-sheet will allow you to do basic editing, but it ignores the wonderful things that you can do with things like “named buffers”, “filters”, and “ex commands”. “ex commands” are hinted at with commands like :% and :g. Unfortunately, a truly exhaustive cheat sheet would have to be printed on a 17 x 22 sheet of paper.

  30. 37

    Thanks for making this!

    Use that white space on the bottom right and add the commands for cut/copy and paste. Those are the ones I always have to look up.

    Y or yy copy line (Yank)
    2Y 10Y copy 2 lines. copy 10 lines
    yG copy from cursor to the end of the file

    P paste before cursor
    p paste after cursor

    • 38

      Geoff Wagstaff

      May 10, 2010 7:11 am

      @Andy – thanks for the suggestion, we do have some stuff planned for the whitespace in a future version and copy/paste commands will almost certainly be part of it


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