Selecting columns with visual block mode


Run time:

If you want to edit several adjacent lines with a similar format, you might save a lot of time by making a columnar selection. This episode will demonstrate how to achieve this using Vim’s visual block mode.


Visual block mode allows you to select a rectangular section of text. From normal mode, you can enter visual block mode by pressing ctrl-v.

In most text editing environments, if you want to replace some text, you can just start typing and the replacement will overwrite the selection. But Vim’s visual modes are similar to normal mode, in that each key will execute a command. Here are some of the commands covered in this episode:

command action
c change selection (delete and switch to insert mode)
I insert in front of cursor
A append after cursor
r replace every character in selection
d delete selection
o toggle cursor to opposite corner

Further Reading


Browse similar content

Level-up your Vim


Boost your productivity with a Vim training class. Join a public class, or book a private session for your team.

Drew hosted a private Vim session for the shopify team that was one of the best workshops I have ever attended.

John Duff, Director of Engineering at Shopify


Make yourself a faster and more efficient developer with the help of these publications, including Practical Vim (Pragmatic Bookshelf 2012), which has over 50 five-star reviews on Amazon.

After reading it, I've switched to vim as my default editor on a daily basis with no regrets. ★★★★★

Javier Collado

Learn to use Vim efficiently in your Ruby projects

In association with thoughtbot, one of the most well respected Rails consultancies in the world, I've produced a series of screencasts on how to make navigating your Ruby projects with Vim ultra-efficient. Along the way, you’ll also learn how to make Ruby blocks a first-class text object in Vim. This lets you edit Ruby code at a higher level of abstraction. Available to buy from thoughtbot..