In this post, I summarize some nifty little techniques which make my experience of editing in Nvim smoother.

How do we select the current line, but not including the newline character?

In Neovim, if we want to select from the current cursor position to the end of the line, we usually use v$. But the annoynance is that newline character will also be selected. We have to press h to move the cursor one character leftward.

How do we select only to the last character of the line? Fortunately, we can use g_ to do just what we want. According to the documentation:

g_			To the last non-blank character of the line and
			[count - 1] lines downward |inclusive|.

To select from the cursor position to the last character of this line, we can use vg_.

There is also a selection option in Neovim which controls how the selection behaves. If we use

set selection=exclusive

, then the last character will not be included in the selection if we use $ to move the cursor to the end of the line.


Case-changing operators

Neovim provides several shortcut to change the character cases quickly. All the following operations should be followed by some motions (e.g., $, w, e etc.):

  • g~: switch the case of character
  • gu: change characters to lower case
  • gU: change characters to upper case

The ys operator

Sometimes, we want to add an surrounding character to existing text object. The ys operator provided by Surround is used to just for that purpose. To use it, the format is


Suppose we have the following texts and we want to surround the word welcome with []

# * indicate cursor postion
"wel*come to china"

your key stroke should be ysiw]1

The above texts now becomes:

"[welcome] to china"

If you want to surround welcome to china with (), you can use ysi")2

How do I check the documentation of the keyword under the cursor?

When we are browsing the Nvim help file. We may want to check the documentation of keyword quickly. For example, when the cursor is in the keyword clipboard (the keyword in the help files are colored as opposed to the regular text which is white), how do I see its documentation immdediately?

It is very simple: just press K and you will go the documentation of the keyword. You can also press Ctrl+] to go to the documentation.

If you have enabled mouse support in nvim with the following options:

set mouse=a

you can double click the keyword to go to its documentation. If you are using mintty terminal, clicking the keyword while you are pressing Ctrl will also work.

By the way, to go back to previous position in the help file, press Ctrl+O or Ctrl+T.


Setting up textwidth in Nvim

For text file types such as Markdown, LaTeX, we may want to restrict the line length to at most 80 characters for better readability. To set line length of the file, we should use textwidth option:

Maximum width of text that is being inserted. A longer line will be broken after white space to get this width. A zero value disables this

Add the following setting to your init.vim:

autocmd FileType text,markdown,tex setlocal textwidth=80

If you open an existing file, you will find that the file content isn’t changed automatically. It turns out that we have to manually format the existing texts. You can use gggqG to format the entire document. When you type new text, it will be correctly breaked at the textwidth.


How to show the full path of current file?

You can use {count}Ctrl-G to show the full path of current buffer:

{count}CTRL-G           Like CTRL-G, but prints the current file name with
                        full path.  If the count is higher than 1 the current
                        buffer number is also given.

To show only the full path of file, use 1 followed by Ctrl-G. To also show the buffer number, use a count higher than 1, e.g., 2<C-G>.


  1. iw means inner word object.
  2. i" is a quote object.