Vim’s motion commands are very flexible and work well for general use. You can go to the beginning of a line, replace a word, or change a sentence. What about things that are semantically relevant to your files, like an important or buggy function definition, the point of entry for your application, or a stack you’re trying to trace? For these, you can use marks (read as: “bookmarks”). These are “save points” in your files that you can set, jump between, and even use with commands.

Local and Global Marks

A local mark is specific to a particular file and is indicated by a lowercase letter, while global marks are universal across all of your files and use uppercase letters. That is, many files can have an `a mark, while `A points to a particular location in one particular file.

Viewing Marks

View a list of your current marks with :marks. Note that marks are invisible in vim without the use of a (plug-in).

Setting Marks

Set marks with m key in normal mode. To set a local mark of a where the cursor is, type ma. To jump to this location, type `a anywhere in the file.

Deleting Marks

You can delete marks with the :delm command. To delete marks `a, `e, and `G, you would type :delm aeG. You can delete all local marks with :delm!.

Some tips

  • Marks are motions, so you can use them with actions. For example, y`w will copy everything between your current cursor location and the `w mark.
  • `` will return you to the last place you jumped from
  • `0 will return you to the last file you had open before you quit vim
  • Using ' (single-quote) instead of ` (backtick) will jump you to the first non-blank character on the same line as the mark
  • If set `V to the top of your .vimrc file, you can jump to it from any file (saved between vim sessions by default)
  • You can cycle through local marks with [` / ]`
  • The kshenoy/vim-signature plug-in will add visual indications of marks to your line numbers, as well as giving you the ability to delete marks with dm[mark letter], assign the next available mark with m,, and more

Educator, business dork, software developer. kylecoberly.com

Educator, business dork, software developer. kylecoberly.com