vi-mode →~ zsh

💻 A better and friendly vi(vim) mode plugin for ZSH.

⚒️ Zsh Vi Mode ⚒️

ZSH plugin for Agnosticism.

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Features | Install | Usage | Credits | License

Built with ❤︎ by jeffreytse and contributors

Zsh Vi-mode Demo

🤔 Why ZVM?

Maybe you have experienced the default Vi mode in Zsh, after turning on the default Vi mode, you gradually found that it had many problems, some features were not perfect or non-existent, and some behaviors even were different from the native Vi(Vim) mode.

Although the default Vi mode was a bit embarrassing and unpleasant, you kept on using it and gradually lost your interest on it after using for a period of time. Eventually, you disappointedly gave up.

You never think of the Vi mode for a long time, one day you accidentally discovered this plugin, you read here and realize that this plugin is to solve the above problems and make you fall in love to Vi mode again. A smile suddenly appeared on your face like regaining a good life.

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

✨ Features

  • 🌟 Pure Zsh's script without any third-party dependencies.
  • 🎉 Better experience with the near-native vi(vim) mode.
  • ⌛ Lower delay and better response (Mode switching speed, etc.).
  • ✏️ Mode indication with different cursor styles.
  • 🧮 Cursor movement (Navigation).
  • 📝 Insert & Replace (Insert mode).
  • 💡 Text Objects (A word, inner word, etc.).
  • 🔎 Searching history.
  • ❇️ Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.
  • 🪐 Better surrounds functionality (Add, Replace, Delete, Move Around, and Highlight).
  • 🧽 Switch keywords (Increase/Decrease Number, Boolean, Weekday, Month, etc.).
  • ⚙️ Better functionality in command mode (In progress).
  • 🪀 Repeating command such as 10p and 4fa (In progress).
  • 📒 System clipboard (In progress).

💼 Requirements

ZSH: >= 5.1.0

🛠️ Installation

Using Antigen

Bundle zsh-vi-mode in your .zshrc

antigen bundle jeffreytse/zsh-vi-mode

Using zplug

Load zsh-vi-mode as a plugin in your .zshrc

zplug "jeffreytse/zsh-vi-mode"

Using zgen

Include the load command in your .zshrc

zgen load jeffreytse/zsh-vi-mode

Using zinit

Include the load command in your .zshrc

zinit ice depth=1
zinit light jeffreytse/zsh-vi-mode

Note: the use of depth=1 ice is optional, other types of ice are neither recommended nor officially supported by this plugin.

As an Oh My Zsh! custom plugin

Clone zsh-vi-mode into your custom plugins repo

git clone \

Then load as a plugin in your .zshrc


Keep in mind that plugins need to be added before is sourced.

Using Antibody

Add zsh-vi-mode to your plugins file (e.g. ~/.zsh_plugins.txt)


Using Zap

Load zsh-vi-mode as a plugin in your .zshrc

plug "jeffreytse/zsh-vi-mode"

Using Homebrew

For Homebrew users, you can install it through the following command

brew install zsh-vi-mode

Then source it in your .zshrc (or .bashrc)

source $(brew --prefix)/opt/zsh-vi-mode/share/zsh-vi-mode/zsh-vi-mode.plugin.zsh

Arch Linux (AUR)

For Arch Linux users, you can install it through the following command

yay -S zsh-vi-mode

or the latest update (unstable)

yay -S zsh-vi-mode-git

Then source it in your .zshrc (or .bashrc)

source /usr/share/zsh/plugins/zsh-vi-mode/zsh-vi-mode.plugin.zsh


For users of Nix, as of e7e3480530b34a9fe8cb52963ec2cf66e6707e15 you can source the plugin through the following configuration

programs = {
  zsh = {
    interactiveShellInit = ''
      source ${pkgs.zsh-vi-mode}/share/zsh-vi-mode/zsh-vi-mode.plugin.zsh

Or if you prefer home-manager:

home-manager.users.[your username] = { pkgs, ... }: {
  programs = {
    zsh = {
      initExtra = ''
        source ${pkgs.zsh-vi-mode}/share/zsh-vi-mode/zsh-vi-mode.plugin.zsh

Using Fig

Fig adds apps, shortcuts, and autocomplete to your existing terminal.

Install zsh-vi-mode in just one click.

Gentoo Linux

Available in dm9pZCAq overlay

eselect repository enable dm9pZCAq
emerge --sync dm9pZCAq
emerge app-shells/zsh-vi-mode

Then source it in your .zshrc (or .bashrc)

source /usr/share/zsh/site-contrib/zsh-vi-mode/zsh-vi-mode.plugin.zsh


Clone this repository somewhere ($HOME/.zsh-vi-mode for example)

git clone $HOME/.zsh-vi-mode

Then source it in your .zshrc (or .bashrc)

source $HOME/.zsh-vi-mode/zsh-vi-mode.plugin.zsh

Packaging Status

Packaging status

📚 Usage

Use ESC or CTRL-[ to enter Normal mode.

But some people may like the custom escape key such as jj, jk and so on, if you want to custom the escape key, you can learn more from here.


  • ctrl-p : Previous command in history
  • ctrl-n : Next command in history
  • / : Search backward in history
  • n : Repeat the last /

Mode indicators

Normal mode is indicated with block style cursor, and Insert mode with beam style cursor by default.

Vim edition

In Normal mode you can use vv to edit current command line in an editor (e.g. vi/vim/nvim...), because it is bound to the Visual mode.

You can change the editor by ZVM_VI_EDITOR option, by default it is $EDITOR.


  • $ : To the end of the line
  • ^ : To the first non-blank character of the line
  • 0 : To the first character of the line
  • w : [count] words forward
  • W : [count] WORDS forward
  • e : Forward to the end of word [count] inclusive
  • E : Forward to the end of WORD [count] inclusive
  • b : [count] words backward
  • B : [count] WORDS backward
  • t{char} : Till before [count]'th occurrence of {char} to the right
  • T{char} : Till before [count]'th occurrence of {char} to the left
  • f{char} : To [count]'th occurrence of {char} to the right
  • F{char} : To [count]'th occurrence of {char} to the left
  • ; : Repeat latest f, t, F or T [count] times
  • , : Repeat latest f, t, F or T in opposite direction


  • i : Insert text before the cursor
  • I : Insert text before the first character in the line
  • a : Append text after the cursor
  • A : Append text at the end of the line
  • o : Insert new command line below the current one
  • O : Insert new command line above the current one


There are 2 kinds of keybinding mode for surround operating, default is classic mode, you can choose the mode by setting ZVM_VI_SURROUND_BINDKEY option.

  1. classic mode (verb->s->surround)
  • S" : Add " for visual selection
  • ys" : Add " for visual selection
  • cs"' : Change " to '
  • ds" : Delete "
  1. s-prefix mode (s->verb->surround)
  • sa" : Add " for visual selection
  • sd" : Delete "
  • sr"' : Change " to '

Note that key sequences must be pressed in fairly quick succession to avoid a timeout. You may extend this timeout with the ZVM_KEYTIMEOUT option.

How to select surround text object?

  • vi" : Select the text object inside the quotes
  • va( : Select the text object including the brackets

Then you can do any operation for the selection:

  1. Add surrounds for text object
  • vi" -> S[ or sa[ => "object" -> "[object]"
  • va" -> S[ or sa[ => "object" -> ["object"]
  1. Delete/Yank/Change text object
  • di( or vi( -> d
  • ca( or va( -> c
  • yi( or vi( -> y

Increment and Decrement

In normal mode, typing ctrl-a will increase to the next keyword, and typing ctrl-x will decrease to the next keyword. The keyword can be at the cursor, or to the right of the cursor (on the same line). The keyword could be as below:

  • Number (Decimal, Hexadecimal, Binary...)
  • Boolean (True or False, Yes or No, On or Off...)
  • Weekday (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...)
  • Month (January, February, March, April, May...)
  • Operator (&&, ||, ++, --, ==, !==, and, or...)
  • ...

For example:

  1. Increment
  • 9 => 10
  • aa99bb => aa100bb
  • aa100bc => aa101bc
  • 0xDe => 0xdf
  • 0Xdf => 0Xe0
  • 0b101 => 0b110
  • 0B11 => 0B101
  • true => false
  • yes => no
  • on => off
  • T => F
  • Fri => Sat
  • Oct => Nov
  • Monday => Tuesday
  • January => February
  • + => -
  • ++ => --
  • == => !=
  • !== => ===
  • && => ||
  • and => or
  • ...
  1. Decrement:
  • 100 => 99
  • aa100bb => aa99bb
  • 0 => -1
  • 0xdE0 => 0xDDF
  • 0xffFf0 => 0xfffef
  • 0xfffF0 => 0xFFFEF
  • 0x0 => 0xffffffffffffffff
  • 0Xf => 0Xe
  • 0b100 => 0b010
  • 0B100 => 0B011
  • True => False
  • On => Off
  • Sun => Sat
  • Jan => Dec
  • Monday => Sunday
  • August => July
  • / => *
  • ++ => --
  • == => !=
  • !== => ===
  • || => &&
  • or => and
  • ...

Custom Escape Key

You can use below options to custom the escape key which could better match your flavor, such as jj or jk and so on.

  • ZVM_VI_ESCAPE_BINDKEY: The vi escape key in all modes (default is ^[ => ESC)
  • ZVM_VI_INSERT_ESCAPE_BINDKEY: The vi escape key in insert mode (default is $ZVM_VI_ESCAPE_BINDKEY)
  • ZVM_VI_VISUAL_ESCAPE_BINDKEY: The vi escape key in visual mode (default is $ZVM_VI_ESCAPE_BINDKEY)
  • ZVM_VI_OPPEND_ESCAPE_BINDKEY: The vi escape key in operator pending mode (default is $ZVM_VI_ESCAPE_BINDKEY)

For example:

# Only changing the escape key to `jk` in insert mode, we still
# keep using the default keybindings `^[` in other modes

Readkey Engine

This plugin has supported to choose the readkey engine for reading and processing the key events. It easy to do by the ZVM_READKEY_ENGINEoption, currently the below engines are supported:

  • ZVM_READKEY_ENGINE_NEX: It is a better readkey engine to replace ZLE (Beta).
  • ZVM_READKEY_ENGINE_ZLE: It is Zsh's default readkey engine (ZLE).
  • ZVM_READKEY_ENGINE_DEFAULT: It is the default engine of this plugin (It's the NEX engine now).

The NEX is a better engine for reading and handling the key events than the Zsh's ZLE engine, currently the NEX engine is still at beta stage, you can change back to Zsh's ZLE engine if you want.

For example:

# Change to Zsh's default readkey engine

You can use ZVM_KEYTIMEOUT option to adjust the key input timeout for waiting for next key, default is 0.4 seconds.

The escape key is a special case, it can be used standalone. NEX engine waits for a period after receiving the escape character, to determine whether it is standalone or part of an escape sequence. While waiting, additional key presses make the escape key behave as a meta key. If no other key presses come in, it is handled as a standalone escape.

For the NEX engine, we can use ZVM_ESCAPE_KEYTIMEOUT option to adjust the waiting timeout for the escape key, default is 0.03 seconds.

Configuration Function

Since there are some config options relied to some variables defined in the plugin, however, some not. We need to provide an unified config entry function. The name of entry function is stored in an option called ZVM_CONFIG_FUNC and default value is zvm_config, you can change to others for fitting your flavor.

If this config function exists, it will be called automatically, you can do some configurations in this aspect before you source this plugin. For example:

function zvm_config() {

source ~/zsh-vi-mode.zsh

Execute Extra Commands

This plugin has provided a mechanism to execute extra commands, and now you have the below aspects for executing something:


Since the default initialization mode, this plugin will overwrite the previous key bindings, this causes the key bindings of other plugins (i.e. fzf, zsh-autocomplete, etc.) to fail.

You can solve the compatibility issue as below:

# Append a command directly
zvm_after_init_commands+=('[ -f ~/.fzf.zsh ] && source ~/.fzf.zsh')


# Define an init function and append to zvm_after_init_commands
function my_init() {
  [ -f ~/.fzf.zsh ] && source ~/.fzf.zsh


# The plugin will auto execute this zvm_after_init function
function zvm_after_init() {
  [ -f ~/.fzf.zsh ] && source ~/.fzf.zsh

or if you are using the zinit:

# For postponing loading `fzf`
zinit ice lucid wait
zinit snippet OMZP::fzf

By default, the lazy keybindings feature is enabled, all the keybindings of normal and visual mode should be executed by the zvm_after_lazy_keybindings_commands. For example:

# The plugin will auto execute this zvm_after_lazy_keybindings function
function zvm_after_lazy_keybindings() {
  bindkey -M vicmd 's' your_normal_widget
  bindkey -M visual 'n' your_visual_widget

Custom widgets and keybindings

This plugin has two functions for you to define custom widgets and keybindings. In case of unnecessary problems, it is better to use them, especially when you meet the key conflicts.

To define a custom widget, you should:

# If [your_custom_widget] were ignored, it will be the same with <your_custom_widget>
zvm_define_widget <your_custom_widget> [your_custom_function]

To define a keybinding, you should:

zvm_bindkey <keymap> <keys> <widget>

For example:

# Your custom widget
function my_custom_widget() {
  echo 'Hello, ZSH!'

# The plugin will auto execute this zvm_after_lazy_keybindings function
function zvm_after_lazy_keybindings() {
  # Here we define the custom widget
  zvm_define_widget my_custom_widget

  # In normal mode, press Ctrl-E to invoke this widget
  zvm_bindkey vicmd '^E' my_custom_widget

Vi Mode Indicator

This plugin has provided a ZVM_MODE variable for you to retrieve current vi mode and better show the indicator.

And currently the below modes are supported:


For updating the vi mode indicator, we should add our commands to zvm_after_select_vi_mode_commands. For example:

# The plugin will auto execute this zvm_after_select_vi_mode function
function zvm_after_select_vi_mode() {
  case $ZVM_MODE in
      # Something you want to do...
      # Something you want to do...
      # Something you want to do...
      # Something you want to do...
      # Something you want to do...

Custom Cursor Style

This plugin has provided some options for users to custom the cursor style for better terminal compatibility.

  • You can disable this feature by the ZVM_CURSOR_STYLE_ENABLED option (Default is true)
# Disable the cursor style feature
  • You can set your cursor style for different vi mode:
# The prompt cursor in normal mode

# The prompt cursor in insert mode

# The prompt cursor in visual mode

# The prompt cursor in visual line mode

# The prompt cursor in operator pending mode
  • And the below cursor styles are supported:
  • Custom your cursor style is easy as below:
  • Also, custom your colorful cursor style as below:
# The plugin will auto execute this zvm_config function
zvm_config() {
  # Retrieve default cursor styles
  local ncur=$(zvm_cursor_style $ZVM_NORMAL_MODE_CURSOR)
  local icur=$(zvm_cursor_style $ZVM_INSERT_MODE_CURSOR)

  # Append your custom color for your cursor

We can use ZVM_TERM option to set the term type for plugin to handle terminal escape sequences, default is $TERM. It could be xterm-256color, alacritty-256color, st-256color, etc. It's important for some terminal emulators to show cursor properly.

Highlight Behavior

You can use ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_BACKGROUND, ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_FOREGROUND and ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_EXTRASTYLE to change the highlight behaviors ( surrounds, visual-line, etc.), the color value could be a color name or a hex color value.

For example:

ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_FOREGROUND=green             # Color name
ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_FOREGROUND=#008800           # Hex value
ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_BACKGROUND=red               # Color name
ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_BACKGROUND=#ff0000           # Hex value
ZVM_VI_HIGHLIGHT_EXTRASTYLE=bold,underline    # bold and underline

Command Line Initial Mode

You can set the command line initial mode by the ZVM_LINE_INIT_MODE option.

Currently the below modes are supported:

  • ZVM_MODE_LAST : Starting with last mode (Default).
  • ZVM_MODE_INSERT : Starting with insert mode.
  • ZVM_MODE_NORMAL : Starting with normal mode.

For example:

# Always starting with insert mode for each command line

Lazy Keybindings

This plugin has supported the lazy keybindings feature, and it is enabled by default. To disable it, you can set the option ZVM_LAZY_KEYBINDINGS to false before this plugin is loaded. This feature will postpone all the keybindings of normal and visual mode to the first time you enter the normal mode.

It can greatly improve the startup speed, especially you open the terminal and just want to execute a simple command.

Initialization Mode

In order to prevent various problems related to keybindings caused by the plugin sourcing sequence, and also keep the same functionality for this plugin, the initialization of this plugin was postponed to the first command line starting.

However, almost all plugins are initialized when the script is sourced. Therefore, this plugin provides an option ZVM_INIT_MODE to change the initialization mode.

For example:

# Do the initialization when the script is sourced (i.e. Initialize instantly)

💎 Credits

  • Zsh - A powerful shell that operates as both an interactive shell and as a scripting language interpreter.
  • Oh-My-Zsh - A delightful, open source, community-driven framework for managing your ZSH configuration.
  • vim-surround - A vim plugin that all about "surroundings": parentheses, brackets, quotes, XML tags, and more.
  • vim-sandwich - A set of operator and textobject plugins to add/delete/replace surroundings of a sandwiched textobject.

🔫 Contributing

Issues and Pull Requests are greatly appreciated. If you've never contributed to an open source project before I'm more than happy to walk you through how to create a pull request.

You can start by opening an issue describing the problem that you're looking to resolve and we'll go from there.

🌈 License

This theme is licensed under the MIT license © Jeffrey Tse.