Automating Repetitive Text Editing with Vim Macros

Don’t you just hate it when you have to do some repetitive text editing, such as wrapping several lines of text in <li>...</li> tags or just about anything involving tables? (Actually, HTML is a veritable goldmine of repetition…) If you use vim, you can whip up macros on-the-fly to reduce this sort of tedium.

The commands to know are:

  • q — Start or stop macro recording. When starting, it should be used with a letter from a to z, which is the register it will record into. (So you can have more than one macro in memory at once.) The command is used singularly to end recording.
  • @ — Play back the macro. Use it in the form of @a to play the macro in register a.
  • @@ — Play the last-played macro again.

Rather than explain it in textual form, I recorded a short screencast that illustrates the basics of using macros in vim.

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  • bellid

    Been looking for this. The macro works wonders! Thanks!
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  • Kadan

    The guide is easy to follow and have valuable inputs in it. Greatly appreciate your work.
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    Just the macro I needed! Thanks for sharing this QOL improvements!
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    Just want to thank you. You’re a lifesaver!
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    The macro works wonders. Thanks!
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    Great information to know.

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    Great time saver! Thanks for the tips.
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    Very much appreciated. Thank you for this excellent article. Keep posting!
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    Still working as of this date! Thanks.
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  • Builder16

    Very much appreciated. Thank you for this excellent article. Keep posting!

  • Georgia Miller

    I’m glad you find vim macros helpful for repetitive text editing! Vim’s macros are indeed a powerful feature that can save a lot of time and effort when dealing with repetitive tasks in text editing. The ability to record and playback macros is a fantastic way to automate sequences of commands.

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    This is exactly the script I am looking for. Cheers!
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