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I have two files opened in vim, each in one tmux pane. I would like to copy let's say 10 lines from one file to another.

How can I accomplish this not using the mouse's Copy -> Paste ?

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You could involve tmux, but there are generally simpler ways. Are both the Vim instances on the same (local?) machine? Usually, I would just use a temporary file for that (i.e. visually select the lines, :w /tmp/lines, then :r /tmp/lines in the other instance). Or, if your Vim knows how to talk to your system clipboard, you could use the + or * registers to avoid the temporary file. – Chris Johnsen Dec 19 '12 at 5:39
up vote 36 down vote accepted

You'll have to use tmux shortcuts. Assuming your tmux command shortcut is the default: Ctrl+b, then:

  1. Ctrl+b, [ Enter copy(?) mode.

  2. Move to start/end of text to highlight.

  3. Ctrlspace

    Start highlighting text (on Arch Linux). When I've compiled tmux from source on OSX and other Linux's, just Space on its own usually works. Selected text changes the colours, so you'll know if the command worked.

  4. Move to opposite end of text to copy.

  5. Alt+w Copies selected text into tmux clipboard.

  6. Move cursor to opposite tmux pane, or completely different tmux window. Put the cursor where you want to paste the text you just copied.

  7. Ctrl+b, ] Paste copied text from tmux clipboard.

tmux is quite good at mapping commands to custom keyboard shortcuts.

See Ctrl+b,? for the full list of set keyboard shortcuts.

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This was just great. Thanks! – Ionică Bizău Jul 10 '14 at 10:40
Thanks. Just a sidenode: The Alt + w did not work on Mac. Alt was mapped to Esc by default. Hence it is Esc+w. – Karan Mar 22 at 7:58
@KaranThis is not true for me on OS X 10.10.5 with tmux 2.0, although alt+w doesn't copy the text either. – weberc2 Apr 6 at 15:41

Unfortunately, I can't add a comment yet to Alex Leach's answer so I'm going to include an addendum here for Mac OS X users:

  1. Enter Copies the selected text
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thanks! I am on Ubuntu Xenial, using byobu/tmux with all default settings, this worked, Alt + w did not. – Andrea Zonca Mar 21 at 18:16
This doesn't work on OS X Yosemite with tmux 2.0, nor does alt+w, nor does esc+w :( – weberc2 Apr 6 at 15:59

You could use the system clip board with "*y and "*p instead of the normal y and p.

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To use system clipboard you have to use "+2yy – copy two lines to X11 clipboard "+dd – cut line to X11 clipboard "+p – paste X11 clipboard – Patryk Jan 9 '13 at 12:59

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