I know I can write to a file by simply doing :w <file>. I would like to know though how can I write to a file by appending to it instead of overwriting it.

Example use case: I want to take some samples out of a log file into another file. To achieve that today I can do:

  1. Open the log file
  2. Select some lines with Shift+v
  3. Write to a file: :w /tmp/samples
  4. Select some more lines with Shift+v
  5. Append to /tmp/samples with :w !cat - >> /foo/samples

Unfortunately step 5 is long, ugly and error prone (missing a > makes you lose data). I hope Vim has something better here.

  • 3
    If you're interested in using Vim better, do checkout sister site Vi and Vim.
    – muru
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


From :h :w:

                                                :w_a :write_a E494
:[range]w[rite][!] [++opt] >>
                        Append the specified lines to the current file.

:[range]w[rite][!] [++opt] >> {file}
                        Append the specified lines to {file}.  '!' forces the
                        write even if file does not exist.

So, if you have selected the text using visual mode, just do :w >> /foo/samples (:'<,'> will be automatically prepended). If you miss out on a >, Vim will complain:

E494: Use w or w>>
  • This is perfect :) Nothing like reading the docs. Didnt know about :h though. Will use it more Apr 4, 2016 at 15:59
  • 1
    @BrunoPolaco :h is just shorthand for :help. Start with :help helphelp? :D
    – muru
    Apr 4, 2016 at 16:02
  • This is great when building shell scripts in combination with the fc command. Dec 3, 2020 at 23:07

Define a function:

fun! App(filename)
    exec "w !cat - >> " . shellescape(a:filename)

Call a function:

call App('/foo/samples')

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