How can I remove the first few characters like remove ; from the selected lines using commands? I switched into the insert mode, but can't figure out how to do.

;extension=php_exif.dll      ; Must be after mbstring as it depends on it
;extension=php_oci8_12c.dll  ; Use with Oracle Database 12c Instant Client

3 Answers 3

  1. Place cursor on first or last ;
  2. Press Ctrl+v to enter Visual Block mode
  3. Use arrow keys or j, k to select the ; characters you want to delete (or the other "first few characters")
  4. Press x to delete them all at once
  • 7
    using j or k is better than arrow keys ;-)
    – vdegenne
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 23:28
  • 1
    VSCode's embedded terminal (on Windows using git bash), I had to use Ctrl + Q instead of Ctrl + V as it was bound to paste.
    – Greg K
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 12:42

Normally you'd do this in ex-mode, e.g., if that is the entire file you could do just


to remove all leading semicolons.

If there are other lines that you do not want to modify, of course, it becomes more complicated.

  • 1
    Can we give line numbers in the above %s command?
    – Arsal
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 22:08
  • You could use line numbers instead of %. That's a standard feature of ex/vi. Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 23:03

techraf's answer worked for me. Another option is to use the :norm-command of vim.

  1. Place cursor on first line
  2. Press Shift+V to enter Visual Line mode
  3. Press 16j to select 16 lines below the current line
  4. Type :norm ^x

: enters command mode, norm specifies a command that will be executed on all lines, ^ goes to the beginning of the line, and x deletes the first character.

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