I'm getting used to vim bindings (like pressing w to go to word, dw to delete a word, and such) and it's modes (insert, normal, visual), and, out of curiosity would like to know: is there some kind of implementation of this behaviour of modes and bindings from vim to my terminal?

Have insert mode, normal mode and such...

1 Answer 1


It has insert and normal modes (the insert mode is default, and escape for normal mode).

When in vi normal mode, you can launch the full $EDITOR to edit the current line with v (the same can be achieved when bash is in emacs mode with C-x C-e).

In bash: set -o vi You can run it at the command line for just this session or add it to your .bashrc file.

Many programs use readline for input, and you can make any of them use vi-style keybindings by setting up your .inputrc with

set editing-mode vi
set keymap vi

In zsh, if you change your EDITOR environment variable, the shell will match it.

  • 2
    @Somebody: Not .vimrc since you're still using the shell's built-in editor, but you can configure key bindings in .inputrc for all readline applications (such as bash), in .bashrc for bash specifically, in .zshrc for zsh. Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 18:34
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    Note that on OS X, you'll need to put the put -o vi in ~/.bash_profile instead of ~/.bashrc . Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 7:24
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    I notice that the cursor appearance doesn't change in the different modes bash w/ vi key bindings. Is there any way to make it do that? It would be nice to have a visual indication of what mode I'm in. Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 7:27
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    For a visual indicator you can put set show-mode-in-prompt on, set vi-ins-mode-string "+" and set-cmd-mode-string ":" in your .inputrc file.
    – Will
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 4:43
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    @Will That worked, with a few changes. Namely, I added: set show-mode-in-prompt on set vi-ins-mode-string "+" set vi-cmd-mode-string ":"
    – soap
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 15:22

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