Sometimes I forget to do sudo vim and open files to which I don't have write permission. I saw this post and it was really helpful.

When I did :w !sudo tee % it asked me for a password and then the options (O)K and (L)OAD. This worked fine. But when I did :wq !sudo tee %, vim gave me an error -

E172: Only one file name allowed

Why didn't it let me go to the prompt after wq. I don't understand this error.

  • I wanted to leave a comment and ask those guys on stackoverflow.com/questions/1005/… but don't have enough reputation to leave a comment. Oct 11, 2012 at 13:11
  • 1
    Putting random words in code formatting makes your questions harder to read. Use italics or bold for ordinary text, if necessary, please.
    – Mat
    Oct 11, 2012 at 13:30
  • Sorry about that. I'll keep this in mind. Also I should put only the first occurrence of code-word in code, right? Don't mind me asking it here instead of meta. Oct 11, 2012 at 13:34
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    You should put all code and commands in code blocks. For things like vim (i.e. command names that are also the app's name), I'd leave it in plain text when it's included in a plain sentence (e.g. "I use vim to do wonderful things"), but put code markings around it if it's part of a command (e.g. "When I run vim -d ... foo happens").
    – Mat
    Oct 11, 2012 at 13:38
  • Sure thing. thanks. Can't +1 for you. Oct 11, 2012 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


Because :w and :wq are two different commands with different options.

Here is the description of the :w command with the !{cmd} option:

:[range]w[rite] [++opt] !{cmd}
                    Execute {cmd} with [range] lines as standard input
                    (note the space in front of the '!').  {cmd} is
                    executed like with ":!{cmd}", any '!' is replaced with
                    the previous command |:!|.

Note that :w! and :w !{cmd} are two completely different things; in the former, exclamation mark means "force write", in the latter it is a sort of a pipe sign to pass the whole range of text to the subsequent command (in your case, to tee run as superuser, which both returns the file to vi and saves it to the filename represented by the wildcard %).

Sadly, there is no such option for the command :wq. The only other available forms of this command are :wq! (here the exclamation mark is not for piping to another command, but for force quit, much like :w!) and :w[!] {file}.

  • can I :wq! and forcefully save it even if I don't have the write permissions? In my case if I am not the super user? Oct 12, 2012 at 5:04
  • no. But you can forcefully overwrite a file.
    – January
    Oct 12, 2012 at 5:14
  • what good may come from this. a user can tamper with other user's data. Doesn't this look bad? Oct 12, 2012 at 5:28
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    you can forcefully overwrite your own file. Vim cannot give you more permissions that the system gives you.
    – January
    Oct 12, 2012 at 5:31
  • yes. i just cross checked it with vim Oct 12, 2012 at 5:36

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