In bash, using vi mode, if I hit Esc,v, my current command line is opened in the editor specified by $EDITOR and I am able to edit it in full screen before 'saving' the command to be returned to the shell and executed.

How can I achieve similar behaviour in zsh? Hitting v in command mode results in a bell an has no apparent effect, despite the EDITOR environment variable being set.

7 Answers 7


In case you prefer Emacs keybindings:

autoload -z edit-command-line
zle -N edit-command-line
bindkey "^X^E" edit-command-line
  • 22
    The ^x^e binding seems to be a default with current .oh-my-zsh, which is extremely nice. Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 15:44
  • ^x^e is exactly what I was looking for.
    – jmreicha
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 16:30
  • 1
    Similar setup for Prezto as long as the editor module is loaded.
    – AL the X
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 12:08
  • Can someone edit the answer to explain why the second line is necessary, especially with -N flag?
    – Mo...
    Commented Jan 30 at 18:04

See edit-command-line in zshcontrib.

bindkey -M vicmd v edit-command-line
  • 23
    (Just to clarify): To enabled the edit-command-line “widget” you will need something like autoload edit-command-line; zle -N edit-command-line in one of your zsh init files (see the ZLE Functions section of the zshcontrib documentation). Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 3:14
  • 3
    How do you activate this once it's in place? The bindkey in the emacs-style answer makes sense to me. But I can't find reference on what bindkey -M vicmd v sets up. Commented May 25, 2012 at 18:50
  • 3
    @MatSchaffer Same as Bash: if you are in vi mode, then hit <ESC> to enter command mode from insert mode and and then v to visual mode (Meta-v is the same), or just v if you're already in command mode. If you're using Emacs mode, the typical binding is C-x C-e.
    – ephemient
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 20:03
  • 7
    Remapping the v key means you can't use visual mode any more, so I prefer remapping to the spacebar (which doesn't do anything useful in normal mode) with bindkey -M vicmd ' ' edit-command-line
    – gib
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 23:24

You can use fc to edit the last command in history. It's not the same as editing the same command, but a quick hit on the Enter key makes your current command the last command in history.

  • 3
    This is great when you are ssh'ed into some other machine which does not have edit-command-line setup as one may have in their personal environment.
    – anishpatel
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 18:28
  • 1
    what does fc stands for? f-command...?
    – fabmilo
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 3:37
  • This is almost certainly what you want. Just about any time your command is complex enough to want to edit it, you've already tried a few different variations of it so it's in your history. To add on to this, you can use fc $ENTRY to edit that command in your history. zshbuiltins(1) has more info. And, then, when it works, you can use fc again to save it to a file to run later as a script!
    – anahata
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 23:14
  • ...unless you don't want to run the command in which case you can use # in normal mode. It will comment out the current command and send Enter so that now that commented line is the last in history. And now you can use fc.
    – cassepipe
    Commented Jun 26 at 16:42

This is the complete configuration that I added to my ~/.zshrc to get the same behavior from bash:

export VISUAL=vim
autoload edit-command-line; zle -N edit-command-line
bindkey -M vicmd v edit-command-line
  • 1
    Per the earlier comments, this is configured by default if you're using Oh my ZSH or Prezto. The latter requires the editor module to be loaded and vi or vim selected for command mode.
    – AL the X
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 12:10
  • I'd vote to make this the accepted answer, it solved my question with all configuration described. Thanks.
    – Laurent
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    For me, v should surrounded by quote: 'v'.
    – roachsinai
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 15:06
  • but I lost my cursor after existing vim
    – apollo
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 22:15
  • 1
    @roachsinai, if v were a special character in the syntax of zsh, you'd need bindkey -M 'v'icmd 'v' edit-command-line and export VISUAL='v'im but of course v is not special in the syntax of zsh or any shell for obvious reasons, so the quotes are superflous. They'd only be needed if you had something like alias -g v=gotcha in your ~/.zshrc (and no alias -g "'v'=ahah") Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 14:01

In case you're like me wanting to emulate oh-my-zsh behaviour that is to open the current line in vim when you press 'vv' in normal mode, use the following :

autoload -Uz edit-command-line
zle -N edit-command-line
bindkey -M vicmd 'vv' edit-command-line

I think @quodlibetor's comment is worth an answer on its own:

If you are using .oh-my-zsh, the default key compination is:

Ctrl+x followed by Ctrl+e


In vi mode, a no-config way of achieving that is to use : in normal mode and enter the edit-command-line widget. (You can just type ed and tab-complete it)

More info there : https://thevaluable.dev/zsh-line-editor-configuration-mouseless/#built-in-widgets

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