I need to find specific length numbers in a big document. I tried to use regex for this. For example, If I need to search for numbers with exactly 2 digits, I use \d\d (i.e. /d twice followed by a space). This works well.

But for finding 10 digit numbers it's not really feasible to type in \d 10 times.

Tried \d{2}, says 'E486: Pattern not found: \d{2}'

Is there any quicker/easier way to achieve this?

6 Answers 6


There are different regular expression dialects; some (e.g. Perl's) do not require backslashes in the quantification modifier (\d{2}), some (e.g. sed) require two (\d\{2\}), and in Vim, only the opening curly needs it (\d\{2}). That's the sad state of incompatible regular expression dialects.

Also note that for matching exact numbers, you have to anchor the match so that \d\{2} won't match to digits (12) in 123. This can be done with negative look-behind and look-ahead:

  • Perfect. Can you please one liner info on the regex? Would be really helpful. Thanks
    – mtk
    Sep 12, 2013 at 9:08
  • 1
    For someone struggling with the basic regexp syntax, look-behind/ahead is pretty advanced. I probably cannot describe it better than the built-in :help /\@<! and :help /\@!. Don't worry if you don't immediately understand everything; as I said, this is pretty advanced. Sep 12, 2013 at 9:42
  • You can also put \v at the beginning of the regex if you wish to avoid having to escape the {, see :help magic for more information (it makes vim regex behave a bit more like perl regex, though there are still differences).
    – evilsoup
    Sep 12, 2013 at 12:35
  • Thank's a lot: \d\{4} in Vi it's a trivial one at all
    – installero
    Aug 15, 2015 at 10:30

Try the following:


and you should use \ not /

You can find out more about the regular exression of vim on this site or in vim with :help regular.


Escaping brackets works: \d\{2\}


Not as pretty, but this worked for me for 5 digits in a log file.


Search numbers of fixed length say 5


match 12345, 123456

As numbers more than 5 digits contain substring of 5 digits, they will be found too.

word boundary start


word boundary end


Then use below to search numbers of exact 5 digits


match 12345 but not 123456

Use below to search numbers of 5 or more digits.


Use below to search numbers of 5 to 8 digits.


Use below to search numbers of 8 or less digits.


Shortcut numbers of 1 or more digits


For someone like myself reaching this page simply to look for a pattern matching any length of digits:


(It took me some time to figure out the mandatory extra escaping \ before +)

  • + quantifier stands for 1 or more occurrence. This regular expression matches 1 or more occurrences of digits.
    – gaganso
    Jul 11, 2018 at 18:10

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