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Navigate your vscode like it's 1999 (the vim way)

karlredman profile image Karl N. Redman Updated on ใƒป5 min read

If you are a vim person it can be frustraiting to work in vscode without vim keystrokes. The fantastic plugin vscodevim only goes so far. If you, like me, are used to M-h,M-j,M-k,M-l (where M == 'Alt key') and vim-like tab movements things get freaking nuts. Note that these keys in default vim are the same as pressing escape [I HATE ever having to hit the esc key -ever].

This configuration demonstrates how to switch to vscode easily from vim. In addition a method for you to switch tabs in a vim-like way.Lastly, these settings allow you to navigate vscode with bookmarks in a way you would use marks in regular vim.

Wait there's more! Read though the code (below) and find many vim-like jems that will make vscode feel a bit closer to home.

  • Tested with:
    • vscode v1.32.1
    • vim 8.1 how to compile
    • MX Linux 18.1
    • Debian Stretch 9.8

Vim configuration (at your discretion)

Open you current vim document in vcode

  • Add this following line to your ~/.vimrc
  • This (default) means \ov will open the current file in vscode from vim
nnoremap <leader>ov :exe ':silent !code %'<CR>:redraw!<CR>

Use ctrl+j and ctrl+k to change tabs in vim (I prefer up/down -adjust as needed)

" switch tabs (same as gt & gT)
nnoremap <C-j> :tabprevious<CR>
nnoremap <C-k> :tabnext<CR>
"
" (bonus) move tabls right or left
map <C-h> :execute "tabmove" tabpagenr() - 2 <CR>
map <C-l> :execute "tabmove" tabpagenr() + 1 <CR>

VS Code changes

This get's really complicated to explain. I'm going to list the functions with examples here and then the code -edit as needed. I had to configure keybindings.json and settings.json -I haven't tried combining the configurations.

features from keybindings.json (+noted settings.json)

  • focus active editor (vim windows)

    • i.e. (similar to vim C-w shortcuts)
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w j",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusBelowGroup",
    },
  • focus window groups

    • (similar to tmux panes)
{
    "key": "ctrl+w down",
    "command": "workbench.action.moveActiveEditorGroupDown",
},
  • do nothing for <ALT>+h,j,k,l

    • be sure to disable menu keys in vscode settings: Uncheck "Settings->Window->Enable Menubar Mneumonics"
    • Same as default vim behavior
   {
    "key": "alt+h",
    "command": "extension.vim_escape",
    "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Insert'"
},
  • create mark

    • see file (/.conf/Code/User/settings.json)
     "vim.normalModeKeyBindingsNonRecursive": [
        {
            "before": ["m","a"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark1"
            ]
        }
    ]
  • jump to mark

    • i.e. jump to mark a
{
    "key": "' a",
    "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark1",
    "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
},

The files / configs

At this point I think you get the idea. There are several other vim-like settins I've added into the config files but, like Vim, you'll have to read the code to find the gems.

  • ~/.config/Code/User/keybindings.json
{
    "vim.easymotion": true,
    "vim.sneak": true,
    "vim.incsearch": true,
    "vim.useSystemClipboard": true,
    "vim.useCtrlKeys": true,
    "vim.hlsearch": true,
    "vim.leader": "\\",
    "vim.handleKeys": {
        "<C-a>": false,
        "<C-f>": false
    },
    "vim.normalModeKeyBindingsNonRecursive": [
        {
            "before": ["<C-n>"],
            "commands": [":nohl"]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","a"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark1"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","b"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark2"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","c"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark3"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","d"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark4"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","e"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark5"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","f"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark6"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","g"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark7"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","h"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark8"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","i"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark9"
            ]
        },
        {
            "before": ["m","j"],
            "commands": [
                "numberedBookmarks.toggleBookmark0"
            ]
        },
    ],
    "breadcrumbs.enabled": true,
    "workbench.activityBar.visible": true,
    "workbench.statusBar.visible": true,
    "workbench.sideBar.location": "left",
    "zenMode.hideStatusBar": false,
    "zenMode.hideTabs": false,
    "window.enableMenuBarMnemonics": false,
    "window.menuBarVisibility": "default",
    "window.zoomLevel": 1,
    "telemetry.enableTelemetry": false,
    "telemetry.enableCrashReporter": false
}

  • ~/.config/Code/User/settings.json
// Place your key bindings in this file to override the defaults
[
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w j",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusBelowGroup",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w k",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusAboveGroup",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w h",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusLeftGroup",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w l",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusRightGroup",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w down",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveActiveEditorGroupDown",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w up",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveActiveEditorGroupUp",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w left",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveActiveEditorGroupLeft",
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w right",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveActiveEditorGroupRight",
    },
    {
        "key": "alt+h",
        "command": "extension.vim_escape",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Insert'"
    },
    {
        "key": "alt+j",
        "command": "extension.vim_escape",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Insert'"
    },
    {
        "key": "alt+k",
        "command": "extension.vim_escape",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Insert'"
    },
    {
        "key": "alt+l",
        "command": "extension.vim_escape",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Insert'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' a",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark1",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' b",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark2",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' c",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark3",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' d",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark4",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' e",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark5",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' f",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark6",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' g",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark7",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' h",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark8",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' i",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark9",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "' j",
        "command": "numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark0",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.mode == 'Normal'"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+1",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark1",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+2",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark2",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+3",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark3",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+4",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark4",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+5",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark5",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+6",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark6",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+7",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark7",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+8",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark8",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+9",
        "command": "-numberedBookmarks.jumpToBookmark9",
        "when": "editorTextFocus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+shift+tab",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusNextGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+j",
        "command": "workbench.action.previousEditorInGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+pagedown",
        "command": "workbench.action.nextEditorInGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w shift+-",
        "command": "workbench.action.minimizeOtherEditors"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w =",
        "command": "workbench.action.evenEditorWidths"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w v",
        "command": "workbench.action.splitEditorRight"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w s",
        "command": "workbench.action.splitEditorDown"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w c",
        "command": "workbench.action.closeActiveEditor"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w shift+k",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveEditorToAboveGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w shift+j",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveEditorToBelowGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w shift+h",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveEditorToLeftGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+w shift+l",
        "command": "workbench.action.moveEditorToRightGroup"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b",
        "command": "-extension.vim_ctrl+b",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.use<C-b> && !inDebugRepl && vim.mode != 'Insert'"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+k",
        "command": "-extension.vim_ctrl+k",
        "when": "editorTextFocus && vim.active && vim.use<C-k> && !inDebugRepl"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b b",
        "command": "workbench.action.toggleSidebarVisibility"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b",
        "command": "-workbench.action.toggleSidebarVisibility"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b a",
        "command": "workbench.action.toggleActivityBarVisibility"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b f",
        "command": "workbench.files.action.showActiveFileInExplorer"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b n",
        "command": "workbench.action.nextSideBarView"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b p",
        "command": "workbench.action.previousSideBarView"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b m",
        "command": "workbench.action.toggleMenuBar"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b s",
        "command": "workbench.action.toggleStatusbarVisibility"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b l",
        "command": "workbench.action.toggleSidebarPosition"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b o",
        "command": "outline.focus"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b e",
        "command": "workbench.files.action.focusFilesExplorer"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+b r",
        "command": "search.action.focusSearchList"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' l",
        "command": "workbench.action.togglePanelPosition"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' '",
        "command": "workbench.action.togglePanel"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+j",
        "command": "-workbench.action.togglePanel"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' c",
        "command": "workbench.debug.panel.action.clearReplAction",
        "when": "inDebugRepl"
    },
    {
        "key": "meta+l",
        "command": "-workbench.debug.panel.action.clearReplAction",
        "when": "inDebugRepl"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' c",
        "command": "workbench.action.closePanel"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' space",
        "command": "workbench.action.focusPanel"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' n",
        "command": "workbench.action.nextPanelView"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' p",
        "command": "workbench.action.previousPanelView"
    },
    {
        "key": "ctrl+' shift+-",
        "command": "workbench.action.toggleMaximizedPanel"
    }
]

Posted on by:

karlredman profile

Karl N. Redman

@karlredman

Software / Systems Engineer and Administrator. Lover of systems. Proponent of automation. Advocate of individuality and the perspective of context.

Discussion

markdown guide
 

but there is one problem: when you are in insert mode and you want to delete a word, normally the command is crtl+w. but right now is not working.
i am not good with vscode setting if you have a solution for that, really like to know

 

Daniel,

Yea, I replaced ctrl+w with the slew of window controlling combinations within the configuration -all using ctrl+w+<something>. The Vim way of deleting a word works though dw if you are using the plugins that I've specified.

Basically I wanted something that operated like Vim and ditches any wysiwyg editor methods.

I think I probably should have emphasized that my goal was to make VsCode work/feel like Vim over other editor experiences.

Something that might be good to add here is a Vim Cheat Sheet -hope this helps

 

thanks for the answer.
actually you can delete the word in insert mode with ctrl+w, but when I use your setting I couldn't (because when you press ctrl+w vscode is waiting for the next word/command). so I change that to alt+u for now.
and just another question which I don't get about vim, when we split the window horizontal/vertical, why in vim (or vscodevim I don't know) it split the file we are in it.
here is the picture:
dev-to-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/i/...
shouldn't it actually split another file in the right??
for example, shouldn't be like ctrl+w v {filename}??

(and sorry for my English and my lack of knowledge in vim in general)

Daniel, I completely glossed over that you were talking about insert mode and not normal mode. Sorry about that and I'm glad you found a solution that works for you.

Nonetheless, in Vim proper the way to delete the word under the cursor while in insert mode would be (ctrl+o)dw. I have not found a solution to do insert mode operations in VsCode.

I should also mention that I almost never do any commands in insert mode -not even in Vim. Also, and this might be useful(?), I never use the Esc key to toggle back to normal mode -I have Alt+[hjkl] mapped for that (i.e. hitting Alt+k while in insert mode puts me back in normal mode). This way I don't move my hands around as much :D

As far as the split goes, yes, (ctrl+w)v is emulating normal Vim behavior. However, if you want to create a new split with a new file in both Vim and VsCode you can use the command :vnew. So you may want to replace the normal vsplit command with vnew instead.

Also note: vsplit is really for editing/reviewing long files in different places at the same time. In VsCode splits have a different context because a split also opens a new tab within a "view". Vim's concept of window vs. tab vs. view is not a 1:1 match with VsCode.

thanks for the answer.
actually what I want to open an existing file, vertically.
so around that, I usually, used ctrl+w v to open a file vertically, and when I open file with ctrl+p (go to file... which is for vscode), and when i open the file, i will close the previous file.
just watch this:
dev-to-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/i/...
as you can see, the only thing i wanted in that video is to open all the flag.txt vertically.

 

I just love it, thanks
I just start using all of this setting, and it makes a lot of stuff easier in vscode ๐Ÿ˜Ž(โยดโ—ก`โ)