Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Copy and Paste Between Different Instances of Vim?

Ubuntu 15

Vim is a highly configurable and powerful text editor that is widely used by developers. However, one common challenge that users face is copying and pasting text between different instances of Vim. In this article, we will guide you through several methods to achieve this.

Quick Answer

To copy and paste between different instances of Vim, you can either install a clipboard-enabled version such as GVim, use Vim’s registers to store and retrieve text, utilize the global system clipboard, or set the clipboard option in your .vimrc file. Each method provides a reliable way to share text between Vim instances.

Install a Clipboard-Enabled Version of Vim

By default, some versions of Vim (like vim and vim-tiny) do not support clipboard integration. To enable this feature, you need to install a clipboard-enabled version such as GVim. GVim is part of the vim-gnome package and can be launched either graphically or in your terminal, replacing the vim command.

To install GVim on Ubuntu, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install vim-gnome

Copy and Paste Using Registers

Vim uses registers to store text that you delete or copy. You can use these registers to copy and paste text between different instances of Vim.

To copy text, move your cursor to the desired text in the first Vim instance and enter visual mode by pressing v. Then, select the text and yank it into the + register by using the command "+y.

The " key allows you to specify which register to use for yanking. The + register is the system clipboard, and y stands for yank.

In the second Vim instance, you can paste the text from the + register using "+p. Here, p stands for paste.

Use the Global System Clipboard

Another way to copy and paste between Vim instances is to use the global system clipboard. This method allows you to copy text from any source on your system, not just between Vim instances.

To copy a line into the + register, use "+yy in the first Vim instance. The yy command yanks the entire line where your cursor is currently located.

Then, in the second Vim instance, use "+p to paste the copied text.

Set the Clipboard Option in Your .vimrc

You can also add the line set clipboard=unnamedplus to your .vimrc file. This setting enables the use of the system clipboard.

With this setting, you can copy selected lines to the clipboard by using the default yank command (yy). Then, you can paste the copied text into another Vim instance using the default paste command (p).

Conclusion

Copying and pasting between different instances of Vim can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners. However, by using the methods outlined in this article, you can easily share text between Vim instances. Whether you choose to use a clipboard-enabled version of Vim, Vim’s registers, the global system clipboard, or the .vimrc configuration file, each method provides a reliable way to copy and paste text in Vim.

Remember, some solutions may require specific versions of Vim or additional packages. Additionally, certain configurations (like running Vim inside tmux) may affect the behavior of copying and pasting between instances. Always ensure your setup supports the method you choose to use.

How can I check if my version of Vim supports clipboard integration?

To check if your version of Vim supports clipboard integration, you can run the vim --version command in your terminal. Look for +clipboard in the output. If it is present, your Vim version supports clipboard integration.

Can I copy and paste text between Vim instances on different machines?

No, you cannot copy and paste text between Vim instances on different machines directly. The methods mentioned in this article are applicable only when working within the same machine. To copy and paste between different machines, you would need to use other methods like SSH file transfer or shared storage.

Can I copy and paste text with formatting between Vim instances?

No, Vim’s copy and paste functionality is limited to plain text. Any formatting applied to the text, such as bold or italics, will not be preserved when pasting into another Vim instance.

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