Terminal mode in Vim


  • Vim 8.1 introduced terminal mode, :terminal
  • :terminal allows you to open terminals inside Vim, hence the potential to be as productive as being in a Tmux session
  • You probably don’t need it if you are already using Tmux

How is This Helpful?

In Vim, prior to this, we can only access the shell through either typing :!, to and back from shell with hitting CTRL + Z then using $ fg , or Tmux.

Now, with the new ternimal mode, combining tabs, we can work wonders with just Vim! In cover photo, I have

  1. One tab with a file I am edting, a test watcher, and a terminal for working in Git
  2. The other tab with some other file in another area of the code base

Use Case

  1. Checking Git log
  2. Running a server or some services
  3. Watching files
  4. Pretty much anything you would otherwise do with CTRL + Z for :)

Getting Started

My Setup

" ~/.vimrc

" Split to the right for vsp
set splitright
" Split to the bottom for sp
set splitbelow

" <leader> + t: Opens a termnial vertically
" Credit: https://medium.com/gr-tech/vim-without-tmux-3ebee29fc71a
nnoremap <silent> <leader>t :vert term<CR>

Working with Terminal Mode

  • With the setup, you can open a terminal with <leader> + t
  • Move among the panes with CTRL + w + h/j/k/l
  • Go to terminal Normal mode with CTRL + w + N to copy the text;
  • Hit i to go back to terminal mode
  • Use Vim’s Ex command in terminal pane with CTRL + w + :
  • From there, type command :term to open another terminal pane below the current pane