Plugin to make Vim behave more like a 'normal' editor.
Prompt when closing or quitting w/ unsaved changes
Fix Markdown syntax highlighting
Remove Ruby testing residue


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You can also use your local clone with git send-email.


Some, indeed many, may say this is counter-productive or even sacrilegious. But Vim is a lot more than just a keybinding paradigm; firstly it has one of the richest plugin ecosystems of any editor, but also it is a -if not the most- ubiquitous text editor that's been battle tested for over 25 years. There are more reasons to use it than merely its famous shortcut vocabulary.

This plugin is an attempt to expose everything else about Vim without the overhead of cultivating Normal Mode fluency. This is not a rebellion, it is merely a manifestation of the distinction between Vim the editor and Vim the keybinding paradigm. Please do not dismiss Normal Mode just because this plugin exists, give vimtutor a try, modal editing is popular for a reason.

Vim itself already has support for something similar in its optional mswin.vim config file. However it still assumes the necessity of Normal Mode and such heritage as SHIFT+INSERT-style combinations. This plugin however, attempts to avoid Normal Mode unless absolutely necessary, say for interacting with the NERDTree buffer, wherein Insert Mode has no purpose.


Use your favourite plugin manager, eg, for vim-plug;

Plug 'j-james/vim-heresy'

Note that Vim before v7.5 and Neovim before v0.1.5 have a bug where Insert Mode is inappropriately set for some panes.


Most keybindings should work as you might expect from, say Atom or Sublime Text; SHIFT+ARROW to select and CTRL+C/V to copy/paste. But don't expect Vim to completely bend to your will, it is still useful to familiarise yourself with some of Vim's basic concepts. For instance you may on occasion find yourself stuck in a particular Vim mode, like when pasting text without 'Paste Mode' then inserted text can trigger random mappings. In such case CTRL+Q may not kill Vim and you'll need to find a way of getting to Normal Mode and typing :q then <RETURN>. Such is life with Vim, this plugin is highly unlikely to ever change that. (BTW conventional pasting is on by default, but to exit an errant 'Paste Mode' use :set nopaste.)

If you are new to Vim, then perhaps the only remaining confusion after installing this plugin will be about where files go when you open new ones. This question will be answered by Vim's concept of 'buffers'. You may wish to install something like vim-buftabline to give a familiar list of open files along the top of the editor.


#Vim in the terminal

Both Vim and Neovim can be used both as GUI apps and in the terminal. However, original Vim in the terminal has problems with many key combinations - essentially most combinations that are not a plain CTRL+KEY. To get around this you can use the vim-fixkey plugin. It does have some caveats, which you can read about in its docs, but basically it just makes recording macros a little bit more tricky because of the timing between Esc combinations. vim-fixkey also doesn't enable ALT+non-alphanumeric combinations, but vim-heresy usually has alphanumeric siblings which you can still use. However, if you are not particularly tied to Vim, you can use Neovim in the terminal which has much better support for key combinations and will work without the need for vim-fixkey. Note that the GUI versions of both Vim and Neovim also don't have these key combination problems.

Most terminal emulators (ie. xterm, rxvt, PuTTY, etc) default to intercepting CTRL+S to suspend output (CTRL+Q unsuspends if you're wondering), if so you will need to disable this behaviour to use vim-heresy's shortcuts for saving and quitting. Most often you simply need to add the following to your ~/.bashrc, ~/.zshrc or similar:

stty -ixon
stty stop undef

However some GUI terminals also have their own settings for suspension. For instance Konsole, which can be unset by going to Settings -> Configure Profile -> Choose current profile -> Edit Profile -> Advanced Tab and disabling Enable flow control using Ctrl+S and Ctrl+Q

One further common problem is that tmux can change key combination behaviour, most notably for SHIFT+ARROW combinations, to overcome this add set-window-option -g xterm-keys to your ~/.tmux.conf config.

#General editor shortcuts
  • CTRL+N: Open a new file.
  • CTRL+O: Open an existing file.
  • CTRL+S: Saves the current file.
  • CTRL+G: Goto line.
  • ALT+; or ALT+c: Vim's command prompt.
  • ALT+o: Replaces native CTRL+O to give one-off Normal Mode commands.
#Pane controls
  • ALT+ARROW: Change pane/buffer focus.
  • CTRL+W: Closes current pane-like thing. Also closes associated quickfix and location panes.
#Selecting, copy and paste
  • SHIFT+ARROW: Select text
  • CTRL+C: Copy selection or copy line if no selection.
  • CTRL+X: Cut selection or cut line if no selection.
  • CTRL+V: Paste current selection.
  • CTRL+A: Select all.
  • CTRL+D: Select word under cursor. Use something like vim-multicursors for multi cursor support.
  • CTRL+L: Select line under cursor, repetition selects more lines.
  • TAB or ALT+]: Indent current line or selected text. TAB currently broken for Neovim
  • SHIFT+TAB or ALT+[: Unindent current line or selected text.
#Finding, replacing
  • CTRL+F: Find text. When text is selected that selection is searched for.
  • F3 and SHIFT+F3: Find next and previous occurences.
  • CTRL+H: Find and replace. [FIND] and [REPLACE] are prepopulated.
  • CTRL+Z or CTRL+U: Undo.
  • CTRL+Y: Redo.
#Tab navigation
  • CTRL+T: Open a new tab.
  • CTRL+TAB: Cycle to the next tab.
  • CTRL+SHIFT+T: Cycle to the previous tab.
#Plugin updating
  • CTRL+U: Update installed plugins
#Other text manipulation tricks
  • CTRL+LEFT/RIGHT: Move cursor per word (works in selection as well).
  • CTRL+ALT+k: Delete current line. Currently broken in terminal Vim
  • CTRL+ALT+d: Duplicate current line. Currently broken in terminal Vim
  • CTRL+UP/DOWN: Move current line or selected text up/down.

Note that CTRL-based shortcuts are paired with uppercase letters in these docs because Vim does not recognise the difference between cases when using CTRL combinations and documenting in uppercase implies something of this distinction.


When adding a new binding of your own that needs Normal mode, you should use <C-O> before the targeted command, for example;

" Ensure CtrlP doesn't get overridden by autocomplete in insertmode
inoremap <C-P> <C-O>:CtrlP<CR>

Overriding or disabling shortcuts in this plugin can be done in several ways. The simplest way is to use:

let g:heresy_shortcuts = 0
inoremap ... custom mapping ...
call heresy#StartHeresy()

Shortcuts are also grouped roughly under the headings described above, so you may be able to disable one of the following:

let g:heresy_app_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_copypaste_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_undo_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_find_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_line_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_tab_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_pane_shortcuts = 1
let g:heresy_indentation_shortcuts = 1

" Small fixes to HOME and PAGEUP behaviour
let g:heresy_navigation_fixes = 1
" Allows scrolling through wrapped lines one visual line at a time
let g:heresy_better_wrap_navigation = 1

Lastly you can unmap a mapping using commands such as nunmap, iunmap, sunmap, etc.

#Known issues

  • Because a lot of the keybindings trigger brief switches to NORMAL mode in the background, then be careful of plugins that cause a delay between switching modes. I know that vim-airline in particular has this problem.
  • In Neovim there seems to be a bug where only SHIFT+TAB and not TAB works for indenting during selection mode.
  • Mapping <CTRL+M> internally means mapping <RETURN>. This is a throwback to Vim's days as a pure terminal application.
  • CTRL+BACKSPACE internally represents <CTRL+H>, which can be annoying. Again this is a throwback to Vim's days as a pure terminal application.