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created August 7, 2001 · complexity intermediate · author Anonymous · version 6.0

This is a *request* for a tip. I need to be able to pipe the output of a :blah ex command into the Vim text buffer for editing. I wanted to do this many times for different reasons and could never find a way!

I would just love to be able to do :hi --> textBuffer and examine the output at my own leasure scrolling up and down and using Vim search commands on it. Same thing for :set all, and other things. Considering that cut and paste is horrible in windows, I can't for example do :set guioptions? then cut and paste! So I have to retype it, or cut and paste from the help manual. I really want to be able to pipe the output of ex commands into the text buffer. Can someone help me?


You can use the :redir command to redirect the output of an ex command to a register and then paste the contents of the register into a Vim buffer. For example:

:redir @a
:set all
:redir END

Now, register 'a' will have the output of the "set all" ex command. You can paste this into a Vim buffer. You can also write a Vim function to do the above.

See :help :redir.

This may be obvious to experts, but it took me a very long time to figure it out, because Google searches on terms like 'pipe', 'buffer', 'shell', etc never brought it to my attention. However, you can pipe the contents of the file currently being edited (the current buffer) to a shell command, and replace the current file/buffer with the _output_ of that command, using this:

:%! [cmd]

ie, if you didn't know the :retab command (as for a long time I didn't), you could expand tabs using basic unix commands like ":%! expand -t 4". Wish I'd known this a long time ago, so I'm posting it here in the hopes that others might find it :-)

The answer is (for ex.):

:read !ls ~

and :help :read for more info

Here's a function that pipes the output of a command into a new tab (Vim 7.0):

function! TabMessage(cmd)
 redir => message
 silent execute a:cmd
 redir END
 silent put=message
 set nomodified
command! -nargs=+ -complete=command TabMessage call TabMessage(<q-args>)

Example usage:

:TabMessage highlight

Another alternative is to use Dredir function in the Decho script script#120.

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