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Tip 42 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2001 · complexity basic · version 7.0

A mark allows you to record your current position so you can return to it later. There is no visible indication of where marks are set.

Each file has a set of marks identified by lowercase letters (a-z). In addition there is a global set of marks identified by uppercase letters (A-Z) that identify a position within a particular file. For example, you may be editing ten files. Each file could have mark a, but only one file can have mark A.

Because of their limitations, uppercase marks may at first glance seem less versatile than their lowercase counterpart, but this feature allows them to be used as a quick sort of "file bookmark." For example, open your .vimrc, press mV, and close Vim. The next time you want to edit your .vimrc, just press 'V to open it. This assumes that you have kept the default 'viminfo' behavior, so that uppercase marks are all remembered in the viminfo-file between Vim sessions.

As well as the letter marks, there are various special marks.

The marks for recently-edited files are saved (provided the 'viminfo' option has the ' parameter), so marks from previous sessions can be used when editing in the future. :help 'viminfo'

Setting marks[]

To set a mark, type m followed by a letter. For example, ma sets mark a at the current position (line and column). If you set mark a, any mark in the current file that was previously identified as a is removed. If you set mark A, any previous mark A (in any file) is removed.

Using marks[]

To jump to a mark enter an apostrophe (') or backtick (`) followed by a letter. Using an apostrophe jumps to the beginning of the line holding the mark, while a backtick jumps to the line and column of the mark.

Using a lowercase letter (for example `a) will only work if that mark exists in the current buffer. Using an uppercase letter (for example `A) will jump to the file and the position holding the mark (you do not need to open the file prior to jumping to the mark).

  • Each file can have mark a – use a lowercase mark to jump within a file.
  • There is only one file mark A – use an uppercase mark to jump between files.
Command Description
ma set mark a at current cursor location
'a jump to line of mark a (first non-blank character in line)
`a jump to position (line and column) of mark a
d'a delete from current line to line of mark a
d`a delete from current cursor position to position of mark a
c'a change text from current line to line of mark a
y`a yank text to unnamed buffer from cursor to position of mark a
:marks list all the current marks
:marks aB list marks a, B

Commands like d'a operate "linewise" and include the start and end lines.
Commands like d`a operate "characterwise" and include the start but not the end character.

It is possible to navigate between lowercase marks:

Command Description
]' jump to next line with a lowercase mark
[' jump to previous line with a lowercase mark
]` jump to next lowercase mark
[` jump to previous lowercase mark

The above commands take a count. For example, 5]` jumps to the fifth mark after the cursor.

Special marks[]

Vim has some special marks which it sets automatically. Here are some of the most useful:

Command Description
`. jump to position where last change occurred in current buffer
`" jump to position where last exited current buffer
`0 jump to position in last file edited (when exited Vim)
`1 like `0 but the previous file (also `2 etc)
'' jump back (to line in current buffer where jumped from)
`` jump back (to position in current buffer where jumped from)
`[ or `] jump to beginning/end of previously changed or yanked text
`< or `> jump to beginning/end of last visual selection

See the full list at :help '[ and following.

Deleting marks[]

If you delete a line containing a mark, the mark is also deleted.

If you wipeout a buffer (command :bw), all marks for the buffer are deleted.

The :delmarks command (abbreviated as :delm) may be used to delete specified marks.

Command Description
:delmarks a delete mark a
:delmarks a-d delete marks a, b, c, d
:delmarks abxy delete marks a, b, x, y
:delmarks aA delete marks a, A
:delmarks! delete all lowercase marks for the current buffer (a-z)

See also[]

  • showmarks plugin to put a sign in the left margin for each mark; works poorly and interferes with other commands in Vim 7 (updated version working in 7.4 here: [1])
  • script#2142 is another showmarks plugin which works without problems in Vim 7
  • MarkX Another plugin for displaying marks in the margin
  • Signature is another plugin for displaying marks in the margin, as well as special markers, with some added functionality like new mappings.



The :delmarks command requires Vim 7.0. On previous versions, a kludge to remove all marks is to enter the command :%!cat (on Unix-based systems), or :%!type (on Windows) to delete the entire contents of the buffer and replace each line with itself by filtering through an external command. A mark is automatically deleted when its line is deleted.

I suggest moving the Deleting section below the Using section. (Spiiph 11:53, 30 July 2009 (UTC))

I was scratching my head wondering why I put them in their current order, but when I went to move it, I see why. It's nice that "Using" and "Special" can be seen together, on the same screen because they are the items that a reader will probably want to refer to (it's a bit hard to keep all of it in your mind). I suppose "Deleting" could go after "Special", but that might be as strange as where it is now? JohnBeckett 23:34, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
I think that would be better, even though it might seem illogical. Another idea would be to remove the section on Deleting marks altogether. I don't think I have ever used that functionality, and users who need it are probably advanced enough to find the information in the :help. (Spiiph 13:39, 2 August 2009 (UTC))