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Use different registers in Vim for faster workflow

Igor Irianto
Bad puns, web development, creating stuff.
Originally published at irian.to Updated on ・3 min read

In vim, we can paste (p/P) after deleting (d{something}) or yanking (y{something}). Pasting uses Vim registers. However, do you know that there are 10 different registers in Vim? Check out `:h registers.

I am using neovim v0.3.4. Some of these might be different if you use regular vim, but the gist should be the same and most people should be able to follow along.

In this article I will go over 3 of them because I believe these are the more useful ones (plus it's easier to learn 3 things than 10 things in one sitting). In the future, I will cover more of these registers.

The ten types of register

According to Vim, these are the 10 registers. The three we will cover here are shown in bold.

boldone

  1. The unnamed register ""
  2. 10 numbered registers "0 to "9
  3. The small delete register "-
  4. 26 named registers "a to "z or "A to "Z
  5. three read-only registers ":, "., "%
  6. alternate buffer register "#
  7. the expression register "=
  8. The selection registers "* and "+
  9. The black hole register "_
  10. Last search pattern register "/

Some useful operators to know before we start

Some operators saves the values to registers:

s, x, y{something}, c{something}, d{something}

I use the mnemonic "sexy cd" - excuse my language 😳 - to remember them.

Register 1: Unnamed registers ("")

We use them all the time. When we yank/change/delete anything we are storing them to the unnamed register ("").

We can use unnamed register by p or ""p.

If we do another yank/change/delete, it will replace the previous unnamed register. It is like your computer's standard copy/paste.

Register 2: Numbered Register (0-9)

There are 2 different numbered registers: register 0 (yank register) and registers 1-9 (numbered register)

Register 2a: Yank register (0)

When you yank something (say you just yanked an entire line yy), it gets saved in two places:

  1. unnamed register (you can p after you yy)
  2. yank register ("0p)

Yank register only gets replaced when you yank something else second time. It won't get replaced if you run s/x/c/d.

Yank register also won't fill out numbered registers 1-9.

This is useful when we yank an important line, that yanked line is always available even after we perform several deletions so you can call it anytime.

Register 2b: Numbered Register (1-9)

Numbered registers store the latest 9 deletions/ changes (s/x/c/d) automatically.

Let's try it. Copy/paste the following: w

  1. one
  2. two
  3. three
  4. four
  5. five // cursor here

With the cursor on the last line ("5. five"), let's do 5 dd.

Cool. 1-5 should be gone and saved to registers 1-5. If we want to paste three, we can just do "3p (read: get value from register 3 and paste it)

Note that this register stores deleted/ changed texts **at least one line or larger. So deleting a line (dd) gets stored in numbered register but deleting a word (diw or de) won't. Anything smaller gets stored in small delete (-) register

Register 3: Named register (a-z, A-Z)

Named register allows us to save our deleted/ changed/ yanked texts into register a through z. You can do it by "{letter} {delete/yank/change action}.

For example, if I want to delete the entire line and save that into register a, I can do "add (read: save to register a all deleted line).

To get that value back, we can do "ap (read: get value from register a and paste it).

If we want to append to existing register, we do "{uppercase letter} {delete/yank/change action}. The key is to use the uppercase letter of the letter we want to append. So to add into our register a, we can do "Add and use "ap to get the value back.

Conclusions

We have just learned 3 Vim registers. I find that I used these 3 more than anything else. Start using them into your daily workflow today. I personally find yank registers and named registers very useful.

That's all folks. Vim till you win!

Discussion (4)

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mikaoelitiana profile image
Mika Andrianarijaona

😲overwelming!! thanks I learned a lot

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iggredible profile image
Igor Irianto Author

I am really glad you found it helpful!

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iggredible profile image
Igor Irianto Author

I said almost exact same thing when I learned about this :)