vi Command-Line Options

Here are the three most common ways to start a vi session:

               vi +
               n file
               vi +/ 
               pattern file

You can open file for editing, optionally at line n or at the first line matching pattern. If no file is specified, vi opens with an empty buffer. The command-line options that can be used with vi are as follows (vim-only options are labeled):

+[ num ]

Start editing at line number num, or the last line of the file if num is omitted.


Start editing at the first line matching pattern. (Fails if nowrapscan is set in your .exrc startup file.)


Edit the file in binary mode. (vim)

-c command

Run the given vi command upon startup. Only one -c option is permitted. ex commands can be invoked by prefixing them with a colon. An older form of this option, + command, is still supported.

—cmd command

Like -c, but execute the command before any resource files are read. (vim)


Run in diff mode. Works like vimdiff. (vim)


Run as ex (line editing rather than full-screen mode).


Print help message, then exit.

-i file

Use the specified file instead of the default .viminfo to save or restore vim’s state. (vim)


Enter LISP mode for running LISP programs (not supported in all versions).


Start the editor with the write option turned off so the user can’t write to files. (vim)


Don’t use a swap file; record changes in memory only. (vim)


Don’t load any plug-ins. (vim)

-o[ n ]

Start vim with n open windows. The default is to open one window for each file. (vim)

-r [ file ...

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