How to Create Macros in VIM for Repetitive Tasks

Macros are technically the execution sequence of some operations and are usually created to perform the frequently occurring tasks quickly. In Microsoft Windows, you can find the MS Word, which has the functionality to let you create macros. In the Linux-based systems, you will see the VIM Editor and you can, like in MS word, create macros in VIM. It can also be recorded, which can later be played in a file. It is also called the record and play feature of the VIM editor.

This article will explore on how to create macros on the VIM Editor in Ubuntu 22.04.

Create Macros on VIM in Ubuntu

You must perform the following steps to create macros in VIM. But before moving any further, you should understand the working of the macros.

  • You can use any file, either new or existing.
  • The macro name can be any lower-case alphabet.
  • To start the recording process, you need to press “q” and then enter the macro name that you defined like “qk” where *k is our macro name*.
  • Do what you want to be recorded for later use and press “q” to stop recording when done.
  • Use “@<macroname>” to run the macro. If you want to use it multiple times, use “4@<macroname>” where * 4 is the number of times that you want to use the macro*.

Step 1: Create a File for Recording

You need to create a recording file using the following command in the VIM editor:

vim myMacros.txt


Here, VIM is the command while “myMacros.txt” is the file that you created using VIM.

You will see the following result when you press enter:

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Step 2: Record

You may need to confirm if it is recording by pressing “q” and then pressing k where *k is our macro name*.

We use the macro to repeat. So, we first press “i” and then type the text that we want to repeat.

Text Description automatically generated

Then, press the “escape key then q” to stop the recording process. The recording message will disappear.

Step 3: Use the Recording

If you want to use the recording, go to any location on the file. Press “@k” once and add any number that you wish to use the recording for, like “5@k”.

There are several other applications of macros in VIM. Here is another one.

How to Create a Sequence of Numbers in VIM Using Macros

You can quickly create a series of numbers in VIM with the help of Macros, as shown in the following steps:

Step 1: Create a New File and Insert a Number

You can generate any sequence of numbers that you desire using the following commands:

vim file1.txt

Then, press “i” and type any number. In our case we use 999.

Text Description automatically generated with low confidence

Step 2: Start Recording

To start recording, you must press the “ESC key”. And then press q followed by any key to name your macro. We used “c” as our macro name.

Now, press “yy” to copy the text. Then, press “p” to paste it on the following line:

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Now, you need to press “CTRL+a” to increment one number and press “q” once done. Stop recording using the “q” key. Then, press the “ESC key” followed by “8@c” to increment a number eight times. You can do this on unlimited iterations.


Using macros on the VIM editor can save lots of time. Instead of typing a long repetitive task or command, it is easier to do the work in seconds. Editors mainly use the macros, which are highly elastic and used according to their requirements. This feature makes it somehow better than MS Word.

About the author

Karim Buzdar

Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. He blogs at LinuxWays.