When I first started using Vim 10 years ago, I found myself typing


a lot. I was used to using 'a and 'f as my go-to marks. So I also had this in my .vimrc:

map qq :'a,'f

Are there any special kinds of marks in Vim that act more like "quick" or "temporary" marks, accompanied by a shortcut or notation that means "the last two quick-marks"?

I looked through the documentation on marks but did not see any. Does anyone have a more elegant shortcut than mine?


Using 2 marks to operate on the text between those lines is the 'vi'-compatible way of the more modern and (literally) visual way of operating in Vim (and probably why visual mode was invented in the 1st place): visually select a range with whatever means (motion, text-object), then start your ex command, which operates line-wise: when you hit :, you will see those two quick marks automatically inserted before the : (the start and the end marks of the visual selection).

Quick access to "the last two quick-marks" in this case would translate to "restoring the last visual selection", which can be accomplished with gv.

And now for the funny part: if you really want it, you can explicitly set those two marks (< and >), manually, using m< and m>, as with any letter-based mark. I.e. you don't need to go to visual mode for that; then, either use gv to restore that selection and start your ex command, or manually insert :'<,'>some-ex-command-here to (similarly) operate on that line range. In another words, visual marks can operate exactly as in your request (quick or temporary marks that can be set - a pair of them), with the advantage of also allowing a more visual way of assignation.

So, maybe this mapping, to execute on a selection:

noremap g: gv:
  • 5
    Also note that :* is an abbreviation for :'<,'> – Ingo Karkat Oct 26 '16 at 12:09
  • That's interesting (and I can't find where it is documented). – VanLaser Oct 26 '16 at 12:40
  • 1
    Yeah, difficult to find: :help cpo-star – Ingo Karkat Oct 26 '16 at 13:12
  • Odd, m< and m> don't work for me. '< says "E20: Mark not set". – Andrew Cheong Oct 26 '16 at 14:02
  • 1
    @AndrewCheong Yes that is too old. I think settable marks for the visual selection was in a late 7.3 patch – Christian Brabandt Oct 26 '16 at 18:10

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