What I usually do from bash/vim ... is

  • open file with vim
  • go to line to comment
  • comment a line
  • save and quit

My file is /usr/local/etc/php/7.0/conf.d/ext-xdebug.ini and the initial content is


I want to run a command that in one statement adds ; at the beginning of the second line.


Is it possible to do this directly from bash?

  • this is trivial to do with command line text processing tools like sed.. for ex: sed -i '2 s/^/;/' file to add ; at beginning of 2nd line and sed -i '2 s/.//' file to delete first character from 2nd line... see this for more such examples and this for use of -i flag for different sed versions
    – Sundeep
    Oct 28 '16 at 13:57
  • 1
    also, I think you missed out adding ; in question to show before and after example
    – Sundeep
    Oct 28 '16 at 13:58

You can use:

vim +'normal! 2GI;' +'x' path/to/your/file

The + parameter allows to execute a command after opening the buffer.

The first command normal! 2GI; goes to line 2 and add a ; at the beginning of the line

The second command saves and exit.

Bonus point: To uncomment the same line:

vim +'normal! 2G^x' +'x' path/to/your/file
  • What exactly second param "+'x'" means?
    – sensorario
    Oct 28 '16 at 9:14
  • 1
    @sensorario See :h :x. The command :x is the equivalent of the command :wq i.e. save and exit.
    – statox
    Oct 28 '16 at 9:16
  • :x is not fully equivalent to :wq as it does not write when there are no changes (timestamp is preserved)
    – Andrey R
    Oct 28 '16 at 13:55

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