When using vim in commandline mode, I have to navigate using only arrow keys. I can't use the native vim bindings because when I key <esc>, it exits commandline mode.

For example, if I was typing a command in commandline mode, :w eiff.txt, but I realised that I've made a mistake, it should have been diff.txt, if I try to go back with the b button, it doesn't work because I can't hit <esc>.

So is there any way to navigate using the vim keys in the command line mode?

  • I think as of now, you only exit command line mode when you press control + C.
    – zyy
    Mar 21, 2021 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


You can type q: to see command history and edit it like any other buffer.

Press Enter on the line with the command you want to execute.

p.s.: q/ works the same but for search history.

  • 10
    You can also use <c-f> while on the command line to bring up the command-line window. See :h cmdwin for more information Oct 16, 2017 at 17:22
  • Alternatively, the plugin rsi.vim by Tim Pope provides readline mappings for insert and command modes. I find it very handy for simple editing tasks. Oct 17, 2017 at 7:26

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