I want to automate something I started using.

Short story is I have a file with some lines and I want to execute each line every now and then and see its' output, but I don't want it to override the contents of the buffer containing the commands. Instead, I rather store it in a new buffer/tab so that when I close everything nothing is stored.

I did something with mktemp, but I want to use vim's internal capabilities.

My workflow is currently as follows:

  • select the command I want to execute (example: ping
  • execute :tabnew | r! <YANKED TEXT> where I get <YANKED TEXT> from using ctrl+r

Output is stored in a new tab, but I want to automate it, preferably using vmap <somekey> somehow to be able to press a key to evaluate a command and see its' output in a new buffer/tab.

I don't know how to mimic what I currently do to a vmap binding. I tried vmap <F2> tabnew | r! @" which failed (probably for some obvious reason).

Nice to have:

  • I don't want to use plugins for this, seems simple enough to accomplish.
  • I don't want to write complex vimscripts.
  • I want to understand each step.

Pointers to what to read to accomplish this would be great as well.

1 Answer 1



You can achieve this with the following mapping:

vmap <F2> y:tabnew<CR>:r! <C-R>"<CR>

This simply mimics the keystrokes that you were previously entering manually, including the presses of the Enter key: <CR>. (You should note therefore that, like your manual steps, this has the side-effect of setting the yank and unnamed registers to the yanked text.)

Why Your Command Didn't Work

Your command was failing for a couple of reasons:

  1. The bar character | in your command is interpreted as ending the mapping, so the following r! @" is then run immediately as a separate command. An alternative solution is to use the <Bar> stand in:

    vnoremap <F2> y:tabnew <Bar> r! <C-R>"<CR>

    This will create a mapping that actually uses a | in the ex command that is run. (If the difference is unclear, try removing the final <CR> from the end of the mapping and then invoke it.)

  2. You can't use @ in that context. It doesn't expand into the contents of the register: instead the entire @" is passed to the shell as the command to run.

Suggestion: Use nore

As a side-note, it's generally better to use the non-recursive forms of the various map commands:

vnoremap <F2> y:tabnew<CR>:r! ^R"<CR>

You should only use the plain forms if you have a specific reason for doing so (which will be almost never.)

Further Reading

The part of the documentation that explains all of the above is Chapter 40 of the user manual:

:help usr_40
  • Thanks! It works, but I wonder what the <CR>s are for... Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 10:10
  • @ReutSharabani See my edit: this method mimics all the keystrokes you would enter manually.
    – Rich
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 10:17
  • 2
    @ReutSharabani Prepend a ^ motion too, and it'll work regardless of current cursor position within the line: nnoremap <F2> ^y$:tabnew<CR>:r! ^R"<CR>
    – Rich
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 12:01
  • 1
    Few things: 1) You may want to use key-notation instead of ^R. 2) Use xnoremap instead of vnoremp as you probably only want this to work in visual mode and not select mode as well. e.g. xnoremap <F2> y:tabnew<CR>:r! <C-R>"<CR>. 3) Might also want to mention this has the side-effect of mutating the unnamed register which can be a bit of a surprise to some folks Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 15:32
  • 1
    @PeterRincker Thanks. 1 & 3 are good points: I'll update my answer. I thought about 2 when writing the post, and respectfully disagree.
    – Rich
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 15:40

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