I have a file.c containing


int main()
    printf("Hello world\n");

I can copy the main function using :3,6y. But, when the function is big enough then in order to know in which line the function ends I need to scroll.

Is it possible to copy entire function using something like :copy main?

4 Answers 4


Yet another way is to use the % motion, after placing the cursor on the second line in your example (/main), I would use:

  • V: enable visual-line selection
  • j: go down to the opening curly brace
  • %: find the next matching item
  • y: copy the selected text

For more advanced operations, text-objects are a good choice as suggested by Peter Rincker, or maybe a plugin like vim-refactor allowing you to extract functions and more.


Here is one option:

:/int main(/;/^}/y

This searches for int main(, goes to that line, then searches forward to the ending brace (assumed to be in the first column), takes the two lines as a range, and yanks.

If you are already on the int main line you could simply use


or in normal mode, one of the following:


Without either v (make inclusive) or /e (cursor to end of match) the ending brace will not be included.

  • isn't :Copy main possible?
    – alhelal
    Mar 25, 2018 at 17:54
  • your solution is not comfortable than using the range(e.g.:2,5y).
    – alhelal
    Mar 25, 2018 at 17:57
  • @alhelal what do you mean with :Copy? There is no such command. But you can define it of course to do such things. Mar 26, 2018 at 7:05
  • @ChristianBrabandt it is a user defined command. It should be implemented.
    – alhelal
    Mar 26, 2018 at 7:15
  • @alhelal That was not part of your initial questions. It would be straight forward to implement, perhaps you try first before you demand something from others? Or at least show what you have tried and mention where you have problems with? Mar 26, 2018 at 8:53

You can use [[ & ][ to help you find the start and end of your function. You can also use [m and ]m as well.


A simply method text-object:

xnoremap aM :<c-u>normal [mv]m<cr>
onoremap aM :normal vaM<cr>

Note: these will probably need to be updated for you needs, but they are a good starting point.

Now you can use yaM or vaM to copy the method/function body.

For more help see:

:h ]]
:h ]m

The easiest way I found is just get to the line where the function start and do this: ^^vf{% to mark the entire function and then whatever you like.

  • ^ or ^^ - start of the line
  • v - start visual mode
  • f - jump to the next search character
  • { - this is the search character
  • % - jump to the closing brackets

This is also very logical after you have used it a few times.

  • 4
    I added some formatting to your post. Note that ^^ is redundant (a single ^ suffices). Perhaps you want to edit and make this adjustment?
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Aug 30, 2022 at 19:17
  • Thanks! For some reason, it only work with two ^^ on my setup. I edited it.
    – Julian
    Oct 22, 2022 at 11:17

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