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If I wanted to start recording a macro using command-line mode, how would I do this?

Additionally, if I wanted to bind this action to a key, how would I do that in my .vimrc?

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For the first question

:normal! qa

That would start recording a macro to the "a" register. You may change that to any lower case letter.

To map F3 to it, for example, you could use

noremap <F3> :normal! qz<CR>

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