I know of 4 commands I can use in Vim's insert mode.

  1. C-w delete word
  2. C-k delete line
  3. C-d delete one 'shiftwidth' worth of indent
  4. C-t add one 'shiftwidth' worth of indent
  5. C-O begin a quick command.

My results from googling have been saturated with answers on how to switch from insert mode to normal mode.

The page for :help <C-d> and the other insert mode commands is not what I'm looking for, it's always just the keystroke. How do I search for the specific commands available in insert mode? I don't know how to look it up...

More generally, how do I look up commands specific to a single mode?

  • 1
    Since you asked & answered as a community Q&A might want to generalize this to "How do I find commands that are available in a given mode?" and talk about c_, v_ and so on.
    – B Layer
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


All the documentation you're looking for can be found on the :help insert page.

Everything you're looking for will be under :help ins-special-keys section. As you can see from there, you can look up these commands using :help by prefixing the keystroke with a shorthand for the mode followed by an underscore - which is i_ in this case.

Therefore, to look up what <C-]> does in insert mode is, type :help i_CTRL-]. To look up what <C-]> does in visual mode, type :help v_CTRL-].

There is one exception to this, though. If you want to look up what a normal mode keystroke does, then you don't need to add a prefix. That's a design choice that I agree with. So just type :help CTRL-] to look up what <C-]> does in normal mode.

  • Why don't you need a n_ prefix even though you're looking up a command in normal mode? It's vim documentation's philosophy. Vim docs focused more on ~giving quick useful information to the uninitiated~ rather than being a ~comprehensively engineered guide meant to be read cover-to-cover~. This decision DOES cause a bothersome lack of orthogonality in some cases (example: this answer), and repetition in others (example: an explanation on how to use the 'backspace' option appears 4 times in insert's documentation). Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:47
  • This philosophic method towards documentation lowers the learning curve for beginners at the cost of people reading documentation cover-to-cover. Which is probably the right move ;) Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:50

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