I'm trying to programmatically record a macro (using :let @m= rather than qm). In vim, I executed:

:let @m = ':retab^M'

where ^M is typed as ctrl+V, Enter. I expect the buffer to contain exactly what is written above, but it also contains a newline at the end, and when the macro is executed, my cursor moves down by one line. If I populate @m with the q record function, this problem does not occur.

How can I programmatically set a register to contain a ^M but not an extra newline? Note that :let @m=":retab\<cr>" gives the same result.

To elaborate: I expect the @m to contain ':retab^M' or ':retab\n' but it actually contains: ':retab\n\n' with an extra newline. Or to say it another way, :let @m = ':retab^M' and qm:retab ENTER q should give the same result (the identical macro in register m), but they differ by a newline character. (The result is the same on Windows and Linux.)

  • Please explain with more detailed example what you try to do what you expect and what you get. I mean, given the text, I try to record a macro that should do 'this and that' instead when I execute it I get 'that and this'.
    – Maxim Kim
    Feb 14, 2019 at 7:02

2 Answers 2


Could you try to replace c-m to c-j?


let @m = ':retab^@'

Not 100% sure why it happens but...

When you do (with <C-v><C-m>)

let @m = ':retab^M'

The m register gets additional 'newline' and looks like:


But if instead of ^M you will insert ^@, no additional 'newline' is inserted and you end up with:



to see contents of the register use:

echomsg @m

echo @m will not show those special symbols.

  • This works! Can you tell me what is happening? I can't find <c-j> in the docs. (Note: in full, that is <c-v><c-j>.)
    – piojo
    Feb 14, 2019 at 7:10
  • I am not 100% sure :)
    – Maxim Kim
    Feb 14, 2019 at 7:17
  • BTW, :h i_ctrl-j shows no difference with ctrl-m.
    – Maxim Kim
    Feb 14, 2019 at 7:24
  • Best way to view registers is :reg [letter]
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Feb 14, 2019 at 14:27

You could use the following, if you don't want to <C-V>...:

let @m=":retab\n"

Note: You need double-quotes. Doesn't work with single quotes.

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