In bash you can easily search the current history entries by hitting <C-r> or <C-s>. This search feature is incremental, and once you hit return, you get a bash prompt auto-filled with the closest match in your history. I know if I want to search for a vim command I can hit q: and then search with /. However, I find this slow. Tab completion somewhat alleviates the tedium of searching for command, but is not quite satisfactory. Does vim have a similar feature?

  • Like you stated, you could open up the search command window using q: and then search that window with /.
    – TheChetan
    Sep 29, 2019 at 2:44

2 Answers 2


I'm not aware that this is possible. The only thing I know is, that Vim uses the already typed characters to filter the history.

If you previously executed:


and you want to get this command again, you do


This will get only commands that start with %s/T from the history.

See :help c_Up for more details.

  • Yes, up arrow is the closest to what you get with Ctrl-R in bash. It's not exactly the same, but I'd say it's close enough. Full search on q: is the next step after that.
    – filbranden
    Sep 28, 2019 at 14:38
  • Everything is possible with enough plugins.
    – eyal karni
    Oct 2, 2019 at 19:20

You can use fuzzy searching using FZF(as I do). Check https://github.com/junegunn/fzf.vim .

function! GetCommands()
let lines=[]
let nu=histnr("cmd")
for i in range(1,nu)
    let lines+=[histget("cmd",i)]
return lines

function! HandleCommand(item)
    call feedkeys("q:")
    call feedkeys("G?\\V".escape(a:item,'\/?')."\<CR>")

nnoremap <silent> <C-a>c :call fzf#run({'source': GetCommands(),'sink': function('HandleCommand'),'options': '-m'} )<CR>

When I press <c-a>c , it displays me a fuzzy search for command. Then, when I press enter, it goes to the command in the command window. If I press another enter it executes. I can also edit the command.

You may also want to do

set history=10000
nnoremap <silent> <C-a><C-a> <C-a>

to save longer command history, and the functionality of <c-a>.

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