Occasionally when I try to quit Vim, I get something that looks like this:

enter image description here

I'm not sure how I accidentally invoke this, but my current method for escaping it is to hit random keys and eventually it goes away. Two questions:

  • How am I invoking it (I use :q to exit vim) accidentally, and
  • How can I exit it quickly and get back to what I'm working on?
  • 3
    I disable this keybinding/mode with map q: <Nop> in ~/.vimrc, as I find it very irritating, and never really use it. Feb 5, 2015 at 21:21
  • 1
    PS: you can also map q: :q, which is probably even better.
    – Wolfie
    Oct 6, 2016 at 20:52

3 Answers 3


You have invoked it by pressing q: which opens a new window and allows you to write an Ex command. That is why it's called the Command Line

You can read up on it by typing :help q:.

As it is a window you can simply exit it as any other window, notably :q written correctly.

  • 5
    Moreover, the Command window is set up so that the command on the cursor line is executed when you press Enter, and your cursor will land on a empty line when you first open the Command window, so simply pressing Enter will close it.
    – tommcdo
    Feb 8, 2015 at 12:49

:help Command-line:

                        *Cmdline-mode* *Command-line-mode*
Command-line mode       *Cmdline* *Command-line* *mode-cmdline* *:*

Command-line mode is used to enter Ex commands (":"), search patterns
("/" and "?"), and filter commands ("!").

One of the ways to enter Command Line mode is q:, which you're probably accidentally typing.

This is simply a new window. You can close it via <C-w> q.

On a related note, I suggest using ZZ to save and quit instead. It's easier to type and less prone to mistakes like these.


That view shows your recently used commands, you reversed the characters and pressed q: instead. You can use the default <C-w> q to close it.

  • 2
    This is true, yes, but it is more than that, actually. It is ex-mode in a repl-like shape.
    – musicmatze
    Feb 4, 2015 at 0:23
  • I know it's the command line mode but I have strangely never used it like that. I use it to check the history Shift V to select a line and enter to execute again.
    – iKlsR
    Feb 4, 2015 at 0:28

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