I have this sample line in the buffer:

export PS1="\[${Cyan}\]$(((SHLVL>1)) && echo "${SHLVL}\[${IBlack}\].")\[${IGreen}\]\u\[${IBlack}\]@\[${Purple}\]\h\[${IYellow}\] \w \$ \[${Color_Off}\]"

and i want to delete all \[ so while the cursor is on the line i write :s/\\[//g and get the error

E486: Pattern not found: \\[//g

What do i do wrong? Somehow vim thinks that //g is part of the pattern?

When i search with /\\[ i get proper results.

  • 2
    I'm not too sure but I /think/ this is a bug. I also could be wrong so I'm not posting this as an answer. However, to circumvent this, you can search [ using /\[ and then use :s///g Here, vim will use the old search term in the blank pattern
    – akshay
    Mar 13, 2015 at 19:18
  • I suspect that \[ has some special meaning which i do not understand and can't find it on google.
    – Kossak
    Mar 13, 2015 at 19:19
  • 1
    You can use the very nomagic mode like so: :s/\V\\[//g (See :help \V)
    – akshay
    Mar 13, 2015 at 19:22
  • 1
    I tried it, and it works if you escape the [ like so: :s/\\\[//g Mar 13, 2015 at 19:23
  • 1
    @Akshay: I think it's a bug, too. Posted here on vim_dev. Mar 13, 2015 at 20:55

3 Answers 3


I found the reason: [ is special character so vim treats next characters as part of the set ([...]) although it doesn't have the closing bracket. The proper replace should be:


(One backslash more)


The error gives it away: Vim interprets the whole \\[//g as the pattern. It doesn't recognize the / separator because the [ starts an (unclosed) collection. You either need to escape (via another backslash: :s/\\\[//g, or use very nomagic mode via \V: :s/\V\\[//g.

  • Just a small comment, \V means very no magic
    – akshay
    Mar 13, 2015 at 19:40
  • @Akshay: Right, corrected! Mar 13, 2015 at 19:50

If this would be slash, you could use another delimiter, however backslash (\) is metacharacter which escapes any separator, so there is no way to omit two backslashes for backslash it-self. The same with [.

However using different delimiter can still improve the readability:


I've tried to test with <Bslash>, but it seems substitute doesn't accept it.

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