It's possible to configure a mapping such that command line mode is active after the key press.

For example, with a mapping :map H :help , pressing H results in command line mode being entered with :help as the current text.

The documentation for :normal says:

A ":" command must be completed as well. And you can't use "Q" or "gQ" to start Ex mode.

Therefore, it's not possible to execute :normal : and end up in command line mode.

Are there commands such that command line mode is active upon completion?

Can a Vimscript function be used where command line mode is active with some specified text, after running the function directly (i.e., via a :call entered in isolation, as opposed to being wrapped in a mapping that can result in command line mode)?

  • 2
    Certainly you can create a mapping (e.g. nnoremap <leader>x :) that leaves you on command line. Don't know if that helps you... (oops...Luc's answer hadn't shown up for me before I hit send..oh well, I'll leave it since it's related)
    – B Layer
    Jan 11, 2021 at 21:29

3 Answers 3


You can use the feedkeys() function for this purpose.

For example:

function! Edit()
    call feedkeys(':edit ', 'n')

Then :call Edit() will enter the Ex command-line, enter :edit into it and leave the cursor there for the user to complete and eventually execute the Ex command.

As :help feedkeys() explains:

By default the string is added to the end of the typeahead buffer, [...] The function does not wait for processing of keys contained in {string}.

I also recommend that you take a close look at :help feedkeys() for the possible values of {mode}, I used 'n' for no-remap in my example, but there are more mode flags that you might find interesting for your specific situation.


The easiest solution: you'll need a mapping and have the mapping returns the value of a function that returns a sequence that will have us end in command mode.

  • 2
    Thanks for posting this workaround. However, my interest is in running the function directly, without a mapping. I've updated the question to make this more clear.
    – dannyadam
    Jan 11, 2021 at 21:58
  • 2
    I've learned to distrust some solutions like feedkeys() -- there are too many side effects for my tastes. In the end, if I want to execute a function that may make me end up in command mode, this means that what calls the functions (typically a mapping somewhere) will receive the order to go into command mode, from the various function(s) called. There is a limitation: it won't work as well with commands to end up in command mode from commands. Jan 11, 2021 at 22:59

I'm agree with Luc. feedkeys() should be avoided whenever possible.

Carefully using :map-<expr> (or even :h abbreviations, as you seem to "misuse" a command to compose another command, see :h :cnoreabbrev) works in 90+ percent of cases. But if you really want the user to input a line or two, you can always fake it with :h input() and :h execute().

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