I'm using the Visual Studio Code Vim plugin to write my master's thesis. VS Code has an 'autosave' setting, which I have enabled, which means I don't need to use :w to save my files. However, I can't seem to unlearn the muscle memory that intuitively :ws every time I make a change to the file. While this isn't a huge problem, I'd rather unlearn this behavior.

One way I thought of unlearning this behavior is to bind :w to the system warning sound (echo "\a"), but I can't seem to find any way to do so.

Tips on other ways to unlearn the :w muscle memory are also welcome.

  • 4
    Unless the solution could also be applied to standard Vim I believe this would be off topic here. (It may...I don't know yet...just giving you a heads up.)
    – B Layer
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 10:19
  • Good point. Here is a list of supported features: github.com/VSCodeVim/Vim/blob/master/ROADMAP.md
    – Niek
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 10:27
  • Thanks. Actually, it looks like it uses the Neovim API. It might be fully on-topic for that reason. As long as nothing VS Code specific needs to be done. (...is my thinking. Mods should be able to answer definitively.)
    – B Layer
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 10:28
  • 1
    @BLayer my thinking from a quick glance is that, as long as it can be done at the vim level it’s ok. They can also include a vscode path, if one exists, but admitting the latter without the former would belong elsewhere. OTOH, there’s a bit of chicken-and-egg there. I don’t see anything here that’s too specific to vs code, so I’m not particularly worried
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 10:58
  • 1
    There is one important question tho: Do you want to disable :w completely (i.e. even usages like :w filename) or only :w but not :w filename? In the first case a command line abbreviation like here would work, in the second case it's a bit harder because you have to trigger your guard only when you're not going to type something after :w.
    – statox
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


While I normally advise against remapping <CR> I think here that could be a correct solution:

cnoremap <expr> <CR> (getcmdtype() == ':' && getcmdline() =~ '^w$')? '<BS>echoerr "Dont use :w"<CR>' : "<CR>"
  • cnoremap greats an mapping only in command mode (i.e. :, / or ?) when you type <CR>.
  • (getcmdtype() == ':' && getcmdline() =~ '^w$') checks that we are in the : prompt and that the content of the line is only w (otherwise you might be typing something like :w filename, :windo, :wincmd, etc...)
  • If the line is only :w then replace it by an error message, (echo "\a" doesn't work on my system but you can replace this command by whatever you prefer)
  • Otherwise just use <CR> as usual.

Here is this code in action in neovim, it works the same in vim and I suppose it is the same in VScode with the vim plugin:

enter image description here

  • I recently test drove a Vim plugin in VS Code and I just verified that it's the same one used by OP. Based on that I bet this won't work. It had a lot things missing. It felt more like an emulator (like the one in Intellij) than something built on real (Neo)Vim code.
    – B Layer
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 12:15
  • I can confirm that this works in vim on my terminal, but it seems that the VS Code plugin, indeed, lacks this feature. Unfortunately, it seems that this is off-topic for this site. Thanks for the help though!
    – Niek
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 12:38

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