I've set up a bunch of key mappings that would cause many Vim users to cringe. Now I am unable to get into Visual Block mode using Ctrl-V (Ctrl-Q isn't mapped, but it doesn't work).

Is there any command that I can type to enter Visual Block mode?

Ideally I could set something up so that :vb would enter visual block mode.

  • 7
    Sidenote: <C-q> is the terminal "start" signal; Vim never sees it. Use stty start undef to disable it so that Vim sees it. You probably also want to disable the "stop" signal (<C-s>) with stty stop undef. Jun 25, 2015 at 15:21
  • added the stty start undef to my .bashrc and it's working. I can use CTRL-Q for Visual Block now when vim is running in an terminal
    – Lusk116
    Apr 30, 2021 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


There is no built in command to start visual block mode in vim, but you can define one yourself:

command! Vb normal! <C-v>

Here is a breakdown of how it works:

  • command! Vb - This creates a command called "Vb". The ! after command means that vim will not throw an error if the command is already defined.
  • normal! <C-v> - This command tells vim to take all characters after it and act like you had pressed them in normal mode. The ! makes it so that all user defined mappings are ignored. This means that if <C-v> is mapped to something else, it will still work the way it does by default.

Here are some relevant help topics:

  • :help :command
  • :help :normal


User defined commands must start with a capital letter.

Also, there may be a conflicting mapping which prevents you from using <C-v> to enter visual block mode. To check for any conflicting mappings for <C-v>, you can run :verbose map <C-v>.

  • Then what would the command gv looks like using your answer? Jan 7, 2022 at 5:59

As far as I can find, there is no built-in command to start visual mode.

However, you can easily add these commands to Vim:

:command! Visual      normal! v
:command! VisualLine  normal! V
:command! VisualBlock execute "normal! \<C-v>"

You can change the names of these commands to whatever you want, but all user-defined commands must start with an upper-case letter (so you can't use :vb, but :Vb is okay).

  • You're the man. I was thinking that if I used <C-v> in a command, it would just call what I had remapped it to. Is that what the normal! is for?
    – Dan
    Jun 25, 2015 at 15:34
  • 1
    Yes, the ! added to normal bypasses user defined mappings. Jun 23, 2019 at 16:22

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