I want to be able to insert the results of -

date +"%y-%m-%d %H:%M:00"

at the cursor in vim. How would you run the above command in BASH but get the results and insert them directly at the cursor?

Right now I am running the command as -

:r!date +"\%y-\%m-\%d \%H:\%M:\%S"

But this inserts the contents on a new line. What is the correct method to evaluate a bash script AT the cursor?

Current Issue -
15-07-02 14:36:24

Expected Result -
Date: 15-07-02 14:36:24
  • Using visual selector with ! also does not work because it replaces the whole line and doesn't just insert on a single character. Jul 2, 2015 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


The built-in strftime() does exactly what you want:

<C-r>=strftime('%y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')

To turn that into a mapping:

inoremap <expr> <key> strftime('%y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')

You can of course use whatever external command you need but it is important to keep in mind that the output of Unix commands usually ends with a newline character that needs to be removed in one way or another. The general solution is to strip that newline from the output before inserting it:

<C-r>=substitute(system("date +'%y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S'"), "\n", "", "")

which is an ideal client for a mapping.


:help strftime()
:help system()
:help substitute()
:help i_ctrl-r
:help "=
:help :map-expression
  • I got it working using C-f Thanks a ton! inoremap <expr> <C-f> strftime('%y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S') Jul 2, 2015 at 22:08
  • 1
    I love using abbreviations for this! If you set :ab idt <c-r>=strftime('%y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')<cr> then you can simply type "idt" while in insert mode.
    – Vitor
    Jul 8, 2015 at 13:18

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