My Vim is installed with +clipboard support, and all works just fine.

I know that the clipboard comes with X, so there isn't such a thing in a virtual console (or, at least, this is what I've understood), but...

By pure curiosity, I've just opened Vim in a virtual console (one of those you can get to via Ctrl+Alt+Fn for n generally from 1 to 5, iirc, as 7 is likely where you are running your desktop env) and verified that yanking stuff into the + register is also automatically stored in the * register, and viceversa, because whatever I yank into one, then putting from either of them results in that text. To give an example, given the text


and the cursor being on the first line, hitting "+yyj"*yy"*p"+p results in


and the same happens even if I invert the first + and the first *.

However, :registers doesn't actually list any of the two.

To give some gratuitous context which could incidentally help you understand the reason of my question, is that I noticed the + and * registes don't work in freshly installed Archlinux system where I've installed Vim with +clipboard support and to which I connect via ssh. I have eventually remembered that for the +clipboard to be useful and working across SSH, one has to connect via ssh -X (or even ssh -Y). But apparently that is not enough on this new system I'm referring to. I've asked a question on Unix.StackExchange as well.

  • 1
    After pasting ("+p), :display shows the contents of " and 0 registers to be what I copied into + or * register. Interesting.
    – 3N4N
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 15:05
  • 2
    I don't know about 0, but " is basically a pointer to the most recently used register, so that's normal.
    – Enlico
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


Even though it doesn't show in the output of :display, when you use the plus or star registers in TTS (i.e., a mode without clipboard feature), it stores the content in the 0 register. The code is in the get_yank_register function.

If we see the else condition, which is what gets executed in TTY mode for star and plus register (I double-checked with gdb), we'll see it sets the register being handled to 0.

else        // not 0-9, a-z, A-Z or '-': use register 0
    i = 0;

The same is true when you're pasting the content (the argument writing is false in that case, everything else is the same).

Why the 0 register doesn't display it until it is pasted into a buffer is still a mystery to me. I'll look around and update this answer if/when I find that answer.

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