I'm in the process of mapping MacOS keybindings (Cmd/Alt + arrows/backspace/delete) to Vim commands, and the only thing remaining is to make the movements in normal mode (such as b or e) work in the command line :-)


2 Answers 2


Martin’s answer with :normal[!] is great for running Normal commands from an Ex command.

Two other possible interpretations:

  • In a (Normal-mode) mapping, the right-hand side is Normal mode. So nnoremap <M-w> db is fine if you can use Meta mappings.
  • To use Normal-mode editing features on the Ex/: command line, press q: or Ctrl-f while already in :. The latter works for searches as well and may be customized. For the former, cf. q/ and q?.

The :normal command seems to be what you're looking for; there are two variants of this: :normal may use custom mappings from your vimrc or plugins, if any, and :normal! will always use the default built-in Vim mappings. For example, this will run gj, which is usually unexpected:

nnoremap j gj
normal j

You usually want to use :normal! with the exclamation mark, unless you have a specific reason to use :normal.

To use modifiers or named keys, wrap it inside :execute (or :exe for short); for example:

exe "normal! \<C-x>\<C-u>"
  • Yeah I meant normal mode commands to operate on the Command line, not on the buffer, but thanks! Nov 22, 2022 at 17:14

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