I'm trying to implement a search function that finds a pattern and jumps to it without overriding the current searched for & highlighted pattern.

Specifically, I want to be able to type out the pattern and jump to it just like how / and ? are implemented in neovim; where when I start typing it immediately starts highlighting & jumping in real time. The only difference is that after jumping, I want to keep the previous highlighted/searched for pattern.

I took a look at several pages including this, but the problem is that these solutions only seem to work with pre-specified patterns, whereas in my case I want to type out the pattern via / or ?.

One solution may be to write a function that stores current pattern, calls //? and after jumping replaces the pattern.

function! ForwardJumpToPattern()                                                                                                                                                              
    let search_original_content=@/                                                                                                                                                          
    normal! /  
    let @/=search_original_content                                                                                                                                                                    

But the problem is that I can't figure out how to call / or ? from inside a function.

  • 2
    why not use the search() function? Nov 21, 2022 at 7:20
  • I tried that, but it is not interactive like searching via / or ?
    – WalksB
    Nov 21, 2022 at 8:01
  • 1
    Turns out it is interactive in neovim, not vim. I edited the Q
    – WalksB
    Nov 21, 2022 at 17:04
  • so you want the 'incsearch' option setting, not interactive. But I don't understand, I thought you already have the search term? If you know the pattern and the searchterm, you can use matchadd() to highlight the pattern Nov 22, 2022 at 13:03
  • @christian I dont have the search term already, otherwise the search function would work. And yes! Thanks for correcting the terminology. Can I call incsearch from within a function?
    – WalksB
    Nov 23, 2022 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


You can use the search() function.


  • search(pattern) to simulate /pattern
  • search(pattern, 'b') to simulate ?pattern
  • It's not interactive like when i search via / or ?. Perhaps that is because I'm using the latest neovim and not regular vim?
    – WalksB
    Nov 21, 2022 at 8:03
  • I'm not sure to understand what you mean by interactive. Could you elaborate? Nov 21, 2022 at 8:09
  • I just realized that in vim it is not interactive. I'm using neovim. When I begin typing out characters after / in neovim, it immediately starts to highlight the results (before I hit enter), whereas in vim it only highlights and jumps to the results after carriage return.
    – WalksB
    Nov 21, 2022 at 16:36
  • 1
    I edited the question to specify this
    – WalksB
    Nov 21, 2022 at 17:03

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