We can get help on Vim functions by typing the following from within Vim.

:help somecommand

For example, the following sends us to the help text for the unmap functionality.:

:help unmap

Is there any way to get Vim help directly in the terminal? If I could put that functionality into a function, called say, vimhelp, I could then run from the terminal:

vimhelp unmap

And I could then open that text in Vim, like a normal file. Then I can use all the functionality I have come up with for all file working.

The question is now answered but for documentation purposes I would like to provide here the current state of the solution.

    if [ -z "${1}" ]; then
        printf "Please provide Vim help topic.\n";

    vim -i NONE -c "set bt=help|help $1" -- /tmp/dummy;

2 Answers 2


This is more likely a Shell-scripting question. You could define the following function in your .bashrc:

vimhelp() {
    if [ -n "$1" ]; then
      vim -i NONE -c "set bt=help|help $1" -c 'nnoremap q :q!<cr>'
      echo "please give help-topic to jump to"

after resourcing your .bashrc file, you can use the command vimhelp unmap to directly jump to that in your vim editor.

  • I there any way to get rid of that error message in the beginning? It's like its expecting a filename.
    – john-jones
    Dec 1, 2022 at 14:42
  • 1
    Instead of help xxx | only you can do set bt=help | help xxx. Then the buffer #1 will be re-used ;-)
    – Matt
    Dec 1, 2022 at 14:45
  • I don't get it. There is no help xxx | only. I tried the following, but same error.
    – john-jones
    Dec 1, 2022 at 15:03
  • vim -c "set bt=help | help $1" -c 'nnoremap q :q!<cr>'
    – john-jones
    Dec 1, 2022 at 15:03
  • @joh-jones what error? Dec 1, 2022 at 15:25

My very similar function is

vh() {
  vim +"help $*" +only

Based on some comments, I'll also mention that I have nnoremap <buffer> q :quit in ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/help.vim.

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