Because of Vim's modes, there is not a lot of holding down the Ctrl key while pressing another key. However ,in insert (or replace) mode, Ctrl+R will let you paste a register, and Ctrl+V lets you insert any character literally. Ctrl+W deletes a word, and Ctrl+H backspaces a letter.

What's the term for these key sequences?

Are there more of them?

  • 1
    Maybe not an official term, but I've heard the word chord used to describe key sequences with Ctrl.
    – tommcdo
    May 15, 2015 at 3:48
  • 1
    Drew Neil uses the term chord in his book Practical Vim. (I'm not saying that he is the first to use the term, but I think that's where I first saw it.)
    – Telemachus
    Mar 20, 2020 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


The insert.txt Vimdoc calls these "special keys", and the docs can be brought up with :help ins-special-keys. Some fun examples:

  • adjust the indentation of the line you're currently typing with Control+T and Control+D
  • Control+K lets you insert digraphs (e.g. Control+K O K inserts a "✓")
  • when you're ready to get out of insert mode, save your left wrist some movement by using Control+[ instead of Escape

There are also some "special special keys", docs are at :help ins-special-special.

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