I have a keybinding nmap <leader>c :w ! wc<CR>, I wanted to expand it to work with visual regions (not just the whole file). I did so by creating vmap <leader>c :w ! wc<CR>, this is mostly fine but I wanted to pipe the selected region, not the whole line in which the region happens to be. I tried '<,'>w ! wc and it's still the whole line. I don't know how to tell vim what region of text I want to manipulate, and every online resource talks about doing the selected line, not text.

How do I specify that I want to use the visually selected text, instead of the whole line?

1 Answer 1


There is no way to pipe partial lines using !.

A workaround is to use a function like system().

xmap <leader>c y:echo system('wc', @")[:-2]<cr>gv

Breaking this down,

  • y yank the visually selected text, copying it into register "
  • :echo ...<cr> print the result of a function
  • system(cmd, @") send register contents to an external command and receive output
  • [:-2] strip an extra newline
  • gv (optional) re-enter visual mode
  • In neovim v0.9.1, using your code verbatim does nothing, and replacing shuf with wc leads to the result of wc replacing the highlighted text. In both cases register " contains the highlighted text as it was. Using vim v9.0, both shuf and wc simply delete the highlighted region, leaving register " with the highlighted text. In both cases I'm using a minimal vimrc, with two lines let g:mapleader = "\\" and xmap <leader>c c<c-r>=system('shuf', @")[:-2]<cr><c-\><c-n>
    – Le-Kat
    Aug 20, 2023 at 22:23
  • @Le-Kat just updated my answer to answer the actual question
    – Mass
    Aug 21, 2023 at 0:11
  • 1
    @Mass did you mean to remove mentioning of <c-r>=...? Aug 21, 2023 at 8:03
  • 1
    It looks like you updated the mapping and didn't update part of the explanation, since now it :echos
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Aug 21, 2023 at 12:56

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