I want to remove the ending section of my output that typically follows the below pattern:

^[[2D[^[D but my regex will not allow me to select the ^[ parts of the word. Note on my Vim that part shows in a different color almost like it is a a digraph or special character.

Any thoughts on how I can create a mapping to remove this from my outputs?

Note when I copied the output to my clipboard and pasted into my browser it translated the ^[ to ``

I am writing to you today as an email full of typos. Ye^[[2D[^[K
Yes, you heard that right – I'm a bit of a typo-ridden mess. But don't worry, I've got fa^[[2D^[[K

2 Answers 2


The special character ^[ is actually Esc.

If you want to include it in a regex you can type it using the following key sequence:

Ctrl vEsc

In general in presence of a special character you can discover its code using the ga command. Move the cursor on the character and hit ga.

The output gives you:

  • The decimal code (27 in case of Esc)
  • The hexadecimal code (1b in case of Esc)
  • The digraph if any (EC in case of Esc)

You can use that information to reinsert the same character in insert mode:

  • Ctrl v027
  • Ctrl vx1b
  • Ctrl kEC
  • 5
    Teach 'em to fish: you might mention ga
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Oct 2, 2023 at 14:37

Alternatively, you can just copy the offending text (yank into a register) and paste it into your replacement expression without knowing (or caring) what the special characters are.


See :help c_CTRL-R for details.

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