In bash one can edit the current commandline in $EDITOR by pressing <c-x><c-e>.

I am running bash inside a terminal buffer within Neovim. I would like to be able to press <c-x><c-e> and have Neovim open a new buffer (:new), in the same Neovim instance, with the current contents of the commandline. When I close that buffer (:bdelete) I would like to have the contents of the buffer replace what was on the commandline.

Is this possible?

  • Does typing q: in normal mode do what you want? (See :help cmdline-window) Dec 18, 2015 at 13:17
  • @EvergreenTree ah, I should have made the distinction between the vim commandline and the commandline of the shell running in the terminal buffer more clear.
    – Brett Y
    Dec 20, 2015 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


I've now turned the script below into a plugin: nvim-editcommand, or if you don't mind starting you terminals with a plugin command nvim-terminus provides a few more features

Finally got it working in pure (ugly) vimscript:

    " set the name of the current buffer, useful for setting the name of terminal buffers
function! SetFileName()
  execute 'file ' . input('Enter name: ')

" - yank from last line with prompt ('> ') to last line into register c
" - clear commandline
" - call function
tnoremap <c-x> <c-\><c-n>:execute ':?> ?,$y c'<cr>A<c-c><c-\><c-n>:call EditCommandline()<cr>

function! EditCommandline()
  " clear search highlighting
  let @/ = ""

  " - set an autocmd on the current (terminal) buffer that will run when the buffer is next entered
  " - put from register c (where the new command will be)
  " - remove the autocmd
  " - go to insert mode
  autocmd BufEnter <buffer> put c | autocmd! BufEnter <buffer> | call feedkeys('A')

  " get all text after prompt '> '
  let s:command = strpart(@c, strridx(@c, "> ") + 2)

  " open new empty buffer

  " make buffer a scratch buffer
  setlocal buftype=nofile
  setlocal bufhidden=hide
  setlocal noswapfile

  " put command into buffer
  put! =s:command

  " remove extra lines

  " copy buffer to register when it is closed
  autocmd BufLeave <buffer> :%yank c


It's not exactly what you asked, but it might be closer to what you really want:

In bash, you can type in vi mode! Just put type set -o vi into bash and you'll be able to hit escape to switch to normal mode. Stick it in your .bashrc file for it to become an incredibly useful permanent change.

edit: I just realized that this might be why you can't (by default) exit Neovim terminal mode with escape.

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