I'm new to vi/vim.

I learned that I can close a file I'm editing and open the another file at once by typing :vi filename

But I sometimes want to open other files without closing the file I'm editing and interchange these buffers with commands like :next or :prev

Can I do that?

(I haven't understand the difference among buffer, window and file exactly yet. So some words could be wrong I used avobe.)

my vim's version is 7.2, Small version without GUI and be used on CentOS6.7

2 Answers 2


First, I want to recommend that you go through the vimtutor (:h tutor). That will explain a lot of the different concepts in Vim. To learn about the difference between the buffers, windows and a file, you can read for instance: :h windows.txt and :h editing.txt.

The command :vi or :visual is used to get out of ex mode and back to normal mode. If you don't know what ex mode is, then I suggest you instead use the command :e ... to edit new files.

If you want to close a file, but leave the buffer open, I suggest that you use the option :set hidden. See :h 'hidden' for a detailed explanation. In short, this will set closed buffers to hidden instead of wiping them. Thus you can reopen closed files with :bnext and :bprev and similar.

  • 1
    Great answer. Hidden buffers is closest to what the question described: I like to use tabs for any unsaved buffers without :set hidden, but that's a matter of personal preference.
    – Steve
    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:17

I use :ls to list the buffers open and :b <filename_from_list_of_open_buffers> to edit it.

n.b. :b auto completes so I just start typing and bash the tab key until the file displayed is correct.

If I want to open a new buffer, I use e: <filename>. I am by no means a vim expert so the terminology might be wrong.

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