N.B. my question title might be poor, so feel free to improve it.


I want to write a command to move my cursor to the body of my email, add blank lines, and change to insert mode. Previously, I used the following for new emails.

nnoremap gb <C-Home>/^$<CR>:nohlsearch<CR>o

mutt would create a new email in vim, then I'd press gb. The cursor would move to the top of the email (<C-Home>), find the first blank line and immediately stop highlighting (/^$<CR>:nohlsearch<CR>), create a new line and start editing a new line (o).

However, I often reply to an email, and I wanted to automatically create another "buffer" empty line below my cursor position. Hence, I changed the command to this following.

nnoremap gb <C-Home>/^$<CR>:nohlsearch<CR>o<Esc>ko

This would do as above, then get into normal mode <Esc>, move up (k), and create another new line to edit o.


I wanted to create a conditional. After searching for the first blank line (<C-Home>/^$<CR>:nohlsearch<CR>), if this were the last line of the email, I'd be editing a new email, so just o. Otherwise, I'd be replying, so o<Esc>ko. The following doesn't work, because I've mangled together different syntaxes, but it should give an idea of what I want.

nnoremap gb <C-Home>/^$<CR>:nohlsearch<CR>|if line('.') != line('$')|o<Esc>k|endif|o

I suspect nnoremap <expr> gb ... is useful, but I'm not sure how to use it.

  • 5
    You may want to create a function for this and call it with nnoremap gb :call YourFunction()<CR>. In the function you can do all your mapping is currently doing and have a more nicer view.
    – nobe4
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 10:24
  • 2
    @Nobe4 I think part of my problem is confusion between remap, remap <expr>, function and command. I'm not sure what I'm writing where. I'm not sure exactly what syntax to use for this function, as obviously my last piece of code is a hybrid of different things (and doesn't work as is). Could you possibly write an answer with the function code itself?
    – Sparhawk
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 10:38
  • Done, check my answer and ask if you have any question
    – nobe4
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 10:44
  • 3
    @Sparhawk: As a general heads up in vimscript a command is an operation that you start from the command mode which you enter with : (example :echo "foo"). A function is a set of commands that you define in your .vimrc or another .vim file, you can call the function from the command line mode :call YourFunction(). Finally a mapping is the fact to assign an action to a key or a key sequence (e.g. :map <C-a> :call YourFunction()<CR> says to Vim "When I press Ctrl-a do as if I had press : followed by call YourFunction followed by Enter).
    – statox
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 12:34
  • 2
    @Sparhawk: gg is a normal mode mapping so if you want to use it in a function you have to say to vim "Use gg as if I was in normal mode" you do that with normal gg. In the command line using :normal gg will be the same as typing gg in normal mode. Actually the best I can advise to you is to learnVimScriptTheHardWay it might be a lot of reading but you'll find an answer to 98% of your questions there and you can ask the 2% remaining on this site ;-)
    – statox
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


There you go, I'm not sure to have understood perfectly your use case, bu you can add your workflow to this example :

function! Mail()
  normal! gg
  call search('^$')
  if line('.') != line('$')
    normal! o
    normal! k
  normal! o

nnoremap gb :call Mail()<CR>

Note that you can execute normal! to prevent mapping to be used.

  • Oh, one small problem. It doesn't leave me in insert mode at the end. I can just append i to nnoremap gb ..., but is there a more elegant way (by modifying the function instead)?
    – Sparhawk
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 20:53
  • 1
    Yes, let me update my answer
    – nobe4
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 20:54

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