I answered a question that needed a user input using the built-in input() function, which works great.

I was wondering if it was possible to ask vim for (let say) the next 3 characters input, without having to use the input function, and without having to press CR to confirm.

So far I have not found anything in the documentation for this.

Any idea?

  • 7
    Use getchar(), 3 times?
    – VanLaser
    May 18, 2016 at 10:39

2 Answers 2


Thanks to VanLaser comment, here is a little function to achieve what I wanted:

function! GetNChar()
  let l:number = 3
  let l:string = ""

  while l:number > 0
    let l:string .= nr2char(getchar())
    let l:number -= 1

  echo l:string

nnoremap gs :call GetNChar()<CR>

Here I append the chars into a string and display it, but one could do whatever he wants with it.

  • 6
    Just to add that :h getchar() also describes some tricky cases to avoid (e.g. "synthetic chars" or special chars).
    – VanLaser
    May 18, 2016 at 10:54

Here's the solution from nobe4 slightly improved:

function! InputNChars(number_of_chars, prompt)
    echo a:prompt
    let l:number = a:number_of_chars
    let l:result = ""
    while l:number > 0
        let l:input = nr2char(getchar())
        let l:result .= l:input
        let l:number -= 1
        echon l:input
    return l:result

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