I regularly find myself in the situation that I am reading a help topic and see an identifier (the blue underlined words) that I want to follow with <C-]>. However, most of the time the identifier is not (yet) under my cursor.

Instead of searching for the identifier with /part_of_identifier<CR> I would like to use a smarter variant, a unimpaired-like mapping like ]i to go to the next available identifier after my cursor (and [i to go to the previous identifier).

How could I create such a mapping? Or is there a builtin command already for that? If not, do you see an alternative/smarter way how I could navigate identifiers inside Vim help files? Or can I tag all Vim's and the plugins' help files with ctags and use ]t somehow?


In the help files the identifiers are actually marked as |identifier| (but you don't see the | because of the syntax file, use set ft=txt in an help buffer to check what I'm talking about).

You could then create a mapping which would look for the next pattern \|\W*\| and you should be good.

Something like:

execute "nnoremap ]i :call search('\\|\\w*\\|')<CR>"

(The execute and multi \\| are here to deal with the escaping problems)

Edit @EvergreenTree came up with a much more elegant solution:

nnoremap ]i :call search('\v\\|.{-}\\|')<CR>

It is also possible to use the same method to jump to the help topics (the string used in the commands :h foo) which are delimited by * characters:

nnoremap ]i :call search('*\w*\*')<CR>
| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you for your answer. However it does not do what I want, cause I used the wrong term in my problem description (sorry for that). I want the mapping to jump to the next Link to an identifier, so I can then press <C-]>. So it would be nice if you could update the solution to use | instead of * :-) – cbaumhardt May 25 '16 at 12:19
  • Does my update is what you were looking for? :-) – statox May 25 '16 at 12:26
  • At the moment not yet: If I open help files, e.g. :h help and press ]i, then the cursor doesn't move (I expect it to jump to the blue underlined word help-translated). – cbaumhardt May 25 '16 at 12:32
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    \W is the wrong atom to use in this case, since it matches all non-word characters. Use . instead. Also, using a greedy multi like * means no more than one match will be found for each line. Use {-} instead. Put together: '\v\|.{-}\|'. The reason for \v is that patterns can be interpreted differently depending on the magic option, and \v explicitly sets it to "very magic". – EvergreenTree May 25 '16 at 12:50
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    Also note that you can create a backwards searching version by passing 'b' as an argument to search(). – EvergreenTree May 25 '16 at 14:13

This is what I use.

As well as |.....| tags, it will also stop on options of the form '.....'

But it's not pretty...

### ~/.vim/ftplugin/help/navigate.vim ###
nnoremap <silent> <buffer> ]i /\('\zs\k\+'\\|[<Bar>]\zs\k\+[<Bar>]\)<CR>:set nohlsearch<CR>
nnoremap <silent> <buffer> [i ?\('\zs\k\+'\\|[<Bar>]\zs\k\+[<Bar>]\)<CR>:set nohlsearch<CR>

We use <zs> to land the cursor on the start of the word, rather than on the | or ' character.

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  • I have changed the keybind LHS to suit you. – joeytwiddle May 25 '16 at 16:49
  • Your solution works great, too :) I must have messed something up when pasting your code in my .vimrc and having changed the <Tab> to ]i, because I tried your code then and it didn't work for me. It does work now and you didn't change anything other than the mapped keys, so I messed that up before. You deserve credit here too :) – cbaumhardt May 25 '16 at 18:05

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