In example, I would like to paste the current time or date into editor by using external commands (such as date) without leaving vim.

How this can be achieved?


Simply run


(or whatever command you wish to dump into the current buffer).

This will replace the entire buffer with the command's output. If you don't want this, use read instead:

:read !date

Or, you can replace a certain line with the output of an external command:

:2!date  replace line 2 with the current date
:$!date  replace the last line with the current date
:.!date  replace the current line with the current date

This also works with read, but appends after that line instead (ex. use :$read !date to append the current date to the file).

  • the reason I wanted to dump to editor was so I could search the output better. Is there not a way like cmd > vim or something? – Charlie Parker Mar 26 '18 at 13:48

In addition Doorknob answer, it's also possible to use the shortcut for read as r!, in example:


Some other useful example would include doing some math like calculating number of bytes in gigabyte:

:r! echo $((1024**3))
:r! echo $((1024*1024*1024))
  • 1
    Just wanted to add that bc can be good for quick math, i.e., :r! bc -l << '2^30'. – HAL 9001 Feb 15 '15 at 6:40

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