I want to search and replace the selection I made in Visual mode. For example I have the following text:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed quis gravida lectus amet.

And my selection is amet. I want to have this as a result:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit foo Consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed quis gravida lectus foo

Is there a way to achieve this without having to manually type the amet\. part in :%s/amet\./foo/g?

  • What do you mean without typing %s/amet\./foo/g? Without typing it at all (not using a substitute command) or not typing it entirely (injecting the content of the selection in the command)?
    – statox
    Aug 25, 2016 at 12:33
  • I am happy with not typing the content of the selection. So something which would automatically fill the :%s/.. part would be great.
    – tversteeg
    Aug 25, 2016 at 12:35
  • hit * on amet. word, it selects all occurances of amet. then run this command: %s//foo; there is no need to type amet. again and even g flag.
    – dNitro
    Aug 25, 2016 at 12:42
  • 1
    Related: on the command line, <c-r><c-a> will insert the WORD under the cursor.
    – Antony
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    @mMontu: Also adding . to isk and using * will select words contain .; set isk+=.
    – dNitro
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:08

1 Answer 1


You could try the yanking the visual selection before starting the ex command:

  • y: yank the visual selection
  • :%s/: start the ex command
  • Ctrl+r ": insert the last yanked/deleted text
  • /foo/g: the remaining ex command

Note that it won't escape the dot -- you will probably need to write a custom function to achieve that (if you intend to follow this approach, you could use the "PatternsOnText" plugin as a starting point). One simple solution, using \V as suggested by Kent to avoid the need to escape special characters, is the following mapping:

vnoremap <F4> y:%s/\V<c-r>"//g<left><left>

If you are trying to reduce the number of key strokes you should consider the following (specially if you intend to change a small number of matches):

  • y: yank and exit visual selection
  • /\VCtrl+r"Enter: use the last yanked text to start a search
  • cgn: change the next match
  • fooEsc: insert foo and exit insert mode
  • .: repeat last change
  • 2
    perhaps a \V is not a bad idea. since OP explicitly escaped .(dot)
    – Kent
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:04
  • @Kent indeed, I updated the answer with a mapping using \V.
    – mMontu
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:11
  • The \V one does the trick for me, typing <esc>cgvfoo<esc> doesn't work though.
    – tversteeg
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:15
  • @tversteeg sorry, I actually meant gn instead of gv - I will update the answer.
    – mMontu
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:53
  • +1 for showing me \V, exactly what I needed. Why use <c-r>"Enter instead of <c-r>0?
    – durron597
    Mar 1, 2017 at 22:24

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