If I have a magic Vim regex in a string literal, is there a way to convert the whole regex into an alternative representation that uses a different magic mode, so I could paste that equivalent regex into source code?

For instance, if I want to convert this magic-mode pattern:


to very-magic-mode to make it more readable, something like:


I often make mistakes trying to convert them by hand.

  • I'm not aware of one. Do you plan to always have them in single quoted strings?
    – FDinoff
    Oct 2, 2016 at 3:10
  • Maybe this could be a starting point. I have however it only barely tested. Oct 5, 2016 at 17:45
  • concerning the question title, it is hard, think about converting a very magic regex [0-9]+ into a no magic one... ;-)
    – Kent
    Oct 12, 2016 at 14:38
  • So I've been trying to make a plugin for that, it kind of work but it is far from being perfect. Also for the reference there is a plugin which converts ruby/perl regex to Vim regex, the code is... huge: eregex
    – statox
    Oct 13, 2016 at 8:03
  • 1
    @MuMind I think I don't understand which type of comparison you're looking for :-) And about the improvement of the plugin, don't hesitate to test it an use github to signal a bug or even suggest a pull request, I'll gladly look a it!
    – statox
    Oct 14, 2016 at 8:17

2 Answers 2


The command


should suffice to transform most any pattern into \v mode. It won't swap out the lil' \m marker though - and to my knowledge that's impossible in a single replacement. It's short enough to type manually though, and then you can just do :s/\\m/\\v for the mode marker.

\W is shorthand for [^a-zA-Z0-9_] which is the (negated) set of characters that very magic mode operates on. This just deletes any backslashes immediately preceding one of those characters. Known issue: This will replace \\ inside strings to \. You could replace \W with \c[^a-z0-9\_] to mitigate this, but it'll still mess up your regex literal if you run it multiple times and also fail on longer escape strings (containing \\\\ for example)

Update: The original question makes it unclear if you need to transform \v back to \m, but the command there is:


based on @Wolfie's answer:

:subs #\v\\(\W)#\1#gc

to use # instead of / (I hate / and \ together):
:subs ^\/^#^gc

May need some manual check

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