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For example, in gvim if I'm in normal mode then I press "ayiw to yank a word into register a, gvim shows the "ayi as I type it near the bottom right corner. Is it possible to get this real-time display in console vim, if so how?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Just add this line to your .vimrc:

set showcmd

From the Vim help:

Show (partial) command in the last line of the screen.  Set this
option off if your terminal is slow.
In Visual mode the size of the selected area is shown:
- When selecting characters within a line, the number of characters.
- When selecting more than one line, the number of lines.
- When selecting a block, the size in screen characters:
  {lines}x{columns}.
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