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I realize that the "command" for erasing a letter is x, but if you're seriously just erasing like 3-5 letters, is it really beneficial at all to press ESC + hhhhh + xxxxx?

In vim, is there any reason we can't use the backspace?

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Backspace works fine for me. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Mar 4 '12 at 6:22
That depends on what is the context, without any more info Esc + 4Xx would do the same. If you give a sample of the text maybe we could see if there is a shorter way. – Raimondi Mar 4 '12 at 6:26
Is this question about what the point of the x command is, or about how to actually use the backspace key in vim? – NReilingh Mar 4 '12 at 6:34
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since your your typing sequence starts with <Esc> I assume you are in insert mode, right? If so, you can type <C-w> to delete the word on the left of the cursor without leaving insert mode.

Hitting <bs> works in insert mode as well for single characters, there's no real need to get out of it if you only need to delete a few of the characters you just typed.

x is "the" command to erase a letter in normal mode but it only works alone (x) or with a count (5x), same for X. There are many situations where you need to act on a whole word or two, or what's between a pair of parenthesis, or until a specific pattern forward, or until and including a specific letter backward… In such situations, you should use d in combination with motions.

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And then there's '<C-o>' in insert mode, which lets you enter a single normal mode command without really leaving. – Magnus Mar 6 '12 at 17:11

In command mode, Backspace is used to move cursor to left. If you want to use it as expected, use following command in command mode:

:nnoremap <bs> X  

Add it in your .vimrc file if you want permanent change.

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Instead of ESC hhhhh xxxxx, try d5h.

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You can use the mapping Sachin Shekhar suggested or do it "the Vi way", but there is in my opinion a better way:

The backspace setting controls how the Backspace key works. Putting this in your .vimrc makes the Backspace key work the way most people expect:

set backspace=indent,eol,start

Do :h 'backspace for more information.

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