For example, if I have four lines as follows:

the first line
the second line
the third line
the fourth line

I want to reverse them to

the fourth line
the third line
the second line
the first line

How could I do this in Vim?


6 Answers 6


To reverse all the lines in a file,

:global/^/move 0



For an explanation see

:help 12.4

which also shows how to reverse just a range of lines.

  • 17
    Great tip on the exact help section! To summarize: 1. set a marker at the last line you want reverse (I name the marker 'a' using ma), 2. move cursor to the first line of the block, 3. type :'a,.g/^/m 'a Dec 6, 2013 at 19:25
  • 1
    :help 12.4.
    – mcp
    Apr 3, 2022 at 22:57

Select the desired lines, hit !, and in the resulting prompt pipe the lines through tac a la :'<,'>!tac. See man tac for more details.

  • 4
    To select the lines, use shift+v to enter visual line mode, then j to add lines to the selection.
    – wisbucky
    May 21, 2014 at 21:46
  • I can confirm that this works in windows with gvim, as well! Otherwise, you have to use absolute line numbers (maybe you can use relative, but you have to be careful) with the :g/^/m0 (which is also really hard to remember) ... So, essentially, tac should be with vim no matter what platform you're on, BUT it's not 100% vimscript, BUT who cares :P
    – dylnmc
    Mar 12, 2018 at 13:27
  • tac isn't fully-native vim handling, but, the 'm'ove command takes a line number and that's not always reasonable. I often use a mark as part of a range, so :.,'a!tac works with minimal effort.
    – studog
    Sep 26, 2018 at 13:23
  • After using shift+v, you can use } to reach up to the next paragraph, or empty vertical space. Also, man tac: concatenate and print files in reverse.
    – nilon
    Aug 10, 2019 at 3:58
  • 2
    (Hitting ! autofills :'<'>! when there is a selection.)
    – mcp
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:20

On Mac OS X, tac does not exist, but you can use tail -r to the same effect:

:%!tail -r

This also works nicely for visual mode:

:'<,'>!tail -r

Excerpt from tail(1)'s manpage:

The -r option causes the input to be displayed in reverse order, by line. Additionally, this option changes the meaning of the -b, -c and -n options. When the -r option is specified, these options specify the number of bytes, lines or 512-byte blocks to display, instead of the bytes, lines or blocks from the beginning or end of the input from which to begin the display. The default for the -r option is to display all of the input.

  • 4
    Excellent! So to provide 'tac' under OS X: alias tac='tail -r' Dec 6, 2013 at 19:27
  • 5
    You can also brew install coreutils and use gtac. Apr 11, 2014 at 3:25
  • 1
    Genius. Never thought of using ! commands for this type of visual line manipulation. May 15, 2019 at 15:20
  • Most elegant one of all!
    – Ambareesh
    Oct 18, 2022 at 17:26
  • It's a pity -r isn't a valid option for GNU tail, otherwise we'd have one nice, concise solution that works on Macs and Linux at least.
    – Desty
    Aug 15 at 20:09

For those more comfortable with Visual mode:
1. Identify the line number above the selection you want flipped using :set nu.
2. Shift-V to highlight selection you want flipped (visual mode).
3. :g/^/m <Line number from step 1>.

Note that in visual mode it will automatically show up as :'<,'>g/^/m <Line number> when you type in the command from 3.

This command works by moving the selection one line at a time into the line number that you give it. When the second item gets pushed into the line number given, it pushes the first down to line number + 1. Then the third pushes the first and second down and so on until the entire list has been pushed into the single line number resulting in a reverse ordered list.

  • 7
    You can use the '< instead of entering the line number manually. Just start the selection one line earlier and execute :'<,'>g/^/m'<.
    – Palec
    Sep 15, 2016 at 9:06

A command :Rev[erse] and optional mappings for your vimrc, so you don't have to remember and perform the non-obvious steps of this recipe:

" Reverse the lines of the whole file or a visually highlighted block.
    " :Rev is a shorter prefix you can use.
    " Adapted from http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/vim/message/34305
command! -nargs=0 -bar -range=% Reverse
    \       let save_mark_t = getpos("'t")
    \<bar>      <line2>kt
    \<bar>      exe "<line1>,<line2>g/^/m't"
    \<bar>  call setpos("'t", save_mark_t)

nmap <Leader>r :Reverse<CR>
xmap <Leader>r :Reverse<CR>

(:xmap maps for Visual but not Select mode, as :help mapmode-x advises for mapping printable characters.)

(Based on: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/vim/message/34305 )

  • This should be the accepted answer IMO. Most generally useful and I don't have to remember :'<,'>g/^/m'< :)
    – Eliot
    Jan 11, 2017 at 22:01
  • 1
    @Eliot, thanks! :) (I added a bit of 'bonus content'. ;) ) Jan 12, 2017 at 18:14
  • How can I say selection start -1 in this case? Because the move starts at this point. Feb 17, 2018 at 10:31
  • @SergioAraujo: Is something like :-1,+1Rev what you are looking for? Know that you can visually select the range you want to reverse, e.g.: V7j:Rev. If that doesn’t answer your question, I haven’t understood it, so you’d need to elaborate or rephrase it for me. Feb 17, 2018 at 15:30

Let' say you are at the line 3, hence we have a range 3 to 6. Just type.

  • 1
    You can leave the current line’s number implicit: With the cursor on your range’s first line, you can shorten to :,6g/^/m2; or when on the range’s last line: :3,g/^/m2; and :3,6g/^/m2 works from anywhere in the file. Feb 17, 2018 at 15:47

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