The usual vim yank and paste works only in the same window (but does work across files and close/save commands). Is it possible to make it work across terminals (yank from window in one terminal and paste in another) and if so, how?

3 Answers 3


Probably the simplest thing for you to try is to put set clipboard=unnamed in your .vimrc and restart your vim sessions.

This lets you run yank (e.g. yy) in one window, and put (e.g. p) in another window will just work, because all vim sessions will be sharing the same X selection buffer.

On the downside, your yank buffer will be overwritten as soon as you select some text in any other window of any application.

On the upside, it also means anything you yank in vim can now be pasted into any application by middle clicking.

If you don't like that way, you can type "+ or "* before your yank and put commands, e.g. "+yy to yank a line.

The + forms interact with the clipboard ("+y is like Ctrl+C, "+p is like Ctrl+V).
The * forms interact with the selection buffer ("*y is like left click and drag, "*p is like middle click).

See Making GUI Selections, X11 selection support, and the clipboard and mouse options for details.

  • 3
    God I love the middle click. :)
    – user61724
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:19
  • set clipboard=unnamed doesn't work for me (I put it in .vimrc and restarted all vim sessions). Unfortunately, nor do the other methods. It looks like my vim is not compiled with x-support. I am using VNC to connect to a linux machine from a windows machine.
    – JP19
    Jan 20, 2011 at 4:55
  • 4
    Yes, this method requires X11 support. Run :echo has('x11'), if X support is enabled it will print 1.
    – Mikel
    Jan 20, 2011 at 5:17

The accepted solution won't work in a headless set-up (no X11). A solution which works in any vim environment is to write your selection into a temporary file :w! /tmp/temp_file then pasting from that file in the other vim instance :r! cat /tmp/temp_file

I have these two commands mapped as <leader>y and <leader>p in .vimrc:

vmap <leader>y :w! /tmp/vitmp<CR>                                                                   
nmap <leader>p :r! cat /tmp/vitmp<CR>



If you want to copy an entire file into your target file.

Open your target file in vim.

Put your cursor where you want it and type the following:

:r /path_to_file/file.ext

This will copy an entire file to where your cursor is...

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