When using the grep plugin to VIM, I can search the current directory for all occurrences of a string within a set of files, like this:

:grep Ryan *.txt

This outputs something like this:

file1.txt:3:Ryan was here
file2.txt:10:Ryan likes VIM
file3.txt:5:superuser.com is a fav of Ryan
(1 of 3): Ryan was here
Press ENTER or type command to continue

If I press enter, it just takes me back to my editor. What I really want to do is be able to open up one of those files and jump to the place where the string was found. Is there a way to do this? The 1 of 3 part makes me think there's a way to tab through the results, but I don't know what commands are available to me. Can anybody shed some light on this?

1 Answer 1


When you press ENTER, you should be looking at line 3 of file1.txt. To jump to the next match, execute :cn; to jump to the previous match, execute :cp. Executing :copen will open a window containing the list of matches. Move the cursor to the desired match and press ENTER to jump to that match.

For more on using :grep, see

:help grep
:help quickfix.txt

Typing :cn and :cp to move forward and backward in the quickfix list can be awkward, so I use these mappings:

nmap <silent> <C-N> :cn<CR>zv
nmap <silent> <C-P> :cp<CR>zv

Also, the :grep command is not a plugin; it's part of Vim.

  • Great answer, thanks! BTW, can you do a recursive search through folders with vim grep?
    – Marplesoft
    Feb 22, 2011 at 16:42
  • As long as you are running on a Unix system, you can add whatever arguments to Vim's :grep that you would add to a grep command executed from the shell. So, you could do a recursive search through all .txt files in and below the current directory with :grep -R --include=*.txt Ryan .. You can also perform a recursive search using Vim's :vimgrep command, but the arguments are different and I seldom use because it is slower than :grep.
    – garyjohn
    Feb 22, 2011 at 17:13

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