With vim, how can I move a piece of text to a new file? For the moment, I do this:

  • select the text
  • use :w new_file
  • select the text again
  • delete the text

Is there a more efficient way to do this?



some other text
some other other text





some other text
some other other text

5 Answers 5


How about these custom commands:

:command! -bang -range -nargs=1 -complete=file MoveWrite  <line1>,<line2>write<bang> <args> | <line1>,<line2>delete _
:command! -bang -range -nargs=1 -complete=file MoveAppend <line1>,<line2>write<bang> >> <args> | <line1>,<line2>delete _
  • 1
    This is very ugly, but hey, it seems to do in one step exactly what I asked for (I tried). +1, and accepted. I was looking for a native way to do this quickly but since there does not seem to be one, yours will do just fine. Thanks!
    – greg0ire
    Jan 23, 2013 at 15:27
  • 1
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find this pretty elegant; you only need to type it once (into your .vimrc). Jan 23, 2013 at 16:15
  • You're right, "very ugly" shoud have been "very unfamiliar". Your command is very handy, and I think I definitely going to carve it in my .vimrc
    – greg0ire
    Jan 23, 2013 at 16:21

By "move a piece of text to a new file" I assume you mean cut that piece of text from the current file and create a new file containing only that text.

Various examples:

  • :1,1 w new_file to create a new file containing only the text from line number 1
  • :5,50 w newfile to create a new file containing the text from line 5 to line 50
  • :'a,'b w newfile to create a new file containing the text from mark a to mark b
    • set your marks by using ma and mb where ever you like

The above only copies the text and creates a new file containing that text. You will then need to delete afterward.

This can be done using the same range and the d command:

  • :5,50 d to delete the text from line 5 to line 50
  • :'a,'b d to delete the text from mark a to mark b

Or by using dd for the single line case.

If you instead select the text using visual mode, and then hit : while the text is selected, you will see the following on the command line:


Which indicates the selected text. You can then expand the command to:

:'<,'>w >> old_file

Which will append the text to an existing file. Then delete as above.

One liner:

:2,3 d | new +put! "

The breakdown:

  • :2,3 d - delete lines 2 through 3
  • | - technically this redirects the output of the first command to the second command but since the first command doesn't output anything, we're just chaining the commands together
  • new - opens a new buffer
  • +put! " - put the contents of the unnamed register (") into the buffer
    • The bang (!) is there so that the contents are put before the current line. This causes and empty line at the end of the file. Without it, there is an empty line at the top of the file.
  • Your assumption is right. This looks good, I'm going to test. Could you explain 2. a bit more? I'm not very familiar with ranges. EDIT: If I try this on the second line, it writes the first line to the other file, not the second line.
    – greg0ire
    Jan 23, 2013 at 14:09
  • @greg0ire I got that a bit backward, I'll edit to better explain Jan 23, 2013 at 14:16
  • I added an example to make my question clearer.
    – greg0ire
    Jan 23, 2013 at 14:18
  • @greg0ire I corrected my answer. It's still two steps. The first copies and writes. The second deletes. Jan 23, 2013 at 14:22
  • 2
    Nice solution! You could also write it as '<,'>d | new | 0put " for clarity.
    – atripes
    Oct 5, 2017 at 14:28

Based on @embedded.kyle's answer and this Q&A, I ended up with this one liner to append a selection to a file and delete from current file. After selecting some lines with Shift+V, hit : and run:

'<,'>w >> test | normal gvd 

The first part appends selected lines. The second command enters normal mode and runs gvd to select the last selection and then deletes.


Select the text in visual mode, then press y to "yank" it into the buffer (copy) or d to "delete" it into the buffer (cut).

Then you can :split <new file name> to split your vim window up, and press p to paste in the yanked text. Write the file as normal.

To close the split again, pass the split you want to close :q.

  • 1
    I have 4 steps for the moment: select, write, select, delete. With your method, I have 6 steps: select, delete, split, paste, write, close. I asked for something more efficient :P
    – greg0ire
    Jan 23, 2013 at 13:42
  • Well, if you pass the split :x instead, you can combine writing and closing into one and make it five steps. :P
    – Xyon
    Jan 23, 2013 at 13:44
  • That's better, but 5 still > 4 :P
    – greg0ire
    Jan 23, 2013 at 13:46

Having the lines selected, the following works for me

:'<,'>w b.txt | '<,'>d
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Dec 9, 2022 at 17:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.