Confirm replacements


Vim has a very robust search and replace capability with the substitution :s command. We’ve written plenty of tips about subtitiution before but one I’ve been using more frequently recently is the /c flag to confirm each replacement.

  • :%s/foo/bar/cSubstitute foo with bar in the whole file but prompt for Confirmation before each replacement.

With the /c flag appended to your substitution command, Vim will successively iterate over each matching pattern. It will pause to ask you if you want to make each replacement:

replace with bar (y/n/a/q/l/^E/^Y)?

There’s a lot of options there so let’s enumerate each of them:

  • yYes, make the substitution
  • nNo, skip to the next
  • a – Replace All the remaining matches without confirmation
  • qQuit substitution and make no further changes
  • lLast one! Make this change, but quit after this one
  • ^E – Press <ctrl-e> to scroll down in the file and get a better view of the surrounding lines
  • ^Y – Press <ctrl-y> to scroll up

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Written by

Colin Bartlett

105 Posts

Vim enthusiast and software developer for more than 20 years.
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