Toggle Vim boolean options

4.8
(32)

Vim contains numerous boolean options — features that can be turned on or off. You’re probably familiar with some of these from your .vimrc:

" turn on line numbering
set number
" show vertical cursor highlight
set cursorcolumn
" paste text without reformatting it
set paste

There are many more and you can see all Vim options with :help option-list.

Calling any of these commands from Vim, such as :set number, will turn that feature on. To turn it off, you can call :set nonumber and that feature will be disabled.

But did you know you can also toggle any one of these by adding a bang ! at the end? Calling :set number! will toggle the line numbers either off or on depending on their current state. You can also check the current state of any option by adding a question mark ? to the end: :set number? will return either number or nonumber depending on if the option is on or off.

When you’re turning options off, this can be a minor shortcut in keystrokes. But it has several other added advantages: You can enter command mode : and then press <ctrl-p> to cycle back through your history, finding the toggle command and invoking it again.

Or, if the toggle command was the last colon command you ran, simply press @: to repeat the last command, thereby toggling the option back on or off again.

Here’s a quick demo of toggling options in Vim:

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Written by

Andy Libby

36 Posts

Rider of bicycles. Writer of code. User of Vim.
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