ex commands enable you to switch between multiple files. The advantage to editing multiple files is speed. When you are sharing the system with other users, it takes time to exit and reenter vi for each file you want to edit. Staying in the same editing session and traveling between files is not only faster for access, but you also save abbreviations and command sequences that you have defined (see Chapter 7, Advanced Editing , and you keep yank buffers so that you can copy text from one file to another.
vi file1 file2
invokes file1 first.
After you have finished editing the first file,
the ex command
:w writes (saves) file1
:n calls in the next file (file2).
Suppose you want to edit two files, practice and note.
With a screen editor you can scroll the the page, move the cursor, delete lines, insert characters, and more, while seeing
Open the two files practice and note. The first-named file, practice, appears on your screen. Perform any edits.
"practice" 6 lines 328 characters
Save the edited file practice with the ex command
Dear Mr. Henshaw: Thank you for the prompt . . .
Call in the next file, note, with the ex command
"note" 23 lines 1343 characters
Save the second file, note, and quit the editing session.
You don't have to call in multiple files at the beginning of your
You can switch to another file at any time with the
If you want to edit another file within vi, you first
need to save your current file
:w), then give the command:
Suppose you are editing the file practice and want to edit the file letter, then return to practice.
"practice" 6 lines 328 characters
Save practice with
"letter" 23 lines 1344 characters
Call in the file letter with
vi "remembers" two filenames at a time as the current and
These can be referred to by the symbols
% (current filename)
# (alternate filename).
# is particularly useful with
:e, since it allows you to
switch easily back and forth between two files.
In the example given just above, you could return to
the first file, practice, by typing the command
You could also read the file practice into the current file
If you have not first saved the current file, vi will not allow
you to switch files with
:n unless you tell it imperatively to
do so by adding an exclamation point after the command.
For example, if after making some edits to letter,
you wanted to discard the edits and return to practice,
you could type
is also useful. It discards your edits and returns to the last saved version of the current file.
In contrast to the
% is useful mainly when writing out the
contents of the current buffer to a new file.
For example, a few pages earlier,
in the section "Renaming the Buffer,"
we showed how to save a second
version of the file practice with the command:
% stands for the current filename, the previous line
could also have been typed:
When you give a yank buffer a one-letter name,
you have a convenient way to move text from one file to
Named buffers are not cleared when a new file is loaded into
the vi buffer with the
Thus, by yanking or deleting text from one file (into multiple named buffers if
necessary), calling in a new file with
:e, and putting the
named buffer into the new file, you can transfer material between files.
The following example illustrates how to transfer text from one file to another.
With a screen editor you can scroll the page, move the cursor, delete lines, insert characters, and more, while seeing the results of the edits as you make them
Yank four lines into buffer f.
"practice" 6 lines 238 characters
Save the file.
Dear Mr. Henshaw: I thought that you would be interested to know that: Yours truly,
Enter the file letter with
Dear Mr. Henshaw: I thought that you would be interested to know that: With a screen editor you can scroll the page, move the cursor, delete lines, insert characters, and more, while seeing the results of the edits as you make them Yours truly,
Place yanked text from named buffer f below the cursor.
Another way to move text from one file to another is to use the
:ya (yank) and
These commands work the same way as the equivalent vi commands
p, but they are used with ex's line
addressing capability and named buffers.
would yank (copy) lines 160 through 224 into buffer a.
Next you would move with
:e to the file where you want
to put these lines.
Place the cursor on the line where you want to put the yanked lines.