Vim is a command line file editor for Linux systems. In this article, we'll show you one of the most basic functions you'll need to know for vi and vim, which is how to quit a file with or without saving changes to it.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to save a file in vim
  • How to save and exit a file in vim
  • How to exit a file without saving in vim
Saving and quitting a file in vim
Saving and quitting a file in vim
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux disto
Software vim
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Saving a file

Saving a file in vim is known as "writing changes," so the command to save a file is w. To quickly save changes to an open file, press Esc then type :w and press Enter.

Saving a file in vim text editor
Saving a file in vim text editor

You may not always need to press Esc first, but it doesn't hurt, and it will ensure that you are not still in insert mode or in the middle of typing some other command.


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Save and exit a file

Saving changes involves the w (write) command, and exiting a file uses the q (quit) command. Simply combine both of these commands to exit and save changes at the same time. Press Esc then type :wq and press Enter.

Saving and quitting a file in vim
Saving and quitting a file in vim

An alternative method is to use the Shift + zz keyboard shortcut. This can be a little faster and easier, but it really just boils down to personal preference. Press Esc, then hold down Shift while pressing zz.

Exit a file without saving changes

If you've made some undesirable changes to a file and don't want to write the changes, you'll need to use the q command along with a ! exclamation mark. Press Esc, type :q!, and press Enter.



Quitting a file without saving changes in vim
Quitting a file without saving changes in vim

If you've opened a file in vim and haven't made any changes at all, it can be exited with simply :q, and the exclamation mark won't be necessary. However, it also doesn't hurt to include it.

Conclusion

Vim is a very powerful text editor, but it takes some getting used to. Once you have the essentials down, like how to save changes to files, you'll find it much more convenient than other default editors. In this guide, we learned how to exit a file in vim with and without saving changes to the file. To learn more about vim, check out our full vim tutorial and customizing vim for development guide.

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