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Substitute last search

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created 2007 · complexity basic · author Jerome · version n/a

When doing a complex substitution with a regular expression, it's useful to first search for what you want to replace, to confirm that the search pattern works. Or, just press * to search for the current exact word, followed by `` (two backticks) if you want to jump back to your original word.

To do the substitute, type:

:%s//New String/g

In this substitute, the search pattern is empty, so it will use the last search.

Alternately, you can press Ctrl-r followed by / to insert the last-search register (for example, you might want to edit the command before pressing Enter):

:%s/<c-r>//New String/g

If the pattern is in a register, say the a register, you can press Ctrl-r then a to insert the contents of the register at the appropriate place in the command.


  • why would anyone use ``? Just get accustomed to CTRL-o and CTRL-i and enjoy.
    • Because, it does almost the same thing, but is easier and faster to type if you only need to go back a single position.

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