teaching machines

Restoring the Last Known Cursor Position in Vim

February 27, 2013 by . Filed under public, vim.

In unconfigured Vim, the cursor is placed at the beginning of each file that I open. When I close a file in Vim and open it again later, it’d be really nice if the cursor would automatically move to where I left off editing. And it can, with this handy autocommand:

" When editing a file, always jump to the last known cursor position.
" Don't do it when the position is invalid or when inside an event handler
" (happens when dropping a file on gvim).
autocmd BufReadPost *
\ if line("'\"") > 0 && line("'\"") <= line("$") |
\    execute "normal g'\"" |
\ endif

Autocommands let you write callbacks for certain events that occur in certain files. Here, we are defining some code that we want to execute after we open (BufReadPost) a file of any type (*). The code itself reads the last known cursor position, which Vim kindly stored for us in a special register named ” (that’s a double-quote). (Information like this is stored in ~/.viminfo, but this doesn’t concern us.) Then we

  1. Determine if the line number where the cursor was at still exists in the file. 1 is the first valid line and line(“$”) is the last valid line, so line(“‘\””) must be within this range. We need this check because some other editor may have altered the file and invalidated our bookmark.
  2. If we’re in range, issue a keyboard command: g'”, which means go to the line number stored in register “.

This autocommand was pulled directly from Vim’s help pages.


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