How to Save a File in Vi / Vim & Exit

September 22, 2022


Vim (Vi IMproved) is an open-source text editor for Unix and Linux systems. It is a powerful and stable tool for editing and writing text, both in the command-line interface and as an independent application in a GUI.

Take the first step in learning Vim with the basic save and exit commands. Follow this guide and learn how to save a file in Vi/Vim and exit the editor.

linux Tutorial on how to save a File in Vi / Vim text editor


  • A system running Linux.
  • A user with sudo privileges.
  • Access to a terminal/command line.
  • Vim installed (alternatively, use the default Vi).

Using Vim Modes

When Vim launches, files are opened in command mode by default. This means that you can move around and edit the file, but cannot insert new text.

All alphanumeric keys in this mode are equal to commands, and pressing them will not display their value on the screen. For example, pressing the letter w will move the cursor one word forward.

To type text, you must be in insert mode. To switch to insert mode, press the i key. Now you can type text into a file.

To switch back to command mode, press the Esc button.

How to Save Changes in Vim

Vim offers different commands to save changes to a file, depending on whether you need to exit the text editor or not. Below are examples demonstrating how to save and exit, save without exiting, and exit without saving.

Start by opening a new text file using Vim:

vim example_file.txt

Next, press i to enter insert mode and add some text.

Vim Save and Quit Command

To save a file and exit Vim, do the following:

1. Switch to command mode by pressing the Esc key.

2. Press : (colon) to open the prompt bar in the bottom left corner of the window.

3. Type x after the colon and hit Enter. This will save the changes and exit.

Vim Save And Quit The Editor Command

Alternatively, a command that will also save a file and exit the text editor is:


In which case the w stands for write (save) and q stands for quit.

How to Save a File in Vi / Vim Without Exiting

To save a file without exiting in Vim:

1. Switch to command mode by pressing the Esc key.

2. Type : (colon). This will open the prompt bar in the bottom left corner of the window.

example of saving a file without exiting in Vim

3. Type w after the colon and hit Enter. This will save in Vim the changes made to the file, without exiting.

You can also rename an existing file by adding the new name after the commands.

:w [newfilename]

In the picture below, we renamed the existing example1.txt into newexample.

example of renaming a file using vi/vim text editor

Exit Without Saving Changes in Vi / Vim

To exit Vim without saving changes:

1. Switch to command mode by pressing the Esc key.

2. Press : (colon) to open the prompt bar in the bottom left corner of the window.

3. Type q! after the colon and hit Enter to exit without saving the changes.

command to exit vim without saving changes

The q! quits the text editor.


This article explained how to save files in Vi / Vim, with multiple command options.

The more comfortable you feel using keyboard shortcuts, the more you will understand why Vim earned its worldwide reputation. Next learn how to copy and paste in Vim, and how to go to the end of the file!

Was this article helpful?
Sofija Simic
Sofija Simic is an experienced Technical Writer. Alongside her educational background in teaching and writing, she has had a lifelong passion for information technology. She is committed to unscrambling confusing IT concepts and streamlining intricate software installations.
Next you should read
How to Show or Hide Line Numbers in Vim / Vi
February 28, 2022

You can activate line numbering in Vim by showing absolute, relative or hybrid lines. Displaying or hiding ...
Read more
How to Cut, Copy and Paste in Vim / Vi
April 6, 2020

Complete guide on how to use crucial Vim commands - copying (yanking), cutting (deleting), and pasting ...
Read more
How to Change and Use Vim Color Schemes
March 9, 2020

Vim color schemes are a handy feature for setting syntax highlighting. You can choose from a wide variety of ...
Read more
How to Install Vim 8.2 on CentOS 7
September 10, 2019

Official repositories struggle to keep pace with updates and new software versions. This article provides ...
Read more
  • © 2022 Copyright phoenixNAP | Global IT Services. All Rights Reserved.