What is Vim leader key?

In Vim, the leader key is used to create shortcuts and execute commands. The slash (\) key is the default leader key in Vim, but you can change it to suit your needs.

I preferentially use Vim to edit my documents, and its many overlooked features always surprise me. Leader Key is one of them. If you are a Mac user, you should know about the Command key, which can also be called the Leader key. The functionality of the leader key in Vim is similar to that of the Mac's command key.

Purpose of Leader Key

You should know about Vim key mapping feature; It lets you set custom shortcut keys to activate various Vim commands and functions. But many keys already have some kind of command line functionality, so you can't set them as shortcut keys. This is where the leader key comes in handy.

The leader key is a prefix key that is added before another key to map a shortcut to Vim functionality. Many plugin developers also use the leader key for their plugin shortcuts.

Using Leader Key

To use the leader key, first press the leader key (\) and then press the mapped key or command. For example, if you have mapped <नेता>SYou can run it using \+s Keys in Vim normal mode.

It is important to note that after pressing the leader key (\) you will only have 1 second (1000 milliseconds) to press another key or type a command. By default, in a Vim window, you cannot see whether you have pressed a key or not.

But you can see the leader key in the Vim window and change the time period of pressing the post leader key, thanks to Vim customization. Place the command to show at the bottom of the Vim window set showcmd order in vimrc file.

use to change time timeoutlane=[value]Where [value] Is in milliseconds.

For example, setting timeoutlen Up to 2 seconds, use 2000 as the value.

To learn more about showcmd and timeoutlen Use :help showcmd And :Help with deadlines commands in vim.

change leader key

The backslash (\) is Vim's default leader, but some users find it inconvenient. The leader key can be easily changed, and the comma (,) key is generally preferred to the leader key.

To change Vim leader key, open vimrc Give file and location mapleader=,,, For older versions of Vim.

If you have Vim version 9 or above, you can also use g:mapleader=,,,,

Here, Yes is a prefix used in Vim to indicate global context.

Comment: Even if you have Vim version 9, you can still use the old way of defining the leader key.

Save after making changes vimrc press file shift+z keys or typing :wq Permission.

This is how you can change the Vim leader key to comma (,), but you can also change it to any key depending on your personal preference and workflow.

Mapping keys with leader

To map vim functionality with leader keys, use Map <नेता>{Key} [Command/Function] Syntax:

Map <Leader,,key, ,[Command/Function]

Let's map line numbering functionality <नेता>n keys.

noremap <Leader,n :set number<Ten million,

put the above command in vimrc File and save it.

noremap indicates non-recursive mapping for normal mode, <नेता>n Leader and custom key combination. After the colon (:), any Vim command or function can be placed to map. <सीआर> cart return or indicates enter key.

Now, whenever you press ,+n The key, line number feature will be enabled in Vim documents.

To map a Vim script function, first, create a Vim script function in vimrc file and then use the call command with the function name.

noremap <Leader,M: call togglemouse,,<Ten million,

Additionally, many plugins come with long commands; You'll definitely want to create shortcuts for them. I recommend using leader keys for this.

local leader key

Vim comes with another leader called local leader, which is similar to leader but buffer-specific. For example, if you are working on a certain type of file with specific settings, and you want a separate leader key for that file, you can create a secondary leader called a local leader.

Like the leader key, this can also be set to any key. To set the dash (-) key as a local leader, add Let Maplocalleader=”-“ In vimrc file.

The sole purpose of a local leader key is to define shortcuts for specific file types. For example, NERDTree is a well-known Vim plugin for locating files. To open the NERDTree file explorer, you won't feel like typing the entire :NERDtree command. Well, take help of the leader key normap <लीडर>N:NERDTree,

Using Multiple Leader Keys

You can define multiple leader keys in vimrc file. But using multiple ledger keys depends on how you define them vimrc file. For example, you have set two leader keys, one is comma (,) and the other is period (.). All mappings under the leader key defined under a comma (,) will use it as the leader, and all mappings under a period (.) will use it as the leader.

let mapleader,,

noremap <Leader,M:tabnew

let mapleader,,

noremap <Leader,m:tabclose

+M keys will create a tab in Vim, while .+M Will close it.

below is my final vimrc File configuration after making these changes.


Vim leader keys are a namespace for user-defined or plugin-defined shortcuts for Vim. Backslash (\) is the default key in Vim, however, it can be changed using let mapleader =[somekey] Permission. While the local leader is another leader key vim that can act as a file-specific leader key. Additionally, you can have multiple leader keys defined vimrc file. Overall, Leader Key is a Vim feature to extend its functionality and can be used in a variety of ways to be more efficient with the workflow.

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By Ranjan