(Currently not fully documented, see the keymappings list for more.)

See tutor.txt (accessible via hx --tutor or :tutor) for a vimtutor-like introduction.


Vim-like registers can be used to yank and store text to be pasted later. Usage is similar, with " being used to select a register:

  • "ay - Yank the current selection to register a.
  • "op - Paste the text in register o after the selection.

If there is a selected register before invoking a change or delete command, the selection will be stored in the register and the action will be carried out:

  • "hc - Store the selection in register h and then change it (delete and enter insert mode).
  • "md - Store the selection in register m and delete it.

Special Registers

Register characterContains
/Last search
:Last executed command
"Last yanked text
_Black hole

There is no special register for copying to system clipboard, instead special commands and keybindings are provided. See the keymap for the specifics. The black hole register works as a no-op register, meaning no data will be written to / read from it.


Functionality similar to vim-surround is built into helix. The keymappings have been inspired from vim-sandwich:

surround demo

  • ms - Add surround characters
  • mr - Replace surround characters
  • md - Delete surround characters

ms acts on a selection, so select the text first and use ms<char>. mr and md work on the closest pairs found and selections are not required; use counts to act in outer pairs.

It can also act on multiple selections (yay!). For example, to change every occurrence of (use) to [use]:

  • % to select the whole file
  • s to split the selections on a search term
  • Input use and hit Enter
  • mr([ to replace the parens with square brackets

Multiple characters are currently not supported, but planned.


Currently supported: word, surround, function, class, parameter.

textobject-demo textobject-treesitter-demo

  • ma - Select around the object (va in vim, <alt-a> in kakoune)
  • mi - Select inside the object (vi in vim, <alt-i> in kakoune)
Key after mi or maTextobject selected
(, [, ', etcSpecified surround pairs
mClosest surround pair

NOTE: f, c, etc need a tree-sitter grammar active for the current document and a special tree-sitter query file to work properly. Only some grammars currently have the query file implemented. Contributions are welcome!

Tree-sitter Textobject Based Navigation

Navigating between functions, classes, parameters, etc is made possible by leveraging tree-sitter and textobjects queries. For example to move to the next function use ]f, to move to previous class use [c, and so on.


See the unimpaired section of the keybind documentation for the full reference.

NOTE: This feature is dependent on tree-sitter based textobjects and therefore requires the corresponding query file to work properly.