We provide pre-built binaries on the GitHub Releases page.

Packaging status


A Homebrew tap is available:

brew tap helix-editor/helix
brew install helix



A flake containing the package is available in the project root. The flake can also be used to spin up a reproducible development shell for working on Helix.

Arch Linux

Releases are available in the community repository.

Packages are also available on AUR:

Build from source

git clone --recurse-submodules --shallow-submodules -j8
cd helix
cargo install --path helix-term

This will install the hx binary to $HOME/.cargo/bin.

Helix also needs it's runtime files so make sure to copy/symlink the runtime/ directory into the config directory (for example ~/.config/helix/runtime on Linux/macOS). This location can be overriden via the HELIX_RUNTIME environment variable.


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

See tutor.txt 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

There is no special register for copying to system clipboard, instead special commands and keybindings are provided. See the keymap for the specifics.


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 seletions (yay!). For example, to change every occurance 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

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 !

Migrating from Vim

Helix's editing model is strongly inspired from vim and kakoune, and a notable difference from vim (and the most striking similarity to kakoune) is that Helix follows the selection → action model. This means that the whatever you are going to act on (a word, a paragraph, a line, etc) is selected first and the action itself (delete, change, yank, etc) comes second. A cursor is simply a single width selection.

See also Kakoune's Migrating from Vim.

TODO: Mention texobjects, surround, registers


To override global configuration parameters, create a config.toml file located in your config directory:

  • Linux and Mac: ~/.config/helix/config.toml
  • Windows: %AppData%\helix\config.toml


[editor] section of the config.

scrolloffNumber of lines of padding around the edge of the screen when scrolling.3
mouseEnable mouse mode.true
middle-click-pasteMiddle click paste support.true
scroll-linesNumber of lines to scroll per scroll wheel step.3
shellShell to use when running external commands.Unix: ["sh", "-c"]
Windows: ["cmd", "/C"]
line-numberLine number display (absolute, relative)absolute
smart-caseEnable smart case regex searching (case insensitive unless pattern contains upper case characters)true
auto-pairsEnable automatic insertion of pairs to parenthese, brackets, etc.true
auto-completionEnable automatic pop up of auto-completion.true
idle-timeoutTime in milliseconds since last keypress before idle timers trigger. Used for autocompletion, set to 0 for instant.400
completion-trigger-lenThe min-length of word under cursor to trigger autocompletion2


To display all language server messages in the status line add the following to your config.toml:

display-messages = true


First you'll need to place selected themes in your themes directory (i.e ~/.config/helix/themes), the directory might have to be created beforehand.

To use a custom theme add theme = <name> to your config.toml or override it during runtime using :theme <name>.

The default theme.toml can be found here, and user submitted themes here.

Creating a theme

First create a file with the name of your theme as file name (i.e mytheme.toml) and place it in your themes directory (i.e ~/.config/helix/themes).

Each line in the theme file is specified as below:

key = { fg = "#ffffff", bg = "#000000", modifiers = ["bold", "italic"] }

where key represents what you want to style, fg specifies the foreground color, bg the background color, and modifiers is a list of style modifiers. bg and modifiers can be omitted to defer to the defaults.

To specify only the foreground color:

key = "#ffffff"

if the key contains a dot '.', it must be quoted to prevent it being parsed as a dotted key.

"key.key" = "#ffffff"

Color palettes

It's recommended define a palette of named colors, and refer to them from the configuration values in your theme. To do this, add a table called palette to your theme file:

ui.background = "white"
ui.text = "black"

white = "#ffffff"
black = "#000000"

Remember that the [palette] table includes all keys after its header, so you should define the palette after normal theme options.

The default palette uses the terminal's default 16 colors, and the colors names are listed below. The [palette] section in the config file takes precedence over it and is merged into the default palette.

Color Name


The following values may be used as modifiers.

Less common modifiers might not be supported by your terminal emulator.



The following is a list of scopes available to use for styling.

Syntax highlighting

These keys match tree-sitter scopes.

For a given highlight produced, styling will be determined based on the longest matching theme key. For example, the highlight function.builtin.static would match the key function.builtin rather than function.

We use a similar set of scopes as SublimeText. See also TextMate scopes.

  • escape (TODO: rename to (constant).character.escape)

  • type - Types

    • builtin - Primitive types provided by the language (int, usize)
  • constant (TODO: constant.other.placeholder for %v)

    • builtin Special constants provided by the language (true, false, nil etc)
      • boolean
    • character
  • number (TODO: rename to constant.number/.numeric.{integer, float, complex})

  • string (TODO: string.quoted.{single, double}, string.raw/.unquoted)?

    • regexp - Regular expressions
    • special
      • path
      • url
      • symbol - Erlang/Elixir atoms, Ruby symbols, Clojure keywords
  • comment - Code comments

    • line - Single line comments (//)
    • block - Block comments (e.g. (/* */)
      • documentation - Documentation comments (e.g. /// in Rust)
  • variable - Variables

    • builtin - Reserved language variables (self, this, super, etc)
    • parameter - Function parameters
    • property
    • function (TODO: ?)
  • label

  • punctuation

    • delimiter - Commas, colons
    • bracket - Parentheses, angle brackets, etc.
  • keyword

    • control
      • conditional - if, else
      • repeat - for, while, loop
      • import - import, export
      • (TODO: return?)
    • directive - Preprocessor directives (#if in C)
    • function - fn, func
  • operator - ||, +=, >, or

  • function

    • builtin
    • method
    • macro
    • special (preprocesor in C)
  • tag - Tags (e.g. <body> in HTML)

  • namespace


These scopes are used for theming the editor interface.

ui.cursor.matchMatching bracket etc.
ui.cursor.primaryCursor with primary selection
ui.statusline.inactiveStatusline (unfocused document)
ui.selectionFor selections in the editing area
warningDiagnostics warning (gutter)
errorDiagnostics error (gutter)
infoDiagnostics info (gutter)
hintDiagnostics hint (gutter)
diagnosticFor text in editing area


Normal mode


NOTE: Unlike vim, f, F, t and T are not confined to the current line.

h/LeftMove leftmove_char_left
j/DownMove downmove_line_down
k/UpMove upmove_line_up
l/RightMove rightmove_char_right
wMove next word startmove_next_word_start
bMove previous word startmove_prev_word_start
eMove next word endmove_next_word_end
WMove next WORD startmove_next_long_word_start
BMove previous WORD startmove_prev_long_word_start
EMove next WORD endmove_next_long_word_end
tFind 'till next charfind_till_char
fFind next charfind_next_char
TFind 'till previous chartill_prev_char
FFind previous charfind_prev_char
HomeMove to the start of the linegoto_line_start
EndMove to the end of the linegoto_line_end
PageUpMove page uppage_up
PageDownMove page downpage_down
Ctrl-uMove half page uphalf_page_up
Ctrl-dMove half page downhalf_page_down
Ctrl-iJump forward on the jumplistjump_forward
Ctrl-oJump backward on the jumplistjump_backward
vEnter select (extend) modeselect_mode
gEnter goto modeN/A
mEnter match modeN/A
:Enter command modecommand_mode
zEnter view modeN/A
ZEnter sticky view modeN/A
Ctrl-wEnter window modeN/A
SpaceEnter space modeN/A


rReplace with a characterreplace
RReplace with yanked textreplace_with_yanked
~Switch case of the selected textswitch_case
`Set the selected text to lower caseswitch_to_lowercase
Alt-`Set the selected text to upper caseswitch_to_uppercase
iInsert before selectioninsert_mode
aInsert after selection (append)append_mode
IInsert at the start of the lineprepend_to_line
AInsert at the end of the lineappend_to_line
oOpen new line below selectionopen_below
OOpen new line above selectionopen_above
uUndo changeundo
URedo changeredo
yYank selectionyank
pPaste after selectionpaste_after
PPaste before selectionpaste_before
" <reg>Select a register to yank to or paste fromselect_register
>Indent selectionindent
<Unindent selectionunindent
=Format selectionformat_selections
dDelete selectiondelete_selection
cChange selection (delete and enter insert mode)change_selection


|Pipe each selection through shell command, replacing with outputshell_pipe
A-|Pipe each selection into shell command, ignoring outputshell_pipe_to
!Run shell command, inserting output before each selectionshell_insert_output
A-!Run shell command, appending output after each selectionshell_append_output

Selection manipulation

sSelect all regex matches inside selectionsselect_regex
SSplit selection into subselections on regex matchessplit_selection
Alt-sSplit selection on newlinessplit_selection_on_newline
;Collapse selection onto a single cursorcollapse_selection
Alt-;Flip selection cursor and anchorflip_selections
,Keep only the primary selectionkeep_primary_selection
Alt-,Remove the primary selectionremove_primary_selection
CCopy selection onto the next linecopy_selection_on_next_line
Alt-CCopy selection onto the previous linecopy_selection_on_prev_line
(Rotate main selection backwardrotate_selections_backward
)Rotate main selection forwardrotate_selections_forward
Alt-(Rotate selection contents backwardrotate_selection_contents_backward
Alt-)Rotate selection contents forwardrotate_selection_contents_forward
%Select entire fileselect_all
xSelect current line, if already selected, extend to next lineextend_line
XExtend selection to line bounds (line-wise selection)extend_to_line_bounds
Expand selection to parent syntax node TODO: pick a keyexpand_selection
JJoin lines inside selectionjoin_selections
KKeep selections matching the regexkeep_selections
$Pipe each selection into shell command, keep selections where command returned 0shell_keep_pipe
Ctrl-cComment/uncomment the selectionstoggle_comments

TODO: The search implementation isn't ideal yet -- we don't support searching in reverse.

/Search for regex patternsearch
nSelect next search matchsearch_next
NAdd next search match to selectionextend_search_next
*Use current selection as the search patternsearch_selection

Minor modes

These sub-modes are accessible from normal mode and typically switch back to normal mode after a command.

View mode

View mode is intended for scrolling and manipulating the view without changing the selection. The "sticky" variant of this mode is persistent; use the Escape key to return to normal mode after usage (useful when you're simply looking over text and not actively editing it).

z , cVertically center the linealign_view_center
tAlign the line to the top of the screenalign_view_top
bAlign the line to the bottom of the screenalign_view_bottom
mAlign the line to the middle of the screen (horizontally)align_view_middle
jScroll the view downwardsscroll_down
kScroll the view upwardsscroll_up
fMove page downpage_down
bMove page uppage_up
dMove half page downhalf_page_down
uMove half page uphalf_page_up

Goto mode

Jumps to various locations.

NOTE: Some of these features are only available with the LSP present.

gGo to the start of the filegoto_file_start
eGo to the end of the filegoto_last_line
hGo to the start of the linegoto_line_start
lGo to the end of the linegoto_line_end
sGo to first non-whitespace character of the linegoto_first_nonwhitespace
tGo to the top of the screengoto_window_top
mGo to the middle of the screengoto_window_middle
bGo to the bottom of the screengoto_window_bottom
dGo to definitiongoto_definition
yGo to type definitiongoto_type_definition
rGo to referencesgoto_reference
iGo to implementationgoto_implementation
aGo to the last accessed/alternate filegoto_last_accessed_file

Match mode

Enter this mode using m from normal mode. See the relavant section in Usage for an explanation about surround and textobject usage.

mGoto matching bracketmatch_brackets
s <char>Surround current selection with <char>surround_add
r <from><to>Replace surround character <from> with <to>surround_replace
d <char>Delete surround character <char>surround_delete
a <object>Select around textobjectselect_textobject_around
i <object>Select inside textobjectselect_textobject_inner

TODO: Mappings for selecting syntax nodes (a superset of [).

Window mode

This layer is similar to vim keybindings as kakoune does not support window.

w, Ctrl-wSwitch to next windowrotate_view
v, Ctrl-vVertical right splitvsplit
s, Ctrl-sHorizontal bottom splithsplit
h, Ctrl-hMove to left splitjump_view_left
j, Ctrl-jMove to split belowjump_view_down
k, Ctrl-kMove to split abovejump_view_up
l, Ctrl-lMove to right splitjump_view_right
q, Ctrl-qClose current windowwclose

Space mode

This layer is a kludge of mappings, mostly pickers.

kShow documentation for the item under the cursorhover
fOpen file pickerfile_picker
bOpen buffer pickerbuffer_picker
sOpen symbol picker (current document)symbol_picker
aApply code actioncode_action
'Open last fuzzy pickerlast_picker
wEnter window modeN/A
pPaste system clipboard after selectionspaste_clipboard_after
PPaste system clipboard before selectionspaste_clipboard_before
yJoin and yank selections to clipboardyank_joined_to_clipboard
YYank main selection to clipboardyank_main_selection_to_clipboard
RReplace selections by clipboard contentsreplace_selections_with_clipboard
/Global search in workspace folderglobal_search

NOTE: Global search display results in a fuzzy picker, use space + ' to bring it back up after opening a file.


Mappings in the style of vim-unimpaired.

[dGo to previous diagnosticgoto_prev_diag
]dGo to next diagnosticgoto_next_diag
[DGo to first diagnostic in documentgoto_first_diag
]DGo to last diagnostic in documentgoto_last_diag
[spaceAdd newline aboveadd_newline_above
]spaceAdd newline belowadd_newline_below

Insert Mode

EscapeSwitch to normal modenormal_mode
Ctrl-wDelete previous worddelete_word_backward

Select / extend mode

I'm still pondering whether to keep this mode or not. It changes movement commands (including goto) to extend the existing selection instead of replacing it.

NOTE: It's a bit confusing at the moment because extend hasn't been implemented for all movement commands yet.


Keys to use within picker. Remapping currently not supported.

Up, Ctrl-k, Ctrl-pPrevious entry
Down, Ctrl-j, Ctrl-nNext entry
Ctrl-spaceFilter options
EnterOpen selected
Ctrl-sOpen horizontally
Ctrl-vOpen vertically
Escape, Ctrl-cClose picker

Key Remapping

One-way key remapping is temporarily supported via a simple TOML configuration file. (More powerful solutions such as rebinding via commands will be available in the future).

To remap keys, write a config.toml file in your helix configuration directory (default ~/.config/helix in Linux systems) with a structure like this:

# At most one section each of 'keys.normal', 'keys.insert' and ''
a = "move_char_left" # Maps the 'a' key to the move_char_left command
w = "move_line_up" # Maps the 'w' key move_line_up
"C-S-esc" = "extend_line" # Maps Control-Shift-Escape to extend_line
g = { a = "code_action" } # Maps `ga` to show possible code actions

"A-x" = "normal_mode" # Maps Alt-X to enter normal mode
j = { k = "normal_mode" } # Maps `jk` to exit insert mode

Control, Shift and Alt modifiers are encoded respectively with the prefixes C-, S- and A-. Special keys are encoded as follows:

Key nameRepresentation

Keys can be disabled by binding them to the no_op command.

Commands can be found in the source code at helix-term/src/



This section contains guides for adding new language server configurations, tree-sitter grammers, textobject queries, etc.

Adding Textobject Queries

Textobjects that are language specific (like functions, classes, etc) require an accompanying tree-sitter grammar and a textobjects.scm query file to work properly. Tree-sitter allows us to query the source code syntax tree and capture specific parts of it. The queries are written in a lisp dialect. More information on how to write queries can be found in the official tree-sitter documentation.

Query files should be placed in runtime/queries/{language}/textobjects.scm when contributing. Note that to test the query files locally you should put them under your local runtime directory (~/.config/helix/runtime on Linux for example).

The following captures are recognized:

Capture Name

Example query files can be found in the helix GitHub repository.