Vimperator for Firefox Part 2

Welcome back to my tutorial on Vimperator. In this section I will give an introduction to the command line and some pointers on configuration. If you enjoy this post or believe reading was a waste of time please tell me why below.

Remember this tutorial assumes familiarity with vi and also that you have read parts 1 and 1.5.

Opening the command line

Like in vi the standard way of entering the command line is by pressing : but as you may have of guessed if you have followed my previous tutorials shortcuts such as o and b also take you into it with a command entered for you. If you want to cancel a command simply press ESC to return to browsing mode.

Unlike the text editor that inspired it the automatic completion in Vimperator displays a list of what you are likely to type next as well as descriptions of what those things do.

Back and forward

While the shortcut of numberCTRL+o is highly convenient for going back multiple pages you do not always know how far you want to go. In these situations you can use the :back and :forward commands to see a numbered list of URLs and their page titles.

Opening dialogues

To access a dialogue without resorting to hunting around with a mouse type in :dia dialogue.

The names of some dialogues you are likely to open are:

  • addbookmark
  • bookmarks
  • history
  • print
  • customizetoolbar

NOTE: Do not use the preferences and searchengines dialogues! These will leave your browser window inoperable! UseĀ  :o about:preferences instead.

Adding bookmarks

To add a bookmark type :bmark Address

For more specific bookmarks the following flags can be used:

  • -f Folder it will be saved in
  • -t Title for the bookmark
  • -T Tags
  • -k keyword


:bmark -t=”Test website” -f=TOOLBAR/Misc

This command can also be accessed with the current URL automatically filled out by using the a shortcut.

Setting options

Temporarily changing a setting is simple; set varname=value

Some useful variables to change are:

  • apptab When set to true the current tab becomes a pinned ‘app’.
  • gui Used to change what elements of the browser window are displayed.
  • tabnumbers When set to true each tab has a number displayed on it. I strongly recommend setting this to true
  • defsearch Used to change what search engine is used by default
  • complete Changes what sources are used to provide search suggestions (search engines, history, bookmarks, etc.)
  • suggestengines Search engines to draw search suggestions from
  • hintchars Characters used for labelling links/form elements when f is pressed
  • history How many commands to log for future use

Saving settings

:mkvimperatorrc Creates a new configuration in your home directory if you do not already have one. To overwrite an already existing configuration use :mkvimperatorrc! instead. This file will be called .vimperatorrc on Linux (and presumably *BSD/Mac OS) or _vimperatorrc on Windows.

NOTE: For some reason :mkvimperatorrc refuses to save the value of gui. If you want to change this variable you will have to edit the configuration file by hand.

My own settings file

set complete=sbSl
set defsearch=duckduckgo
set searchsuggest=duckduckgo
set history=0
set tabnumbers
set gui=addons,bookmarks,nomenu,nonavigation,tabs

By Ryan McCoskrie

Founder of the Hurunui Tech Club Creator of Vicinitude President of the Leithfield Public Library


  1. as a vimperator user for many years I was happy to learn something new, but I can’t see any difference between :back and H/ (suppose “CTRL+p” is a typo), i.e. no list appears; and :hist is not tab-specific. but saddest thing is, e10s might break vimperator’s neck.

    1. Thanks for pointing out the CTRL+p typo! Nice to see some of my hits are from actual humans :-D

      Also, how did I not know about H? Seriously I’m going to force my self to use that from now on.

      1. switching to gnu/linux rendered backspace useless in vimperator, so I read the manual and found H and L (I’d recommend reading the whole manual, if vimperator’s future wasn’t that uncertain in FF48 with e10s – Firefox ESR in debian for example might save one year)

        and I’ve got another typo for you. b is shortcut for :buffer! , which is very useful like “:buffer! tw” or “:buffer! gma” brings you to the twitter or gmail tab, if existing. you described B.

        my favourite tip: “nmap s ” in .vimperatorrc will shortcut s to switch to the last visited tab.

  2. Have you found a way to activate reader mode on websites in firefox? I just started using vimperator and while it’s great for generic browsing, am having trouble with input fields and the reader mode. Any suggestions?

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