While Vim is a text editor designed to be used only with keyboard shortcuts, browser extensions like Vimium allow you to browse the web using similar keyboard shortcuts without ever touching the mouse. Using Vim shortcuts on your browser can help you get things done faster and more efficiently. In this article, I will show you how to use and configure Vimium on your favorite browser.
Install Vimium on Chrome
To install Vimium on Chrome or any other Chromium-based browser like Brave, go to Vimium page on Chrome Webstore and select “Add to Chrome”. This will open a pop-up window. Select “Add extension” to add it to Chrome.
Install Vimium on Firefox
You can add Vimium-FF, a Vimium port for Firefox, from the Vimium-FF page on the Firefox browser ADD-ONS website.
On the Vimium-FF page, select “Add to Firefox”. Then in the pop-up window, select “Add” to install it on Firefox.
Install Vimari on Safari
Vimari is a Vimium Safari port. Although Vimari has very limited control compared to Vimium, it handles basic navigation very well. You can install App Store Vimari.
To activate the Vimari extension on Safari, select “Safari” from the menu bar and go to preferences. Select the “Extensions” tab and check “Vimari”.
Browse with Vimium
Scrolling with Vimium
Scrolling is probably the most common thing you do on a web page. With Vimium, you can use J to scroll down and K to scroll up. Pressing H and L allows you to scroll horizontally left and right. To go to the top of the page, press GG. Hurry Gap + g to go to the bottom of the page like you would with Vim. You can even scroll half a page down or up by pressing D and you.
Open a link
To open a link, press Fwhich will assign a unique label to each of the links on a particular web page.
To access a link, type the label displayed on the link. If you want to type something in a text field, just type the label on the text field.
You can press Gap + F to show labels that will open links on a new page when you type a label.
To access the left tab, press Gap + J. Pressing Gap + K will take you to the right tab. If you are using Vimari, press Q and O to access the left and right tabs. To close the current tab, tap X. If you close a tab by mistake, you can restore it by tapping Gap + X (does not work for Vimari).
If multiple tabs are open, tap Gap + Jthen find and select the tab to open it.
Browse your history
You can return to the previous page of your browser by pressing Gap + H. If you want to return to the page you just came from, press Gap + L.
Exit insert mode and text fields
Pressing I will put you in insert mode. You can use the usual browser shortcuts in insert mode. For example, if you’re on YouTube, tap M will mute the sound instead of acting as a Vimium hotkey.
Whether you are in insert mode or just in a text field like the search bar, you can exit to use Vimium shortcuts again by pressing Esc.
You can configure and modify the default Vimium shortcuts according to your own preferences from the Vimium Options page.
Opening the Vimium options page
If you’re on Chrome, select the extension icon next to the address bar. Now select the three dots next to the Vimium extension and select “Options” to access the Vimium Options page.
If you’re using Firefox, right-click the Vimium icon next to the address bar and select “Manage Extension”. On the Extensions page, select the three dots next to the Vimium extension and select “Preferences”.
To see all available commands, select “Show available commands” right next to the “Custom key mappings” box.
This will display the list of available commands and their corresponding keyboard shortcuts in a pop-up window.
You can change the keyboard shortcuts for each of these commands.
Map and unmap a key in Vimium
To use a certain key to execute a command, enter a
map command in the “Custom Key Mappings”. The general format is:
map shortcutKey commandName
For example, to use the M key to deactivate or reactivate a tab, enter the command:
If you want to disable a Vimium shortcut, you can use the
unmap command with the shortcut key. For example, if you want to disable the Vimimum shortcut /enter the command:
Select “Save Changes” after entering your commands.
The changes will take place when you visit a new page or reload an already open page.
Configuring advanced options
Vimium has some advanced options like specifying the scroll step size when you press J/K/H/L, which you can DIY and adjust to your preference. If you don’t like smooth scrolling, you can uncheck the Use smooth scrolling button in the miscellaneous options.
To see advanced options, select “Show advanced options” on the Vimium Options page.
You can also download the configuration file for your current preferences and restore it to use the same shortcuts when you reinstall your browser or choose to use Vimium on another browser.
To download a backup, select “Click to download backup” from the Backup & Restore menu.
To configure Vimari, select the Vimari icon from the Safari top bar. This will open a new window. In the pop-up window, select “Open configuration file”.
You will see all available commands in the Bindings section. Keyboard shortcuts are represented as key-value pairs where key is the name of the command for the shortcut and value is the shortcut key.
If you want to edit a shortcut, select the shortcut key after the keyword and replace it with your own shortcut.
For example, if you want to use Gap + J and Gap + K to go to the left and right tabs, replace the lines:
"tabForward": "w", "tabBack": "q",
"tabForward": "shift+k", "tabBack": "shift+j",
To disable a shortcut, just leave the value as empty quotes. For example, if you don’t want X to close a tab, replace the line:
Hurry Ordered + S to save the configuration. This new configuration will now work on web pages you open or you can simply reload an already open tab on Safari by pressing R to use the new configuration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Vimium/Vimari secure?
Yes. Vimium/Vimari does not communicate with any server and stores all your preferences locally.
Why is Vimium/Vimari not working on browser homepage?
Vimium and Vimari do not work on some pages such as Chrome homepage, Chrome Webstore and Safari homepage as per browsers policy.
What if a website has the same shortcut as Vimium?
In normal mode, Vimium hotkeys will take precedence. However, you can use regular website shortcuts in insert mode.
Image credit: Colorful keyboards by 123FR. Screenshots of Muhammad Munna
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