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8 days ago

rip-substitute 🪦

Perform search and replace operations in the current buffer using a modern user interface and contemporary regex syntax.

Table of Contents


  • Search and replace in the current buffer using ripgrep.
  • Uses common regex syntax — no more dealing with arcane vim regex.
  • Incremental preview of matched strings and replacements, live count of matches.
  • Popup window instead of command line. This entails:
    • Syntax highlighting of the regex.
    • Editing with vim motions.
    • No more dealing with delimiters.
  • Sensible defaults: entire buffer (%), all matches in a line (/g), case-sensitive (/I).
  • Range support
  • History of previous substitutions.
  • Performant: In a file with 5000 lines and thousands of matches, still performs blazingly fast.™
  • Regex101 integration: Open the planned substitution in a pre-configured regex101 browser-tab for debugging.
  • Quality-of-Life features: automatic prefill of the escaped cursorword, adaptive popup window width, visual emphasis of the active range, …
  • Syntax comparison:
    # all three are equivalent
    # vim's :substitute
    :% s/\(foo\)bar\(\.\)\@!/\1baz/gI
    # vim's :substitute (very magic mode)
    :% s/\v(foo)bar(\.)@!/\1baz/gI
    # rip-substitute



  • ripgrep with pcre2 support
    • homebrew: brew install ripgrep (already includes pcre2 by default)
    • cargo: cargo install ripgrep --features "pcre2"
    • You can also use this plugin without pcre2 by setting regexOptions.pcre2 = false in the plugin config.
  • nvim >= 0.10
  • :TSInstall regex (only needed for syntax highlighting)
-- lazy.nvim
    cmd = "RipSubstitute",
    keys = {
            function() require("rip-substitute").sub() end,
            mode = { "n", "x" },
            desc = " rip substitute",

-- packer
use {


-- default settings
require("rip-substitute").setup {
    popupWin = {
        title = " rip-substitute",
        border = "single",
        matchCountHlGroup = "Keyword",
        noMatchHlGroup = "ErrorMsg",
        hideSearchReplaceLabels = false,
        position = "bottom", -- "top"|"bottom"
    prefill = {
        normal = "cursorWord", -- "cursorWord"|false
        visual = "selectionFirstLine", -- "selectionFirstLine"|false
        startInReplaceLineIfPrefill = false,
    keymaps = {
        -- normal & visual mode
        confirm = "<CR>",
        abort = "q",
        prevSubst = "<Up>",
        nextSubst = "<Down>",
        openAtRegex101 = "R",
        insertModeConfirm = "<C-CR>", -- (except this one, obviously)
    incrementalPreview = {
        matchHlGroup = "IncSearch",
        rangeBackdrop = {
            enabled = true,
            blend = 50, -- between 0 and 100
    regexOptions = {
        -- pcre2 enables lookarounds and backreferences, but performs slower
        pcre2 = true,
        ---@type "case-sensitive"|"ignore-case"|"smart-case"
        casing = "case-sensitive",
        -- disable if you use named capture groups (see README for details)
        autoBraceSimpleCaptureGroups = true,
    editingBehavior = {
        -- Experimental. When typing `()` in the `search` line, automatically
        -- adds `$n` to the `replace` line.
        autoCaptureGroups = false,
    notificationOnSuccess = true,

[!NOTE] Any ripgrep config file set via RIPGREP_CONFIG_PATH is ignored by this plugin.


lua function

    { "n", "x" },
    function() require("rip-substitute").sub() end,
    { desc = " rip substitute" }
  • Normal mode: prefills the cursorword.
  • Visual mode: prefills the selection.
  • Visual line mode: replacements are only applied to the selected lines (the selection is used as range).

Ex command
Alternatively, you can use the ex command :RipSubstitute, which also accepts a range argument. Note that when using the ex command, visual mode and visual line mode both pass a range. To prefill the current selection, you therefore need to use the lua function.

" Substitute in entire file. Prefills the cursorword.

" Substitute in line range of the visual selection.

" Substitute in given range (in this case: current line to end of file).
:.,$ RipSubstitute

You can also pass a prefill for the search value, in which case the prefill is not escaped.

:RipSubstitute prefilled string


A gotcha of ripgrep's regex syntax is that it treats $1a as the named capture group "1a" and not as the first capture group followed by the letter "a." (See ripgrep's man page on --replace for details.)

If regexOptions.autoBraceSimpleCaptureGroups = true (the default), rip-substitute automatically changes $1a to ${1}a, to make writing the regex more intuitive. However, if you regularly use named capture groups, you may want to disable this setting.

The popup window uses the filetype rip-substitute. This can be useful, for instance, to disable auto-pairing plugins in the popup window.


  • --multiline and various other flags are not supported yet.
  • This plugin only searches the current buffer. To search and replace in multiple files via ripgrep, use grug-far.nvim.

About the developer

In my day job, I am a sociologist studying the social mechanisms underlying the digital economy. For my PhD project, I investigate the governance of the app economy and how software ecosystems manage the tension between innovation and compatibility. If you are interested in this subject, feel free to get in touch.

I also occasionally blog about vim: Nano Tips for Vim