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KAK(1) General Commands Manual KAK(1)


kak - a vim inspired, selection oriented code editor


kak [-help] [-version] [-q] [-n] [-l] [-ro] [-clear] [-ui ui_type] [-e command] [-E command] [-f keys] [-p session_id] [-c session_id|[[-d] -s session_id] [+line[:column]|+:] file...


Kakoune is a code editor heavily inspired by Vim, as such most of its commands are similar to Vi's ones, and it shares Vi's "keystrokes as a text editing language" model.

Kakoune can operate in two modes, normal and insertion. In insertion mode, keys are directly inserted into the current buffer. In normal mode, keys are used to manipulate the current selection and to enter insertion mode.

Kakoune has a strong focus on interactivity, most commands provide immediate and incremental results, while still being competitive (as in keystroke count) with Vim.

Kakoune works on selections, which are oriented, inclusive range of characters, selections have an anchor and a cursor character. Most commands move both of them, except when extending selection where the anchor character stays fixed and the cursor one moves around.


display a help message and quit

display kakoune version and quit

do not load resource files on startup (kakrc, autoload, rc etc)

list existing sessions

run as a headless session (requires -s)

-e command
execute command after the client initialization phase

-E command
execute command after the server initialization phase

-f keys
enter in filter mode: select the whole file, then execute keys

-i suffix
backup the files on which a filter is applied using the given suffix

when in filter mode, don't print any errors

-p session_id
send the commands written on the standard input to session session_id

-c session_id
connect to the given session

-s session_id
set the current session name to session_id

-ui type
select the user interface, can be one of ncurses, dummy or json

remove sessions that terminated in an incorrect state (e.g. after a crash)

enter in readonly mode, all the buffers opened will not be written to disk

specify a target line and column for the first file; when the plus sign is followed by only a colon, then the cursor is sent to the last line of the file

one or more files to edit

At startup, if -n is not specified, Kakoune will try to source the file ../share/kak/kakrc relative to the kak binary. This kak file will then try to recursively source any files in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/kak/autoload (with $XDG_CONFIG_HOME defaulting to $HOME/.config, and falling back to ../share/kak/autoload if that autoload directory does not exist), and finally $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/kak/kakrc.

That leads to the following behaviour: by default, with no user autoload directory, the system wide autoload directory is used, once the user wants control on autoloading, they can create an autoload directory and eventually symlink individual scripts, or the whole system wide autoload directory. They can as well add any new scripts not provided with Kakoune.


Edit a file:

kak /path/to/file

Edit multiple files (multiple buffers will be created):

kak ./file1.txt /path/to/file2.c

Insert a modeline that sets the tabstop variable at the beginning of several source code files:

kak -f "ggO// kak: tabstop=8<esc>" *.c


If not started with the -n switch, Kakoune will source the ../share/kak/kakrc file relative to the kak binary, which will source additional files:

if the $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/kak/autoload directory exists, load every
*.kak files in it, and load recursively any subdirectory

if it does not exist, fall back to the system wide autoload directory
in ../share/kak/autoload

After that, if it exists, source the $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/kak/kakrc file which should be used for user configuration. In order to continue autoloading site-wide files with a local autoload directory, just add a symbolic link to ../share/kak/autoload into your local autoload directory.