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Save a file you edited in vim without the needed permissions

Terminal - Save a file you edited in vim without the needed permissions
:w !sudo tee %
2009-02-25 16:27:24
User: skinp
Functions: tee
Save a file you edited in vim without the needed permissions

I often forget to sudo before editing a file I don't have write permissions on. When you come to save that file and get the infamous "E212: Can't open file for writing", just issue that vim command in order to save the file without the need to save it to a temp file and then copy it back again.


There are 2 alternatives - vote for the best!

Terminal - Alternatives
:w !sudo tee > /dev/null %
2010-03-24 20:04:26
User: idemal
Functions: tee
Tags: vim sudo tee

Write a file you edited in Vim but that you do not have the permissions to write to (unless you use sudo.) Same as #1204 but without the echo to stdout that I find annoying.

command W :execute ':silent w !sudo tee % > /dev/null' | :edit!
2011-10-06 20:37:54
Functions: command tee
Tags: vim sudo tee

Calls sudo tee like all the other lines, but also automatically reloads the file.

Optionally you can add

command Wq :execute ':W' | :q


command WQ :Wq

to make quitting easier

:w !pfexec tee %
:%!sudo tee %
2011-06-17 07:16:23
User: antone
Functions: tee
Tags: vim sudo tee

probably just like 1204, but uses tee as a filter (+ I actually understand how this one works)

w !sudo cat >%

Know a better way?

If you can do better, submit your command here.

What others think

this is just awesome! of course you have to have sudo rights...

Comment by nottings 352 weeks and 4 days ago

awe-some !

Comment by pyrho 352 weeks and 4 days ago

Unfortunately this does not work well in gvim.

Comment by trey 352 weeks ago

I wish I could vote this up more than once. Thanks!

Comment by Alanceil 352 weeks ago

nice - thanks!

Comment by waltharius 349 weeks and 6 days ago

I use

:w !cat > %

which is similar, but shorter (you can add sudo in there if you want).

Comment by spatz 346 weeks ago


Comment by Iany 342 weeks and 2 days ago

I always quit vi and sudo vi when I find I haven't write permission before. This command save me much time.

Comment by kylexlau 341 weeks and 3 days ago

!sudo cat > % won't work:

* the su-ed command is "cat" but

* > % isn't an argument for "cat", but a redirection

it's the same for sudo echo > myRootFile.txt

you could try with sudo sh -c "cat > %" but it's longer

so tee is ok.

comments welcome.

Comment by ioggstream 333 weeks and 4 days ago

greatest commend ever!!! tnx!

Comment by ilyxa 330 weeks and 4 days ago

how often did i miss this command, perfect!

+1 vote for greatest command ever

Comment by buergi 325 weeks and 3 days ago

i have added:

cmap w!! %!sudo tee > /dev/null %

to my .vimrc, so I can just use :w!! to write files with sudo

Comment by f3lix 316 weeks and 5 days ago

Pretty sweet. I'm an Emacs guy, but I'm impressed with the succinct way vi handles changing effective UID.

By the way, does this work for files that have spaces in the filenames? I would guess that it wouldn't. Is it fixable by double-quoting the %?

Comment by hackerb9 313 weeks and 3 days ago

You made me curious about filenames with spaces so I had to try it out. It only works with the "%". But as a general rule, I try not to name Unix files with spaces.

Comment by skinp 313 weeks and 3 days ago

Really nice! I just freaked out when I tried this with nvi (in Ubuntu 9.10)... it did not ask for my password and yet it wrote an /etc file. Please shed some light!

Comment by ez77 309 weeks and 3 days ago

Wow, this will come in handy. So will f3lix's :w!!

but I like to use abbreviations, i think they are cleaner than remapping:

ca w!! w !sudo tee "%"
Comment by jearsh 304 weeks and 3 days ago

Thanks for this. It will save me a lot of frustration.

Comment by idemal 296 weeks and 4 days ago

is this also possible for nano?

Comment by rubo77 286 weeks and 5 days ago


Comment by knityster 273 weeks and 6 days ago

Make sure to configure sudo properly to ask you for your ROOT password and not your USER password.

Otherwise it reduces the security of your system.

Comment by grep 252 weeks ago

:w !sudo tee %

I'm hoping someone can elaborate on this command for me.

Not sure I understand what the "%" is doing, and where tee is getting its input from. Tee reads from standard input and outputs to the first argument (file), which in this case, is the "%". In VIM, the "%" is often used with regular expressions to mean "every line in the file".

So how is this working? Because using those definitions, the command doesn't make any sense.

Comment by yohhan 248 weeks and 3 days ago

...I should add, great command. This situation happens to me all of the time.

Comment by yohhan 248 weeks and 3 days ago

Have my babies? Just kidding. Awesome solution for a common derp.

Comment by SpaceKraken 247 weeks ago

I can not tell you how often i use this.

Comment by threv 207 weeks and 3 days ago

@yohhan % in vim command line mode , It represents current file, you can test it with :!echo % in vim

Comment by dfang 173 weeks and 6 days ago

@yohhan or :h cmdline-special

Comment by dfang 173 weeks and 6 days ago

Your point of view

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