Save a file you edited in vim without the needed permissions

:w !sudo tee %
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.

By: skinp
2009-02-25 16:27:24

8 Alternatives + Submit Alt

What Others Think

this is just awesome! of course you have to have sudo rights...
nottings · 614 weeks and 2 days ago
awe-some !
pyrho · 614 weeks and 2 days ago
Unfortunately this does not work well in gvim.
trey · 613 weeks and 6 days ago
I wish I could vote this up more than once. Thanks!
Alanceil · 613 weeks and 6 days ago
nice - thanks!
waltharius · 611 weeks and 4 days ago
I use :w !cat > % which is similar, but shorter (you can add sudo in there if you want).
spatz · 607 weeks and 5 days ago
Iany · 604 weeks and 1 day ago
I always quit vi and sudo vi when I find I haven't write permission before. This command save me much time.
kylexlau · 603 weeks and 2 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.
ioggstream · 595 weeks and 2 days ago
greatest commend ever!!! tnx!
ilyxa · 592 weeks and 3 days ago
how often did i miss this command, perfect! +1 vote for greatest command ever
buergi · 587 weeks and 1 day ago
i have added: cmap w!! %!sudo tee > /dev/null % to my .vimrc, so I can just use :w!! to write files with sudo
f3lix · 578 weeks and 4 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 %?
hackerb9 · 575 weeks and 2 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.
skinp · 575 weeks and 1 day 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!
ez77 · 571 weeks and 2 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 "%"
jearsh · 566 weeks and 2 days ago
Thanks for this. It will save me a lot of frustration.
idemal · 558 weeks and 2 days ago
is this also possible for nano?
rubo77 · 548 weeks and 3 days ago
knityster · 535 weeks and 5 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.
grep · 513 weeks and 5 days 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.
yohhan · 510 weeks and 2 days ago
...I should add, great command. This situation happens to me all of the time.
yohhan · 510 weeks and 2 days ago
Have my babies? Just kidding. Awesome solution for a common derp.
SpaceKraken · 508 weeks and 6 days ago
I can not tell you how often i use this.
threv · 469 weeks and 1 day ago
@yohhan % in vim command line mode , It represents current file, you can test it with :!echo % in vim
dfang · 435 weeks and 4 days ago
@yohhan or :h cmdline-special
dfang · 435 weeks and 4 days ago

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Any thoughts on this command? Does it work on your machine? Can you do the same thing with only 14 characters?

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