kak - a vim-inspired, selection oriented code editor

KAK(1) General Commands Manual KAK(1)


kak — a vim-inspired, selection oriented code editor


kak [−d] [−n] [−ro] [−c session_id −s session_id] [−ui ui_type] [−e command] [−E command] [+line[

:column ] | +:] [file ...]

kak −f keys [−q] [−i suffix] [file ...]
kak −p
kak −l
kak −clear
kak −version
kak −help


Kakoune is a code editor heavily inspired by vim(1) and vi(1). As such, most of its commands are similar to vi(1)’s, sharing its “keystrokes as a text editing language” model.

Kakoune operates 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 in keystroke count with vim.

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

The options are as follows:


Display a help message and quit.


Display Kakoune version and quit.


Do not load the system’s kakrc. (often, /usr/share/kak/kakrc)


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

Run Kakoune in ‘filter mode’, like sed(1). For standard input and each file named on the command line, the whole buffer is selected (as with %) then keys are executed. The filtered version of standard input is written to standard output. Any files mentioned on the command line are modified in-place, but if −i is provided then Kakoune makes a backup of the original version.

−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 session_id.

−s session_id

Set the current session name to session_id.

−ui type

Select the user interface type, which can be terminal, dummy, or json.


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


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

column] | +:

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.

file ...

One or more file(s) to edit.


Overrides the POSIX shell used for %sh{...} expansion, which is /bin/sh (sh(1)) if unset.


Overrides the location of the directory containing Kakoune user configuration. If unset, $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/kak is used.


Path to the user’s configuration directory. If unset, $HOME/.config is used.


Path to the user’s session’s sockets. If unset, $TMPDIR/kakoune is used.


In the paths documented below, <rtdir> refers to the runtime directory, whose value is determined in relation to the path to kak’s binary location: <rtdir> = <path_to_kak_binary>/../share/kak.

If not started with the −n switch, kak will first load <rtdir>/kakrc, which will in turn load the following additional files:

If the $KAKOUNE_CONFIG_DIR/autoload directory exists, recursively load every *.kak file in it, and its sub-directories.

If it does not exist, fall back to the system-wide autoload directory in <rtdir>/autoload, and recursively load all files in a similar way.

<rtdir>/kakrc.local, if it exists; this is a user-defined system-wide configuration.

$KAKOUNE_CONFIG_DIR/kakrc, if it exists; this is the user configuration.

Consequently, if the $KAKOUNE_CONFIG_DIR/autoload directory exists, only scripts stored within that directory will be loaded — the built-in *.kak files will not be.

Users who still want the built-in scripts to be loaded along their own can create a symbolic link to <rtdir>/autoload (or to individual scripts in it) in their user-configuration directory:

ln -s <rtdir>/autoload ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME:-$HOME/.config} /kak/autoload

Edit a file:

kak /path/to/file

Edit multiple files (multiple buffers will be created):

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

Prepend a modeline that sets the tabstop to multiple files:

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


For the complete on-line documentation, use the :doc command after starting kak.

The Kakoune wiki: https://github.com/mawww/kakoune/wiki.

The main Kakoune web site: https://kakoune.org.

vi(1), vim(1), sam(1plan9).


Maxime Coste <[email protected]> and many others. GNU June 15, 2021 KAK(1)

Updated 2024-01-29 - jenkler.se | uex.se