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How to do case insensitive search in Vim

Posted by: admin February 21, 2020 Leave a comment


I’d like to search for an upper case word, for example COPYRIGHT in a file. I tried performing a search like:

/copyright/i    # Doesn't work

but it doesn’t work. I know that in Perl, if I give the i flag into a regex it will turn the regex into a case-insensitive regex. It seems that Vim has its own way to indicate a case-insensitive regex.

How to&Answers:

You can use the \c escape sequence anywhere in the pattern. For example:

/\ccopyright or /copyright\c or even /copyri\cght

To do the inverse (case sensitive matching), use \C instead.


As well as the suggestions for \c and ignorecase, I find the smartcase very useful. If you search for something containing uppercase characters, it will do a case sensitive search; if you search for something purely lowercase, it will do a case insensitive search. You can use \c and \C to override this:

:set ignorecase
:set smartcase
/copyright      " Case insensitive
/Copyright      " Case sensitive
/copyright\C    " Case sensitive
/Copyright\c    " Case insensitive


:help /\c
:help /\C
:help 'smartcase'


You can set the ic option in Vim before the search:

:set ic

To go back to case-sensitive searches use:

:set noic

ic is shorthand for ignorecase


You can issue the command

:set ignorecase

and after that your searches will be case-insensitive.


To switch between case sensitive and insensitive search I use this mapping in my .vimrc

nmap <F9> :set ignorecase! ignorecase?


You can use in your vimrc those commands:

  • set ignorecase – All your searches will be case insensitive
  • set smartcase – Your search will be case sensitive if it contains an uppercase letter

You need to set ignorecase if you want to use what smartcase provides.

I wrote recently an article about Vim search commands (both built in command and the best plugins to search efficiently).


As others suggested:

:set ic

But the cool stuff is You can toggle such modes with:

:set ic!


put this command in your vimrc file

set ic 

always do case insensitive search


The good old vim[grep] command..

:vimgrep /example\c/ &
  • \c for case insensitive
  • \C for case sensitive
  • % is to search in the current buffer

enter image description here


I prefer to use \c at the end of the search string:



As @huyz mention sometimes desired behavior is using case-insensitive searches but case-sensitive substitutions. My solution for that:

nnoremap / /\c
nnoremap ? ?\c

With that always when you hit / or ? it will add \c for case-insensitive search.


Vim have 2 modes

1.edit mode

  1. normal mode( Esc )

Search will work for normal mode

/\c for case sensitive



You can set ignorecase by default, run this in shell

echo "set ic" >> ~/.vimrc