How do I write the date to a file in Vim?

I keep a journal at work – you should too, if you’re a software developer. I decided to start adding date and time stamps so I don’t have to think. It’s really easy to do in Vim*, just type this in normal mode:

:r !date

and hit Enter. BOOM the date appears on the next line.

If you’d like a bit more detail on why this works run :help :r, or read the rest of this post. The “r” is short for read and generally means “read from another file”.

It can also read the output of a command. Since you can run external commands in Vim by putting an exclamation mark in front of them, you can do things like :r !pwd to litter your current file with /Users/josh/journal/hopes_and_dreams and the like.

Have fun!

* In Linux-based systems that have the date command at least.