This is a specific use case and I understand that not a lot of folks will have use (or prefer) this. But I'd still like to understand whether this is possible.

While editing an org file, I want to open a temp file in my vim (with my plugins as I would from a terminal) and by the end of the edit, on close, I want to get the contents of the file into the org file at the cursor. Deleting the temp file would be a plus but not really needed. Maybe I can reuse the same file again.

This is what I have tried:

(defun vim-insert-here ()
 (format "gvim temp"))
(insert-file-contents "temp"))

This works well enough for simply copying the contents. But I need help adding functionality such as:

  • Not inserting the vim file text when vim is exited with q!
  • Selecting an existing piece of text in the org file and opening that in vim, and the resulting changes are overwritten in the org file
  • I don't think you can do anything about the q! case: AFAICT, vim exits with status 0, so there is no way for emacs to figure out if vim exited "normally" or with q!.
    – NickD
    Dec 9, 2020 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


suspend-emacs works for me using Emacs inside a terminal (it does not work for GUI Emacs on macOS), e.g., here a simple example

(defun foo ()
  (suspend-emacs "vim /tmp/x; fg")
  (insert-file-contents "/tmp/x"))

the following tries to do what yout want, (1. use the contents of the region as initial text; 2. replace the region with new text; 3. delete the temp file)

(defun bar (beg end)
  (interactive "*r")
  (let ((tmpfile (make-temp-file "")))
    (write-region beg end tmpfile)
    (suspend-emacs (format "vim %s; fg" (shell-quote-argument tmpfile)))
    (goto-char beg)
    (delete-region beg end)
    (insert-file-contents tmpfile)
    (delete-file tmpfile)))

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