I'm dealing with a tiny, yet annoying (to me) feature of Evil.

My evil-search-module is set to evil-search. Why that is relevant explained in this post When I invoke evil-search (bound to * in normal state), it always tries to search for a symbol. e.g, if I have cursor at FooBar - it will search for occurrences of 'FooBar' in the current buffer.

And even if I select only 'Foo' part of it, it would ignore my selection and search for the whole thing. Now, this isn't a bug, I checked, Vim does the same thing.

But is it possible (what am I saying? of course it is possible). How can I make it respect the selection? If I have selected 'Foo' it should search only for occurrences of 'Foo'; if I select 'Bar' - it should only search for 'Bar', and so on...

1 Answer 1


I was misled to think that this is a default behavior in Vim. Turns out Neovim does it (because it makes sense), but not Vim.

The feature I wanted called "vim-visual-star-search". I talked to Tom Dalziel, maintainer of Evil, and after a short discussion, we both agreed that this shouldn't be the default feature of Evil (since it's not in Vim).

It took me a while to make it work:

(defun evil-ex-visual-star-search-a (fn unbounded direction count &optional symbol)
  "Visual-star search in evil.

I want * and # operators to respect marked region."
  (if (use-region-p)
      (let* ((beg (region-beginning))
             (end (1+ (region-end)))
             (delta (- end beg 1))
             (s (buffer-substring beg end))
             (evil-ex-search-pattern s)
             (evil-ex-search-offset 0))
        (if (eq direction 'forward)
            (goto-char end)
          (goto-char beg))
        (when (evil-ex-search-full-pattern s count direction)
          (let ((p (progn (when (eq direction 'forward)
            (set-mark p)
            (goto-char (if (eq direction 'forward)
                           (- p delta)
                         (+ p delta))))))
    (funcall fn unbounded direction count symbol)))
(advice-add #'evil-ex-start-word-search :around #'evil-ex-visual-star-search-a)

And only after I wrote that snippet I realized that I might not be the only one who wanted this. And indeed, the package already exists. https://github.com/bling/evil-visualstar

I'll be using my snippet for now (it's small and does what I want), but if it doesn't work for you for any reason, try the package.

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