Save a file you edited in vim without the needed permissions

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If you have been working on linux for any amount of time, you would at some time experienced the error:

E212: Can't open file for writing

This means essentially you forgot to include the sudo command before opening the file in question.

There have been a number of solutions to this problem, you can choose the solution that works for you.

Solution 1: Redo all changes but with sudo

This is probably what you do now

sudo !!

You have to re-create all changes that you did prior to remembering that you needed to open the file with sudo. Obviously this is less than ideal. It does however teach you a lesson ;)

Solution 2: Copy to a temp file

This solution is one level better than the above solution, but still is not optimal as it involves a temporary file

:w /tmp/hosts.temp
sudo mv /tmp/hosts.temp /etc/hosts

Solution 3: Use tee and sudo

This is the top rated solution on and involves using tee and sudo:

:w !sudo tee %

This solution does have the advantage that it avoids the temporary file in solution 2, it does however force you to remember a command that is quite complex. Fortunately, there is a solution. First edit your .vimrc file

vim ~/.vimrc

Append on the end of the file

ca w!! w !sudo tee "%"

Now the next time you edit a file without the correct priviledges, you can simply


Hope this little tutorial helps you out, if you have any other ideas that can help, please leave a comment below