Nvim :help pages, generated from source using the tree-sitter-vimdoc parser.

VIM USER MANUAL - by Bram Moolenaar
Set your settings
Vim can be tuned to work like you want it to. This chapter shows you how to make Vim start with options set to different values. Add plugins to extend Vim's capabilities. Or define your own macros.
05.1 The vimrc file 05.2 Example vimrc contents 05.3 Simple mappings 05.4 Adding a package 05.5 Adding a plugin 05.6 Adding a help file 05.7 The option window 05.8 Often used options
Next chapter: usr_06.txt Using syntax highlighting Previous chapter: usr_04.txt Making small changes Table of contents: usr_toc.txt
You probably got tired of typing commands that you use very often. To start Vim with all your favorite option settings and mappings, you write them in what is called the init.vim file. Vim executes the commands in this file when it starts up.
If you already have a init.vim file (e.g., when your sysadmin has one setup for you), you can edit it this way:
:edit $MYVIMRC
If you don't have a vimrc file yet, see init.vim to find out where you can create a vimrc file.
This file is always used and is recommended:
The vimrc file can contain all the commands that you type after a colon. The simplest ones are for setting options. For example, if you want Vim to always start with the 'ignorecase' option on, add this line your vimrc file:
set ignorecase
For this new line to take effect you need to exit Vim and start it again. Later you will learn how to do this without exiting Vim.
This chapter only explains the most basic items. For more information on how to write a Vim script file: usr_41.txt.
In the first chapter was explained how to create a vimrc file.
:exe 'edit' stdpath('config').'/init.vim'
In this section we will explain the various commands that can be specified in this file. This will give you hints about how to set up your own preferences. Not everything will be explained though. Use the ":help" command to find out more.
set backup
This tells Vim to keep a backup copy of a file when overwriting it. The backup file will have the same name as the original file with "~" added. See 07.4
set history=50
Keep 50 commands and 50 search patterns in the history. Use another number if you want to remember fewer or more lines.
map Q gq
This defines a key mapping. More about that in the next section. This defines the "Q" command to do formatting with the "gq" operator. Otherwise the "Q" command repeats the last recorded register.
vnoremap _g y:exe "grep /" .. escape(@", '\\/') .. "/ *.c *.h"<CR>
This mapping yanks the visually selected text and searches for it in C files. This is a complicated mapping. You can see that mappings can be used to do quite complicated things. Still, it is just a sequence of commands that are executed like you typed them.
filetype plugin indent on
This switches on three very clever mechanisms: 1. Filetype detection. Whenever you start editing a file, Vim will try to figure out what kind of file this is. When you edit "main.c", Vim will see the ".c" extension and recognize this as a "c" filetype. When you edit a file that starts with "#!/bin/sh", Vim will recognize it as a "sh" filetype. The filetype detection is used for syntax highlighting and the other two items below. See filetypes.
2. Using filetype plugin files Many different filetypes are edited with different options. For example, when you edit a "c" file, it's very useful to set the 'cindent' option to automatically indent the lines. These commonly useful option settings are included with Vim in filetype plugins. You can also add your own, see write-filetype-plugin.
3. Using indent files When editing programs, the indent of a line can often be computed automatically. Vim comes with these indent rules for a number of filetypes. See :filetype-indent-on and 'indentexpr'.
restore-cursor last-position-jump
augroup RestoreCursor
  autocmd BufRead * autocmd FileType <buffer> ++once
    \ let s:line = line("'\"")
    \ | if s:line >= 1 && s:line <= line("$") && &filetype !~# 'commit'
    \      && index(['xxd', 'gitrebase'], &filetype) == -1
    \ |   execute "normal! g`\""
    \ | endif
augroup END
Another autocommand. This time it is used after reading any file. The complicated stuff after it checks if the '" mark is defined, and jumps to it if so. It doesn't do that for a commit or rebase message, which are likely a different one than last time, and when using xxd(1) to filter and edit binary files, which transforms input files back and forth, causing them to have dual nature, so to speak. See also using-xxd.
The backslash at the start of a line is used to continue the command from the previous line. That avoids a line getting very long. See line-continuation. This only works in a Vim script file, not when typing commands at the command line.
command DiffOrig vert new | set bt=nofile | r ++edit # | 0d_ | diffthis
          \ | wincmd p | diffthis
This adds the ":DiffOrig" command. Use this in a modified buffer to see the differences with the file it was loaded from. See diff and :DiffOrig.
set nolangremap
Prevent that the langmap option applies to characters that result from a mapping. If set (default), this may break plugins (but it's backward compatible). See 'langremap'.
A mapping enables you to bind a set of Vim commands to a single key. Suppose, for example, that you need to surround certain words with curly braces. In other words, you need to change a word such as "amount" into "{amount}". With the :map command, you can tell Vim that the F5 key does this job. The command is as follows:
:map <F5> i{<Esc>ea}<Esc>
Note: When entering this command, you must enter <F5> by typing four characters. Similarly, <Esc> is not entered by pressing the <Esc> key, but by typing five characters. Watch out for this difference when reading the manual!
Let's break this down: <F5> The F5 function key. This is the trigger key that causes the command to be executed as the key is pressed.
i{<Esc> Insert the { character. The <Esc> key ends Insert mode.
e Move to the end of the word.
a}<Esc> Append the } to the word.
After you execute the ":map" command, all you have to do to put {} around a word is to put the cursor on the first character and press F5.
In this example, the trigger is a single key; it can be any string. But when you use an existing Vim command, that command will no longer be available. You better avoid that. One key that can be used with mappings is the backslash. Since you probably want to define more than one mapping, add another character. You could map "\p" to add parentheses around a word, and "\c" to add curly braces, for example:
:map \p i(<Esc>ea)<Esc>
:map \c i{<Esc>ea}<Esc>
You need to type the \ and the p quickly after another, so that Vim knows they belong together.
The ":map" command (with no arguments) lists your current mappings. At least the ones for Normal mode. More about mappings in section 40.1.
You may use :packadd to enable packages on demand. This is useful for plugins you want to enable only sometimes. To enable example_package, use the following command:
packadd example_package
That's all! Now you can find help about this plugin:
:help example_package
This works, because when :packadd loaded the plugin it also added the package directory in 'runtimepath', so that the help file can be found.
A package is a set of files that you can add to Vim. There are two kinds of packages: optional and automatically loaded on startup.
You can find packages on the Internet in various places. It usually comes as an archive or as a repository. For an archive you can follow these steps: 1. create the package directory:
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/nvim/site/pack/fancy
"fancy" can be any name of your liking. Use one that describes the package. 2. unpack the archive in that directory. This assumes the top directory in the archive is "start":
cd ~/.local/share/nvim/site/pack/fancy
unzip /tmp/
If the archive layout is different make sure that you end up with a path like this: Here "fancytext" is the name of the package, it can be anything else.
More information about packages can be found here: packages.
Vim's functionality can be extended by adding plugins. A plugin is nothing more than a Vim script file that is loaded automatically when Vim starts. You can add a plugin very easily by dropping it in your plugin directory.
There are two types of plugins:
global plugin: Used for all kinds of files filetype plugin: Only used for a specific type of file
The global plugins will be discussed first, then the filetype ones add-filetype-plugin.
When you start Vim, it will automatically load a number of global plugins. You don't have to do anything for this. They add functionality that most people will want to use, but which was implemented as a Vim script instead of being compiled into Vim. You can find them listed in the help index standard-plugin-list. Also see load-plugins.
add-global-plugin You can add a global plugin to add functionality that will always be present when you use Vim. There are only two steps for adding a global plugin: 1. Get a copy of the plugin. 2. Drop it in the right directory.
Where can you find plugins?
Some are always loaded, you can see them in the directory $VIMRUNTIME/plugin.
Some come with Vim. You can find them in the directory $VIMRUNTIME/macros and its sub-directories and under $VIM/vimfiles/pack/dist/opt/.
Download from the net. There is a large collection on
They are sometimes posted in a Vim maillist.
You could write one yourself, see write-plugin.
First read the text in the plugin itself to check for any special conditions. Then copy the file to your plugin directory:
Unix ~/.local/share/nvim/site/plugin
Example for Unix (assuming you didn't have a plugin directory yet):
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/nvim/site/plugin
cp /tmp/yourplugin.vim ~/.local/share/nvim/site/plugin
That's all! Now you can use the commands defined in this plugin.
Instead of putting plugins directly into the plugin/ directory, you may better organize them by putting them into subdirectories under plugin/. As an example, consider using "~/.local/share/nvim/site/plugin/perl/*.vim" for all your Perl plugins.
The Vim distribution comes with a set of plugins for different filetypes that you can start using with this command:
:filetype plugin on
That's all! See vimrc-filetype.
If you are missing a plugin for a filetype you are using, or you found a better one, you can add it. There are two steps for adding a filetype plugin: 1. Get a copy of the plugin. 2. Drop it in the right directory.
You can find them in the same places as the global plugins. Watch out if the type of file is mentioned, then you know if the plugin is a global or a filetype one. The scripts in $VIMRUNTIME/macros are global ones, the filetype plugins are in $VIMRUNTIME/ftplugin.
You can add a filetype plugin by dropping it in the right directory. The name of this directory is in the same directory mentioned above for global plugins, but the last part is "ftplugin". Suppose you have found a plugin for the "stuff" filetype, and you are on Unix. Then you can move this file to the ftplugin directory:
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/nvim/site/ftplugin
mv thefile ~/.local/share/nvim/site/ftplugin/stuff.vim
If that file already exists you already have a plugin for "stuff". You might want to check if the existing plugin doesn't conflict with the one you are adding. If it's OK, you can give the new one another name:
mv thefile ~/.local/share/nvim/site/ftplugin/stuff_too.vim
The underscore is used to separate the name of the filetype from the rest, which can be anything. If you use "otherstuff.vim" it wouldn't work, it would be loaded for the "otherstuff" filetype.
The generic names for the filetype plugins are:
Here "<name>" can be any name that you prefer. Examples for the "stuff" filetype on Unix:
The <filetype> part is the name of the filetype the plugin is to be used for. Only files of this filetype will use the settings from the plugin. The <name> part of the plugin file doesn't matter, you can use it to have several plugins for the same filetype. Note that it must end in ".vim" or ".lua".
Further reading: filetype-plugins Documentation for the filetype plugins and information about how to avoid that mappings cause problems. load-plugins When the global plugins are loaded during startup. ftplugin-overrule Overruling the settings from a global plugin. write-plugin How to write a plugin script. plugin-details For more information about using plugins or when your plugin doesn't work. new-filetype How to detect a new file type.
If you are lucky, the plugin you installed also comes with a help file. We will explain how to install the help file, so that you can easily find help for your new plugin.
Let us suppose a plugin ("my-plugin"), which comes with a help file in a non-standard place (it usually resides in a sub-folder called doc/).
First, create a "doc" directory in one of the directories in 'runtimepath':
:!mkdir -p ~/.local/share/nvim/site/doc
Now, copy the help file to the "doc" directory:
:!cp my-plugin/my-plugin-doc.txt ~/.local/share/nvim/site/doc
Here comes the trick, which allows you to jump to the subjects in the new help file. Generate the local tags file with the :helptags command:
:helptags ~/.local/share/nvim/site/doc
You can see an entry for the local help file when you do:
:help local-additions
The title lines from the local help files are automagically added to this section. There you can see which local help files have been added and jump to them through the tag.
For writing a local help file, see write-local-help.
If you are looking for an option that does what you want, you can search in the help files here: options. Another way is by using this command:
This opens a new window, with a list of options with a one-line explanation. The options are grouped by subject. Move the cursor to a subject and press <Enter> to jump there. Press <Enter> again to jump back. Or use CTRL-O.
You can change the value of an option. For example, move to the "displaying text" subject. Then move the cursor down to this line:
When you hit <Enter>, the line will change to:
The option has now been switched off.
Just above this line is a short description of the 'wrap' option. Move the cursor one line up to place it in this line. Now hit <Enter> and you jump to the full help on the 'wrap' option.
For options that take a number or string argument you can edit the value. Then press <Enter> to apply the new value. For example, move the cursor a few lines up to this line:
Position the cursor on the zero with "$". Change it into a five with "r5". Then press <Enter> to apply the new value. When you now move the cursor around you will notice that the text starts scrolling before you reach the border. This is what the 'scrolloff' option does, it specifies an offset from the window border where scrolling starts.
There are an awful lot of options. Most of them you will hardly ever use. Some of the more useful ones will be mentioned here. Don't forget you can find more help on these options with the ":help" command, with single quotes before and after the option name. For example:
:help 'wrap'
In case you have messed up an option value, you can set it back to the default by putting an ampersand (&) after the option name. Example:
:set iskeyword&


Vim normally wraps long lines, so that you can see all of the text. Sometimes it's better to let the text continue right of the window. Then you need to scroll the text left-right to see all of a long line. Switch wrapping off with this command:
:set nowrap
Vim will automatically scroll the text when you move to text that is not displayed. To see a context of ten characters, do this:
:set sidescroll=10
This doesn't change the text in the file, only the way it is displayed.
Most commands for moving around will stop moving at the start and end of a line. You can change that with the 'whichwrap' option. This sets it to the default value:
:set whichwrap=b,s
This allows the <BS> key, when used in the first position of a line, to move the cursor to the end of the previous line. And the <Space> key moves from the end of a line to the start of the next one.
To allow the cursor keys <Left> and <Right> to also wrap, use this command:
:set whichwrap=b,s,<,>
This is still only for Normal mode. To let <Left> and <Right> do this in Insert mode as well:
:set whichwrap=b,s,<,>,[,]
There are a few other flags that can be added, see 'whichwrap'.
When there are tabs in a file, you cannot see where they are. To make them visible:
:set list
Now every tab is displayed as ^I. And a $ is displayed at the end of each line, so that you can spot trailing spaces that would otherwise go unnoticed. A disadvantage is that this looks ugly when there are many Tabs in a file. If you have a color terminal, or are using the GUI, Vim can show the spaces and tabs as highlighted characters. Use the 'listchars' option:
:set listchars=tab:>-,trail:-
Now every tab will be displayed as ">---" (with more or less "-") and trailing white space as "-". Looks a lot better, doesn't it?
The 'iskeyword' option specifies which characters can appear in a word:
:set iskeyword
The "@" stands for all alphabetic letters. "48-57" stands for ASCII characters 48 to 57, which are the numbers 0 to 9. "192-255" are the printable latin characters. Sometimes you will want to include a dash in keywords, so that commands like "w" consider "upper-case" to be one word. You can do it like this:
:set iskeyword+=-
:set iskeyword
If you look at the new value, you will see that Vim has added a comma for you. To remove a character use "-=". For example, to remove the underscore:
:set iskeyword-=_
:set iskeyword
This time a comma is automatically deleted.
When Vim starts there is one line at the bottom that is used for messages. When a message is long, it is either truncated, thus you can only see part of it, or the text scrolls and you have to press <Enter> to continue. You can set the 'cmdheight' option to the number of lines used for messages. Example:
:set cmdheight=3
This does mean there is less room to edit text, thus it's a compromise.
Copyright: see manual-copyright vim:tw=78:ts=8:noet:ft=help:norl:
Commands index
Quick reference