Vim_diff

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


Differences between Nvim and Vim
Nvim differs from Vim in many ways, although editor and Vimscript (not Vim9script) features are mostly identical. This document is a complete and centralized reference of the differences.

1. Configuration nvim-config

Use $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/nvim/init.vim instead of .vimrc for your config.
Use $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/nvim instead of .vim to store configuration files.
Use $XDG_STATE_HOME/nvim/shada/main.shada instead of .viminfo for persistent session information. shada

2. Defaults nvim-defaults

Filetype detection is enabled by default. This can be disabled by adding ":filetype off" to init.vim.
Syntax highlighting is enabled by default. This can be disabled by adding ":syntax off" to init.vim.
'autoindent' is enabled
'autoread' is enabled
'background' defaults to "dark" (unless set automatically by the terminal/UI)
'backspace' defaults to "indent,eol,start"
'backupdir' defaults to .,~/.local/state/nvim/backup// (xdg), auto-created
'belloff' defaults to "all"
'compatible' is always disabled
'complete' excludes "i"
'directory' defaults to ~/.local/state/nvim/swap// (xdg), auto-created
'display' defaults to "lastline"
'encoding' is UTF-8 (cf. 'fileencoding' for file-content encoding)
'fillchars' defaults (in effect) to "vert:│,fold:·,sep:│"
'formatoptions' defaults to "tcqj"
'fsync' is disabled
'hidden' is enabled
'history' defaults to 10000 (the maximum)
'hlsearch' is enabled
'incsearch' is enabled
'joinspaces' is disabled
'langnoremap' is enabled
'langremap' is disabled
'laststatus' defaults to 2 (statusline is always shown)
'listchars' defaults to "tab:> ,trail:-,nbsp:+"
'mouse' defaults to "nvi"
'mousemodel' defaults to "popup_setpos"
'nrformats' defaults to "bin,hex"
'ruler' is enabled
'sessionoptions' includes "unix,slash", excludes "options"
'shortmess' includes "F", excludes "S"
'showcmd' is enabled
'sidescroll' defaults to 1
'smarttab' is enabled
'startofline' is disabled
'switchbuf' defaults to "uselast"
'tabpagemax' defaults to 50
'tags' defaults to "./tags;,tags"
'ttimeoutlen' defaults to 50
'ttyfast' is always set
'undodir' defaults to ~/.local/state/nvim/undo// (xdg), auto-created
'viewoptions' includes "unix,slash", excludes "options"
'viminfo' includes "!"
'wildmenu' is enabled
'wildoptions' defaults to "pum,tagfile"
man.lua plugin is enabled, so :Man is available by default.
matchit plugin is enabled. To disable it in your config:
:let loaded_matchit = 1
g:vimsyn_embed defaults to "l" to enable Lua highlighting
Default Mouse
default-mouse disable-mouse By default the mouse is enabled, and <RightMouse> opens a popup-menu with standard actions ("Cut", "Copy", "Paste", …). Mouse is NOT enabled in command-mode or the more-prompt, so you can temporarily disable it just by typing ":".
If you don't like this you can disable the mouse in your config using any of the following:
Disable mouse completely by unsetting the 'mouse' option:
set mouse=
Pressing <RightMouse> extends selection instead of showing popup-menu:
set mousemodel=extend
Pressing <A-LeftMouse> releases mouse until the cursor moves:
nnoremap <A-LeftMouse> <Cmd>
  \ set mouse=<Bar>
  \ echo 'mouse OFF until next cursor-move'<Bar>
  \ autocmd CursorMoved * ++once set mouse&<Bar>
  \ echo 'mouse ON'<CR>
Default Mappings
default-mappings Nvim creates the following default mappings at startup. You can disable any of these in your config by simply removing the mapping, e.g. ":unmap Y".
nnoremap Y y$
nnoremap <C-L> <Cmd>nohlsearch<Bar>diffupdate<Bar>normal! <C-L><CR>
inoremap <C-U> <C-G>u<C-U>
inoremap <C-W> <C-G>u<C-W>
xnoremap * y/\V<C-R>"<CR>
xnoremap # y?\V<C-R>"<CR>
nnoremap & :&&<CR>
Default Autocommands
default-autocmds Default autocommands exist in the following groups. Use ":autocmd! {group}" to remove them and ":autocmd {group}" to see how they're defined.
nvim_terminal:
BufReadCmd: Treats "term://" buffers as terminal buffers. terminal-start
nvim_cmdwin:
CmdwinEnter: Limits syntax sync to maxlines=1 in the cmdwin.

3. New Features nvim-features

MAJOR COMPONENTS
API API Job control job-control LSP framework lsp Lua scripting lua Parsing engine treesitter Providers Clipboard provider-clipboard Node.js plugins provider-nodejs Python plugins provider-python Ruby plugins provider-ruby Remote plugins remote-plugin Shared data shada Terminal emulator terminal Vimscript parser nvim_parse_expression() XDG base directories xdg
USER EXPERIENCE
Working intuitively and consistently is a major goal of Nvim.
feature-compile
Nvim always includes ALL features, in contrast to Vim (which ships with various combinations of 100+ optional features). Think of it as a leaner version of Vim's "HUGE" build. This reduces surface area for bugs, and removes a common source of confusion and friction for users.
Nvim avoids features that cannot be provided on all platforms; instead that is delegated to external plugins/extensions. E.g. the -X platform-specific option is "sometimes" available in Vim (with potential surprises: https://stackoverflow.com/q/14635295).
Vim's internal test functions (test_autochdir(), test_settime(), etc.) are not exposed (nor implemented); instead Nvim has a robust API.
Behaviors, options, documentation are removed if they cost users more time than they save.
Usability details have been improved where the benefit outweighs any backwards-compatibility cost. Some examples:
Directories for 'directory' and 'undodir' are auto-created.
Terminal features such as 'guicursor' are enabled where possible.
Some features are built in that otherwise required external plugins:
Highlighting the yanked region, see lua-highlight.
ARCHITECTURE
External plugins run in separate processes. remote-plugin This improves stability and allows those plugins to work without blocking the editor. Even "legacy" Python and Ruby plugins which use the old Vim interfaces (if_pyth, if_ruby) run out-of-process.
Platform and I/O facilities are built upon libuv. Nvim benefits from libuv features and bug fixes, and other projects benefit from improvements to libuv by Nvim developers.
FEATURES
Command-line highlighting: The expression prompt (@=, c_CTRL-R_=, i_CTRL-R_=) is highlighted using a built-in Vimscript expression parser. expr-highlight E5408 E5409 input(), inputdialog() support custom highlighting. input()-highlight g:Nvim_color_cmdline (Experimental) Command-line (:) is colored by callback defined in g:Nvim_color_cmdline (this callback is for testing only, and will be removed in the future).
Commands: :checkhealth :drop is always available :Man is available by default, with many improvements such as completion :match can be invoked before highlight group is defined :source works with Lua User commands can support :command-preview to show results as you type
Functions: dictwatcheradd() notifies a callback whenever a Dict is modified dictwatcherdel() menu_get() msgpackdump(), msgpackparse() provide msgpack de/serialization stdpath() system(), systemlist() can run {cmd} directly (without 'shell') matchadd() can be called before highlight group is defined
Highlight groups: highlight-blend controls blend level for a highlight group expr-highlight highlight groups (prefixed with "Nvim") hl-NormalFloat highlights floating window hl-NormalNC highlights non-current windows hl-MsgArea highlights messages/cmdline area hl-MsgSeparator highlights separator for scrolled messages hl-Substitute hl-TermCursor hl-TermCursorNC hl-WinSeparator highlights window separators hl-Whitespace highlights 'listchars' whitespace
Input/Mappings: ALT (META) chords always work (even in the TUI). Map |<M-| with any key: <M-1>, <M-BS>, <M-Del>, <M-Ins>, <M-/>, <M-\>, <M-Space>, <M-Enter>, etc. Case-sensitive: <M-a> and <M-A> are two different keycodes.
ALT may behave like <Esc> if not mapped. i_ALT v_ALT c_ALT
Normal commands: gO shows a filetype-defined "outline" of the current buffer.
Options: 'cpoptions' flags: cpo-_ 'guicursor' works in the terminal 'fillchars' flags: "msgsep", "horiz", "horizup", "horizdown", "vertleft", "vertright", "verthoriz" 'foldcolumn' supports up to 9 dynamic/fixed columns 'inccommand' shows interactive results for :substitute-like commands and :command-preview commands 'laststatus' global statusline support 'mousescroll' amount to scroll by when scrolling with a mouse 'pumblend' pseudo-transparent popupmenu 'scrollback' 'signcolumn' supports up to 9 dynamic/fixed columns 'statusline' supports unlimited alignment sections 'tabline' %@[email protected]%X can call any function on mouse-click 'winblend' pseudo-transparency in floating windows api-floatwin 'winhighlight' window-local highlights 'diffopt' has the option linematch.
Signs: Signs are removed if the associated line is deleted.
Variables: v:progpath is always absolute ("full") v:windowid is always available (for use by external UIs)

4. Changed features nvim-features-changed

Nvim always builds with all features, in contrast to Vim which may have certain features removed/added at compile-time. feature-compile
Some Vim features were changed in Nvim, and vice versa.
If a Python interpreter is available on your $PATH, :python and :python3 are always available and may be used simultaneously. See provider-python.
:redir nested in execute() works.
mkdir() behaviour changed: 1. Assuming /tmp/foo does not exist and /tmp can be written to mkdir('/tmp/foo/bar', 'p', 0700) will create both /tmp/foo and /tmp/foo/bar with 0700 permissions. Vim mkdir will create /tmp/foo with 0755. 2. If you try to create an existing directory with 'p' (e.g. mkdir('/', 'p')) mkdir() will silently exit. In Vim this was an error. 3. mkdir() error messages now include strerror() text when mkdir fails.
string() and :echo behaviour changed: 1. No maximum recursion depth limit is applied to nested container structures. 2. string() fails immediately on nested containers, not when recursion limit was exceeded. 2. When :echo encounters duplicate containers like
let l = []
echo [l, l]
it does not use "[...]" (was: "[[], [...]]", now: "[[], []]"). "..." is only used for recursive containers. 3. :echo printing nested containers adds "@level" after "..." designating the level at which recursive container was printed: :echo-self-refer. Same thing applies to string() (though it uses construct like "{[email protected]}"), but this is not reliable because string() continues to error out. 4. Stringifyed infinite and NaN values now use str2float() and can be evaled back. 5. (internal) Trying to print or stringify VAR_UNKNOWN in Vim results in nothing, E908, in Nvim it is internal error.
json_decode() behaviour changed: 1. It may output msgpack-special-dict. 2. msgpack-special-dict is emitted also in case of duplicate keys, while in Vim it errors out. 3. It accepts only valid JSON. Trailing commas are not accepted.
json_encode() behaviour slightly changed: now msgpack-special-dict values are accepted, but v:none is not.
Viminfo text files were replaced with binary (messagepack) ShaDa files. Additional differences:
shada-c has no effect.
shada-s now limits size of every item and not just registers.
'viminfo' option got renamed to 'shada'. Old option is kept as an alias for compatibility reasons.
:wviminfo was renamed to :wshada, :rviminfo to :rshada. Old commands are still kept.
ShaDa file format was designed with forward and backward compatibility in mind. shada-compatibility
Some errors make ShaDa code keep temporary file in-place for user to decide what to do with it. Vim deletes temporary file in these cases. shada-error-handling
ShaDa file keeps search direction (v:searchforward), viminfo does not.
printf() returns something meaningful when used with %p argument: in Vim it used to return useless address of the string (strings are copied to the newly allocated memory all over the place) and fail on types which cannot be coerced to strings. See id() for more details, currently it uses printf("%p", {expr}) internally.
c_CTRL-R pasting a non-special register into cmdline omits the last <CR>.
CursorMoved always triggers when moving between windows.
Lua interface (lua.txt):
:lua print("a\0b") will print a^@b, like with :echomsg "a\nb" . In Vim that prints a and b on separate lines, exactly like :lua print("a\nb") .
:lua error('TEST') emits the error “E5105: Error while calling lua chunk: [string "<VimL compiled string>"]:1: TEST”, whereas Vim emits only “TEST”.
Lua has direct access to Nvim API via vim.api.
Lua package.path and package.cpath are automatically updated according to 'runtimepath': lua-require.
Commands: :doautocmd does not warn about "No matching autocommands". :wincmd accepts a count. :write! does not show a prompt if the file was updated externally.
Command line completion: The meanings of arrow keys do not change depending on 'wildoptions'.
Functions: input() and inputdialog() support for each other’s features (return on cancel and completion respectively) via dictionary argument (replaces all other arguments if used), and "cancelreturn" can have any type if passed in a dictionary. input() and inputdialog() support user-defined cmdline highlighting.
Highlight groups: hl-ColorColumn, hl-CursorColumn are lower priority than most other groups hl-CurSearch highlights match under cursor instead of last match found using n or N hl-CursorLine is low-priority unless foreground color is set hl-VertSplit superseded by hl-WinSeparator Highlight groups names are allowed to contain the characters . and @. It is an error to define a highlight group with a name that doesn't match the regexp [[email protected]]* (see group-name).
Macro/|recording| behavior Replay of a macro recorded during :lmap produces the same actions as when it was recorded. In Vim if a macro is recorded while using :lmap'ped keys then the behaviour during record and replay differs.
'keymap' is implemented via :lmap instead of :lnoremap so that you can use macros and 'keymap' at the same time. This also means you can use :imap on the results of keys from 'keymap'.
Mappings: Creating a mapping for a simplifiable key (e.g. <C-I>) doesn't replace an existing mapping for its simplified form (e.g. <Tab>).
Motion: The jumplist avoids useless/phantom jumps.
Normal commands: Q replays the last recorded macro instead of switching to Ex mode. Instead gQ can be used to enter Ex mode.
Options: 'ttimeout', 'ttimeoutlen' behavior was simplified 'jumpoptions' "stack" behavior 'jumpoptions' "view" tries to restore the mark-view when moving through the jumplist, changelist, alternate-file or using mark-motions. 'shortmess' the "F" flag does not affect output from autocommands 'exrc' searches for ".nvimrc" or ".exrc" files. The user is prompted whether to trust the file.
Shell: Shell output (:!, :make, …) is always routed through the UI, so it cannot "mess up" the screen. (You can still use "chansend(v:stderr,…)" if you want to mess up the screen :)
Nvim throttles (skips) messages from shell commands (:!, :grep, :make) if there is too much output. No data is lost, this only affects display and improves performance. :terminal output is never throttled.
:! does not support "interactive" commands. Use :terminal instead. (GUI Vim has a similar limitation, see ":help gui-pty" in Vim.)
:!start is not special-cased on Windows.
system() does not support writing/reading "backgrounded" commands. E5677
Startup: -e and -es invoke the same "improved Ex mode" as -E and -Es. -E and -Es read stdin as text (into buffer 1). -es and -Es have improved behavior:
Quits automatically, don't need "-c qa!".
Skips swap-file dialog. -s reads Normal commands from stdin if the script name is "-". Reading text (instead of commands) from stdin --:
works by default: "-" file is optional
works in more cases: -Es, file args
Syntax highlighting: syncolor.vim has been removed. Nvim now sets up default highlighting groups automatically for both light and dark backgrounds, regardless of whether or not syntax highlighting is enabled. This means that :syntax-on and :syntax-enable are now identical. Users who previously used an after/syntax/syncolor.vim file should transition that file into a colorscheme. :colorscheme
TUI: :set-termcap Start Nvim with 'verbose' level 3 to show terminal capabilities:
nvim -V3
'term' E529 E530 E531 'term' reflects the terminal type derived from $TERM and other environment checks. For debugging only; not reliable during startup.
:echo &term
"builtin_x" means one of the builtin-terms was chosen, because the expected terminfo file was not found on the system.
Nvim will use 256-colour capability on Linux virtual terminals. Vim uses only 8 colours plus bright foreground on Linux VTs.
Vim combines what is in its builtin-terms with what it reads from terminfo, and has a 'ttybuiltin' setting to control how that combination works. Nvim uses one or the other, it does not attempt to merge the two.
UI/Display: Visual selection highlights the character at cursor. visual-use
messages: When showing messages longer than 'cmdheight', only scroll the message lines, not the entire screen. The separator line is decorated by hl-MsgSeparator and the "msgsep" flag of 'fillchars'. msgsep
Vimscript compatibility: count does not alias to v:count errmsg does not alias to v:errmsg shell_error does not alias to v:shell_error this_session does not alias to v:this_session
Working directory (Vim implemented some of these later than Nvim):
DirChanged and DirChangedPre can be triggered when switching to another window or tab.
getcwd() and haslocaldir() may throw errors if the tab page or window cannot be found. E5000 E5001 E5002
haslocaldir() checks for tab-local directory if and only if -1 is passed as window number, and its only possible returns values are 0 and 1.
getcwd(-1) is equivalent to getcwd(-1, 0) instead of returning the global working directory. Use getcwd(-1, -1) to get the global working directory.

5. Missing legacy features nvim-features-missing

Some legacy Vim features are not yet implemented:
if_lua : Nvim Lua API is not compatible with Vim's "if_lua"
if_mzscheme
if_pyth: python-bindeval python-Function are not supported
if_tcl
:gui :gvim

6. Removed features nvim-features-removed

These Vim features were intentionally removed from Nvim.
Aliases: ex (alias for "nvim -e") exim (alias for "nvim -E") gex (GUI) gview (GUI) gvim (GUI) gvimdiff (GUI) rgview (GUI) rgvim (GUI) rview rvim view (alias for "nvim -R") vimdiff (alias for "nvim -d" diff-mode)
Commands: :fixdel :helpfind :mode (no longer accepts an argument) :open :Print :promptfind :promptrepl :scriptversion (always version 1) :shell :sleep! (does not hide the cursor; same as :sleep) :smile :tearoff :cstag :cscope :lcscope :scscope
Compile-time features: Emacs tags support X11 integration (see x11-selection)
Eval: Vim9script cscope_connection() js_encode() js_decode() v:none (used by Vim to represent JavaScript "undefined"); use v:null instead. v:sizeofint v:sizeoflong v:sizeofpointer
Events: SigUSR1 Use Signal to detect SIGUSR1 signal instead.
Highlight groups: hl-StatusLineTerm hl-StatusLineTermNC are unnecessary because Nvim supports 'winhighlight' window-local highlights. For example, to mimic Vim's StatusLineTerm:
hi StatusLineTerm ctermfg=black ctermbg=green
hi StatusLineTermNC ctermfg=green
autocmd TermOpen,WinEnter * if &buftype=='terminal'
  \|setlocal winhighlight=StatusLine:StatusLineTerm,StatusLineNC:StatusLineTermNC
  \|else|setlocal winhighlight=|endif
Options: antialias 'balloondelay' 'bdlay' 'ballooneval' 'beval' 'noballooneval' 'nobeval' 'balloonexpr' 'bexpr' bioskey (MS-DOS) conskey (MS-DOS) 'cp' 'nocompatible' 'nocp' 'compatible' (Nvim is always "nocompatible".) 'cpoptions' (gjkHw<*- and all POSIX flags were removed) 'cryptmethod' 'cm' 'key' (Vim encryption implementation) cscopepathcomp cscopeprg cscopequickfix cscoperelative cscopetag cscopetagorder cscopeverbose 'ed' 'edcompatible' 'noed' 'noedcompatible' 'encoding' ("utf-8" is always used) esckeys 'guioptions' "t" flag was removed 'guifontset' 'gfs' (Use 'guifont' instead.) 'guipty' (Nvim uses pipes and PTYs consistently on all platforms.) 'highlight' (Names of builtin highlight-groups cannot be changed.) 'imactivatefunc' 'imaf' 'imactivatekey' 'imak' 'imstatusfunc' 'imsf' 'insertmode' 'im' Use the following script to emulate 'insertmode':
autocmd BufWinEnter * startinsert
inoremap <Esc> <C-X><C-Z><C-]>
inoremap <C-C> <C-X><C-Z>
inoremap <C-L> <C-X><C-Z><C-]><Esc>
inoremap <C-Z> <C-X><C-Z><Cmd>suspend<CR>
noremap <C-C> <Esc>
snoremap <C-C> <Esc>
noremap <C-\><C-G> <C-\><C-N><Cmd>startinsert<CR>
cnoremap <C-\><C-G> <C-\><C-N><Cmd>startinsert<CR>
inoremap <C-\><C-G> <C-X><C-Z>
autocmd CmdWinEnter * noremap <buffer> <C-C> <C-C>
autocmd CmdWinEnter * inoremap <buffer> <C-C> <C-C>

lua << EOF
  vim.on_key(function(c)
    if c == '\27' then
      local mode = vim.api.nvim_get_mode().mode
      if mode:find('^[nvV\22sS\19]') and vim.fn.getcmdtype() == '' then
        vim.schedule(function()
          vim.cmd('startinsert')
        end)
      end
    end
  end)
EOF
'macatsui' 'maxcombine' 'mco' Nvim always displays up to 6 combining characters. You can still edit text with more than 6 combining characters, you just can't see them. Use g8 or ga. See mbyte-combining. 'maxmem' Nvim delegates memory-management to the OS. 'maxmemtot' Nvim delegates memory-management to the OS. 'prompt' 'noprompt' 'remap' 'noremap' 'restorescreen' 'rs' 'norestorescreen' 'nors' 'secure' Everything is allowed in 'exrc' files since they must be explicitly marked trusted. 'shelltype' 'shortname' 'sn' 'noshortname' 'nosn' 'swapsync' 'sws' 'termencoding' 'tenc' (Vim 7.4.852 also removed this for Windows) 'terse' 'noterse' (Add "s" to 'shortmess' instead) textauto textmode 'toolbar' 'tb' 'toolbariconsize' 'tbis' 'ttybuiltin' 'tbi' 'nottybuiltin' 'notbi' 'ttyfast' 'tf' 'nottyfast' 'notf' 'ttymouse' 'ttym' 'ttyscroll' 'tsl' 'ttytype' 'tty' weirdinvert
Performance: Folds are not updated during insert-mode.
Startup: --literal (file args are always literal; to expand wildcards on Windows, use :n e.g. nvim +"n *") Easy mode: eview, evim, nvim -y Restricted mode: rview, rvim, nvim -Z Vi mode: nvim -v
Test functions: test_alloc_fail() test_autochdir() test_disable_char_avail() test_feedinput() test_garbagecollect_soon test_getvalue() test_ignore_error() test_null_blob() test_null_channel() test_null_dict() test_null_function() test_null_job() test_null_list() test_null_partial() test_null_string() test_option_not_set() test_override() test_refcount() test_scrollbar() test_setmouse() test_settime() test_srand_seed()
TUI: t_xx termcap-options t_AB t_Sb t_vb t_SI Nvim does not have special t_XX options nor <t_XX> keycodes to configure terminal capabilities. Instead Nvim treats the terminal as any other UI, e.g. 'guicursor' sets the terminal cursor style if possible.
termcap Nvim never uses the termcap database, only terminfo and builtin-terms.
xterm-8bit xterm-8-bit Xterm can be run in a mode where it uses true 8-bit CSI. Supporting this requires autodetection of whether the terminal is in UTF-8 mode or non-UTF-8 mode, as the 8-bit CSI character has to be written differently in each case. Vim issues a "request version" sequence to the terminal at startup and looks at how the terminal is sending CSI. Nvim does not issue such a sequence and always uses 7-bit control sequences.
Cscope: cscope Cscope support has been removed in favour of LSP based solutions.
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