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os_dos.txt    For Vim version 9.0.  Last change: 2006 Mar 30

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

                                                        dos DOS
This file documents the common particularities of the MS-DOS and Win32
versions of Vim.  Also see os_win32.txt and os_msdos.txt.

1. File locations               dos-locations
2. Using backslashes            dos-backslash
3. Standard mappings            dos-standard-mappings
4. Screen output and colors     dos-colors
5. File formats                 dos-file-formats
6. :cd command                  dos-:cd
7. Interrupting                 dos-CTRL-Break
8. Temp files                   dos-temp-files
9. Shell option default         dos-shell
10. PowerShell                  dos-powershell

1. File locations                                       dos-locations

If you keep the Vim executable in the directory that contains the help and
syntax subdirectories, there is no need to do anything special for Vim to
work.  No registry entries or environment variables need to be set.  Just make
sure that the directory is in your search path, or use a shortcut on the

Your vimrc files ("_vimrc" and "_gvimrc") are normally located one directory
up from the runtime files.  If you want to put them somewhere else, set the
environment variable $VIM to the directory where you keep them.  Example:
        set VIM=C:\user\piet
Will find "c:\user\piet\_vimrc".
Note: This would only be needed when the computer is used by several people.
Otherwise it's simpler to keep your _vimrc file in the default place.

If you move the executable to another location, you also need to set the $VIM
environment variable.  The runtime files will be found in "$VIM/vim{version}".
        set VIM=E:\vim
Will find the version 8.2 runtime files in "e:\vim\vim82".
Note: This is _not_ recommended.  The preferred way is to keep the executable
in the runtime directory.

If you move your executable AND want to put your "_vimrc" and "_gvimrc" files
somewhere else, you must set $VIM to where you vimrc files are, and set
$VIMRUNTIME to the runtime files.  Example:
        set VIM=C:\usr\piet
        set VIMRUNTIME=E:\vim\vim82
Will find "c:\user\piet\_vimrc" and the runtime files in "e:\vim\vim82".

See $VIM and $VIMRUNTIME for more information.

You can set environment variables for each user separately through the
System Properties dialog box.  The steps to do that:
1. Type Windows Key + R to open the "Run" dialog box.
2. Enter "sysdm.cpl" and press the "OK" button.  The "System Properties"
   dialog box will open.
3. Select the "Advanced" tab and press the "Environment Variables..." button.
   The "Environment Variables" dialog box will open.
4. Select an existing variable in the "User variables" list and press the
   "Edit..." button to edit it.  Or press the "New..." button to add a new
5. After you finished editing variables, press the "OK" button to save the

2. Using backslashes                                    dos-backslash

Using backslashes in file names can be a problem.  Vi halves the number of
backslashes for some commands.  Vim is a bit more tolerant and does not remove
backslashes from a file name, so ":e c:\foo\bar" works as expected.  But when
a backslash occurs before a special character (space, comma, backslash, etc.),
Vim removes the backslash.  Use slashes to avoid problems: ":e c:/foo/bar"
works fine.  Vim replaces the slashes with backslashes internally to avoid
problems with some MS-DOS programs and Win32 programs.

When you prefer to use forward slashes, set the 'shellslash' option.  Vim will
then replace backslashes with forward slashes when expanding file names.  This
is especially useful when using a Unix-like 'shell'.

3. Standard mappings                            dos-standard-mappings

The mappings for CTRL-PageUp and CTRL-PageDown have been removed, they now
jump to the next or previous tab page <C-PageUp> <C-PageDown>

If you want them to move to the first and last screen line you can use these

key             key code     Normal/Visual mode     Insert mode
CTRL-PageUp     <M-N><M-C-D>        H               <C-O>H
CTRL-PageDown   <M-N>v              L$              <C-O>L<C-O>$

Additionally, these keys are available for copy/cut/paste.  In the Win32
and DJGPP versions, they also use the clipboard.

Shift-Insert    paste text (from clipboard)                     <S-Insert>
CTRL-Insert     copy Visual text (to clipboard)                 <C-Insert>
CTRL-Del        cut Visual text (to clipboard)                  <C-Del>
Shift-Del       cut Visual text (to clipboard)                  <S-Del>
CTRL-X          cut Visual text (to clipboard)

These mappings accomplish this (Win32 and DJGPP versions of Vim):

key             key code     Normal     Visual      Insert
Shift-Insert    <M-N><M-T>   "*P        "-d"*P      <C-R><C-O>*
CTRL-Insert     <M-N><M-U>              "*y
Shift-Del       <M-N><M-W>              "*d
CTRL-Del        <M-N><M-X>              "*d
CTRL-X          <C-X>                   "*d

Or these mappings (non-Win32 version of Vim):

key             key code     Normal     Visual      Insert
Shift-Insert    <M-N><M-T>   P          "-dP        <C-R><C-O>"
CTRL-Insert     <M-N><M-U>              y
Shift-Del       <M-N><M-W>              d
CTRL-Del        <M-N><M-X>              d

When the clipboard is supported, the "* register is used.

4. Screen output and colors                             dos-colors

The default output method for the screen is to use bios calls.  This works
right away on most systems.  You do not need ansi.sys.  You can use ":mode" to
set the current screen mode.  See :mode.

To change the screen colors that Vim uses, you can use the :highlight
command.  The Normal highlight group specifies the colors Vim uses for normal
text.  For example, to get grey text on a blue background:
        :hi Normal ctermbg=Blue ctermfg=grey
See highlight-groups for other groups that are available.

A DOS console does not support attributes like bold and underlining.  You can
set the color used in five modes with nine terminal options.  Note that this
is not necessary since you can set the color directly with the ":highlight"
command; these options are for backward compatibility with older Vim versions.
The 'highlight' option specifies which of the five modes is used for which

        :set t_mr=^V^[\|xxm             start of invert mode
        :set t_md=^V^[\|xxm             start of bold mode
        :set t_me=^V^[\|xxm             back to normal text

        :set t_so=^V^[\|xxm             start of standout mode
        :set t_se=^V^[\|xxm             back to normal text

        :set t_us=^V^[\|xxm             start of underline mode
        :set t_ue=^V^[\|xxm             back to normal text

        :set t_ZH=^V^[\|xxm             start of italics mode
        :set t_ZR=^V^[\|xxm             back to normal text

^V is CTRL-V
^[ is <Esc>
You must replace xx with a decimal code, which is the foreground color number
and background color number added together:

COLOR                   FOREGROUND      BACKGROUND
Black                       0               0
DarkBlue                    1              16
DarkGreen                   2              32
DarkCyan                    3              48
DarkRed                     4              64
DarkMagenta                 5              80
Brown, DarkYellow           6              96
LightGray                   7             112
DarkGray                    8             128 *
Blue, LightBlue             9             144 *
Green, LightGreen          10             160 *
Cyan, LightCyan            11             176 *
Red, LightRed              12             192 *
Magenta, LightMagenta      13             208 *
Yellow, LightYellow        14             224 *
White                      15             240 *

* Depending on the display mode, the color codes above 128 may not be
  available, and code 128 will make the text blink.

When you use 0, the color is reset to the one used when you started Vim
(usually 7, lightgray on black, but you can override this.  If you have
overridden the default colors in a command prompt, you may need to adjust
some of the highlight colors in your vimrc---see below).
This is the default for t_me.

The defaults for the various highlight modes are:
        t_mr    112      reverse mode: Black text (0) on LightGray (112)
        t_md     15      bold mode: White text (15) on Black (0)
        t_me      0      normal mode (revert to default)

        t_so     31      standout mode: White (15) text on DarkBlue (16)
        t_se      0      standout mode end (revert to default)

        t_czh   225      italic mode: DarkBlue text (1) on Yellow (224)
        t_czr     0      italic mode end (revert to default)

        t_us     67      underline mode: DarkCyan text (3) on DarkRed (64)
        t_ue      0      underline mode end (revert to default)

These colors were chosen because they also look good when using an inverted
display, but you can change them to your liking.

  :set t_mr=^V^[\|97m   " start of invert mode: DarkBlue (1) on Brown (96)
  :set t_md=^V^[\|67m   " start of bold mode: DarkCyan (3) on DarkRed (64)
  :set t_me=^V^[\|112m  " back to normal mode: Black (0) on LightGray (112)

  :set t_so=^V^[\|37m   " start of standout mode: DarkMagenta (5) on DarkGreen
  :set t_se=^V^[\|112m  " back to normal mode: Black (0) on LightGray (112)

5. File formats                                         dos-file-formats

If the 'fileformat' option is set to "dos" (which is the default), Vim accepts
a single <NL> or a <CR><NL> pair for end-of-line (<EOL>).  When writing a
file, Vim uses <CR><NL>.  Thus, if you edit a file and write it, Vim replaces
<NL> with <CR><NL>.

If the 'fileformat' option is set to "unix", Vim uses a single <NL> for <EOL>
and shows <CR> as ^M.

You can use Vim to replace <NL> with <CR><NL> by reading in any mode and
writing in Dos mode (":se ff=dos").
You can use Vim to replace <CR><NL> with <NL> by reading in Dos mode and
writing in Unix mode (":se ff=unix").

Vim sets 'fileformat' automatically when 'fileformats' is not empty (which is
the default), so you don't really have to worry about what you are doing.
                                        'fileformat' 'fileformats'

If you want to edit a script file or a binary file, you should set the
'binary' option before loading the file.  Script files and binary files may
contain single <NL> characters which Vim would replace with <CR><NL>.  You can
set 'binary' automatically by starting Vim with the "-b" (binary) option.

6. :cd command                                          dos-:cd

The ":cd" command recognizes the drive specifier and changes the current
drive.  Use ":cd c:" to make drive C the active drive.  Use ":cd d:\foo" to go
to the directory "foo" in the root of drive D.  Vim also recognizes UNC names
if the system supports them; e.g., ":cd \\server\share\dir".  :cd

7. Interrupting                                         dos-CTRL-Break

Use CTRL-Break instead of CTRL-C to interrupt searches.  Vim does not detect
the CTRL-C until it tries to read a key.

8. Temp files                                           dos-temp-files

Only for the 16 bit and 32 bit DOS version:
Vim puts temporary files (for filtering) in the first of these directories
that exists and in which Vim can create a file:
        current directory

For the Win32 version (both console and GUI):
Vim uses standard Windows functions to obtain a temporary file name (for
filtering).  The first of these directories that exists and in which Vim can
create a file is used:
        current directory

9. Shell option default                                 dos-shell

The default for the 'sh' ('shell') option is "" on Windows 95 and
"cmd.exe" on Windows NT.  If SHELL is defined, Vim uses SHELL instead, and if
SHELL is not defined but COMSPEC is, Vim uses COMSPEC.  Vim starts external
commands with "<shell> /c <command_name>".  Typing CTRL-Z starts a new command
subshell.  Return to Vim with "exit".   'shell' CTRL-Z

If you are running a third-party shell, you may need to set the
'shellcmdflag' ('shcf') and 'shellquote' ('shq') or 'shellxquote'
('sxq') options.  Unfortunately, this also depends on the version of Vim used.
For example, with the MKS Korn shell or with bash, the values of the options
should be:

                DOS 16 bit          DOS 32 bit          Win32 
'shellcmdflag'     -c                   -c               -c
'shellquote'       "
'shellxquote'                                            "

For Dos 16 bit this starts the shell as:
        <shell> -c "command name" >file
For Win32 as:
        <shell> -c "command name >file"
For DOS 32 bit, DJGPP does this internally somehow.

When starting up, if Vim does not recognise a standard Windows shell it checks
for the presence of "sh" anywhere in the 'shell' option.  If it is present,
Vim sets the 'shellcmdflag' and 'shellquote' or 'shellxquote' options will be
set as described above.

10. PowerShell                                  dos-powershell dos-pwsh

Vim supports PowerShell Desktop and PowerShell Core.  PowerShell Desktop is
the version of PowerShell that is installed with Windows, while PowerShell
Core is a separate downloadable version that works cross-platform.  To see
which version you are using then enter the following in a PowerShell prompt -

If 'shell' includes "powershell" in the filename at startup then VIM sets
'shellcmdflag''shellxquote''shellpipe', and 'shellredir' options to the
following values:

'shellcmdflag'  -Command
'shellxquote'   "
'shellpipe'     2>&1 | Out-File -Encoding default
'shellredir'    2>&1 | Out-File -Encoding default

If 'shell' includes "pwsh" in the filename at startup then VIM sets
'shellcmdflag''shellxquote''shellpipe', and 'shellredir' options to the
following values:

'shellcmdflag'  -c
'shellxquote'   "
'shellpipe'     >%s 2>&1
'shellredir'    >%s 2>&1

If you find that PowerShell commands are taking a long time to run then try
with "-NoProfile" at the beginning of the 'shellcmdflag'.  Note this will
prevent any PowerShell environment setup by the profile from taking place.

If you have problems running PowerShell scripts through the 'shell' then try
with "-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Command" at the beginning of
'shellcmdflag'.  See online Windows documentation for more information on
PowerShell Execution Policy settings.

See option-backslash about including spaces in 'shellcmdflag' when using
multiple flags.

The 'shellpipe' and 'shellredir' option values re-encode the UTF-16LE output
from PowerShell Desktop to your currently configured console codepage.  The
output can be forced into a different encoding by changing "default" to one of
the following:

        unicode          - UTF-16LE (default output from PowerShell 5.1)
        bigendianunicode - UTF-16
        utf8             - UTF-8
        utf7             - UTF-7 (no BOM)
        utf32            - UTF-32
        ascii            - 7-bit ASCII character set
        default          - System's active code page (typically ANSI)
        oem              - System's current OEM code page

Note The above multi-byte Unicode encodings include a leading BOM unless
otherwise indicated.

By default PowerShell Core's output is UTF-8 encoded without a BOM.  If you
want to force the output of PowerShell Core into a different encoding then set
'shellredir' and 'shellpipe' to "2>&1 | Out-File -Encoding encoding" where
encoding is one of the following:

        ascii            - 7-bit ASCII character set
        bigendianunicode - UTF-16BE
        bigendianutf32   - UTF-32BE
        oem              - System's current OEM code page
        unicode          - UTF-16LE
        utf7             - UTF-7
        utf8             - UTF-8
        utf8BOM          - UTF-8, with BOM
        utf8NoBOM        - UTF-8, no BOM (default output from PowerShell Core)
        utf32            - UTF-32

Since PowerShell Core 6.2, the Encoding parameter also supports specifying a
numeric ID of a registered code page (-Encoding 1251) or string names of
registered code pages (-Encoding "windows-1251").  The .NET documentation for
Encoding.CodePage has more information