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starting.txt  For Vim version 9.1.  Last change: 2024 Jul 08

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

Starting Vim                                            starting

1. Vim arguments                vim-arguments
2. Vim on the Amiga             starting-amiga
3. Running eVim                 evim-keys
4. Initialization               initialization
5. $VIM and $VIMRUNTIME         $VIM
6. Suspending                   suspend
7. Exiting                      exiting
8. Saving settings              save-settings
9. Views and Sessions           views-sessions
10. The viminfo file            viminfo-file

1. Vim arguments                                        vim-arguments

Most often, Vim is started to edit a single file with the command

        vim filename                                    -vim

More generally, Vim is started with:

        vim [option | filename] ..

Option arguments and file name arguments can be mixed, and any number of them
can be given.  However, watch out for options that take an argument.

For compatibility with various Vi versions, see cmdline-arguments.

Exactly one out of the following five items may be used to choose how to
start editing:

                                                        -file ---
filename        One or more file names.  The first one will be the current
                file and read into the buffer.  The cursor will be positioned
                on the first line of the buffer.
                To avoid a file name starting with a '-' being interpreted as
                an option, precede the arglist with "--", e.g.:
                        vim -- -filename
                All arguments after the "--" will be interpreted as file names,
                no other options or "+command" argument can follow.
                For behavior of quotes on MS-Windows, see win32-quotes.

-               This argument can mean two things, depending on whether Ex
                mode is to be used.

                Starting in Normal mode:
                        vim -
                        ex -v -
                Start editing a new buffer, which is filled with text
                that is read from stdin.  The commands that would normally be
                read from stdin will now be read from stderr.  Example:
                        find . -name "*.c" -print | vim -

                The buffer will be marked as modified, so that you are
                reminded to save the text when trying to exit.  If you don't
                like that, put this these lines in your vimrc:
                        " Don't set 'modified' when reading from stdin
                        au StdinReadPost * set nomodified

                Starting in Ex mode:
                        ex -
                        vim -e -
                        exim -
                        vim -E
                Start editing in silent mode.  See -s-ex.

                                                        -t -tag
-t {tag}        A tag.  "tag" is looked up in the tags file, the associated
                file becomes the current file, and the associated command is
                executed.  Mostly this is used for C programs, in which case
                "tag" often is a function name.  The effect is that the file
                containing that function becomes the current file and the
                cursor is positioned on the start of the function (see

                                                        -q -qf
-q [errorfile]  QuickFix mode.  The file with the name [errorfile] is read
                and the first error is displayed.  See quickfix.
                If [errorfile] is not given, the 'errorfile' option is used
                for the file name.  See 'errorfile' for the default value.

(nothing)       Without one of the four items above, Vim will start editing a
                new buffer.  It's empty and doesn't have a file name.

The startup mode can be changed by using another name instead of "vim", which
is equal to giving options:
ex       vim -e     Start in Ex mode (see Ex-mode).             ex
exim     vim -E     Start in improved Ex mode (see Ex-mode).    exim
                    (normally not installed)
view     vim -R     Start in read-only mode (see -R).           view
gvim     vim -g     Start the GUI (see gui).                    gvim
gex      vim -eg    Start the GUI in Ex mode.                     gex
gview    vim -Rg    Start the GUI in read-only mode.              gview
rvim     vim -Z     Like "vim", but in restricted mode (see -Z)   rvim
rview    vim -RZ    Like "view", but in restricted mode.          rview
rgvim    vim -gZ    Like "gvim", but in restricted mode.          rgvim
rgview   vim -RgZ   Like "gview", but in restricted mode.         rgview
evim     vim -y     Easy Vim: set 'insertmode' (see -y)         evim
eview    vim -yR    Like "evim" in read-only mode                 eview
vimdiff  vim -d     Start in diff mode diff-mode
gvimdiff vim -gd    Start in diff mode diff-mode

Additional characters may follow, they are ignored.  For example, you can have
"gvim-8" to start the GUI.  You must have an executable by that name then, of

On Unix, you would normally have one executable called "vim", and links from
the different startup-names to that executable.  If your system does not
support links and you do not want to have several copies of the executable,
you could use an alias instead.  For example, in a C shell descendant:
        alias view   vim -R
        alias gvim   vim -g

The option arguments may be given in any order.  Single-letter options can be
combined after one dash.  There can be no option arguments after the "--"

On VMS all option arguments are assumed to be lowercase, unless preceded with
a slash.  Thus "-R" means recovery and "-/R" readonly.

--help                                                  -h --help -?
-h              Give usage (help) message and exit.
                See info-message about capturing the text.

--version       Print version information and exit.  Same output as for
                :version command.
                See info-message about capturing the text.

--noplugin      Skip loading plugins.  Resets the 'loadplugins' option.

                Note that the -u argument may also disable loading plugins:
                        argument   load: vimrc files  plugins  defaults.vim
                        (nothing)            yes        yes       yes
                        -u NONE              no         no        no
                        -u DEFAULTS          no         no        yes
                        -u NORC              no         yes       no
                        --noplugin           yes        no        yes

--startuptime {fname}                                   --startuptime
                During startup write timing messages to the file {fname}.
                This can be used to find out where time is spent while loading
                your .vimrc, plugins and opening the first file.
                When {fname} already exists new messages are appended.
                {only available when compiled with the +startuptime

--literal       Take file names literally, don't expand wildcards.  Not needed
                for Unix, because Vim always takes file names literally (the
                shell expands wildcards).
                Applies to all the names, also the ones that come before this

+[num]          The cursor will be positioned on line "num" for the first
                file being edited.  If "num" is missing, the cursor will be
                positioned on the last line.

+/{pat}         The cursor will be positioned on the first line containing
                "pat" in the first file being edited (see pattern for the
                available search patterns).  The search starts at the cursor
                position, which can be the first line or the cursor position
                last used from viminfo. To force a search from the first
                line use "+1 +/pat".

+{command}                                              -+c -c
-c {command}    {command} will be executed after the first file has been
                read (and after autocommands and modelines for that file have
                been processed).  "command" is interpreted as an Ex command.
                If the "command" contains spaces, it must be enclosed in
                double quotes (this depends on the shell that is used).
                        vim  "+set si"  main.c
                        vim  "+find stdio.h"
                        vim  -c "set ff=dos"  -c wq  mine.mak

                Note: You can use up to 10 "+" or "-c" arguments in a Vim
                command.  They are executed in the order given.  A "-S"
                argument counts as a "-c" argument as well.

--cmd {command}                                         --cmd
                {command} will be executed before processing any vimrc file.
                Otherwise, it acts like -c {command}.  You can use up to 10 of
                these commands, independently from "-c" commands.

-S {file}       The {file} will be sourced after the first file has been read.
                This is an easy way to do the equivalent of:
                        -c "source {file}"
                It can be mixed with "-c" arguments and repeated like "-c".
                The limit of 10 "-c" arguments applies here as well.
                {file} cannot start with a "-".

                Do not use this for running a script to do some work and exit
                Vim, you won't see error messages.  Use -u instead.

-S              Works like "-S Session.vim".  Only when used as the last
                argument or when another "-" option follows.

-r              Recovery mode.  Without a file name argument, a list of
                existing swap files is given.  With a file name, a swap file
                is read to recover a crashed editing session.  See

-L              Same as -r.

-R              Readonly mode.  The 'readonly' option will be set for all the
                files being edited.  You can still edit the buffer, but will
                be prevented from accidentally overwriting a file.  If you
                forgot that you are in View mode and did make some changes,
                you can overwrite a file by adding an exclamation mark to
                the Ex command, as in ":w!".  The 'readonly' option can be
                reset with ":set noro" (see the options chapter, options).
                Subsequent edits will not be done in readonly mode.  Calling
                the executable "view" has the same effect as the -R argument.
                The 'updatecount' option will be set to 10000, meaning that
                the swap file will not be updated automatically very often.
                See -M for disallowing modifications.

-m              Modifications not allowed to be written.  The 'write' option
                will be reset, so that writing files is disabled.  However,
                the 'write' option can be set to enable writing again.

-M              Modifications not allowed.  The 'modifiable' option will be
                reset, so that changes are not allowed.  The 'write' option
                will be reset, so that writing files is disabled.  However,
                the 'modifiable' and 'write' options can be set to enable
                changes and writing.

                                        -Z restricted-mode E145 E981
-Z              Restricted mode.  All commands that make use of an external
                shell are disabled.  This includes suspending with CTRL-Z,
                ":sh", filtering, the system() function, backtick expansion
                and libcall().
                Also disallowed are delete()rename()mkdir(),
                job_start()setenv() etc.
                Interfaces, such as Python, Ruby and Lua, are also disabled,
                since they could be used to execute shell commands.  Perl uses
                the Safe module.
                For Unix restricted mode is used when the last part of $SHELL
                is "nologin" or "false".
                Note that the user may still find a loophole to execute a
                shell command, it has only been made difficult.

-g              Start Vim in GUI mode.  See gui. For the opposite see -v.

-v              Start Ex in Vi mode.  Only makes a difference when the
                executable is called "ex" or "gvim".  For gvim the GUI is not
                started if possible.

-e              Start Vim in Ex mode, see Ex-mode.  Only makes a difference
                when the executable is not called "ex".

-E              Start Vim in improved Ex mode gQ.  Only makes a difference
                when the executable is not called "exim".

-s              Silent or batch mode.  Only when Vim was started as "ex" or
                when preceded with the "-e" argument.  Otherwise, see -s,
                which does take an argument while this use of "-s" doesn't.
                To be used when Vim is used to execute Ex commands from a file
                instead of a terminal.  Switches off most prompts and
                informative messages.  Also warnings and error messages.
                The output of these commands is displayed (to stdout):
                        :set      to display option values.
                When 'verbose' is non-zero, messages are printed (for
                debugging, to stderr).
                'term' and $TERM are not used.
                If Vim appears to be stuck, try typing "qa!<Enter>".  You
                don't get a prompt, thus you can't see Vim is waiting for you
                to type something.
                Initializations are skipped (except the ones given with the
                "-u" argument).
                        vim -e -s  < thefilter  thefile
                For the opposite, to see errors from the script, execute the
                file with the -u flag:
                        vim -u thefilter thefile

-b              Binary mode.  File I/O will only recognize <NL> to separate
                lines.  The 'expandtab' option will be reset.  The 'textwidth'
                option is set to 0.  'modeline' is reset.  The 'binary' option
                is set.  This is done after reading the vimrc/exrc files but
                before reading any file in the arglist.  See also

-l              Lisp mode.  Sets the 'lisp' and 'showmatch' options on.

-A              Arabic mode.  Sets the 'arabic' option on.  {only when
                compiled with the +arabic features (which include
                +rightleft), otherwise, Vim gives an error message
                and exits}

-F              This was used for Farsi mode, which has been removed.
                See farsi.txt.

-H              Hebrew mode.  Sets the 'hkmap' and 'rightleft' options on.
                {only when compiled with the +rightleft feature, otherwise,
                Vim gives an error message and exits}

                                                        -V verbose
-V[N]           Verbose.  Sets the 'verbose' option to [N] (default: 10).
                Messages will be given for each file that is ":source"d and
                for reading or writing a viminfo file.  Can be used to find
                out what is happening upon startup and exit.
                        vim -V8 foobar

                Like -V and set 'verbosefile' to {filename}.  The result is
                that messages are not displayed but written to the file
                {filename}.  {filename} must not start with a digit.
                        vim -V20vimlog foobar

--log {filename}                                        --log
                Start logging and write entries to {filename}.
                This works like calling ch_logfile({filename}, 'ao') very
                early during startup.
                {only available with the +eval and +channel feature}

-D              Debugging.  Go to debugging mode when executing the first
                command from a script. debug-mode
                {not available when compiled without the +eval feature}

-C              Compatible mode.  Sets the 'compatible' option.  You can use
                this to get 'compatible', even though a .vimrc file exists.
                Keep in mind that the command ":set nocompatible" in some
                plugin or startup script overrules this, so you may end up
                with 'nocompatible' anyway.  To find out, use:
                        :verbose set compatible?
                Several plugins won't work with 'compatible' set.  You may
                want to set it after startup this way:
                        vim "+set cp" filename
                Also see compatible-default.

-N              Not compatible mode.  Resets the 'compatible' option.  You can
                use this to get 'nocompatible', when there is no .vimrc file
                or when using "-u NONE".
                Also see compatible-default.

                                                        -y easy
-y              Easy mode.  Implied for evim and eview.  Starts with
                'insertmode' set and behaves like a click-and-type editor.
                This sources the script $VIMRUNTIME/evim.vim.  Mappings are
                set up to work like most click-and-type editors, see
                evim-keys.  The GUI is started when available.

-n              No swap file will be used.  Recovery after a crash will be
                impossible.  Handy if you want to view or edit a file on a
                very slow medium (e.g., a floppy).
                Can also be done with ":set updatecount=0".  You can switch it
                on again by setting the 'updatecount' option to some value,
                e.g., ":set uc=100".
                NOTE: Don't combine -n with -b, making -nb, because that has a
                different meaning: -nb.
                'updatecount' is set to 0 AFTER executing commands from a
                vimrc file, but before the GUI initializations.  Thus it
                overrides a setting for 'updatecount' in a vimrc file, but not
                in a gvimrc file.  See startup.
                When you want to reduce accesses to the disk (e.g., for a
                laptop), don't use "-n", but set 'updatetime' and
                'updatecount' to very big numbers, and type ":preserve" when
                you want to save your work.  This way you keep the possibility
                for crash recovery.

-o[N]           Open N windows, split horizontally.  If [N] is not given,
                one window is opened for every file given as argument.  If
                there is not enough room, only the first few files get a
                window.  If there are more windows than arguments, the last
                few windows will be editing an empty file.

-O[N]           Open N windows, split vertically.  Otherwise, it's like -o.
                If both the -o and the -O option are given, the last one on
                the command line determines how the windows will be split.

-p[N]           Open N tab pages.  If [N] is not given, one tab page is opened
                for every file given as argument.  The maximum is set with
                'tabpagemax' pages (default 10).  If there are more tab pages
                than arguments, the last few tab pages will be editing an
                empty file.  Also see tabpage.

-T {terminal}   Set the terminal type to "terminal".  This influences the
                codes that Vim will send to your terminal.  This is normally
                not needed, because Vim will be able to find out what type
                of terminal you are using.  (See terminal-info.)

--not-a-term    Tells Vim that the user knows that the input and/or output is
                not connected to a terminal.  This will avoid the warning and
                the two second delay that would happen.
                Also avoids the "Reading from stdin..." as well as the
                "N files to edit" message.

--gui-dialog-file {name}                                --gui-dialog-file
                When using the GUI, instead of showing a dialog, write the
                title and message of the dialog to file {name}.  The file is
                created or appended to.  Only useful for testing, to avoid
                that the test gets stuck on a dialog that can't be seen.
                Without the GUI the argument is ignored.

--ttyfail       When the stdin or stdout is not a terminal (tty) then exit
                right away.

-d              Start in diff mode, like vimdiff.
                {not available when compiled without the +diff feature}

-d {device}     Only on the Amiga and when not compiled with the +diff
                feature.  Works like "-dev".
-dev {device}   Only on the Amiga: The {device} is opened to be used for
                Normally you would use this to set the window position and
                size: "-d con:x/y/width/height", e.g.,
                "-d con:30/10/600/150".  But you can also use it to start
                editing on another device, e.g., AUX:.
-f              GUI: Do not disconnect from the program that started Vim.
                'f' stands for "foreground".  If omitted, the GUI forks a new
                process and exits the current one.  "-f" should be used when
                gvim is started by a program that will wait for the edit
                session to finish (e.g., mail or readnews).  If you want gvim
                never to fork, include 'f' in 'guioptions' in your gvimrc.
                Careful: You can use "-gf" to start the GUI in the foreground,
                but "-fg" is used to specify the foreground color.  gui-fork

                Amiga: Do not restart Vim to open a new window.  This
                option should be used when Vim is started by a program that
                will wait for the edit session to finish (e.g., mail or
                readnews).  See amiga-window.

                MS-Windows: This option is not supported.  However, when
                running Vim with an installed vim.bat or gvim.bat file it

--nofork        GUI: Do not fork.  Same as -f.
                                                        -u E282
-u {vimrc}      The file {vimrc} is read for initializations.  Most other
                initializations are skipped; see initialization.

                This can be used to start Vim in a special mode, with special
                mappings and settings.  A shell alias can be used to make
                this easy to use.  For example, in a C shell descendant:
                        alias vimc 'vim -u ~/.c_vimrc \!*'
                And in a Bash shell:
                        alias vimc='vim -u ~/.c_vimrc'
                Also consider using autocommands; see autocommand.

                When {vimrc} is equal to "NONE" (all uppercase), all
                initializations from files and environment variables are
                skipped, including reading the gvimrc file when the GUI
                starts.  Loading plugins is also skipped.

                When {vimrc} is equal to "NORC" (all uppercase), this has the
                same effect as "NONE", but loading plugins is not skipped.

                When {vimrc} is equal to "DEFAULTS" (all uppercase), this has
                the same effect as "NONE", but the defaults.vim script is
                loaded, which will also set 'nocompatible'.  Also see

                Using the "-u" argument with another argument than DEFAULTS
                has the side effect that the 'compatible' option will be on by
                default.  This can have unexpected effects.  See

                                                        -U E230
-U {gvimrc}     The file {gvimrc} is read for initializations when the GUI
                starts.  Other GUI initializations are skipped.  When {gvimrc}
                is equal to "NONE", no file is read for GUI initializations at
                all.  gui-init
                Exception: Reading the system-wide menu file is always done.

-i {viminfo}    The file "viminfo" is used instead of the default viminfo
                file.  If the name "NONE" is used (all uppercase), no viminfo
                file is read or written, even if 'viminfo' is set or when
                ":rv" or ":wv" are used.  See also viminfo-file.

--clean         Similar to "-u DEFAULTS -U NONE -i NONE":
                - initializations from files and environment variables is
                - 'runtimepath' and 'packpath' are set to exclude home
                  directory entries (does not happen with -u DEFAULTS).
                - the defaults.vim script is loaded, which implies
                  'nocompatible': use Vim defaults
                - no gvimrc script is loaded
                - no viminfo file is read or written
                Note that a following "-u" argument overrules the effect of
                "-u DEFAULTS".

-x              Use encryption to read/write files.  Will prompt for a key,
                which is then stored in the 'key' option.  All writes will
                then use this key to encrypt the text.  The '-x' argument is
                not needed when reading a file, because there is a check if
                the file that is being read has been encrypted, and Vim asks
                for a key automatically. encryption

-X              Do not try connecting to the X server to get the current
                window title and copy/paste using the X clipboard.  This
                avoids a long startup time when running Vim in a terminal
                emulator and the connection to the X server is slow.
                See --startuptime to find out if this affects you.
                Only makes a difference on Unix or VMS, when compiled with the
                +X11 feature.  Otherwise, it's ignored.
                To disable the connection only for specific terminals, see the
                'clipboard' option.
                When the X11 Session Management Protocol (XSMP) handler has
                been built in, the -X option also disables that connection as
                it, too, may have undesirable delays.
                When the connection is desired later anyway (e.g., for
                client-server messages), call the serverlist() function.
                This does not enable the XSMP handler though.

-s {scriptin}   The script file "scriptin" is read.  The characters in the
                file are interpreted as if you had typed them.  The same can
                be done with the command ":source! {scriptin}".  If the end
                of the file is reached before the editor exits, further
                characters are read from the keyboard.  Only works when not
                started in Ex mode, see -s-ex.  See also complex-repeat.

-w {number}
-w{number}      Set the 'window' option to {number}.

-w {scriptout}  All the characters that you type are recorded in the file
                "scriptout", until you exit Vim.  This is useful if you want
                to create a script file to be used with "vim -s" or
                ":source!".  When the "scriptout" file already exists, new
                characters are appended.  See also complex-repeat.
                {scriptout} cannot start with a digit.
                If you want to record what is typed in a human readable form,
                you can use ch_logfile(). It adds "raw key input" lines.
                Also see --log.

-W {scriptout}  Like -w, but do not append, overwrite an existing file.

--remote [+{cmd}{file} ...
                Open the {file} in another Vim that functions as a server.
                Any non-file arguments must come before this.
                See --remote.

--remote-silent [+{cmd}{file} ...
                Like --remote, but don't complain if there is no server.
                See --remote-silent.

--remote-wait [+{cmd}{file} ...
                Like --remote, but wait for the server to finish editing the
                See --remote-wait.

--remote-wait-silent [+{cmd}{file} ...
                Like --remote-wait, but don't complain if there is no server.
                See --remote-wait-silent.

--servername {name}
                Specify the name of the Vim server to send to or to become.
                See --servername.

--remote-send {keys}
                Send {keys} to a Vim server and exit.
                See --remote-send.

--remote-expr {expr}
                Evaluate {expr} in another Vim that functions as a server.
                The result is printed on stdout.
                See --remote-expr.

--serverlist    Output a list of Vim server names and exit.  See

--socketid {id}                                         --socketid
                GTK+ GUI Vim only.  Make gvim try to use GtkPlug mechanism, so
                that it runs inside another window.  See gui-gtk-socketid
                for details.

--windowid {id}                                         --windowid
                Win32 GUI Vim only.  Make gvim try to use the window {id} as a
                parent, so that it runs inside that window.  See
                gui-w32-windowid for details.

--echo-wid                                              --echo-wid
                GTK+ GUI Vim only.  Make gvim echo the Window ID on stdout,
                which can be used to run gvim in a kpart widget.  The format
                of the output is:
                        WID: 12345\n

--role {role}                                           --role
                GTK+ 2 GUI only.  Set the role of the main window to {role}.
                The window role can be used by a window manager to uniquely
                identify a window, in order to restore window placement and
                such.  The --role argument is passed automatically when
                restoring the session on login.  See gui-gnome-session

-P {parent-title}                               -P MDI E671 E672
                Win32 only: Specify the title of the parent application.  When
                possible, Vim will run in an MDI window inside the
                {parent-title} must appear in the window title of the parent
                application.  Make sure that it is specific enough.
                Note that the implementation is still primitive.  It won't
                work with all applications and the menu doesn't work.

-nb                                                     -nb
                Attempt connecting to Netbeans and become an editor server for
                it.  The second form specifies a file to read connection info
                from.  The third form specifies the hostname, address and
                password for connecting to Netbeans. netbeans-run
                {only available when compiled with the +netbeans_intg
                feature; if not then -nb will make Vim exit}

If the executable is called "view", Vim will start in Readonly mode.  This is
useful if you can make a hard or symbolic link from "view" to "vim".
Starting in Readonly mode can also be done with "vim -R".

If the executable is called "ex", Vim will start in "Ex" mode.  This means it
will accept only ":" commands.  But when the "-v" argument is given, Vim will
start in Normal mode anyway.

Additional arguments are available on Unix like systems when compiled with
X11 GUI support.  See gui-resources.

2. Vim on the Amiga                                     starting-amiga

Starting Vim from the Workbench                         workbench

Vim can be started from the Workbench by clicking on its icon twice.  It will
then start with an empty buffer.

Vim can be started to edit one or more files by using a "Project" icon.  The
"Default Tool" of the icon must be the full pathname of the Vim executable.
The name of the ".info" file must be the same as the name of the text file.
By clicking on this icon twice, Vim will be started with the file name as
current file name, which will be read into the buffer (if it exists).  You can
edit multiple files by pressing the shift key while clicking on icons, and
clicking twice on the last one.  The "Default Tool" for all these icons must
be the same.

It is not possible to give arguments to Vim, other than file names, from the

Vim window                                              amiga-window

Vim will run in the CLI window where it was started.  If Vim was started with
the "run" or "runback" command, or if Vim was started from the workbench, it
will open a window of its own.

Technical detail:
        To open the new window a little trick is used.  As soon as Vim
        recognizes that it does not run in a normal CLI window, it will
        create a script file in "t:".  This script file contains the same
        command as the one Vim was started with, and an "endcli" command.
        This script file is then executed with a "newcli" command (the "c:run"
        and "c:newcli" commands are required for this to work).  The script
        file will hang around until reboot, or until you delete it.  This
        method is required to get the ":sh" and ":!" commands to work
        correctly.  But when Vim was started with the -f option (foreground
        mode), this method is not used.  The reason for this is that
        when a program starts Vim with the -f option it will wait for Vim to
        exit.  With the script trick, the calling program does not know when
        Vim exits.  The -f option can be used when Vim is started by a mail
        program which also waits for the edit session to finish.  As a
        consequence, the ":sh" and ":!" commands are not available when the
        -f option is used.

Vim will automatically recognize the window size and react to window
resizing.  Under Amiga DOS 1.3, it is advised to use the fastfonts program,
"FF", to speed up display redrawing.

3. Running eVim                                                 evim-keys

EVim runs Vim as click-and-type editor.  This is very unlike the original Vi
idea.  But it helps for people that don't use Vim often enough to learn the
commands.  Hopefully they will find out that learning to use Normal mode
commands will make their editing much more effective.

In Evim these options are changed from their default value:

        :set nocompatible       Use Vim improvements
        :set insertmode         Remain in Insert mode most of the time
        :set hidden             Keep invisible buffers loaded
        :set backup             Keep backup files (not for VMS)
        :set backspace=2        Backspace over everything
        :set autoindent         auto-indent new lines
        :set history=50         keep 50 lines of Ex commands
        :set ruler              show the cursor position
        :set incsearch          show matches halfway typing a pattern
        :set mouse=a            use the mouse in all modes
        :set hlsearch           highlight all matches for a search pattern
        :set whichwrap+=<,>,[,] <Left> and <Right> wrap around line breaks
        :set guioptions-=a      non-Unix only: don't do auto-select

Key mappings:
        <CTRL-Q>        quit, using :confirm prompt if there are changes
        <Down>          moves by screen lines rather than file lines
        <Up>            idem
        Q               does "gq", formatting, instead of Ex mode
        <BS>            in Visual mode: deletes the selection
        CTRL-X          in Visual mode: Cut to clipboard
        <S-Del>         idem
        CTRL-C          in Visual mode: Copy to clipboard
        <C-Insert>      idem
        CTRL-V          Pastes from the clipboard (in any mode)
        <S-Insert>      idem
        CTRL-Z          undo
        CTRL-Y          redo
        <M-Space>       system menu
        CTRL-A          select all
        <C-Tab>         next window, CTRL-W w
        <C-F4>          close window, CTRL-W c

- ":behave mswin" is used :behave
- syntax highlighting is enabled
- filetype detection is enabled, filetype plugins and indenting is enabled
- in a text file 'textwidth' is set to 78

One hint: If you want to go to Normal mode to be able to type a sequence of
commands, use CTRL-Li_CTRL-L

There is no way to stop "easy mode", you need to exit Vim.

4. Initialization                               initialization startup

This section is about the non-GUI version of Vim.  See gui-fork for
additional initialization when starting the GUI.

At startup, Vim checks environment variables and files and sets values
accordingly.  Vim proceeds in this order:

1. Set the 'shell' and 'term' option            SHELL COMSPEC TERM
        The environment variable SHELL, if it exists, is used to set the
        'shell' option.  On Win32, the COMSPEC variable is used
        if SHELL is not set.
        The environment variable TERM, if it exists, is used to set the 'term'
        option.  However, 'term' will change later when starting the GUI (step
        8 below).

2. Process the arguments
        The options and file names from the command that start Vim are
        The -V argument can be used to display or log what happens next,
        useful for debugging the initializations.
        The --cmd arguments are executed.
        Buffers are created for all files (but not loaded yet).

3. Execute Ex commands, from environment variables and/or files
        An environment variable is read as one Ex command line, where multiple
        commands must be separated with '|' or "<NL>".
                                                                vimrc exrc
        A file that contains initialization commands is called a "vimrc" file.
        Each line in a vimrc file is executed as an Ex command line.  It is
        sometimes also referred to as "exrc" file.  They are the same type of
        file, but "exrc" is what Vi always used, "vimrc" is a Vim specific
        name.  Also see vimrc-intro.

        Places for your personal initializations:
                Unix            $HOME/.vimrc, $HOME/.vim/vimrc
                                or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/vim/vimrc
                MS-Windows      $HOME/_vimrc, $HOME/vimfiles/vimrc
                                or $VIM/_vimrc
                Amiga           s:.vimrc, home:.vimrc, home:vimfiles:vimrc
                                or $VIM/.vimrc
                Haiku           $HOME/config/settings/vim/vimrc

        The files are searched in the order specified above and only the first
        one that is found is read.

        RECOMMENDATION: Put all your Vim configuration stuff in the
        $HOME/.vim/ directory ($HOME/vimfiles/ for MS-Windows). That makes it
        easy to copy it to another system.

        If Vim was started with "-u filename", the file "filename" is used.
        All following initializations until 4. are skipped. $MYVIMRC is not
        "vim -u NORC" can be used to skip these initializations without
        reading a file.  "vim -u NONE" also skips loading plugins.  -u

        If Vim was started in Ex mode with the "-s" argument, all following
        initializations until 4. are skipped.  Only the "-u" option is
     a. If Vim was started as evim or eview or with the -y argument, the
        script $VIMRUNTIME/evim.vim will be loaded.
     b. For Unix, MS-Windows, VMS, Macintosh and Amiga the system vimrc file
        is read for initializations.  The path of this file is shown with the
        ":version" command.  Mostly it's "$VIM/vimrc".  Note that this file is
        ALWAYS read in 'compatible' mode, since the automatic resetting of
        'compatible' is only done later.  Add a ":set nocp" command if you
        like.  For the Macintosh the $VIMRUNTIME/macmap.vim is read.

          VIMINIT .vimrc _vimrc EXINIT .exrc _exrc $MYVIMRC
     c. Five places are searched for initializations.  The first that exists
        is used, the others are ignored.  The $MYVIMRC environment variable is
        set to the file that was first found, unless $MYVIMRC was already set
        and when using VIMINIT.
        I   The environment variable VIMINIT (see also compatible-default) (*)
            The value of $VIMINIT is used as an Ex command line.
        II  The user vimrc file(s):
                    "$HOME/.vimrc"                (for Unix) (*)
                    "$HOME/.vim/vimrc"            (for Unix) (*)
                    "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/vim/vimrc"  (for Unix) (*)
                    "s:.vimrc"                    (for Amiga) (*)
                    "home:.vimrc"                 (for Amiga) (*)
                    "home:vimfiles:vimrc"         (for Amiga) (*)
                    "$VIM/.vimrc"                 (for Amiga) (*)
                    "$HOME/_vimrc"                (for Win32) (*)
                    "$HOME/vimfiles/vimrc"        (for Win32) (*)
                    "$VIM/_vimrc"                 (for Win32) (*)
                    "$HOME/config/settings/vim/vimrc"   (for Haiku) (*)

                Note: For Unix and Amiga, when ".vimrc" does not exist,
                "_vimrc" is also tried, in case an MS-DOS compatible file
                system is used.  For MS-Windows ".vimrc" is checked after
                "_vimrc", in case long file names are used.
                Note: For Win32, "$HOME" is checked first.  If no "_vimrc" or
                ".vimrc" is found there, "$VIM" is tried.  See $VIM for when
                $VIM is not set.
        III The environment variable EXINIT.
            The value of $EXINIT is used as an Ex command line.
        IV  The user exrc file(s).  Same as for the user vimrc file, but with
            "vimrc" replaced by "exrc".  But only one of ".exrc" and "_exrc" is
            used, depending on the system.  And without the (*)!
        V   The default vimrc file, $VIMRUNTIME/defaults.vim.  This sets up
            options values and has "syntax on" and "filetype on" commands,
            which is what most new users will want.  See defaults.vim.

     d. If the 'exrc' option is on (which is NOT the default), the current
        directory is searched for three files.  The first that exists is used,
        the others are ignored.
        -  The file ".vimrc" (for Unix, Amiga) (*)
                    "_vimrc" (for Win32) (*)
        -  The file "_vimrc" (for Unix, Amiga) (*)
                    ".vimrc" (for Win32) (*)
        -  The file ".exrc"  (for Unix, Amiga)
                    "_exrc"  (for Win32)

     (*) Using this file or environment variable will cause 'compatible' to be
         off by default.  See compatible-default.

     Note: When using the mzscheme interface, it is initialized after loading
     the vimrc file.  Changing 'mzschemedll' later has no effect.

4. Load the plugin scripts.                                     load-plugins
        This does the same as the command:
                :runtime! plugin/**/*.vim
        The result is that all directories in the 'runtimepath' option will be
        searched for the "plugin" sub-directory and all files ending in ".vim"
        will be sourced (in alphabetical order per directory), also in
        However, directories in 'runtimepath' ending in "after" are skipped
        here and only loaded after packages, see below.
        Loading plugins won't be done when:
        - The 'loadplugins' option was reset in a vimrc file.
        - The --noplugin command line argument is used.
        - The --clean command line argument is used.
        - The "-u NONE" command line argument is used -u.
        - When Vim was compiled without the +eval feature.
        Note that using "-c 'set noloadplugins'" doesn't work, because the
        commands from the command line have not been executed yet.  You can
        use "--cmd 'set noloadplugins'" or "--cmd 'set loadplugins'" --cmd.

        Packages are loaded.  These are plugins, as above, but found in the
        "start" directory of each entry in 'packpath'.  Every plugin directory
        found is added in 'runtimepath' and then the plugins are sourced.  See

        The plugins scripts are loaded, as above, but now only the directories
        ending in "after" are used.  Note that 'runtimepath' will have changed
        if packages have been found, but that should not add a directory
        ending in "after".

5. Set 'shellpipe' and 'shellredir'
        The 'shellpipe' and 'shellredir' options are set according to the
        value of the 'shell' option, unless they have been set before.
        This means that Vim will figure out the values of 'shellpipe' and
        'shellredir' for you, unless you have set them yourself.

6. Set 'updatecount' to zero, if "-n" command argument used.

7. Set binary options
        If the "-b" flag was given to Vim, the options for binary editing will
        be set now.  See -b.

8. Perform GUI initializations
        Only when starting "gvim", the GUI initializations will be done.  See

9. Read the viminfo file
        If the 'viminfo' option is not empty, the viminfo file is read.  See

10. Read the quickfix file
        If the "-q" flag was given to Vim, the quickfix file is read.  If this
        fails, Vim exits.

11. Open all windows
        When the -o flag was given, windows will be opened (but not
        displayed yet).
        When the -p flag was given, tab pages will be created (but not
        displayed yet).
        When switching screens, it happens now.  Redrawing starts.
        If the "-q" flag was given to Vim, the first error is jumped to.
        Buffers for all windows will be loaded, without triggering BufAdd

12. Execute startup commands
        If a "-t" flag was given to Vim, the tag is jumped to.
        The commands given with the -c and +cmd arguments are executed.
        If the 'insertmode' option is set, Insert mode is entered.
        The starting flag is reset, has("vim_starting") will now return zero.
        The v:vim_did_enter variable is set to 1.
        The VimEnter autocommands are executed.

The $MYVIMRC or $MYGVIMRC file will be set to the first found vimrc and/or
gvimrc file.

Some hints on using initializations

Standard setup:
Create a vimrc file to set the default settings and mappings for all your edit
sessions.  Put it in a place so that it will be found by 3b.:
        ~/.vimrc        (Unix)
        s:.vimrc        (Amiga)
        $VIM\_vimrc     (Win32)
        ~/config/settings/vim/vimrc (Haiku)

Note that creating a vimrc file will cause the 'compatible' option to be off
by default.  See compatible-default.

Local setup:
Put all commands that you need for editing a specific directory only into a
vimrc file and place it in that directory under the name ".vimrc" ("_vimrc"
for Win32).  NOTE: To make Vim look for these special files you have to turn
on the option 'exrc'.  See trojan-horse too.

System setup:
This only applies if you are managing a Unix system with several users and
want to set the defaults for all users.  Create a vimrc file with commands
for default settings and mappings and put it in the place that is given with
the ":version" command.

Saving the current state of Vim to a file

Whenever you have changed values of options or when you have created a
mapping, then you may want to save them in a vimrc file for later use.  See
save-settings about saving the current state of settings to a file.

Avoiding setup problems for Vi users

Vi uses the variable EXINIT and the file "~/.exrc".  So if you do not want to
interfere with Vi, then use the variable VIMINIT and the file "vimrc" instead.

Amiga environment variables

On the Amiga, two types of environment variables exist.  The ones set with the
DOS 1.3 (or later) setenv command are recognized.  See the AmigaDos 1.3
manual.  The environment variables set with the old Manx Set command (before
version 5.0) are not recognized.

MS-Windows line separators

On MS-Windows, Vim assumes that all the vimrc files have <CR><NL> pairs as
line separators.  This will give problems if you have a file with only <NL>s
and have a line like ":map xx yy^M".  The trailing ^M will be ignored.

Vi compatible default value
When Vim starts, the 'compatible' option is on.  This will be used when Vim
starts its initializations.  But as soon as:
- a user vimrc file is found, or
- a vimrc file in the current directory is found, or
- the "VIMINIT" environment variable is set, or
- the "-N" command line argument is given, or
- the "--clean" command line argument is given, or
- the defaults.vim script is loaded, or
- a gvimrc file was found,
then the option will be set to 'nocompatible'.

Note that this does NOT happen when a system-wide vimrc file was found.

This has the side effect of setting or resetting other options (see
'compatible').  But only the options that have not been set or reset will be
changed.  This has the same effect like the value of 'compatible' had this
value when starting Vim.

'compatible' is NOT reset, and defaults.vim is not loaded:
- when Vim was started with the -u command line argument, especially with
  "-u NONE", or
- when started with the -C command line argument, or
- when the name of the executable ends in "ex". (This has been done to make
  Vim behave like "ex", when it is started as "ex")

But there is a side effect of setting or resetting 'compatible' at the moment
a .vimrc file is found: Mappings are interpreted the moment they are
encountered.  This makes a difference when using things like "<CR>".  If the
mappings depend on a certain value of 'compatible', set or reset it before
giving the mapping.

Defaults without a .vimrc file
                                                        defaults.vim E1187
If Vim is started normally and no user vimrc file is found, the
$VIMRUNTIME/defaults.vim script is loaded.  This will set 'compatible' off,
switch on syntax highlighting and a few more things.  See the script for
details.  NOTE: this is done since Vim 8.0, not in Vim 7.4. (it was added in
patch 7.4.2111 to be exact).

This should work well for new Vim users.  If you create your own .vimrc, it is
recommended to add these lines somewhere near the top:
        unlet! skip_defaults_vim
        source $VIMRUNTIME/defaults.vim
Then Vim works like before you had a .vimrc. Copying $VIMRUNTIME/vimrc_example
is way to do this.  Alternatively, you can copy defaults.vim to your .vimrc
and modify it (but then you won't get updates when it changes).

If you don't like some of the defaults, you can still source defaults.vim and
revert individual settings.  See the defaults.vim file for hints on how to
revert each item.
If you use a system-wide vimrc and don't want defaults.vim to change settings,
set the "skip_defaults_vim" variable.  If this was set and you want to load
defaults.vim from your .vimrc, first unlet skip_defaults_vim, as in the
example above.

                                        xdg-base-dir $XDG_CONFIG_HOME
XDG Base Directory Specification

The XDG Base Directory Specification aims to define a standard location for
configuration files used by applications.  This is mainly done to prevent
the legacy behavior of dumping everything into the user's home directory.
The specification can be found online at

The location of this standard configuration directory is configurable by the
user, using an environment variable but should also give fallback in case those
variables weren't set.

This is not an exhaustive list of those directories:
  Environment var       Default location        Description
  $XDG_CACHE_HOME     $HOME/.cache            Ephemeral data files
  $XDG_CONFIG_HOME    $HOME/.config           Configuration files
  $XDG_DATA_HOME      $HOME/.local/share      Persistent data files
  $XDG_STATE_HOME     $HOME/.local/state      State data files

Vim will only use the $XDG_CONFIG_HOME directory, the others are not
(yet) used for its various configuration and state files.

Vim, on Unix systems, will look at $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/vim/vimrc for its
configuration (see vimrc) but it will source it only if no other
initialization file is found in $HOME or $HOME/.vim (thus making this
feature backward compatible). However, if you want to migrate to use
$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/vim/ directory, you will have to move away your ~/.vimrc
and ~/.vim/vimrc file.

When the xdg-vimrc is used the 'runtimepath' and 'packpath' options will be
modified accordingly to respect the xdg-base-dir:


Avoiding trojan horses
While reading the "vimrc" or the "exrc" file in the current directory, some
commands can be disabled for security reasons by setting the 'secure' option.
This is always done when executing the command from a tags file.  Otherwise,
it would be possible that you accidentally use a vimrc or tags file that
somebody else created and contains nasty commands.  The disabled commands are
the ones that start a shell, the ones that write to a file, and ":autocmd".
The ":map" commands are echoed, so you can see which keys are being mapped.
        If you want Vim to execute all commands in a local vimrc file, you
can reset the 'secure' option in the EXINIT or VIMINIT environment variable or
in the global "exrc" or "vimrc" file.  This is not possible in "vimrc" or
"exrc" in the current directory, for obvious reasons.
        On Unix systems, this only happens if you are not the owner of the
vimrc file.  Warning: If you unpack an archive that contains a vimrc or exrc
file, it will be owned by you.  You won't have the security protection.  Check
the vimrc file before you start Vim in that directory, or reset the 'exrc'
option.  Some Unix systems allow a user to do "chown" on a file.  This makes
it possible for another user to create a nasty vimrc and make you the owner.
Be careful!
        When using tag search commands, executing the search command (the last
part of the line in the tags file) is always done in secure mode.  This works
just like executing a command from a vimrc/exrc in the current directory.

If Vim startup is slow
If Vim takes a long time to start up, use the --startuptime argument to find
out what happens.  There are a few common causes:
- If the Unix version was compiled with the GUI and/or X11 (check the output
  of ":version" for "+GUI" and "+X11"), it may need to load shared libraries
  and connect to the X11 server.  Try compiling a version with GUI and X11
  disabled.  This also should make the executable smaller.
  Use the -X command line argument to avoid connecting to the X server when
  running in a terminal.
- If you have "viminfo" enabled, the loading of the viminfo file may take a
  while.  You can find out if this is the problem by disabling viminfo for a
  moment (use the Vim argument "-i NONE", -i).  Try reducing the number of
  lines stored in a register with ":set viminfo='20,<50,s10".  viminfo-file.

Intro message
When Vim starts without a file name, an introductory message is displayed (for
those who don't know what Vim is).  It is removed as soon as the display is
redrawn in any way.  To see the message again, use the ":intro" command (if
there is not enough room, you will see only part of it).
   To avoid the intro message on startup, add the 'I' flag to 'shortmess'.

The --help and --version arguments cause Vim to print a message and then
exit.  Normally the message is sent to stdout, thus can be redirected to a
file with:

        vim --help >file

From inside Vim:

        :read !vim --help

When using gvim, it detects that it might have been started from the desktop,
without a terminal to show messages on.  This is detected when both stdout and
stderr are not a tty.  This breaks the ":read" command, as used in the example
above.  To make it work again, set 'shellredir' to ">" instead of the default

        :set shellredir=>
        :read !gvim --help

This still won't work for systems where gvim does not use stdout at all

The environment variable "$VIM" is used to locate various user files for Vim,
such as the user startup script ".vimrc".  This depends on the system, see

To avoid the need for every user to set the $VIM environment variable, Vim
will try to get the value for $VIM in this order:
1. The value defined by the $VIM environment variable.  You can use this to
   make Vim look in a specific directory for its support files.  Example:
        setenv VIM /home/paul/vim
2. The path from 'helpfile' is used, unless it contains some environment
   variable too (the default is "$VIMRUNTIME/doc/help.txt": chicken-egg
   problem).  The file name ("help.txt" or any other) is removed.  Then
   trailing directory names are removed, in this order: "doc", "runtime" and
   "vim{version}" (e.g., "vim82").
3. For Win32 Vim tries to use the directory name of the executable.  If it
   ends in "/src", this is removed.  This is useful if you unpacked the .zip
   file in some directory, and adjusted the search path to find the vim
   executable.  Trailing directory names are removed, in this order: "runtime"
   and "vim{version}" (e.g., "vim82").
4. For Unix the compile-time defined installation directory is used (see the
   output of ":version").

Once Vim has done this once, it will set the $VIM environment variable.  To
change it later, use a ":let" command like this:
        :let $VIM = "/home/paul/vim/"

The environment variable "$VIMRUNTIME" is used to locate various support
files, such as the on-line documentation and files used for syntax
highlighting.  For example, the main help file is normally
You don't normally set $VIMRUNTIME yourself, but let Vim figure it out.  This
is the order used to find the value of $VIMRUNTIME:
1. If the environment variable $VIMRUNTIME is set, it is used.  You can use
   this when the runtime files are in an unusual location.
2. If "$VIM/vim{version}" exists, it is used.  {version} is the version
   number of Vim, without any '-' or '.'.  For example: "$VIM/vim82".  This is
   the normal value for $VIMRUNTIME.
3. If "$VIM/runtime" exists, it is used.
4. The value of $VIM is used.  This is for backwards compatibility with older
5. When the 'helpfile' option is set and doesn't contain a '$', its value is
   used, with "doc/help.txt" removed from the end.

For Unix, when there is a compiled-in default for $VIMRUNTIME (check the
output of ":version"), steps 2, 3 and 4 are skipped, and the compiled-in
default is used after step 5.  This means that the compiled-in default
overrules the value of $VIM.  This is useful if $VIM is "/etc" and the runtime
files are in "/usr/share/vim/vim82".

Once Vim has done this once, it will set the $VIMRUNTIME environment variable.
To change it later, use a ":let" command like this:
        :let $VIMRUNTIME = "/home/piet/vim/vim82"

In case you need the value of $VIMRUNTIME in a shell (e.g., for a script that
greps in the help files) you might be able to use this:

        VIMRUNTIME=$(vim -es '+put=$VIMRUNTIME|print|quit!')

Don't set $VIMRUNTIME to an empty value, some things may stop working.

6. Suspending                                           suspend

                                        iconize iconise CTRL-Z v_CTRL-Z
CTRL-Z                  Suspend Vim, like ":stop".
                        Works in Normal and in Visual mode.  In Insert and
                        Command-line mode, the CTRL-Z is inserted as a normal
                        character.  In Visual mode Vim goes back to Normal
                        Note: if CTRL-Z undoes a change see mswin.vim.

:sus[pend][!]   or                      :sus :suspend :st :stop
:st[op][!]              Suspend Vim.
                        If the '!' is not given and 'autowrite' is set, every
                        buffer with changes and a file name is written out.
                        If the '!' is given or 'autowrite' is not set, changed
                        buffers are not written, don't forget to bring Vim
                        back to the foreground later!

In the GUI, suspending is implemented as iconising gvim.  In MS-Windows, gvim
is minimized.

On many Unix systems, it is possible to suspend Vim with CTRL-Z.  This is only
possible in Normal and Visual mode (see next chapter, vim-modes).  Vim will
continue if you make it the foreground job again.  On other systems, CTRL-Z
will start a new shell.  This is the same as the ":sh" command.  Vim will
continue if you exit from the shell.

In the X Window System environment, the selection is disowned when Vim
suspends.  This means you can't paste it in another application (since Vim is
going to sleep, an attempt to get the selection would make the program hang).

7. Exiting                                              exiting

There are several ways to exit Vim:
- Close the last window with :quit.  Only when there are no changes.
- Close the last window with :quit!.  Also when there are changes.
- Close all windows with :qall.  Only when there are no changes.
- Close all windows with :qall!.  Also when there are changes.
- Use :cquit.  Also when there are changes.

When using :cquit or when there was an error message Vim exits with exit
code 1.  Errors can be avoided by using :silent! or with :catch.

8. Saving settings                                      save-settings

Mostly you will edit your vimrc files manually.  This gives you the greatest
flexibility.  There are a few commands to generate a vimrc file automatically.
You can use these files as they are, or copy/paste lines to include in another
vimrc file.

                                                        :mk :mkexrc
:mk[exrc] [file]        Write current key mappings and changed options to
                        [file] (default ".exrc" in the current directory),
                        unless it already exists.

:mk[exrc]! [file]       Always write current key mappings and changed
                        options to [file] (default ".exrc" in the current

                                                :mkv :mkvi :mkvimrc
:mkv[imrc][!] [file]    Like ":mkexrc", but the default is ".vimrc" in the
                        current directory.  The ":version" command is also
                        written to the file.

These commands will write ":map" and ":set" commands to a file, in such a way
that when these commands are executed, the current key mappings and options
will be set to the same values.  The options 'columns''endofline',
'ttyfast' and 'ttymouse' are not included, because these are terminal or file
dependent.  Note that the options 'binary''paste' and 'readonly' are
included, this might not always be what you want.

When special keys are used in mappings, the 'cpoptions' option will be
temporarily set to its Vim default, to avoid the mappings to be
misinterpreted.  This makes the file incompatible with Vi, but makes sure it
can be used with different terminals.

Only global mappings are stored, not mappings local to a buffer.

A common method is to use a default ".vimrc" file, make some modifications
with ":map" and ":set" commands and write the modified file.  First read the
default ".vimrc" in with a command like ":source ~piet/.vimrc.Cprogs", change
the settings and then save them in the current directory with ":mkvimrc!".  If
you want to make this file your default .vimrc, move it to your home directory
(on Unix), s: (Amiga) or $VIM directory (MS-Windows).  You could also use
autocommands autocommand and/or modelines modeline.

If you only want to add a single option setting to your vimrc, you can use
these steps:
1. Edit your vimrc file with Vim.
2. Play with the option until it's right.  E.g., try out different values for
3. Append a line to set the value of the option, using the expression register
   '=' to enter the value.  E.g., for the 'guifont' option:
   o:set guifont=<C-R>=&guifont<CR><Esc>
   [<C-R> is a CTRL-R<CR> is a return, <Esc> is the escape key]
   You need to escape special characters, esp. spaces.

Note that when you create a .vimrc file, this can influence the 'compatible'
option, which has several side effects.  See 'compatible'.
":mkvimrc", ":mkexrc" and ":mksession" write the command to set or reset the
'compatible' option to the output file first, because of these side effects.

9. Views and Sessions                                   views-sessions

This is introduced in sections 21.4 and 21.5 of the user manual.

                                                View view-file
A View is a collection of settings that apply to one window.  You can save a
View and when you restore it later, the text is displayed in the same way.
The options and mappings in this window will also be restored, so that you can
continue editing like when the View was saved.

                                                Session session-file
A Session keeps the Views for all windows, plus the global settings.  You can
save a Session and when you restore it later the window layout looks the same.
You can use a Session to quickly switch between different projects,
automatically loading the files you were last working on in that project.

Views and Sessions are a nice addition to viminfo-files, which are used to
remember information for all Views and Sessions together viminfo-file.

You can quickly start editing with a previously saved View or Session with the
-S argument:
        vim -S Session.vim

All this is {not available when compiled without the +mksession feature}.

                                                        :mks :mksession
:mks[ession][!] [file]  Write a Vim script that restores the current editing
                        When [!] is included, an existing file is overwritten.
                        When [file] is omitted, "Session.vim" is used.

The output of ":mksession" is like ":mkvimrc", but additional commands are
added to the file.  Which ones depends on the 'sessionoptions' option.  The
resulting file, when executed with a ":source" command:
1. Restores global mappings and options, if 'sessionoptions' contains
   "options".  Script-local mappings will not be written.
2. Restores global variables that start with an uppercase letter and contain
   at least one lowercase letter, if 'sessionoptions' contains "globals".
3. Closes all windows in the current tab page, except the current one; closes
   all tab pages except the current one (this results in currently loaded
   buffers to be unloaded, some may become hidden if 'hidden' is set or
   otherwise specified); wipes out the current buffer, if it is empty and
4. Restores the current directory, if 'sessionoptions' contains "curdir", or
   sets the current directory to where the Session file is, if
   'sessionoptions' contains "sesdir".
5. Restores GUI Vim window position, if 'sessionoptions' contains "winpos".
6. Restores screen size, if 'sessionoptions' contains "resize".
7. Reloads the buffer list, with the last cursor positions.  If
   'sessionoptions' contains "buffers" then all buffers are restored,
   including hidden and unloaded buffers.  Otherwise, only buffers in windows
   are restored.
8. Restores all windows with the same layout.  If 'sessionoptions' contains
   "help", help windows are restored.  If 'sessionoptions' contains "blank",
   windows editing a buffer without a name will be restored.
   If 'sessionoptions' contains "winsize" and no (help/blank) windows were
   left out, the window sizes are restored (relative to the screen size).
   Otherwise, the windows are just given sensible sizes.
9. Restores the Views for all the windows, as with :mkview.  But
   'sessionoptions' is used instead of 'viewoptions'.
10. If a file exists with the same name as the Session file, but ending in
   "x.vim" (for eXtra), executes that as well.  You can use *x.vim files to
   specify additional settings and actions associated with a given Session,
   such as creating menu items in the GUI version.

After restoring the Session, the full filename of your current Session is
available in the internal variable "v:this_session" this_session-variable.
An example mapping:
  :nmap <F2> :wa<Bar>exe "mksession! " .. v:this_session<CR>:so ~/sessions/
This saves the current Session, and starts off the command to load another.

A session includes all tab pages, unless "tabpages" was removed from

The SessionLoadPost autocmd event is triggered after a session file is
While the session file is loading, the SessionLoad global variable is set to
1.  Plugins can use this to postpone some work until the SessionLoadPost event
is triggered.

                                                        :mkvie :mkview
:mkvie[w][!] [file]     Write a Vim script that restores the contents of the
                        current window.
                        When [!] is included, an existing file is overwritten.
                        When [file] is omitted or is a number from 1 to 9, a
                        name is generated and 'viewdir' prepended.  When the
                        last path part of 'viewdir' does not exist, this
                        directory is created.  E.g., when 'viewdir' is
                        "$VIM/vimfiles/view" then "view" is created in
                        An existing file is always overwritten then.  Use
                        :loadview to load this view again.
                        When [file] is the name of a file ('viewdir' is not
                        used), a command to edit the file is added to the
                        generated file.

The output of ":mkview" contains these items:
1. The argument list used in the window.  When the global argument list is
   used, it is reset to the global list.
   The index in the argument list is also restored.
2. The file being edited in the window.  If there is no file, the window is
   made empty.
3. Restore mappings, abbreviations and options local to the window, if
   'viewoptions' contains "options" or "localoptions".  Only option values
   that are local to the current buffer and the current window are restored.
   When storing the view as part of a session and "options" is in
   'sessionoptions', global values for local options will be stored too.
4. Restore folds when using manual folding and 'viewoptions' contains
   "folds".  Restore manually opened and closed folds.
5. The scroll position and the cursor position in the file.  Doesn't work very
   well when there are closed folds.
6. The local current directory, if it is different from the global current
   directory and 'viewoptions' contains "curdir".

Note that Views and Sessions are not perfect:
- They don't restore everything.  For example, defined functions, autocommands
  and ":syntax on" are not included.  Things like register contents and
  command line history are in viminfo, not in Sessions or Views.
- Global option values are only set when they differ from the default value.
  When the current value is not the default value, loading a Session will not
  set it back to the default value.  Local options will be set back to the
  default value though.
- Existing mappings will be overwritten without warning.  An existing mapping
  may cause an error for ambiguity.
- When storing manual folds and when storing manually opened/closed folds,
  changes in the file between saving and loading the view will mess it up.
- The Vim script is not very efficient.  But still faster than typing the
  commands yourself!

                                                        :lo :loadview
:lo[adview] [nr]        Load the view for the current file.  When [nr] is
                        omitted, the view stored with ":mkview" is loaded.
                        When [nr] is specified, the view stored with ":mkview
                        [nr]" is loaded.

The combination of ":mkview" and ":loadview" can be used to store up to ten
different views of a file.  These are remembered in the directory specified
with the 'viewdir' option.  The views are stored using the file name.  If a
file is renamed or accessed through a (symbolic) link, the view will not be

You might want to clean up your 'viewdir' directory now and then.

To automatically save and restore views for *.c files:
        au BufWinLeave *.c mkview
        au BufWinEnter *.c silent loadview

10. The viminfo file                            viminfo viminfo-file E136
                                                E575 E576 E577
If you exit Vim and later start it again, you would normally lose a lot of
information.  The viminfo file can be used to remember that information, which
enables you to continue where you left off.

This is introduced in section 21.3 of the user manual.

The viminfo file is used to store:
- The command line history.
- The search string history.
- The input-line history.
- Contents of non-empty registers.
- Marks for several files.
- File marks, pointing to locations in files.
- Last search/substitute pattern (for 'n' and '&').
- The buffer list.
- Global variables.

The viminfo file is not supported when the +viminfo feature has been
disabled at compile time.

You could also use a Session file.  The difference is that the viminfo file
does not depend on what you are working on.  There normally is only one
viminfo file.  Session files are used to save the state of a specific editing
Session.  You could have several Session files, one for each project you are
working on.  Viminfo and Session files together can be used to effectively
enter Vim and directly start working in your desired setup. session-file

When Vim is started and the 'viminfo' option is non-empty, the contents of
the viminfo file are read and the info can be used in the appropriate places.
The v:oldfiles variable is filled.  The marks are not read in at startup
(but file marks are).  See initialization for how to set the 'viminfo'
option upon startup.

When Vim exits and 'viminfo' is non-empty, the info is stored in the viminfo
file (it's actually merged with the existing one, if one exists).  The
'viminfo' option is a string containing information about what info should be
stored, and contains limits on how much should be stored (see 'viminfo').

Merging happens in two ways.  Most items that have been changed or set in the
current Vim session are stored, and what was not changed is filled from what
is currently in the viminfo file.  For example:
- Vim session A reads the viminfo, which contains variable START.
- Vim session B does the same
- Vim session A sets the variables AAA and BOTH and exits
- Vim session B sets the variables BBB and BOTH and exits
Now the viminfo will have:
   START - it was in the viminfo and wasn't changed in session A or B
   AAA   - value from session A, session B kept it
   BBB   - value from session B
   BOTH  - value from session B, value from session A is lost

For some items a timestamp is used to keep the last changed version.  Here it
doesn't matter in which sequence Vim sessions exit, the newest item(s) are
always kept.  This is used for:
- The command line history.
- The search string history.
- The input-line history.
- Contents of non-empty registers.
- The jump list.
- File marks.

The timestamp feature was added before Vim 8.0.  Older versions of Vim,
starting with 7.4.1131, will keep the items with timestamp, but not use them.
Thus, when using both an older and a newer version of Vim, the most recent
data will be kept.

Notes for Unix:
- The file protection for the viminfo file will be set to prevent other users
  from being able to read it, because it may contain any text or commands that
  you have worked with.
- If you want to share the viminfo file with other users (e.g. when you "su"
  to another user), you can make the file writable for the group or everybody.
  Vim will preserve this when replacing the viminfo file.  Be careful, don't
  allow just anybody to read and write your viminfo file!
- Vim will not overwrite a viminfo file that is not writable by the current
  "real" user.  This helps for when you did "su" to become root, but your
  $HOME is still set to a normal user's home directory.  Otherwise, Vim would
  create a viminfo file owned by root that nobody else can read.
- The viminfo file cannot be a symbolic link.  This is to avoid security

Marks are stored for each file separately.  When a file is read and 'viminfo'
is non-empty, the marks for that file are read from the viminfo file.  NOTE:
The marks are only written when exiting Vim, which is fine because marks are
remembered for all the files you have opened in the current editing session,
unless ":bdel" is used.  If you want to save the marks for a file that you are
about to abandon with ":bdel", use ":wv".  The '[' and ']' marks are not
stored, but the '"' mark is.  The '"' mark is very useful for jumping to the
cursor position when the file was last exited.  No marks are saved for files
that start with any string given with the "r" flag in 'viminfo'.  This can be
used to avoid saving marks for files on removable media (for MS-Windows you
would use "ra:,rb:", for Amiga "rdf0:,rdf1:,rdf2:").
The v:oldfiles variable is filled with the file names that the viminfo file
has marks for.

Uppercase marks ('A to 'Z) are stored when writing the viminfo file.  The
numbered marks ('0 to '9) are a bit special.  When the viminfo file is written
(when exiting or with the ":wviminfo" command), '0 is set to the current cursor
position and file.  The old '0 is moved to '1, '1 to '2, etc.  This
resembles what happens with the "1 to "9 delete registers.  If the current
cursor position is already present in '0 to '9, it is moved to '0, to avoid
having the same position twice.  The result is that with "'0", you can jump
back to the file and line where you exited Vim.  To do that right away, try
using this command:

        vim -c "normal '0"

In a C shell descendant, you could make an alias for it:

        alias lvim vim -c '"'normal "'"0'"'

For a Bash-like shell:

        alias lvim='vim -c "normal '\''0"'

Use the "r" flag in 'viminfo' to specify for which files no marks should be

VIMINFO FILE NAME                                       viminfo-file-name

- The default name of the viminfo file is "$HOME/.viminfo" for Unix,
  "s:.viminfo" for Amiga, "$HOME\_viminfo" for Win32.  For Win32, when $HOME
  is not set, "$VIM\_viminfo" is used.  When $VIM is also not set,
  "c:\_viminfo" is used.
- The 'n' flag in the 'viminfo' option can be used to specify another viminfo
  file name 'viminfo'.
- The "-i" Vim argument can be used to set another file name, -i.  When the
  file name given is "NONE" (all uppercase), no viminfo file is ever read or
  written.  Also not for the commands below!
- The 'viminfofile' option can be used like the "-i" argument.  In fact, the
  value from the "-i" argument is stored in the 'viminfofile' option.
- For the commands below, another file name can be given, overriding the
  default and the name given with 'viminfo' or "-i" (unless it's NONE).

CHARACTER ENCODING                                      viminfo-encoding

The text in the viminfo file is encoded as specified with the 'encoding'
option.  Normally you will always work with the same 'encoding' value, and
this works just fine.  However, if you read the viminfo file with another
value for 'encoding' than what it was written with, some of the text
(non-ASCII characters) may be invalid.  If this is unacceptable, add the 'c'
flag to the 'viminfo' option:
        :set viminfo+=c
Vim will then attempt to convert the text in the viminfo file from the
'encoding' value it was written with to the current 'encoding' value.  This
requires Vim to be compiled with the +iconv feature.  Filenames are not

MANUALLY READING AND WRITING                            viminfo-read-write

Two commands can be used to read and write the viminfo file manually.  This
can be used to exchange registers between two running Vim programs: First
type ":wv" in one and then ":rv" in the other.  Note that if the register
already contained something, then ":rv!" would be required.  Also note,
however, that this means everything will be overwritten with information from
the first Vim, including the command line history, etc.

The viminfo file itself can be edited by hand too, although we suggest you
start with an existing one to get the format right.  It is reasonably
self-explanatory once you're in there.  This can be useful in order to
create a second file, say "~/.my_viminfo", which could contain certain
settings that you always want when you first start Vim.  For example, you
can preload registers with particular data, or put certain commands in the
command line history.  A line in your .vimrc file like
        :rviminfo! ~/.my_viminfo
can be used to load this information.  You could even have different viminfos
for different types of files (e.g., C code) and load them based on the file
name, using the ":autocmd" command (see :autocmd).

When Vim detects an error while reading a viminfo file, it will not overwrite
that file.  If there are more than 10 errors, Vim stops reading the viminfo
file.  This was done to avoid accidentally destroying a file when the file
name of the viminfo file is wrong.  This could happen when accidentally typing
"vim -i file" when you wanted "vim -R file" (yes, somebody accidentally did
that!).  If you want to overwrite a viminfo file with an error in it, you will
either have to fix the error, or delete the file (while Vim is running, so
most of the information will be restored).

                                                   :rv :rviminfo E195
:rv[iminfo][!] [file]   Read from viminfo file [file] (default: see
                        viminfo-file-name above).
                        If [!] is given, then any information that is
                        already set (registers, marks, v:oldfiles, etc.)
                        will be overwritten.  "E195" may be given, when
                        'viminfofile' has been set to "NONE".

                        :wv :wviminfo E137 E138 E574 E886 E929
:wv[iminfo][!] [file]   Write to viminfo file [file] (default: see
                        viminfo-file-name above).
                        This command has no effect when 'viminfofile' has been
                        set to "NONE".
                        The information in the file is first read in to make
                        a merge between old and new info.  When [!] is used,
                        the old information is not read first, only the
                        internal info is written.  If 'viminfo' is empty, marks
                        for up to 100 files will be written.
                        When you get error "E929: Too many viminfo temp
                        files", check that no old temp files were left behind
                        (e.g. ~/.viminf*) and that you can write in the
                        directory of the .viminfo file.

                                                :ol :oldfiles
:ol[dfiles]             List the files that have marks stored in the viminfo
                        file.  This list is read on startup and only changes
                        afterwards with :rviminfo!.  Also see v:oldfiles.
                        The number can be used with c_#<.
                        The output can be filtered with :filter, e.g.:
                                filter /\.vim/ oldfiles
                        The filtering happens on the file name.
                        {only when compiled with the +eval feature}

:bro[wse] ol[dfiles][!]
                        List file names as with :oldfiles, and then prompt
                        for a number.  When the number is valid that file from
                        the list is edited.
                        If you get the press-enter prompt you can press "q"
                        and still get the prompt to enter a file number.
                        Use [!] to abandon a modified buffer. abandon
                        {not when compiled with tiny features}