A vimrc file allows Vim to start with some additional features loaded. There are many, many options to customise Vim's appearance, such as in this vimrc file. However, only a few lines are needed in a vimrc file in order to make a huge difference. This post expands on the previous post, and gives a few more options.

Here is the less minimal vimrc file in a txt file: vimlessmin.txt

Contents of a minimal vimrc file

Copy/paste the following into ~/.vimrc:

syn on
set number
set tabstop=4 expandtab shiftwidth=4 smarttab
set autoindent cindent
colo pablo

set clipboard=unnamedplus,unnamed,autoselect

set undofile
set undodir=~/.vimundo

set t_Co=256
set ruler

Also, please make the (hidden) vimundo directory:

mkdir -p ~/.vimundo

The purpose of this folder will be explained below.

The new commands explained

set clipboard

If a version of Vim has been installed such that the +clipboard option is available, the command

set clipboard=unnamedplus,unnamed,autoselect

allows one to simply copy from a Vim pane using y, as usual, but places the text in the system clipboard, so then the text can be pasted outside of Vim in a browser, text file, etc.

To install a version of Vim with +clipboard, please see this post for OSX and this post for Linux instructions.

set undofile

This command ensures that the Vim undo history is saved to a file. Why is this useful? By default, if you open a file, e.g. temp.txt, and edit it, it is possible to go back in time and undo any edits by using the u command. However, if you then close the file, and then later open it, the edit history would have been erased. This command ensures that the undo history will be persistent; if you close and then later open the file, Vim can access the undo file.

set undodir=~/.vimundo

This creates a directory where the Vim undo files will be stored. Any other name instead of ~/.vimundo can be used, but that name is at least explanatory, and the dot makes it hidden (which you may or may not prefer).

set t_Co=256

This command sets the terminal colours to be 256 colours. This command will probably make no immediately noticeable difference, but if you use Vim in combination with tmux, it may be necessary to have this command - if you use tmux and open Vim, and all the text is grey, then try adding this command to your vimrc.

set ruler

One of my favourite commands - in the bottom right will be two numbers Y,X, giving the distance from the top-left. For example, if you put the cursor on the second line, and the the third column, the numbers should be 2,3. Very useful for lining up columns, etc.

Conclusion

These commands can make a big difference to running Vim. However, there are far more commands, and more complete vimrc will be explored in the next post.