sensible.vim: Defaults everyone can agree on
Vim script
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Think of sensible.vim as one step above 'nocompatible' mode: a universal set of defaults that (hopefully) everyone can agree on.

  • If you're new to Vim, you can install this as a starting point, rather than copying some random vimrc you found.
  • If you're pair programming and you can't agree on whose vimrc to use, this can be your neutral territory.
  • If you're administrating a server with an account that's not exclusively yours, you can scp this up to make things a bit more tolerable.
  • If you're troubleshooting a plugin and need to rule out interference from your vimrc, having this installed will ensure you still have some basic amenities.


If you don't have a preferred installation method, I recommend installing pathogen.vim, and then simply copy and paste:

cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone git://


See the source for the authoritative list of features. (Don't worry, it's mostly :set calls.) Here's a taste:

  • 'backspace': Backspace through anything in insert mode.
  • 'incsearch': Start searching before pressing enter.
  • 'listchars': Makes :set list (visible whitespace) prettier.
  • 'scrolloff': Always show at least one line above/below the cursor.
  • 'directory': Dump swap files under ~/.local/share/vim/swap, ~/Library/Vim/swap, or ~\Application Data\Vim\swap, depending on your platform. Also 'backupdir' and 'undodir'. The directories aren't created automatically, so try mkdir -p ~/Library/Vim/{swap,backup,undo}.
  • nmap Y y$: Make Y behave like C and D.
  • runtime! macros/matchit.vim: Load the version of matchit.vim that ships with Vim.


How can I see what this plugin actually does?

The source is authoritative. Use :help 'option' to see the documentation for an option. If you install scriptease.vim, you can press K on an option (or command, or function) to jump to its documentation.

How can I override a setting?

Normally, sensible.vim loads after your vimrc, making it a bit tricky to override (although you could use after/plugin/sensible.vim). If you want to load it earlier, add the following line to you vimrc, then put your overrides below.

runtime! plugin/sensible.vim

Feel free to let me know which setting you object to, so I can reassess whether it makes sense to include it.

What's with these .*.un~ files?

Basically, they make it so that you can undo things that happened in a previous invocation of Vim. See :help undo-persistence for details. If you don't like them strewn all over the file system, you have a few options.

  1. Create the appropriate directory that sensible.vim automatically configures for your platform:

    • ~/.local/share/vim/undo on Linux
    • ~/Library/Vim/undo on OS X
    • ~\Application Data\Vim\undo on Windows
  2. Provide your own preferred location in 'undodir':

    set undodir^=~/.vim/undo//
  3. Disable them entirely:

    set noundofile

You can also just globally ignore them in your SCM of choice. That's what I do.


I want this to be a plugin nobody objects to installing. Let me know if you have any objections to anything. There are a handful of settings I figured might be controversial, but I included anyways, just to settle the question once and for all. It won't take much persuasion for me to remove them. Everything else is negotiable.

Feel free to ask a question if you're not sure why I've set something, as I haven't put much effort into documenting that.

I'm a stickler for commit messages, so if you send me a pull request with so much as a superfluous period in the subject line, I will close it without so much as a second thought, and save my precious attention for someone who can actually follow directions.


Like sensible.vim? Follow the repository on GitHub and vote for it on And if you're feeling especially charitable, follow tpope on Twitter and GitHub.

This pairs great with sleuth.vim.


Copyright © Tim Pope. Distributed under the same terms as Vim itself. See :help license.