Vim plugin for jumping between buffers, files, directories and (on Mac OS X) Spotlight search results
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chbuf provides several functionalities:

  • Jumping to loaded buffers (like :buffer command, but neater) — see :help :ChangeBuffer
  • Jumping to recently edited files — :help :ChangeMixed
  • Jumping to files in current directory subtree — :help :ChangeFile
  • Quickly and interactively changing current working directory — :help :ChangeDirectory
  • And on Mac OS X, jumping to a file that comes from a result of Spotlight search — :help :Spotlight

All of the above share a common user interface which is that of getline library (see :help getline.txt). The philosophy is that user should be presented with minimum information required. Prior to calling getline, choices are filtered (each of mentioned commands takes a regex argument) and segment-wise shortest unique suffix is computed. In case of file system paths, it means file base name (the last segment of a path) if it’s unique or last two path segments if that’s unique, or last three if that’s unique and so on until all of the path segments are taken into account, which is guaranteed to be unique by the file system. Illustrating this on an example, the shortest unique suffixes of:




and this what the user is asked to choose from.

User input is interpreted as a series of simple substrings (not a pattern of any kind) separated by whitespace characters. Only choices containing all of the input substrings simultaneously are shown. At any time, user may select the first displayed choice by hitting <CR> or abort by hitting <Esc>. All available keys are listed at :help chbuf-keys.

Note that chbuf does not introduce any mappings by default (again, a design philosophy). Scroll to the Setup section for this.

Additional Features

  • Pure VimScript, no external interpreters required
  • Cross-platform: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows
  • Comes with library designed specifically for reuse — getline (think readline for Vim)




Assuming you have Pathogen up and running:

$ cd ~/.vim/bundle
$ git clone git://
$ vim -c :Helptags -c :q


Simply add a mapping of your choice to your .vimrc, e.g.:

noremap <silent> <Leader>b :ChangeBuffer<CR>
noremap <silent> <Leader>B :ChangeMixed<CR>
noremap <silent> <Leader>f :ChangeFile<CR>
noremap <silent> <Leader>c :ChangeDirectory<CR>

Note that functions above respect ignorecase, wildignore and suffixes where appropriate.


@tpope for his excellent taste for Vim plugin design and much code to learn from.


chbuf came into existence as a simple demo of getline, which in turn has been created for the needs of orgdt. I realised at some point that no other plug-in of this kind is compatible with my work flow and design requirements. Also, I get the impression that Spotlight (and its mdfind command line counterpart) is under-utilised for such a fast and powerful tool.

Known Problems

It's generally slower and “flickers” on Windows.


Adam Szkoda