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FZF Vim integration


Once you have fzf installed, you can enable it inside Vim simply by adding the directory to &runtimepath in your Vim configuration file. The path may differ depending on the package manager.

" If installed using Homebrew
set rtp+=/usr/local/opt/fzf

" If installed using Homebrew on Apple Silicon
set rtp+=/opt/homebrew/opt/fzf

" If you have cloned fzf on ~/.fzf directory
set rtp+=~/.fzf

If you use vim-plug, the same can be written as:

" If installed using Homebrew
Plug '/usr/local/opt/fzf'

" If installed using Homebrew on Apple Silicon
Plug '/opt/homebrew/opt/fzf'

" If you have cloned fzf on ~/.fzf directory
Plug '~/.fzf'

But if you want the latest Vim plugin file from GitHub rather than the one included in the package, write:

Plug 'junegunn/fzf'

The Vim plugin will pick up fzf binary available on the system. If fzf is not found on $PATH, it will ask you if it should download the latest binary for you.

To make sure that you have the latest version of the binary, set up post-update hook like so:

Plug 'junegunn/fzf', { 'do': { -> fzf#install() } }


The Vim plugin of fzf provides two core functions, and :FZF command which is the basic file selector command built on top of them.

  1. fzf#run([spec dict])
    • Starts fzf inside Vim with the given spec
    • :call fzf#run({'source': 'ls'})
  2. fzf#wrap([spec dict]) -> (dict)
    • Takes a spec for fzf#run and returns an extended version of it with additional options for addressing global preferences (g:fzf_xxx)
      • :echo fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls'})
    • We usually wrap a spec with fzf#wrap before passing it to fzf#run
      • :call fzf#run(fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls'}))
  3. :FZF [fzf_options string] [path string]
    • Basic fuzzy file selector
    • A reference implementation for those who don't want to write VimScript to implement custom commands
    • If you're looking for more such commands, check out fzf.vim project.

The most important of all is fzf#run, but it would be easier to understand the whole if we start off with :FZF command.


" Look for files under current directory

" Look for files under your home directory
:FZF ~

" With fzf command-line options
:FZF --reverse --info=inline /tmp

" Bang version starts fzf in fullscreen mode

Similarly to ctrlp.vim, use enter key, CTRL-T, CTRL-X or CTRL-V to open selected files in the current window, in new tabs, in horizontal splits, or in vertical splits respectively.

Note that the environment variables FZF_DEFAULT_COMMAND and FZF_DEFAULT_OPTS also apply here.


  • g:fzf_action
    • Customizable extra key bindings for opening selected files in different ways
  • g:fzf_layout
    • Determines the size and position of fzf window
  • g:fzf_colors
    • Customizes fzf colors to match the current color scheme
  • g:fzf_history_dir
    • Enables history feature


" This is the default extra key bindings
let g:fzf_action = {
  \ 'ctrl-t': 'tab split',
  \ 'ctrl-x': 'split',
  \ 'ctrl-v': 'vsplit' }

" An action can be a reference to a function that processes selected lines
function! s:build_quickfix_list(lines)
  call setqflist(map(copy(a:lines), '{ "filename": v:val, "lnum": 1 }'))

let g:fzf_action = {
  \ 'ctrl-q': function('s:build_quickfix_list'),
  \ 'ctrl-t': 'tab split',
  \ 'ctrl-x': 'split',
  \ 'ctrl-v': 'vsplit' }

" Default fzf layout
" - Popup window (center of the screen)
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': { 'width': 0.9, 'height': 0.6 } }

" - Popup window (center of the current window)
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': { 'width': 0.9, 'height': 0.6, 'relative': v:true } }

" - Popup window (anchored to the bottom of the current window)
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': { 'width': 0.9, 'height': 0.6, 'relative': v:true, 'yoffset': 1.0 } }

" - down / up / left / right
let g:fzf_layout = { 'down': '40%' }

" - Window using a Vim command
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': 'enew' }
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': '-tabnew' }
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': '10new' }

" Customize fzf colors to match your color scheme
" - fzf#wrap translates this to a set of `--color` options
let g:fzf_colors =
\ { 'fg':      ['fg', 'Normal'],
  \ 'bg':      ['bg', 'Normal'],
  \ 'hl':      ['fg', 'Comment'],
  \ 'fg+':     ['fg', 'CursorLine', 'CursorColumn', 'Normal'],
  \ 'bg+':     ['bg', 'CursorLine', 'CursorColumn'],
  \ 'hl+':     ['fg', 'Statement'],
  \ 'info':    ['fg', 'PreProc'],
  \ 'border':  ['fg', 'Ignore'],
  \ 'prompt':  ['fg', 'Conditional'],
  \ 'pointer': ['fg', 'Exception'],
  \ 'marker':  ['fg', 'Keyword'],
  \ 'spinner': ['fg', 'Label'],
  \ 'header':  ['fg', 'Comment'] }

" Enable per-command history
" - History files will be stored in the specified directory
" - When set, CTRL-N and CTRL-P will be bound to 'next-history' and
"   'previous-history' instead of 'down' and 'up'.
let g:fzf_history_dir = '~/.local/share/fzf-history'
Explanation of g:fzf_colors

g:fzf_colors is a dictionary mapping fzf elements to a color specification list:

element: [ component, group1 [, group2, ...] ]
  • element is an fzf element to apply a color to:

    Element Description
    fg / bg / hl Item (foreground / background / highlight)
    fg+ / bg+ / hl+ Current item (foreground / background / highlight)
    preview-fg / preview-bg Preview window text and background
    hl / hl+ Highlighted substrings (normal / current)
    gutter Background of the gutter on the left
    pointer Pointer to the current line (>)
    marker Multi-select marker (>)
    border Border around the window (--border and --preview)
    header Header (--header or --header-lines)
    info Info line (match counters)
    spinner Streaming input indicator
    query Query string
    disabled Query string when search is disabled
    prompt Prompt before query (> )
    pointer Pointer to the current line (>)
  • component specifies the component (fg / bg) from which to extract the color when considering each of the following highlight groups

  • group1 [, group2, ...] is a list of highlight groups that are searched (in order) for a matching color definition

For example, consider the following specification:

  'prompt':  ['fg', 'Conditional', 'Comment'],

This means we color the prompt

  • using the fg attribute of the Conditional if it exists,
  • otherwise use the fg attribute of the Comment highlight group if it exists,
  • otherwise fall back to the default color settings for the prompt.

You can examine the color option generated according the setting by printing the result of fzf#wrap() function like so:

:echo fzf#wrap()


fzf#run() function is the core of Vim integration. It takes a single dictionary argument, a spec, and starts fzf process accordingly. At the very least, specify sink option to tell what it should do with the selected entry.

call fzf#run({'sink': 'e'})

We haven't specified the source, so this is equivalent to starting fzf on command line without standard input pipe; fzf will traverse the file system under the current directory to get the list of files. (If $FZF_DEFAULT_COMMAND is set, fzf will use the output of the command instead.) When you select one, it will open it with the sink, :e command. If you want to open it in a new tab, you can pass :tabedit command instead as the sink.

call fzf#run({'sink': 'tabedit'})

You can use any shell command as the source to generate the list. The following example will list the files managed by git. It's equivalent to running git ls-files | fzf on shell.

call fzf#run({'source': 'git ls-files', 'sink': 'e'})

fzf options can be specified as options entry in spec dictionary.

call fzf#run({'sink': 'tabedit', 'options': '--multi --reverse'})

You can also pass a layout option if you don't want fzf window to take up the entire screen.

" up / down / left / right / window are allowed
call fzf#run({'source': 'git ls-files', 'sink': 'e', 'left': '40%'})
call fzf#run({'source': 'git ls-files', 'sink': 'e', 'window': '30vnew'})

source doesn't have to be an external shell command, you can pass a Vim array as the source. In the next example, we pass the names of color schemes as the source to implement a color scheme selector.

call fzf#run({'source': map(split(globpath(&rtp, 'colors/*.vim')),
            \               'fnamemodify(v:val, ":t:r")'),
            \ 'sink': 'colo', 'left': '25%'})

The following table summarizes the available options.

Option name Type Description
source string External command to generate input to fzf (e.g. find .)
source list Vim list as input to fzf
sink string Vim command to handle the selected item (e.g. e, tabe)
sink funcref Reference to function to process each selected item
sinklist (or sink*) funcref Similar to sink, but takes the list of output lines at once
options string/list Options to fzf
dir string Working directory
up/down/left/right number/string (Layout) Window position and size (e.g. 20, 50%)
tmux string (Layout) --tmux options (e.g. 90%,70%)
window (Vim 8 / Neovim) string (Layout) Command to open fzf window (e.g. vertical aboveleft 30new)
window (Vim 8 / Neovim) dict (Layout) Popup window settings (e.g. {'width': 0.9, 'height': 0.6})

options entry can be either a string or a list. For simple cases, string should suffice, but prefer to use list type to avoid escaping issues.

call fzf#run({'options': '--reverse --prompt "C:\\Program Files\\"'})
call fzf#run({'options': ['--reverse', '--prompt', 'C:\Program Files\']})

When window entry is a dictionary, fzf will start in a popup window. The following options are allowed:

  • Required:
    • width [float range [0 ~ 1]] or [integer range [8 ~ ]]
    • height [float range [0 ~ 1]] or [integer range [4 ~ ]]
  • Optional:
    • yoffset [float default 0.5 range [0 ~ 1]]
    • xoffset [float default 0.5 range [0 ~ 1]]
    • relative [boolean default v:false]
    • border [string default rounded (sharp on Windows)]: Border style
      • rounded / sharp / horizontal / vertical / top / bottom / left / right / no[ne]


We have seen that several aspects of :FZF command can be configured with a set of global option variables; different ways to open files (g:fzf_action), window position and size (g:fzf_layout), color palette (g:fzf_colors), etc.

So how can we make our custom fzf#run calls also respect those variables? Simply by "wrapping" the spec dictionary with fzf#wrap before passing it to fzf#run.

  • fzf#wrap([name string], [spec dict], [fullscreen bool]) -> (dict)
    • All arguments are optional. Usually we only need to pass a spec dictionary.
    • name is for managing history files. It is ignored if g:fzf_history_dir is not defined.
    • fullscreen can be either 0 or 1 (default: 0).

fzf#wrap takes a spec and returns an extended version of it (also a dictionary) with additional options for addressing global preferences. You can examine the return value of it like so:

echo fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls'})

After we "wrap" our spec, we pass it to fzf#run.

call fzf#run(fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls'}))

Now it supports CTRL-T, CTRL-V, and CTRL-X key bindings (configurable via g:fzf_action) and it opens fzf window according to g:fzf_layout setting.

To make it easier to use, let's define LS command.

command! LS call fzf#run(fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls'}))

Type :LS and see how it works.

We would like to make :LS! (bang version) open fzf in fullscreen, just like :FZF!. Add -bang to command definition, and use <bang> value to set the last fullscreen argument of fzf#wrap (see :help <bang>).

" On :LS!, <bang> evaluates to '!', and '!0' becomes 1
command! -bang LS call fzf#run(fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls'}, <bang>0))

Our :LS command will be much more useful if we can pass a directory argument to it, so that something like :LS /tmp is possible.

command! -bang -complete=dir -nargs=? LS
    \ call fzf#run(fzf#wrap({'source': 'ls', 'dir': <q-args>}, <bang>0))

Lastly, if you have enabled g:fzf_history_dir, you might want to assign a unique name to our command and pass it as the first argument to fzf#wrap.

" The query history for this command will be stored as 'ls' inside g:fzf_history_dir.
" The name is ignored if g:fzf_history_dir is not defined.
command! -bang -complete=dir -nargs=? LS
    \ call fzf#run(fzf#wrap('ls', {'source': 'ls', 'dir': <q-args>}, <bang>0))

Global options supported by fzf#wrap

  • g:fzf_layout
  • g:fzf_action
    • Works only when no custom sink (or sinklist) is provided
      • Having custom sink usually means that each entry is not an ordinary file path (e.g. name of color scheme), so we can't blindly apply the same strategy (i.e. tabedit some-color-scheme doesn't make sense)
  • g:fzf_colors
  • g:fzf_history_dir


fzf inside terminal buffer

On the latest versions of Vim and Neovim, fzf will start in a terminal buffer. If you find the default ANSI colors to be different, consider configuring the colors using g:terminal_ansi_colors in regular Vim or g:terminal_color_x in Neovim.

" Terminal colors for seoul256 color scheme
if has('nvim')
  let g:terminal_color_0 = '#4e4e4e'
  let g:terminal_color_1 = '#d68787'
  let g:terminal_color_2 = '#5f865f'
  let g:terminal_color_3 = '#d8af5f'
  let g:terminal_color_4 = '#85add4'
  let g:terminal_color_5 = '#d7afaf'
  let g:terminal_color_6 = '#87afaf'
  let g:terminal_color_7 = '#d0d0d0'
  let g:terminal_color_8 = '#626262'
  let g:terminal_color_9 = '#d75f87'
  let g:terminal_color_10 = '#87af87'
  let g:terminal_color_11 = '#ffd787'
  let g:terminal_color_12 = '#add4fb'
  let g:terminal_color_13 = '#ffafaf'
  let g:terminal_color_14 = '#87d7d7'
  let g:terminal_color_15 = '#e4e4e4'
  let g:terminal_ansi_colors = [
    \ '#4e4e4e', '#d68787', '#5f865f', '#d8af5f',
    \ '#85add4', '#d7afaf', '#87afaf', '#d0d0d0',
    \ '#626262', '#d75f87', '#87af87', '#ffd787',
    \ '#add4fb', '#ffafaf', '#87d7d7', '#e4e4e4'
  \ ]

Starting fzf in a popup window

" Required:
" - width [float range [0 ~ 1]] or [integer range [8 ~ ]]
" - height [float range [0 ~ 1]] or [integer range [4 ~ ]]
" Optional:
" - xoffset [float default 0.5 range [0 ~ 1]]
" - yoffset [float default 0.5 range [0 ~ 1]]
" - relative [boolean default v:false]
" - border [string default 'rounded']: Border style
"   - 'rounded' / 'sharp' / 'horizontal' / 'vertical' / 'top' / 'bottom' / 'left' / 'right'
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': { 'width': 0.9, 'height': 0.6 } }

Alternatively, you can make fzf open in a tmux popup window (requires tmux 3.2 or above) by putting --tmux option value in tmux key.

" See `--tmux` option in `man fzf` for available options
" [center|top|bottom|left|right][,SIZE[%]][,SIZE[%]]
if exists('$TMUX')
  let g:fzf_layout = { 'tmux': '90%,70%' }
  let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': { 'width': 0.9, 'height': 0.6 } }

Hide statusline

When fzf starts in a terminal buffer, the file type of the buffer is set to fzf. So you can set up FileType fzf autocmd to customize the settings of the window.

For example, if you open fzf on the bottom on the screen (e.g. {'down': '40%'}), you might want to temporarily disable the statusline for a cleaner look.

let g:fzf_layout = { 'down': '30%' }
autocmd! FileType fzf
autocmd  FileType fzf set laststatus=0 noshowmode noruler
  \| autocmd BufLeave <buffer> set laststatus=2 showmode ruler

The MIT License (MIT)

Copyright (c) 2013-2024 Junegunn Choi