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<h3 id="configuring-vim">Configuring Vim</h3>
<p>You want your Vim preferences to persist over sessions.</p>
<p>For example, you want Vim to show line numbers all the time. <a
href="#displaying-line-numbers">Displaying Line Numbers</a> explains how,
but when you restart Vim you find that your preferences have been
<p>Throughout this book I will discuss how to configure Vim
options using the <tt>:set <var>option</var></tt> or <tt>:set
<var>option</var>=<var>value</var></tt> syntax. This works, but only for the
current instance of Vim. If you specify these options in your <tt>vimrc</tt>
file they'll be set permanently.</p>
<blockquote class="callout">
<h5>Location of <tt>vimrc</tt></h5>
<p>The default location of the <tt>vimrc</tt> file depends on your operating
system. Identify your operating system, then note the corresponding path.
All references in this book to <tt>vimrc</tt> refer to this path.</p>
<p>Gvim reads <tt>vimrc</tt> then a <tt>gvimrc</tt> file located in the same
place as <tt>vimrc</tt>. In this book <tt>vimrc</tt> and <tt>gvimrc</tt> are
treated as synonyms.</p>
<dd><tt>$HOME/.vimrc</tt> or <tt>$VIM/.vimrc</tt> (or
<dt>MS-DOS and Windows</dt>
<dd><tt>$HOME/_vimrc</tt> or <tt>$VIM/_vimrc</tt></dd>
<dd><tt>s:.vimrc</tt> or <tt>$VIM/.vimrc</tt></dd>
<p>The <tt>vimrc</tt> is a simple plain text file. Open the filename specified
in the sidebar and add one option per line using the
<tt><var>option</var>=<var>value</var></tt> syntax (the ':' prefix is
unnecessary). Indeed, this is the general principle for adding any
<i>Command-Line</i> command in this book to your <tt>vimrc</tt>. For
<pre><code>" Set the boolean <tt>number</tt> option to true
set number
" Set the <tt>textwidth</tt> option to '78'
set textwidth=78
" Set the <tt>expandtab</tt> option to false
set noexpandtab</code></pre>
<p> A single quotation mark (<tt>"</tt>) introduces comments. They are ignored
by Vim, but particularly useful for remembering what all of your preferences
<blockquote class="tip">
<p>Even if you don't want to specify any options in <tt>vimrc</tt> you
should still create it. On some systems Vim will act like the Vi editor in
the absence of this file, which is unlikely to be what you want.</p>
<p>The <tt>vimrc</tt> locations given in the sidebar are used for user
preferences; there are also system wide <tt>vimrc</tt> files. User preferences
take precedence over system preferences. This means that if you change an
option set in the system <tt>vimrc</tt>, your preferences will be respected.
However, if the system <tt>vimrc</tt> sets an option differently from the Vim
defaults, and you don't include it in your <tt>vimrc</tt>, the system
preference will be used.</p>
<p>The example <tt>vimrc</tt> above is very basic. They can also include
functions, conditionals, and anything else Vim's scripting engine supports.
For a simple example look at the usage of <tt>:autocmd</tt> in the <a
href="#using-templates">Using Templates</a> recipe. </p>
<p>If your configuration becomes complex you may want to split it over
multiple files. You can instruct Vim to include these files in your
configuration by adding a <tt>source <var>file</var></tt> line to
<tt>vimrc</tt> for each config file. See <a
href="#abbreviating-common-strings">Abbreviating Common
Strings</a> for an example. </p>
<p>If you want a different configuration for a specific project you can <tt>:set
exrc</tt> then include a <tt>.vimrc</tt> (or <tt>vimrc</tt> on DOS and MS
Windows) in the project's directory. This takes precedence over your
<tt>vimrc</tt>, and will be used when you edit files in that directory. </p>
<div class="warning">
<em>Warning</em>: There's the potential for security problems when using
<tt>exrc</tt>. If a <i>vimrc</i> was placed in your project directory
without you knowing -- as a result of unpacking an archive, for example -- it
could be used to execute arbitrary commands under your user account. For this
reason it's strongly recommended that you use <tt>:set secure</tt> in
conjunction with <tt>exrc</tt>. This prevents the directory-specific
<tt>vimrc</tt> files from executing potentially dangerous commands. The Vim
documentation suggests adding <tt>set secure</tt> as the last line in your
<blockquote class="callout">
<h5>Debugging Configuration</h5>
<li>Start Vim without loading your <tt>vimrc</tt>: <tt>vim -u NORC</tt>.
(Use <tt>-U</tt> for Gvim).</li>
<li>Start Vim with a different <tt>vimrc</tt>: <tt>vim -u
<li>Start Vim in verbose mode: <tt>vim -V</tt>. (Describes each file being
<li>Check the system wide <tt>vimrc</tt> to see whether its interacting
badly with yours.</li>
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