Utilites around neovim's `:terminal`.
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Utilites around neovim's :terminal.

One of the coolest feature of neovim is its xterm-like terminal emulator. See :help nvim-terminal-emulator.

One feature that distinguishes Nvim from Vim is that it implements a mostly complete VT220/xterm-like terminal emulator. The terminal is presented to the user as a special buffer type, one that is asynchronously updated to mirror the virtual terminal display as data is received from the program connected to it. For most purposes, terminal buffers behave a lot like normal buffers with 'nomodifiable' set.

This help page also comes with a bunch of tips and recommandation. Indeed, the initial user experience within a terminal Buffer is not perfect:

  • No easy way to switch back to normal mode. Hitting a, i or any key that would enter insert mode allows sending input to the command, but there's no easy way to switch back (for instance to close the buffer with :q). The <C-\><C-n> key combo is the defaults.

  • :term will open a terminal buffer, in the current buffer, which is often not wanted. It uses :enew by default whereas :new or :vnew might be more appropriate.

  • Navigating to nearby buffer / windows is not easy / handy. Maps like <C-w>w are inactive in favor of the terminal implementation (which is in this case delete previous word)

This plugin aims to alleviate some of these issues, for a better terminal buffer experience.



Install this plugin using your favorite plugin manager, or manually by extracting the files in your ~/.vim or ~/.config/nvim directory.

Plug 'mklabs/split-term.vim'


  • :Term Opens a new terminal buffer using :new (splits horizontally)
  • :VTerm Opens a new terminal buffer using :vnew (splits vertically)

Both commands accept a <count> like their :new/:vnew counterparts. You can prefix both commands with a number to specifiy the buffer height / width.

Similar to the original :terminal, both commands accepts any number of arguments. It can be used to spawn a cmd and see the result, or even start a REPL.


  • :10Term would open an horizontal buffer with 10 lines displayed, on top of the current buffer.

  • :100VTerm would open a vertical buffer with 10 lines displayed, right of the current buffer.

  • :Term npm search something would open a new terminal buffer and launch a search on npm registry. This is a good candidate to appreciate the async nature of neovim (no more frozen UI!)

  • :2Term npm install express would open a minimal buffer with only two lines, immediatly invoking npm install express with npm output displayed within the terminal buffer. Hit <Enter> when done to close the buffer.

  • :VTerm node would open a vertical buffer with a node REPL started.


  • g:split_term_vertical - force the :Term command to always use a vertical buffer (using :vnew)

  • splitright/splitbelow options can be used to configure the split buffer orientation.

    • set splitright will put the new window right of the current one when using :VTerm
    • set splitbelow will put the new window below the current one when using :Term
  • g:disable_key_mappings - disable key mappings of the plugin


The plugin remaps specifically a few keys for a better terminal buffer experience. This behaviour can be disabled using g:disable_key_mappings.

  • <Esc> - Switch to normal mode (instead of <C-\><C-n>)
  • Bind Alt+hjkl, Ctrl+arrows to navigate through windows (eg. switching to buffer/windows left, right etc.)
    • Alt+h - does a <C-w>h
    • Alt+j - does a <C-w>j
    • Alt+k - does a <C-w>k
    • Alt+l - does a <C-w>l
    • Ctrl+Left - does a <C-w>h
    • Ctrl+Down - does a <C-w>j
    • Ctrl+Up - does a <C-w>k
    • Ctrl+Right - does a <C-w>l