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use-package inspired plugin/package management for Neovim.

Have questions? Start a discussion.

Have a problem or idea? Make an issue or a PR.

Packer is built on native packages. You may wish to read :h packages before continuing

Table of Contents

  1. Features
  2. Requirements
  3. Quickstart
  4. Bootstrapping
  5. Usage
    1. The startup function
    2. Custom Initialization
    3. Specifying Plugins
    4. Performing plugin management operations
    5. Extending packer
    6. Compiling Lazy-Loaders
    7. User autocommands
    8. Using a floating window
  6. Profiling
  7. Debugging
  8. Compatibility and known issues
  9. Contributors


  • Declarative plugin specification
  • Support for dependencies
  • Support for Luarocks dependencies
  • Expressive configuration and lazy-loading options
  • Automatically compiles efficient lazy-loading code to improve startup time
  • Uses native packages
  • Extensible
  • Written in Lua, configured in Lua
  • Post-install/update hooks
  • Uses jobs for async installation
  • Support for git tags, branches, revisions, submodules
  • Support for local plugins


  • You need to be running Neovim v0.5.0+
  • If you are on Windows 10, you need developer mode enabled in order to use local plugins (creating symbolic links requires admin privileges on Windows - credit to @TimUntersberger for this note)


To get started, first clone this repository to somewhere on your packpath, e.g.:

Unix, Linux Installation

git clone --depth 1\

If you use Arch Linux, there is also an AUR package.

Windows Powershell Installation

git clone "$env:LOCALAPPDATA\nvim-data\site\pack\packer\start\packer.nvim"

Then you can write your plugin specification in Lua, e.g. (in ~/.config/nvim/lua/plugins.lua):

-- This file can be loaded by calling `lua require('plugins')` from your init.vim

-- Only required if you have packer configured as `opt`
vim.cmd [[packadd packer.nvim]]

return require('packer').startup(function(use)
  -- Packer can manage itself
  use 'wbthomason/packer.nvim'

  -- Simple plugins can be specified as strings
  use 'rstacruz/vim-closer'

  -- Lazy loading:
  -- Load on specific commands
  use {'tpope/vim-dispatch', opt = true, cmd = {'Dispatch', 'Make', 'Focus', 'Start'}}

  -- Load on an autocommand event
  use {'andymass/vim-matchup', event = 'VimEnter'}

  -- Load on a combination of conditions: specific filetypes or commands
  -- Also run code after load (see the "config" key)
  use {
    ft = {'sh', 'zsh', 'bash', 'c', 'cpp', 'cmake', 'html', 'markdown', 'racket', 'vim', 'tex'},
    cmd = 'ALEEnable',
    config = 'vim.cmd[[ALEEnable]]'

  -- Plugins can have dependencies on other plugins
  use {
    opt = true,
    requires = {{'hrsh7th/vim-vsnip', opt = true}, {'hrsh7th/vim-vsnip-integ', opt = true}}

  -- Plugins can also depend on rocks from
  use {
    rocks = {'lpeg', {'lua-cjson', version = '2.1.0'}}

  -- You can specify rocks in isolation
  use_rocks 'penlight'
  use_rocks {'lua-resty-http', 'lpeg'}

  -- Local plugins can be included
  use '~/projects/personal/hover.nvim'

  -- Plugins can have post-install/update hooks
  use {'iamcco/markdown-preview.nvim', run = 'cd app && yarn install', cmd = 'MarkdownPreview'}

  -- Post-install/update hook with neovim command
  use { 'nvim-treesitter/nvim-treesitter', run = ':TSUpdate' }

  -- Post-install/update hook with call of vimscript function with argument
  use { 'glacambre/firenvim', run = function() vim.fn['firenvim#install'](0) end }

  -- Use specific branch, dependency and run lua file after load
  use {
    'glepnir/galaxyline.nvim', branch = 'main', config = function() require'statusline' end,
    requires = {'kyazdani42/nvim-web-devicons'}

  -- Use dependency and run lua function after load
  use {
    'lewis6991/gitsigns.nvim', requires = { 'nvim-lua/plenary.nvim' },
    config = function() require('gitsigns').setup() end

  -- You can specify multiple plugins in a single call
  use {'tjdevries/colorbuddy.vim', {'nvim-treesitter/nvim-treesitter', opt = true}}

  -- You can alias plugin names
  use {'dracula/vim', as = 'dracula'}

Note that if you get linter complaints about use being an undefined global, these errors are spurious - packer injects use into the scope of the function passed to startup. If these errors bother you, the easiest fix is to simply specify use as an argument to the function you pass to startup, e.g.

...your config...

packer provides the following commands after you've run and configured packer with require('packer').startup(...):

-- You must run this or `PackerSync` whenever you make changes to your plugin configuration
-- Regenerate compiled loader file

-- Remove any disabled or unused plugins

-- Clean, then install missing plugins

-- Clean, then update and install plugins
-- supports the `--preview` flag as an optional first argument to preview updates

-- Perform `PackerUpdate` and then `PackerCompile`
-- supports the `--preview` flag as an optional first argument to preview updates

-- Show list of installed plugins

-- Loads opt plugin immediately
:PackerLoad completion-nvim ale

You can configure Neovim to automatically run :PackerCompile whenever plugins.lua is updated with an autocommand:

augroup packer_user_config
  autocmd BufWritePost plugins.lua source <afile> | PackerCompile
augroup end

This autocommand can be placed in your init.vim, or any other startup file as per your setup. Placing this in plugins.lua could look like this:

  augroup packer_user_config
    autocmd BufWritePost plugins.lua source <afile> | PackerCompile
  augroup end


If you want to automatically install and set up packer.nvim on any machine you clone your configuration to, add the following snippet (which is due to @Iron-E and @khuedoan) somewhere in your config before your first usage of packer:

local ensure_packer = function()
  local fn = vim.fn
  local install_path = fn.stdpath('data')..'/site/pack/packer/start/packer.nvim'
  if fn.empty(fn.glob(install_path)) > 0 then
    fn.system({'git', 'clone', '--depth', '1', '', install_path})
    vim.cmd [[packadd packer.nvim]]
    return true
  return false

local packer_bootstrap = ensure_packer()

return require('packer').startup(function(use)
  use 'wbthomason/packer.nvim'
  -- My plugins here
  -- use 'foo1/bar1.nvim'
  -- use 'foo2/bar2.nvim'

  -- Automatically set up your configuration after cloning packer.nvim
  -- Put this at the end after all plugins
  if packer_bootstrap then

You can also use the following command (with packer bootstrapped) to have packer setup your configuration (or simply run updates) and close once all operations are completed:

$ nvim --headless -c 'autocmd User PackerComplete quitall' -c 'PackerSync'


The above snippets give some examples of packer features and use. Examples include:

The following is a more in-depth explanation of packer's features and use.

The startup function

packer provides packer.startup(spec), which is used in the above examples.

startup is a convenience function for simple setup and can be invoked as follows:

  • spec can be a function: packer.startup(function() use 'tjdevries/colorbuddy.vim' end)
  • spec can be a table with a function as its first element and config overrides as another element: packer.startup({function() use 'tjdevries/colorbuddy.vim' end, config = { ... }})
  • spec can be a table with a table of plugin specifications as its first element, config overrides as another element, and optional rock specifications as another element: packer.startup({{'tjdevries/colorbuddy.vim'}, config = { ... }, rocks = { ... }})

Custom Initialization

You are not required to use packer.startup if you prefer a more manual setup with finer control over configuration and loading.

To take this approach, load packer like any other Lua module. You must call packer.init() before performing any operations; it is recommended to call packer.reset() if you may be re-running your specification code (e.g. by sourcing your plugin specification file with luafile).

You may pass a table of configuration values to packer.init() to customize its operation. The default configuration values (and structure of the configuration table) are:

  ensure_dependencies   = true, -- Should packer install plugin dependencies?
  snapshot = nil, -- Name of the snapshot you would like to load at startup
  snapshot_path = join_paths(stdpath 'cache', 'packer.nvim'), -- Default save directory for snapshots
  package_root   = util.join_paths(vim.fn.stdpath('data'), 'site', 'pack'),
  compile_path = util.join_paths(vim.fn.stdpath('config'), 'plugin', 'packer_compiled.lua'),
  plugin_package = 'packer', -- The default package for plugins
  max_jobs = nil, -- Limit the number of simultaneous jobs. nil means no limit
  auto_clean = true, -- During sync(), remove unused plugins
  compile_on_sync = true, -- During sync(), run packer.compile()
  disable_commands = false, -- Disable creating commands
  opt_default = false, -- Default to using opt (as opposed to start) plugins
  transitive_opt = true, -- Make dependencies of opt plugins also opt by default
  transitive_disable = true, -- Automatically disable dependencies of disabled plugins
  auto_reload_compiled = true, -- Automatically reload the compiled file after creating it.
  preview_updates = false, -- If true, always preview updates before choosing which plugins to update, same as `PackerUpdate --preview`.
  git = {
    cmd = 'git', -- The base command for git operations
    subcommands = { -- Format strings for git subcommands
      update         = 'pull --ff-only --progress --rebase=false',
      install        = 'clone --depth %i --no-single-branch --progress',
      fetch          = 'fetch --depth 999999 --progress',
      checkout       = 'checkout %s --',
      update_branch  = 'merge --ff-only @{u}',
      current_branch = 'branch --show-current',
      diff           = 'log --color=never --pretty=format:FMT --no-show-signature HEAD@{1}...HEAD',
      diff_fmt       = '%%h %%s (%%cr)',
      get_rev        = 'rev-parse --short HEAD',
      get_msg        = 'log --color=never --pretty=format:FMT --no-show-signature HEAD -n 1',
      submodules     = 'submodule update --init --recursive --progress'
    depth = 1, -- Git clone depth
    clone_timeout = 60, -- Timeout, in seconds, for git clones
    default_url_format = '' -- Lua format string used for "aaa/bbb" style plugins
  display = {
    non_interactive = false, -- If true, disable display windows for all operations
    compact = false, -- If true, fold updates results by default
    open_fn  = nil, -- An optional function to open a window for packer's display
    open_cmd = '65vnew \\[packer\\]', -- An optional command to open a window for packer's display
    working_sym = '', -- The symbol for a plugin being installed/updated
    error_sym = '', -- The symbol for a plugin with an error in installation/updating
    done_sym = '', -- The symbol for a plugin which has completed installation/updating
    removed_sym = '-', -- The symbol for an unused plugin which was removed
    moved_sym = '', -- The symbol for a plugin which was moved (e.g. from opt to start)
    header_sym = '', -- The symbol for the header line in packer's display
    show_all_info = true, -- Should packer show all update details automatically?
    prompt_border = 'double', -- Border style of prompt popups.
    keybindings = { -- Keybindings for the display window
      quit = 'q',
      toggle_update = 'u', -- only in preview
      continue = 'c', -- only in preview
      toggle_info = '<CR>',
      diff = 'd',
      prompt_revert = 'r',
  luarocks = {
    python_cmd = 'python' -- Set the python command to use for running hererocks
  log = { level = 'warn' }, -- The default print log level. One of: "trace", "debug", "info", "warn", "error", "fatal".
  profile = {
    enable = false,
    threshold = 1, -- integer in milliseconds, plugins which load faster than this won't be shown in profile output
  autoremove = false, -- Remove disabled or unused plugins without prompting the user

Specifying plugins

packer is based around declarative specification of plugins. You can declare a plugin using the function packer.use, which I highly recommend locally binding to use for conciseness.

use takes either a string or a table. If a string is provided, it is treated as a plugin location for a non-optional plugin with no additional configuration. Plugin locations may be specified as

  1. Absolute paths to a local plugin
  2. Full URLs (treated as plugins managed with git)
  3. username/repo paths (treated as Github git plugins)

A table given to use can take two forms:

  1. A list of plugin specifications (strings or tables)
  2. A table specifying a single plugin. It must have a plugin location string as its first element, and may additionally have a number of optional keyword elements, shown below:
use {
  'myusername/example',        -- The plugin location string
  -- The following keys are all optional
  disable = boolean,           -- Mark a plugin as inactive
  as = string,                 -- Specifies an alias under which to install the plugin
  installer = function,        -- Specifies custom installer. See "custom installers" below.
  updater = function,          -- Specifies custom updater. See "custom installers" below.
  after = string or list,      -- Specifies plugins to load before this plugin. See "sequencing" below
  rtp = string,                -- Specifies a subdirectory of the plugin to add to runtimepath.
  opt = boolean,               -- Manually marks a plugin as optional.
  bufread = boolean,           -- Manually specifying if a plugin needs BufRead after being loaded
  branch = string,             -- Specifies a git branch to use
  tag = string,                -- Specifies a git tag to use. Supports '*' for "latest tag"
  commit = string,             -- Specifies a git commit to use
  lock = boolean,              -- Skip updating this plugin in updates/syncs. Still cleans.
  run = string, function, or table, -- Post-update/install hook. See "update/install hooks".
  requires = string or list,   -- Specifies plugin dependencies. See "dependencies".
  rocks = string or list,      -- Specifies Luarocks dependencies for the plugin
  config = string or function, -- Specifies code to run after this plugin is loaded.
  -- The setup key implies opt = true
  setup = string or function,  -- Specifies code to run before this plugin is loaded. The code is ran even if
                               -- the plugin is waiting for other conditions (ft, cond...) to be met.
  -- The following keys all imply lazy-loading and imply opt = true
  cmd = string or list,        -- Specifies commands which load this plugin. Can be an autocmd pattern.
  ft = string or list,         -- Specifies filetypes which load this plugin.
  keys = string or list,       -- Specifies maps which load this plugin. See "Keybindings".
  event = string or list,      -- Specifies autocommand events which load this plugin.
  fn = string or list          -- Specifies functions which load this plugin.
  cond = string, function, or list of strings/functions,   -- Specifies a conditional test to load this plugin
  module = string or list      -- Specifies Lua module names for require. When requiring a string which starts
                               -- with one of these module names, the plugin will be loaded.
  module_pattern = string/list -- Specifies Lua pattern of Lua module names for require. When
                               -- requiring a string which matches one of these patterns, the plugin will be loaded.

For the cmd option, the command may be a full command, or an autocommand pattern. If the command contains any non-alphanumeric characters, it is assumed to be a pattern, and instead of creating a stub command, it creates a CmdUndefined autocmd to load the plugin when a command that matches the pattern is invoked.

Checking plugin statuses

You can check whether or not a particular plugin is installed with packer as well as if that plugin is loaded. To do this you can check for the plugin's name in the packer_plugins global table. Plugins in this table are saved using only the last section of their names e.g. tpope/vim-fugitive if installed will be under the key vim-fugitive.

if packer_plugins["vim-fugitive"] and packer_plugins["vim-fugitive"].loaded then
print("Vim fugitive is loaded")
-- other custom logic

NOTE: this table is only available after packer_compiled.vim is loaded so cannot be used till after plugins have been loaded.

Luarocks support

You may specify that a plugin requires one or more Luarocks packages using the rocks key. This key takes either a string specifying the name of a package (e.g. rocks=lpeg), or a list specifying one or more packages. Entries in the list may either be strings, a list of strings or a table --- the latter case is used to specify arguments such as the particular version of a package. all supported luarocks keys are allowed except: tree and local. Environment variables for the luarocks command can also be specified using the env key which takes a table as the value as shown below.

rocks = {'lpeg', {'lua-cjson', version = '2.1.0'}}
use_rocks {'lua-cjson', 'lua-resty-http'}
use_rocks {'luaformatter', server = ''}
use_rocks {'openssl' env = {OPENSSL_DIR = "/path/to/dir"}}

Currently, packer only supports equality constraints on package versions.

packer also provides the function packer.luarocks.install_commands(), which creates the PackerRocks <cmd> <packages...> command. <cmd> must be one of "install" or "remove"; <packages...> is one or more package names (currently, version restrictions are not supported with this command). Running PackerRocks will install or remove the given packages. You can use this command even if you don't use packer to manage your plugins. However, please note that (1) packages installed through PackerRocks will be removed by calls to packer.luarocks.clean() (unless they are also part of a packer plugin specification), and (2) you will need to manually invoke packer.luarocks.setup_paths (or otherwise modify your package.path) to ensure that Neovim can find the installed packages.

Finally, packer provides the function packer.use_rocks, which takes a string or table specifying one or more Luarocks packages as in the rocks key. You can use this to ensure that packer downloads and manages some rocks which you want to use, but which are not associated with any particular plugin.

Custom installers

You may specify a custom installer & updater for a plugin using the installer and updater keys. Note that either both or none of these keys are required. These keys should be functions which take as an argument a display object (from lua/packer/display.lua) and return an async function (per lua/packer/async.lua) which (respectively) installs/updates the given plugin.

Providing the installer/updater keys overrides plugin type detection, but you still need to provide a location string for the name of the plugin.

Update/install hooks

You may specify operations to be run after successful installs/updates of a plugin with the run key. This key may either be a Lua function, which will be called with the plugin table for this plugin (containing the information passed to use as well as output from the installation/update commands, the installation path of the plugin, etc.), a string, or a table of functions and strings.

If an element of run is a string, then either:

  1. If the first character of run is ":", it is treated as a Neovim command and executed.
  2. Otherwise, run is treated as a shell command and run in the installation directory of the plugin via $SHELL -c '<run>'.


Plugins may specify dependencies via the requires key. This key can be a string or a list (table).

If requires is a string, it is treated as specifying a single plugin. If a plugin with the name given in requires is already known in the managed set, nothing happens. Otherwise, the string is treated as a plugin location string and the corresponding plugin is added to the managed set.

If requires is a list, it is treated as a list of plugin specifications following the format given above.

If ensure_dependencies is true, the plugins specified in requires will be installed.

Plugins specified in requires are removed when no active plugins require them.


You may specify a loading order for plugins using the after key. This key can be a string or a list (table).

If after is a string, it must be the name of another plugin managed by packer (e.g. the final segment of a plugin's path - for a Github plugin FooBar/Baz, the name would be just Baz). If after is a table, it must be a list of plugin names. If a plugin has an alias (i.e. uses the as key), this alias is its name.

The set of plugins specified in a plugin's after key must all be loaded before the plugin using after will be loaded. For example, in the specification

  use {'FooBar/Baz', ft = 'bax'}
  use {'Something/Else', after = 'Baz'}

the plugin Else will only be loaded after the plugin Baz, which itself is only loaded for files with bax filetype.


Plugins may be lazy-loaded on the use of keybindings/maps. Individual keybindings are specified either as a string (in which case they are treated as normal mode maps) or a table in the format {mode, map}.

Performing plugin management operations

packer exposes the following functions for common plugin management operations. In all of the below, plugins is an optional table of plugin names; if not provided, the default is "all managed plugins":

  • packer.install(plugins): Install the specified plugins if they are not already installed
  • packer.update(plugins): Update the specified plugins, installing any that are missing
  • packer.update(opts, plugins): First argument can be a table specifying options, such as {preview_updates = true} to preview potential changes before updating (same as PackerUpdate --preview).
  • packer.clean(): Remove any disabled or no longer managed plugins
  • packer.sync(plugins): Perform a clean followed by an update.
  • packer.sync(opts, plugins): Can take same optional options as update.
  • packer.compile(path): Compile lazy-loader code and save to path.
  • packer.snapshot(snapshot_name, ...): Creates a snapshot file that will live under config.snapshot_path/<snapshot_name>. If snapshot_name is an absolute path, then that will be the location where the snapshot will be taken. Optionally, a list of plugins name can be provided to selectively choose the plugins to snapshot.
  • packer.rollback(snapshot_name, ...): Rollback plugins status a snapshot file that will live under config.snapshot_path/<snapshot_name>. If snapshot_name is an absolute path, then that will be the location where the snapshot will be taken. Optionally, a list of plugins name can be provided to selectively choose which plugins to revert.
  • packer.delete(snapshot_name): Deletes a snapshot file under config.snapshot_path/<snapshot_name>. If snapshot_name is an absolute path, then that will be the location where the snapshot will be deleted.

Extending packer

You can add custom key handlers to packer by calling packer.set_handler(name, func) where name is the key you wish to handle and func is a function with the signature func(plugins, plugin, value) where plugins is the global table of managed plugins, plugin is the table for a specific plugin, and value is the value associated with key name in plugin.

Compiling Lazy-Loaders

To optimize startup time, packer.nvim compiles code to perform the lazy-loading operations you specify. This means that you do not need to load packer.nvim unless you want to perform some plugin management operations.

To generate the compiled code, call packer.compile(path), where path is some file path on your runtimepath, with a .vim extension. This will generate a blend of Lua and Vimscript to load and configure all your lazy-loaded plugins (e.g. generating commands, autocommands, etc.) and save it to path. Then, when you start vim, the file at path is loaded (because path must be on your runtimepath), and lazy-loading works.

If path is not provided to packer.compile, the output file will default to the value of config.compile_path.

The option compile_on_sync, which defaults to true, will run packer.compile() during packer.sync(), if set to true. Note that otherwise, you must run packer.compile yourself to generate the lazy-loader file!

NOTE: If you use a function value for config or setup keys in any plugin specifications, it must not have any upvalues (i.e. captures). We currently use Lua's string.dump to compile config/setup functions to bytecode, which has this limitation. Additionally, if functions are given for these keys, the functions will be passed the plugin name and information table as arguments.

User autocommands

packer runs most of its operations asyncronously. If you would like to implement automations that require knowing when the operations are complete, you can use the following User autocmds (see :help User for more info on how to use):

  • PackerComplete: Fires after install, update, clean, and sync asynchronous operations finish.
  • PackerCompileDone: Fires after compiling (see the section on compilation)

Using a floating window

You can configure Packer to use a floating window for command outputs by passing a utility function to packer's config:

  -- Your plugins here
config = {
  display = {
    open_fn = require('packer.util').float,

By default, this floating window will show doubled borders. If you want to customize the window appearance, you can pass a configuration to float, which is the same configuration that would be passed to nvim_open_win:

  -- Your plugins here
config = {
  display = {
    open_fn = function()
      return require('packer.util').float({ border = 'single' })


Packer has built in functionality that can allow you to profile the time taken loading your plugins. In order to use this functionality you must either enable profiling in your config, or pass in an argument when running packer compile.

Setup via config

config = {
  profile = {
    enable = true,
    threshold = 1 -- the amount in ms that a plugin's load time must be over for it to be included in the profile

Using the packer compile command

:PackerCompile profile=true
" or
:PackerCompile profile=false

Profiling usage

This will rebuild your packer_compiled.vim with profiling code included. In order to visualise the output of the profile restart your neovim and run PackerProfile. This will open a window with the output of your profiling.


packer.nvim logs to stdpath(cache)/packer.nvim.log. Looking at this file is usually a good start if something isn't working as expected.

Compatibility and known issues

  • 2021-07-31: If you're on macOS, note that building Neovim with the version of luv from homebrew will cause any packer command to crash. More about this issue at neovim/neovim#15054.
  • 2021-07-28: packer will now highlight commits/plugin names with potentially breaking changes (determined by looking for breaking change or breaking_change, case insensitive, in the update commit bodies and headers) as WarningMsg in the status window.
  • 2021-06-06: Your Neovim must include neovim/neovim#14659; packer uses the noautocmd key.
  • 2021-04-19: packer now provides built-in profiling for your config via the packer_compiled file. Take a look at the docs for more information!
  • 2021-02-18: Having trouble with Luarocks on macOS? See this issue.
  • 2021-01-19: Basic Luarocks support has landed! Use the rocks key with a string or table to specify packages to install.
  • 2020-12-10: The disable_commands configuration flag now affects non-startup use as well. This means that, by default, packer will create commands for basic operations for you.
  • 2020-11-13: There is now a default implementation for a floating window open_fn in packer.util.
  • 2020-09-04: Due to changes to the Neovim extmark api (see:, users will need to update to a version of Neovim after the aforementioned PR was merged. There are currently shims around the changed functions which should maintain support for earlier versions of Neovim, but these are intended to be temporary and will be removed by 2020-10-04. Therefore Packer will not work with Neovim v0.4.4, which was released before the extmark change.


Many thanks to those who have contributed to the project! PRs and issues are always welcome. This list is infrequently updated; please feel free to bug me if you're not listed here and you would like to be.


A use-package inspired plugin manager for Neovim. Uses native packages, supports Luarocks dependencies, written in Lua, allows for expressive config







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