Automatically updates vim's current working directory depending on the current file path
Vim script
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AutoCWD.vim automatically changes the current working directory (CWD) of vim when you change the current buffer (or window). You can define patterns that may be included in a file path or buffer name, and corresponding working directories in your .vimrc.

Screenshot: cwdpattern


  • Using plugin managers (recommended)
    • Vundle : Add Bundle 'yssl/AutoCWD.vim' to .vimrc & :BundleInstall
    • NeoBundle : Add NeoBundle 'yssl/AutoCWD.vim' to .vimrc & :NeoBundleInstall
    • vim-plug : Add Plug 'yssl/AutoCWD.vim' to .vimrc & :PlugInstall
  • Using Pathogen
    • cd ~/.vim/bundle; git clone
  • Manual install (not recommended)
    • Download this plugin and extract it in ~/.vim/

This plugin requires a version of vim with python support. You can check your vim with :echo has('python'). If your vim doesn't support python, one of the easiest solutions would be installing a more featured version of vim by:
sudo apt-get install vim-nox


You can define patterns and working directories in your .vimrc as follows:

let g:autocwd_patternwd_pairs = [
    \[pattern1, working_directory1],
    \[pattern2, working_directory2],
  • pattern is a substring of a file path or buffer name with Unix shell-style wildcards.
    For example, '*.vim' matches files with .vim extension and '*/project1/*' matches files that contains '/project1/' in their absolute file paths.
    (Please refer for more information. patterns are processed by python's fnmatch function internally.)

  • working_directory will be the CWD when the corresponding pattern matches the current file path or buffer name.
    It can be one of following types or their combinations:

    type working_directory CWD to be changed
    absolute path '~/test' ~/test
    vim's file name modifier1 '%:p:h' current file's directory
    special keywords '*REPO*'2 root directory of the repository containing current file

    1 Please refer for more information.
    2 *REPO* is replaced with the root directory of the repository containing current file.

    • Examples:
      If the directory structure looks like this:

      +-- ~/code 
      |   +-- bin
      |   +-- examples
      |   |   +-- .git
      |   |   +-- ex1
      |   |   |   +-- current file
      • '*REPO*' : ~/code/examples
      • '*REPO*/ex1' : ~/code/examples/ex1
      • '*REPO*/..' : ~/code
  • If the current buffer matches one of the defined patterns, the CWD will be changed to the corresponding working directory. Otherwise, the default working directory that have been the CWD before applying g:autocwd_patternwd_pairs will be restored.
    You can change the default working directory by :cd or other CWD-changing commands (e.g., 'cd' of the NERDTree) when the current buffer does not match any of predefined patterns.

  • The order of patterns in g:autocwd_patternwd_pairs is meaningful. If the current buffer matches both first and second patterns, the working directory corresponding to the first pattern will be the CWD.

An example g:autocwd_patternwd_pairs pairs for the screenshot:

let g:autocwd_patternwd_pairs = [
    \['*.vim', '%:p:h'],
    \['*.py', '%:p:h'],
    \['*/vim74/*', '/home/testid/vim74'],
    \['*/blender-2.68/*', '/home/testid/blender-2.68'],


Print the buffer name or file path, matched pattern, and working directory of windows in the current tab. You can jump to one of the listed windows by typing the index(#) of the window.

There is no activation commands for AutoCWD.vim. If you install this plugin, it will starts to manage the CWD.


It is quite useful to set the CWD for each opened file in vim. Vim provides :lcd command for this purpose. However, it cannot deal with opening other files in the same window because :lcd is applied to a specific window, not buffer.

AutoCWD.vim is designed to solve this problem. Moreover, it provides more convenient way to set CWDs with Unix shell-style patterns.