The autocompletion for filenames in Vim in command mode is very useful, but by default it’s a bit confusing for people accustomed to tab completion in Bash because it doesn’t quite work the same way. Pressing Tab will complete the filename to the first match, and subsequent presses will not elicit any list of possible completions that might otherwise be expected; for that, by default you need to press Ctrl+D rather than Tab.
Tab then tab
Fortunately, this is easily changed by using Vim’s
wildmenu, in an
appropriate mode. Set the following options in your
You should now find that when you complete filenames after commands like
:e, the paths expand in a similar manner to the way they do in the shell.
If you’d prefer to only press Tab once to get both the longest matching unique
string and a list of possible complete matches, that’s possible to
arrange in both Bash and Vim as well.
Ignoring file types
There are probably certain filetypes in your directories that you’ll never want
to edit with Vim. There’s hence no point in making them options for the
autocompletion, and you can exclude them by pattern to make searching for the
right file a bit quicker. This is done using the
wildignore pattern. I use
the following settings:
For the sake of keeping my
.vimrc consistent and compatible on both
older and newer machines, I like to wrap these options in a conditional block
checking that the wildmenu feature is actually available:
You can also complete file paths and names in insert mode with Ctrl+X Ctrl+F. It can be handy to map this to Tab if you don’t use it for anything else:
inoremap <Tab> <C-X><C-F>