Adam Wade Harris

How to Run Vim with Minimal Settings

Sometimes I just need to run a very simple version of vim to check something out, to test for a bug in Neovim, to make an animated gif, or maybe to pair program with someone who doesn’t know all of the customizations I have in my vimrc. So, here is a simple method of running a very simple version of vim without messing up all of your customizations.

Create Essential Vimrc

Create essential.vim and save it in your ~/.vim directory. It will only contain the bare minimum you need for the gif:

set nocompatible
filetype plugin on

syntax on
set background=dark
let g:solarized_termcolors=256
colorscheme solarized
set tabstop=2 softtabstop=2 shiftwidth=2 expandtab

Then you can run vim with this basic configuration by running vim -u ~/.vim/essential.vim

Or you can also set an alias to easily open vim with this configuration. Just put something like this in your .bashrc or .zshrc file. Now when I run vi instead of vim, it will run vim with the essential.vim configuration.

alias vi='vim -u ~/.vim/essential.vim'

You could also make multiple vimrc files for different purposes if you wanted.

Posted April 4, 2015

author Adam HarrisWritten by Adam Harris who lives and works in Silicon Slopes. You should follow him on Twitter