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created 2002 · complexity basic · author vim_power · version 7.0

$VIMRUNTIME identifes a directory where Vim's support files are located. Many of the files are not necessary for Vim to run, but are used to provide extra functionality such as syntax highlighting and filetype-based plugins. Its value can be displayed in Vim with the command :echo $VIMRUNTIME. It is set using the procedure at :help $VIMRUNTIME.

Here is a brief overview of files and directories in $VIMRUNTIME (directories in bold).

  • autoload – Contains utility scripts which are used by plugins and scripts in other directories. These scripts are only loaded when the functionality therein is needed. See :help autoload
  • bugreport.vim – Use this file if you think you have discovered a bug in Vim. See :help bugreport.vim.
  • colors – Contains various colorschemes. See :help :colorscheme.
  • compiler – Contains compilation scripts for various languages. See :help :compiler.
  • delmenu.vim – Deletes all menus
  • doc – Contains Documentation (the Vim help files, accessed with the :help command.
  • diff.exe (Windows only) – allows Windows to use Vim's diff capabilities; Unix-like systems usually have an external diff utility pre-installed which is used instead.
  • evim.vim – script for easy vim. See :help evim.
  • filetype.vim – Detects filetype of files based on their extensions. See :help filetype.
  • ftoff.vim – :source this to disable detection of filetypes.
  • ftplugin – Contains plugins that are loaded based on the filetype.
  • ftplugin.vim – Enables filetype plugins.
  • ftplugof.vim – Disables filetype plugins.
  • gvim.exe (Windows only) – the GUI-enabled Vim executable.
  • gvimext.dll (Windows only) – used to provide an "Edit with Vim" context menu on 32-bit Windows systems.
  • gvimrc_example.vim – Example of gvimrc. The gvimrc is a config file which is automatically loaded when the gui starts. :help gvimrc
  • indent – contains indentation scripts for various languages
  • indent.vim – Enables indentation based on filetype.
  • indoff.vim – Disables indentation based on filetype.
  • keymap – Contains keymap files for various encodings. See :help 'keymap'.
  • lang – Contains Message files translated to different languages. See :help :language.
  • macmap.vim – Script to enable default Mac-style mappings (not sourced by default, except maybe on the Mac distribution?)
  • macros – Contains various cool stuff which is not automatically loaded. read "macros/README.txt"
  • makemenu.vim – Used by Vim to create the Syntax menu in the GUI menu bar.
  • menu.vim – Creates the default menus on the GUI menu bar.
  • mswin.vim – sets options for Vim to behave like Windows. This script is sourced by default on a new Windows installation, and overrides a bunch of very useful Vim commands with mappings to different functionality to make Vim behave more like other Windows programs. Not recommended for users who want to delve into Vim's power, but can be useful for those who only use Vim occasionally for specific tasks.
  • optwin.vim – commands to create Vim's option window. :help :options
  • plugin – Contains global plugins. All .vim files in this directory are automatically sourced at startup, after the vimrc.
  • print – Contains PostScript font encoding vectors for various 8-bit character encodings. See :help postscript-printing, :help postscript-print-encoding, :help postscript-print-trouble or try a :help :helpgrep command to find out more
  • scripts.vim – helps detect the proper filetype from a file, looking at file contents for when detection by "file extension" fails.
  • spell – contains spelling dictionaries and some utility scripts used by Vim for the built-in spell checker support :help spell
  • synmenu.vim – creates the default Syntax menu in the GUI menu bar.
  • syntax – Contains Syntax definition files for various programming languages. See :help syntax.
  • tools – Some useful tools. Like blink to blink the cursor in xterm.
  • tutor – Contains the Vim tutorial, in multiple languages. See :help tutor.
  • vim.exe (Windows only) – the non-gui console Vim application.
  • vim32x32.xpm – Vim Logo.
  • vimrc_example.vim – Example of vimrc, sourced by default in a new Windows installation.
  • vimrun.exe (Windows only) – Used by Windows Vim to start external commands.
  • xxd.exe (Windows only) – utility program to convert a buffer to a hex view. Unix-like systems usually have a version of this utility already installed externally. See Improved hex editing for examples of use.


Do we need to list out all the various other files? vimtutor.bat, VisVim.dll, icon files, etc.?