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Tip 634 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2004 · complexity basic · version 6.0

Some scripts for generating color tests are provided below. These are useful when trying to choose colors for your system. Not all systems will be able to display the specified colors, and of course Vim can't show all available colors at one time.

The pre-defined color names are from file $VIMRUNTIME/rgb.txt (in Vim, put the cursor on the file name, then type gf to open the file). You can also specify a wider range of colors using RGB (red, green, blue) values directly, with two-digit hexadecimal numbers (from 00 to ff) in the format #rrggbb.

See also file $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/colortest.vim provided with Vim. :help colortest.vim

Color numbers and names for gvim[]

Copy the following script into gvim. Save the file, then enter :so % to source the script. The script creates a scratch buffer with the named colors in rgb.txt, and displays each color name using a background color of the name.

" To use, save this file and type ":so %"
" There are some sort options at the end you can uncomment to your preference
" Create a new scratch buffer:
" - Read file $VIMRUNTIME/rgb.txt
" - Delete lines where color name is not a single word (duplicates).
" - Delete "grey" lines (duplicate "gray"; there are a few more "gray").
" Add syntax so each color name is highlighted in its color.
setlocal buftype=nofile bufhidden=hide noswapfile
0read $VIMRUNTIME/rgb.txt
let find_color = '^\s*\(\d\+\s*\)\{3}\zs\w*$'
silent execute 'v/'.find_color.'/d'
silent g/grey/d
let namedcolors=[]
while search(find_color, 'W') > 0
    let w = expand('<cword>')
    call add(namedcolors, w)

for w in namedcolors
    execute 'hi col_'.w.' guifg=black guibg='.w
    execute 'hi col_'.w.'_fg guifg='.w.' guibg=NONE'
    execute '%s/\<'.w.'\>/'.printf("%-36s%s", w, w.'_fg').'/g'

    execute 'syn keyword col_'.w w
    execute 'syn keyword col_'.w.'_fg' w.'_fg'

" Add hex value column (and format columns nicely)
%s/^\s*\(\d\+\)\s\+\(\d\+\)\s\+\(\d\+\)\s\+/\=printf(" %3d %3d %3d   #%02x%02x%02x   ", submatch(1), submatch(2), submatch(3), submatch(1), submatch(2), submatch(3))/

" Sort by RGB value (uncomment the following 'sort' line)
" sort ui

" Sort by color name (uncomment the following 'sort' line)
" (Unfortunately, can't do 'natural' order, where 'gray2' precedes 'gray19')
" sort ui /^\s*\(\d\+\s*\)\{3}#\x\+\s*/


Compact list of color names for gvim[]

Copy the following script into gvim. Save the file (must have filetype 'vim', for example, file colors.vim), then enter :so % to source the script. Optionally, enter :let g:rgb_fg=1 first to change the foreground color rather than the background color.

The script highlights the color names in the comments at the end of the script.

" To use, save this file and type ":so %"
" Optional: First enter ":let g:rgb_fg=1" to highlight foreground only.
" Restore normal highlighting by typing ":e"
setlocal nohlsearch
call search('^" BEGIN_COLOR_LIST', 'e')
while search('\w\+') > 0
  let w = expand('<cword>')
  if w == 'END_COLOR_LIST'
  if exists('g:rgb_fg') && g:rgb_fg
    execute 'hi col_'.w.' guifg='.w.' guibg=NONE'
    execute 'hi col_'.w.' guifg=black guibg='.w
  execute 'syn keyword col_'.w.' '.w.' contained containedin=vimLineComment'
call search('^" BEGIN_COLOR_LIST')
normal 0jzt

" Following is from $VIMRUNTIME/rgb.txt with duplicate colors omitted.
" snow GhostWhite WhiteSmoke gainsboro FloralWhite OldLace linen
" AntiqueWhite PapayaWhip BlanchedAlmond bisque PeachPuff NavajoWhite
" moccasin cornsilk ivory LemonChiffon seashell honeydew MintCream azure
" AliceBlue lavender LavenderBlush MistyRose white black DarkSlateGray
" DimGray SlateGray LightSlateGray gray LightGray MidnightBlue navy
" NavyBlue CornflowerBlue DarkSlateBlue SlateBlue MediumSlateBlue
" LightSlateBlue MediumBlue RoyalBlue blue DodgerBlue DeepSkyBlue
" SkyBlue LightSkyBlue SteelBlue LightSteelBlue LightBlue PowderBlue
" PaleTurquoise DarkTurquoise MediumTurquoise turquoise cyan LightCyan
" CadetBlue MediumAquamarine aquamarine DarkGreen DarkOliveGreen
" DarkSeaGreen SeaGreen MediumSeaGreen LightSeaGreen PaleGreen
" SpringGreen LawnGreen green chartreuse MediumSpringGreen GreenYellow
" LimeGreen YellowGreen ForestGreen OliveDrab DarkKhaki khaki
" PaleGoldenrod LightGoldenrodYellow LightYellow yellow gold
" LightGoldenrod goldenrod DarkGoldenrod RosyBrown IndianRed SaddleBrown
" sienna peru burlywood beige wheat SandyBrown tan chocolate firebrick
" brown DarkSalmon salmon LightSalmon orange DarkOrange coral LightCoral
" tomato OrangeRed red HotPink DeepPink pink LightPink PaleVioletRed
" maroon MediumVioletRed VioletRed magenta violet plum orchid
" MediumOrchid DarkOrchid DarkViolet BlueViolet purple MediumPurple
" thistle snow1 snow2 snow3 snow4 seashell1 seashell2 seashell3
" seashell4 AntiqueWhite1 AntiqueWhite2 AntiqueWhite3 AntiqueWhite4
" bisque1 bisque2 bisque3 bisque4 PeachPuff1 PeachPuff2 PeachPuff3
" PeachPuff4 NavajoWhite1 NavajoWhite2 NavajoWhite3 NavajoWhite4
" LemonChiffon1 LemonChiffon2 LemonChiffon3 LemonChiffon4 cornsilk1
" cornsilk2 cornsilk3 cornsilk4 ivory1 ivory2 ivory3 ivory4 honeydew1
" honeydew2 honeydew3 honeydew4 LavenderBlush1 LavenderBlush2
" LavenderBlush3 LavenderBlush4 MistyRose1 MistyRose2 MistyRose3
" MistyRose4 azure1 azure2 azure3 azure4 SlateBlue1 SlateBlue2
" SlateBlue3 SlateBlue4 RoyalBlue1 RoyalBlue2 RoyalBlue3 RoyalBlue4
" blue1 blue2 blue3 blue4 DodgerBlue1 DodgerBlue2 DodgerBlue3
" DodgerBlue4 SteelBlue1 SteelBlue2 SteelBlue3 SteelBlue4 DeepSkyBlue1
" DeepSkyBlue2 DeepSkyBlue3 DeepSkyBlue4 SkyBlue1 SkyBlue2 SkyBlue3
" SkyBlue4 LightSkyBlue1 LightSkyBlue2 LightSkyBlue3 LightSkyBlue4
" SlateGray1 SlateGray2 SlateGray3 SlateGray4 LightSteelBlue1
" LightSteelBlue2 LightSteelBlue3 LightSteelBlue4 LightBlue1 LightBlue2
" LightBlue3 LightBlue4 LightCyan1 LightCyan2 LightCyan3 LightCyan4
" PaleTurquoise1 PaleTurquoise2 PaleTurquoise3 PaleTurquoise4 CadetBlue1
" CadetBlue2 CadetBlue3 CadetBlue4 turquoise1 turquoise2 turquoise3
" turquoise4 cyan1 cyan2 cyan3 cyan4 DarkSlateGray1 DarkSlateGray2
" DarkSlateGray3 DarkSlateGray4 aquamarine1 aquamarine2 aquamarine3
" aquamarine4 DarkSeaGreen1 DarkSeaGreen2 DarkSeaGreen3 DarkSeaGreen4
" SeaGreen1 SeaGreen2 SeaGreen3 SeaGreen4 PaleGreen1 PaleGreen2
" PaleGreen3 PaleGreen4 SpringGreen1 SpringGreen2 SpringGreen3
" SpringGreen4 green1 green2 green3 green4 chartreuse1 chartreuse2
" chartreuse3 chartreuse4 OliveDrab1 OliveDrab2 OliveDrab3 OliveDrab4
" DarkOliveGreen1 DarkOliveGreen2 DarkOliveGreen3 DarkOliveGreen4 khaki1
" khaki2 khaki3 khaki4 LightGoldenrod1 LightGoldenrod2 LightGoldenrod3
" LightGoldenrod4 LightYellow1 LightYellow2 LightYellow3 LightYellow4
" yellow1 yellow2 yellow3 yellow4 gold1 gold2 gold3 gold4 goldenrod1
" goldenrod2 goldenrod3 goldenrod4 DarkGoldenrod1 DarkGoldenrod2
" DarkGoldenrod3 DarkGoldenrod4 RosyBrown1 RosyBrown2 RosyBrown3
" RosyBrown4 IndianRed1 IndianRed2 IndianRed3 IndianRed4 sienna1 sienna2
" sienna3 sienna4 burlywood1 burlywood2 burlywood3 burlywood4 wheat1
" wheat2 wheat3 wheat4 tan1 tan2 tan3 tan4 chocolate1 chocolate2
" chocolate3 chocolate4 firebrick1 firebrick2 firebrick3 firebrick4
" brown1 brown2 brown3 brown4 salmon1 salmon2 salmon3 salmon4
" LightSalmon1 LightSalmon2 LightSalmon3 LightSalmon4 orange1 orange2
" orange3 orange4 DarkOrange1 DarkOrange2 DarkOrange3 DarkOrange4 coral1
" coral2 coral3 coral4 tomato1 tomato2 tomato3 tomato4 OrangeRed1
" OrangeRed2 OrangeRed3 OrangeRed4 red1 red2 red3 red4 DeepPink1
" DeepPink2 DeepPink3 DeepPink4 HotPink1 HotPink2 HotPink3 HotPink4
" pink1 pink2 pink3 pink4 LightPink1 LightPink2 LightPink3 LightPink4
" PaleVioletRed1 PaleVioletRed2 PaleVioletRed3 PaleVioletRed4 maroon1
" maroon2 maroon3 maroon4 VioletRed1 VioletRed2 VioletRed3 VioletRed4
" magenta1 magenta2 magenta3 magenta4 orchid1 orchid2 orchid3 orchid4
" plum1 plum2 plum3 plum4 MediumOrchid1 MediumOrchid2 MediumOrchid3
" MediumOrchid4 DarkOrchid1 DarkOrchid2 DarkOrchid3 DarkOrchid4 purple1
" purple2 purple3 purple4 MediumPurple1 MediumPurple2 MediumPurple3
" MediumPurple4 thistle1 thistle2 thistle3 thistle4 gray0 gray1 gray2
" gray3 gray4 gray5 gray6 gray7 gray8 gray9 gray10 gray11 gray12 gray13
" gray14 gray15 gray16 gray17 gray18 gray19 gray20 gray21 gray22 gray23
" gray24 gray25 gray26 gray27 gray28 gray29 gray30 gray31 gray32 gray33
" gray34 gray35 gray36 gray37 gray38 gray39 gray40 gray41 gray42 gray43
" gray44 gray45 gray46 gray47 gray48 gray49 gray50 gray51 gray52 gray53
" gray54 gray55 gray56 gray57 gray58 gray59 gray60 gray61 gray62 gray63
" gray64 gray65 gray66 gray67 gray68 gray69 gray70 gray71 gray72 gray73
" gray74 gray75 gray76 gray77 gray78 gray79 gray80 gray81 gray82 gray83
" gray84 gray85 gray86 gray87 gray88 gray89 gray90 gray91 gray92 gray93
" gray94 gray95 gray96 gray97 gray98 gray99 gray100 DarkGray DarkBlue
" DarkCyan DarkMagenta DarkRed LightGreen

Color numbers for xterm and gvim[]

Copy the following script into Vim, save the file, then enter :so % to source the script. Enter one of the following commands to create a color test script, and to execute that script:

  • For a console or terminal Vim, enter the command :VimColorTest
  • For gvim, enter the command :GvimColorTest
" Color test: Save this file, then enter ':so %'
" Then enter one of following commands:
"   :VimColorTest    "(for console/terminal Vim)
"   :GvimColorTest   "(for GUI gvim)
function! VimColorTest(outfile, fgend, bgend)
  let result = []
  for fg in range(a:fgend)
    for bg in range(a:bgend)
      let kw = printf('%-7s', printf('c_%d_%d', fg, bg))
      let h = printf('hi %s ctermfg=%d ctermbg=%d', kw, fg, bg)
      let s = printf('syn keyword %s %s', kw, kw)
      call add(result, printf('%-32s | %s', h, s))
  call writefile(result, a:outfile)
  execute 'edit '.a:outfile
  source %
" Increase numbers in next line to see more colors.
command! VimColorTest call VimColorTest('vim-color-test.tmp', 12, 16)

function! GvimColorTest(outfile)
  let result = []
  for red in range(0, 255, 16)
    for green in range(0, 255, 16)
      for blue in range(0, 255, 16)
        let kw = printf('%-13s', printf('c_%d_%d_%d', red, green, blue))
        let fg = printf('#%02x%02x%02x', red, green, blue)
        let bg = '#fafafa'
        let h = printf('hi %s guifg=%s guibg=%s', kw, fg, bg)
        let s = printf('syn keyword %s %s', kw, kw)
        call add(result, printf('%s | %s', h, s))
  call writefile(result, a:outfile)
  execute 'edit '.a:outfile
  source %
command! GvimColorTest call GvimColorTest('gvim-color-test.tmp')



  • Any suggestions for a better title for this tip?
Current is "View all colors available to gvim" but it's more than gvim.
Maybe "View all colors". Of course "all colors" is an exaggeration, but simple is good?
And make redirects: "colors", "colours", "color test", "colour test"?

Warning: Making a large grid, for example, 256×256 bg×fg colors, will give error E849: "The maximum number of syntax groups is 19999".

SQRT(19999) is 141.4, and 19999/256 is 78.1, so the largest combinations are 256×78 and 141×141.

Anything larger may freeze Vim and your system. Try pressing Ctrl-C.

Tip title: I feel "View ALL colors available to gvim" is too restrictive since you can also specify RGB values directly to come up with even more (non-named) colors. Maybe something like "View all color names..." or "View all named colors...". --Rick72

Thanks for your enhancements. Let's not worry about the tip title although change it if you like and I'll handle what else needs to be done. We can excuse the exaggerated title because any wanted colour could be added by some simple changes. JohnBeckett (talk) 04:45, January 1, 2019 (UTC)

File rgb.txt no longer exists in Vim 9. Old copies are available, for example here. In Vim 9, :help rgb.txt gives the explanation that v:colornames can be used. In a new buffer, :put =string(v:colornames) followed by :s/,/\r/g shows the values. JohnBeckett (talk) 04:23, 2 June 2023 (UTC)