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Use tab key to switch windows and current file path

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Tip 1226 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2006 · complexity basic · author Tianmiao Hu · version 5.7

This tip allows you to use the Tab key to switch windows created by the :sp command. It also sets the current file path to that of the file in the window that gains the focus.

Add the following two entries to your vimrc or gvimrc file:

set autochdir
map <Tab> <C-W>W:cd %:p:h<CR>:<CR>

When you use :sp to create multiple windows, you can press the Tab key to switch between the windows (hit Esc first if in insert mode). If you use :e and hit the Tab key, you will get the files under the same directory as that of the file in the currently focused window.


  • See :help 'autochdir' for the purpose of the first entry.
  • The second entry maps the Tab key to the window switch key, and sets the current file path by ":cd %:p:h", and clears the ":cd %:p:h" at : prompt.


The "autochdir" isn't "compiled in" in some some distributions (like Fedora).

Mapping <S-Tab> to wincmd p is useful also.

Here's a function to overload the <Tab>, <c-i> functionality to first go forward in the jump list, and if there is nowhere to go, it will move to the next window:

function! Tab_jump_or_win_move()
  let l = line(".")
  let c = col(".")
  let b = bufnr("%")
  exe "normal! \<Esc>\<Tab>"
  if l == line(".") && c == col(".") && b == bufnr("%")
    call feedkeys( "\<c-w>\<c-w>", "t" )
nnoremap <silent> <Tab> :call Tab_jump_or_win_move()<CR>

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