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Using vim to view source and edit textarea in mozilla/firebird

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Tip 581 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created October 8, 2003 · complexity basic · author maxiangjiang · version 5.7

This is the feature I have dreamed for months, please refer to


The current version 1.07 does not work quite as it sounds.

I opened the Mozilla mail and the Vim is not launched when composing a message.

When Viewing the page source or edit textarea, it reports an error: temporary directory c:\windows\temp does not exist.What the heck is this? it certainly does not exist on any PCs which do not have windows98 installed, neither does it exist on PCs which do not have the system installed on drive c:

The 'standard' temp directory should be %systemdrive%\winnt\temp. While user may specify their preference of temp directory in environment variable %temp%.

What is more, I found problem uninstalling this plugin.

It works great for me on my W2k box.

Assuming that

  • gvim.exe is located at C:\vim\gvim.exe
  • temperoray directory is C:\tmp

Following is the setting in my user.js:

user_pref("mozex.command.source", "C:\\vim\\gvim.exe %t");
user_pref("mozex.command.textarea", "C:\\vim\\gvim.exe %t");
user_pref("mozex.general.tmpdir", "C:\\tmp");

Note that mozillaFB plugin uninstall is still buggy, and that is why I only have one plugin installed.

To remove firebird plugin, I guess the best way for now is to wait for official release of Firebird 0.7 and install from the beginning. You can also try grep "mozex" in your profile directory and edit one by one. I believe future Firebird will have a solid uninstallation feature.

Also, I put a request on mozilla site for a builtin vim-view-source support:

Please back me up if you want such a feature, to put together the two best applications (vim and mozillaFB) in the world. Thanks.

The problem in MozillaFB is less serious than that in Mozilla (brower), in mozilla, you wil be unable to edit the textarea, nor view the source page, whether you want to use vim or not.

I'm writing this tip from Vim right now.

Setup is Windows XP, Firefox 0.8, Vim 6.2.

Download & Install latest mozex from the url mentioned above ( ). After it's installed, go to Tools, Options, Extensions. Select Mozex and select Options.

My temp directory is "C:\temp", so that's what I entered in the "Directory for temporary files" field. Vim is located at "C:\Program Files\Vim\vim62\gvim.exe" on my system. However, mozex isn't handling its input in a very graceful way yet. Thus, spaces trip it up. The solution (which can be found on the Mozex site) is to use DOS short filenames. Thus the path becomes "C:\Progra~1\Vim\vim62\gvim.exe". We also have to pass an argument to vim so that it knows what to edit. "%t" is the argument for editing source and textareas so the input for both fields is "C:\Progra~1\Vim\vim62\gvim.exe %t".

I don't think you can use Vim for mail, as the mail function passes many more options than the body text. Check Mozex's argument list though ( ). I'm not a vim hacker, just a vim user. Perhaps someone with more experience could get vim to edit e-mails.

It works for me: Mozilla 1.6 on Linux (Fedora Core 2). I am using it now. Remember to click in text area after :w from vim!

Here are my settings:

Intercept clicks: mailto (maybe I'll add ftp later)
Mailer: gnome-terminal -x mutt mailto:%A?subject=%S&cc=%C&body=%B
Source: /usr/local/bin/gvim %t (full path may not be needed)
Textareas: /usr/local/bin/gvim %t
Download: when does this apply?{ec8030f7-c20a-464f-9b0e-13a3a9e97384} I haven't tried this yet, but it should view source in whatever editor you want.

See also this Firefox extension:

ViewSourceWith, by Davide Ficano, released on July 25, 2005

Another use of this is to put vim up inside your screen session. I'm running on cygwin, so screen is slightly broken, but this works for me.

screen -X screen /usr/bin/vim $@
sleep .2 # ugly hack due to mozex deleting the file as soon as the screen process finishes (just before vim reads it)

put that is a script file (~/bin/screenvim maybe) and set the textarea option as follows:

c:\cygwin\bin\bash.exe "c:\home\me\bin\screenvim" %t

From old tip 1283Edit

I'm just trying to shamelessly drag your attention to again. I adopted mozex plugin and I'm continuing it's development. All the installation (and de-installation) issues for any mozilla based browser should be fixed. And there's much more new things (start external editor by hotkey, nice configuration dialog, utf-8 editing and more). Just be sure to install latest development version.


Vim starts up fine for me, when hitting the hotkey. But when I close it again, the text is not taken to the input box.

I'm running Vim 7.0 on Gentoo and use 'gnome-terminal -e "vim %t"' as the command in Mozex 1.9.3.

Hey, if Mozex does not work for you, you can try Viewsourcewith extension, it works fine for me with gvim (although it does not seem to work to include "xterm -e vim". In Thunderbird I use "External Editor" extension, which works fine, too. Actually I only do this because I am to lazy to switch to Mutt, which may be way cooler than Thunderbird, but might be a pain in the ass to configure for the first time.

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