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Load multiple files with a single command

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Tip 888 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2005 · complexity basic · author Tye Z · version 6.0

When starting Vim, you can open multiple files, one to a window or tab, with the -o, -O or -p options. This tip discusses doing the same from within Vim.

You can use a command like :args *.c to replace the argument list with all .c files, then display those files with a command like :sall (split window to show one file per window), or :tab sall (show one file per tab).

Here is another method. Put the following in your vimrc:

com! -complete=file -nargs=* Edit silent! exec "!vim --servername " . v:servername . " --remote-silent <args>"

This uses the shell to send remote commands to the current instance of Vim.

Then do something like this to edit multiple files:

:Edit .vim/colors/*


  • If desired, substitute --remote-tab-silent in place of --remote-silent to load all the files in new tabs.
  • If running under Windows, you'll probably want to allow backslashes to occur in path names, like this:
com! -complete=file -nargs=* Edit silent! exec "!vim --servername " . v:servername . " --remote-silent ".escape(<q-args>,'\')


If you put the following code in your vimrc, you can simply do :Etabs file list, :Ewindows file list (horizontal windows), or :Evwindows file list (vertical windows).

The commands can be abbreviated, and the function allows for file globbing, so doing something like :Et *.html should work. You may even find yourself using one of these to replace the :edit command!

command! -complete=file -nargs=+ Etabs call s:ETW('tabnew', <f-args>)
command! -complete=file -nargs=+ Ewindows call s:ETW('new', <f-args>)
command! -complete=file -nargs=+ Evwindows call s:ETW('vnew', <f-args>)
function! s:ETW(what, ...)
  for f1 in a:000
    let files = glob(f1)
    if files == ''
      execute a:what . ' ' . escape(f1, '\ "')
      for f2 in split(files, "\n")
        execute a:what . ' ' . escape(f2, '\ "')

Alternative 2 Edit

I added this command to my vimrc to open a list of globbed files in tab pages. For example, the command :Tabe *.py *.txt opens a new tab page for each *.py and each *.txt file. When finished, the current tab page shows the first file added.

command! -complete=file -nargs=* Tabe call Tabe(<f-args>)
function! Tabe(...)
  let t = tabpagenr()
  let i = 0
  for f in a:000
    for g in glob(f, 0, 1)
      exe "tabe " . fnameescape(g)
      let i = i + 1
  if i
    exe "tabn " . (t + 1)




  • Use fnameescape(), especially in the method that uses the shell.

From VimTip1234 comments section, an alternate method:

You can load an arbitrary list of files with :args <pattern>, for instance:

Open all .c or .h files in the directory (and it's subdirectories) two directories up from the current directory:

args ../../**/*.[ch]

The only caveat (and it's a major one) is that it's very slow.

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