Vim documentation: gui_w32

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*gui_w32.txt*   For Vim version 8.1.  Last change: 2019 May 05

		  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

Vim's Win32 Graphical User Interface			*gui-w32* *win32-gui*

1. Starting the GUI		|gui-w32-start|
2. Vim as default editor	|vim-default-editor|
3. Using the clipboard		|gui-clipboard|
4. Shell Commands		|gui-shell-win32|
5. Special colors		|win32-colors|
6. Windows dialogs & browsers	|gui-w32-dialogs|
7. Command line arguments	|gui-w32-cmdargs|
8. Various			|gui-w32-various|

Other relevant documentation:
|gui.txt|	For generic items of the GUI.
|os_win32.txt| 	For Win32 specific items.


1. Starting the GUI					*gui-w32-start*

The Win32 GUI version of Vim will always start the GUI, no matter how you
start it or what it's called.

The GUI will always run in the Windows subsystem.  Mostly shells automatically
return with a command prompt after starting gvim.  If not, you should use the
"start" command:
	start gvim [options] file ..

The console version with the |-g| option may also start the GUI by executing
	vim -g [options] file ..
To make this work, gvim.exe must exist in the same directory as the vim.exe,
and this feature must be enabled at compile time.

One may also use `:gui` from the console version.  However, this is an
experimental feature and this feature must be enabled at compile time.
It uses a session file to recreate the current state of the console Vim in the
GUI Vim.

Note: All fonts (bold, italic) must be of the same size!!!  If you don't do
this, text will disappear or mess up the display.  Vim does not check the font
sizes.  It's the size in screen pixels that must be the same.  Note that some
fonts that have the same point size don't have the same pixel size!
Additionally, the positioning of the fonts must be the same (ascent and

The Win32 GUI has an extra menu item:  "Edit/Select Font".  It brings up the
standard Windows font selector.

Setting the menu height doesn't work for the Win32 GUI.

If you want Vim to start with a maximized window, add this command to your
vimrc or gvimrc file:
	au GUIEnter * simalt ~x

Using Vim as a plugin					*gui-w32-windowid*

When gvim starts up normally, it creates its own top level window.  If you
pass Vim the command-line option |--windowid| with a decimal or hexadecimal
value, Vim will create a window that is a child of the window with the given
ID.  This enables Vim to act as a plugin in another application.  This really
is a programmer's interface, and is of no use without a supporting application
to spawn Vim correctly.


2. Vim as default editor				*vim-default-editor*

To set Vim as the default editor for a file type:
1. Start a Windows Explorer
2. Choose View/Options -> File Types
3. Select the path to gvim for every file type that you want to use it for.
   (you can also use three spaces in the file type field, for files without an
   In the "open" action, use:
	gvim "%1"
   The quotes are required for using file names with embedded spaces.
   You can also use this:
	gvim "%L"
   This should avoid short (8.3 character) file names in some situations.  But
   I'm not sure if this works everywhere.

When you open a file in Vim by double clicking it, Vim changes to that
file's directory.

If you want Vim to start full-screen, use this for the Open action:
	gvim -c "simalt ~x" "%1"

Another method, which also works when you put Vim in another directory (e.g.,
when you have got a new version):
1. select a file you want to use Vim with
2. <Shift-F10>
3. select "Open With..." menu entry
4. click "Other..."
5. browse to the (new) location of Vim and click "Open"
6. make "Always Use this program..." checked
7. <OK>

						*send-to-menu* *sendto*
You can also install Vim in the "Send To" menu:
1. Start a Windows Explorer
2. Navigate to your sendto directory:
   Windows NT: %windir%\profiles\%user%\sendto (e.g.
   Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\%user%\SendTo
   Windows Vista: C:\Users\%user%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo .
3. Right-click in the file pane and select New->Shortcut
4. Follow the shortcut wizard, using the full path to VIM/GVIM.

When you 'send a file to Vim', Vim changes to that file's directory.  Note,
however, that any long directory names will appear in their short (MS-DOS)
form.  This is a limitation of the Windows "Send To" mechanism.

You could replace notepad.exe with gvim.exe, but that has a few side effects.
Some programs rely on notepad arguments, which are not recognized by Vim.  For
example "notepad -p" is used by some applications to print a file.  It's
better to leave notepad where it is and use another way to start Vim.

A more drastic approach is to install an "Edit with Vim" entry in the popup
menu for the right mouse button.  With this you can edit any file with Vim.

This can co-exist with the file associations mentioned above.  The difference
is that the file associations will make starting Vim the default action.  With
the "Edit with Vim" menu entry you can keep the existing file association for
double clicking on the file, and edit the file with Vim when you want.  For
example, you can associate "*.mak" with your make program.  You can execute
the makefile by double clicking it and use the "Edit with Vim" entry to edit
the makefile.

You can select any files and right-click to see a menu option called "Edit
with gvim".  Choosing this menu option will invoke gvim with the file you have
selected.  If you select multiple files, you will find two gvim-related menu
"Edit with multiple gvims"  -- one gvim for each file in the selection
"Edit with single gvim"     -- one gvim for all the files in the selection
And if there already is a gvim running:
"Edit with existing gvim"   -- edit the file with the running gvim

The "edit with existing Vim" entries can be disabled by adding an entry in the
registry under HKLM\Software\Vim\Gvim, named DisableEditWithExisting, and with
any value.

You can add the "Edit with Vim" menu entry in an easy way by using the
"install.exe" program.  It will add several registry entries for you.

You can also do this by hand.  This is complicated!  Use the install.exe if
you can.

1. Start the registry editor with "regedit".
2. Add these keys:
   key		value name		    value 
		{default}		    Vim Shell Extension
		{default}		    {path}\gvimext.dll
		ThreadingModel		    Apartment
		{default}		    {51EEE242-AD87-11d3-9C1E-0090278BBD99}
   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions\Approved
					    Vim Shell Extension
		path			    {path}\gvim.exe
   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\vim 5.6
		DisplayName		    Vim 5.6: Edit with Vim popup menu entry
		UninstallString		    {path}\uninstall.exe

   Replace {path} with the path that leads to the executable.
   Don't type {default}, this is the value for the key itself.

To remove "Edit with Vim" from the popup menu, just remove the registry
entries mentioned above.  The "uninstall.exe" program can do this for you.
You can also use the entry in the Windows standard "Add/Remove Programs" list.

If you notice that this entry overrules other file type associations, set
those associations again by hand (using Windows Explorer, see above).  This
only seems to happen on some Windows NT versions (Windows bug?).  Procedure:
1. Find the name of the file type.  This can be done by starting the registry
   editor, and searching for the extension in \\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
2. In a Windows Explorer, use View/Options/File Types.  Search for the file
   type in the list and click "Edit".  In the actions list, you can select on
   to be used as the default (normally the "open" action) and click on the
   "Set Default" button.

Vim in the "Open With..." context menu			*win32-open-with-menu*

If you use the Vim install program you have the choice to add Vim to the "Open
With..." menu.  This means you can use Vim to edit many files.  Not every file
(for unclear reasons...), thus the "Edit with Vim" menu entry is still useful.

One reason to add this is to be able to edit HTML files directly from Internet
Explorer.  To enable this use the "Tools" menu, "Internet Options..." entry.
In the dialog select the "Programs" tab and select Vim in the "HTML editor"
choice.  If it's not there than installing didn't work properly.

Doing this manually can be done with this script:





@="c:\\vim\\vim62\\gvim.exe \"%1\""



Change the "c:\\vim\\vim62" bit to where gvim.exe is actually located.

To uninstall this run the Vim uninstall program or manually delete the
registry entries with "regedit".


3. Using the clipboard					*gui-clipboard*

Windows has a clipboard, where you can copy text to, and paste text from.  Vim
supports this in several ways.  For other systems see |gui-selections|.

The "* register reflects the contents of the clipboard.  |quotestar|

When the "unnamed" string is included in the 'clipboard' option, the unnamed
register is the same.  Thus you can yank to and paste from the clipboard
without prepending "* to commands.

The 'a' flag in 'guioptions' is not included by default.  This means that text
is only put on the clipboard when an operation is performed on it.  Just
Visually selecting text doesn't put it on the clipboard.  When the 'a' flag is
included, the text is copied to the clipboard even when it is not operated

To use the standard MS-Windows way of CTRL-X, CTRL-C and CTRL-V, use the
$VIMRUNTIME/mswin.vim script.  You could add this line to your _vimrc file:
	source $VIMRUNTIME/mswin.vim

Since CTRL-C is used to copy the text to the clipboard, it can't be used to
cancel an operation.  Use CTRL-Break for that.

CTRL-Z is used for undo.  This means you can't suspend Vim with this key, use
|:suspend| instead (if it's supported at all).

						*CTRL-V-alternative* *CTRL-Q*
Since CTRL-V is used to paste, you can't use it to start a blockwise Visual
selection.  You can use CTRL-Q instead.  You can also use CTRL-Q in Insert
mode and Command-line mode to get the old meaning of CTRL-V.  But CTRL-Q
doesn't work for terminals when it's used for control flow.

NOTE: The clipboard support still has a number of bugs.  See |todo|.


4. Shell Commands					*gui-shell-win32*

Vim uses another window for external commands, to make it possible to run any
command.  The external command gets its own environment for running, just like
it was started from a DOS prompt.

Executing an external command is done indirectly by the "vimrun" command.  The
"vimrun.exe" must be in the path for this to work.  Or it must be in the same
directory as the Vim executable.  If "vimrun" cannot be found, the command is
executed directly, but then the DOS window closes immediately after the
external command has finished.
WARNING: If you close this window with the "X" button, and confirm the
question if you really want to kill the application, Vim may be killed too!
(This does not apply to commands run asynchronously with ":!start".)

The window in which the commands are executed will be the default you have set
up for "Console" in Control Panel.

Normally, Vim waits for a command to complete before continuing (this makes
sense for most shell commands which produce output for Vim to use).  If you
want Vim to start a program and return immediately, you can use the following
	:!start [/min] {command}
The optional "/min" causes the window to be minimized.


5. Special colors					*win32-colors*

On Win32, the normal DOS colors can be used.  See |dos-colors|.

Additionally the system configured colors can also be used.  These are known
by the names Sys_XXX, where XXX is the appropriate system color name, from the
following list (see the Win32 documentation for full descriptions).  Case is

Sys_3DDKShadow		Sys_3DFace			Sys_BTNFace
Sys_3DHilight		Sys_3DHighlight			Sys_BTNHilight
Sys_BTNHighlight	Sys_3DLight			Sys_3DShadow
Sys_BTNShadow		Sys_ActiveBorder		Sys_ActiveCaption
Sys_AppWorkspace	Sys_Background			Sys_Desktop
Sys_BTNText		Sys_CaptionText			Sys_GrayText
Sys_Highlight		Sys_HighlightText		Sys_InactiveBorder
Sys_InactiveCaption	Sys_InactiveCaptionText		Sys_InfoBK
Sys_InfoText		Sys_Menu			Sys_MenuText
Sys_ScrollBar		Sys_Window			Sys_WindowFrame

Probably the most useful values are
	Sys_Window	    Normal window background
	Sys_WindowText      Normal window text
	Sys_Highlight       Highlighted background
	Sys_HighlightText   Highlighted text

These extra colors are also available:
Gray, Grey, LightYellow, SeaGreen, Orange, Purple, SlateBlue, Violet,

Additionally, colors defined by a "rgb.txt" file can be used.  This file is
well known from X11.  A few lines from it:

  255 218 185		   peach puff
  205 133  63		   peru
  255 181 197		   pink

This shows the layout of the file:  First the R, G and B value as a decimal
number, followed by the name of the color.  The four fields are separated by

You can get an rgb.txt file from any X11 distribution.  It is located in a
directory like "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/".  For Vim it must be located in the
$VIMRUNTIME directory.  Thus the file can be found with "$VIMRUNTIME/rgb.txt".


						*gui-w32-dialogs* *dialog*
6. Windows dialogs & browsers

The Win32 GUI can use familiar Windows components for some operations, as well
as the traditional interface shared with the console version.

6.1 Dialogs

The dialogs displayed by the "confirm" family (i.e. the 'confirm' option,
|:confirm| command and |confirm()| function) are GUI-based rather than the
console-based ones used by other versions.  The 'c' flag in 'guioptions'
changes this.

6.2 File Browsers

When prepending ":browse" before file editing commands, a file requester is
used to allow you to select an existing file.  See |:browse|.

6.3 Tearoff Menus

The Win32 GUI emulates Motif's tear-off menus.  At the top of each menu you
will see a small graphic "rip here" sign.  Selecting it will cause a floating
window to be created with the same menu entries on it.  The floating menu can
then be accessed just as if it was the original (including sub-menus), but
without having to go to the menu bar each time.
This is most useful if you find yourself using a command buried in a sub-menu
over and over again.
The tearoff menus can be positioned where you like, and always stay just above
the Main Vim window.  You can get rid of them by closing them as usual; they
also of course close when you exit Vim.

							*:tearoff* *:te*
:te[aroff] {name}	Tear-off the menu {name}.  The menu named must have at
			least one subentry, but need not appear on the
			menu-bar (see |win32-hidden-menus|).

	:tearoff File
will make the "File" menu (if there is one) appear as a tearoff menu.

	:amenu ]Toolbar.Make	:make<CR>
	:tearoff ]Toolbar
This creates a floating menu that doesn't exist on the main menu-bar.

Note that a menu that starts with ']' will not be displayed.


7. Command line arguments				*gui-w32-cmdargs*

Command line arguments behave the same way as with the console application,
see |win32-cmdargs|.


8. Various						*gui-w32-various*

The "File/Print" menu prints the text with syntax highlighting, see
|:hardcopy|.  If you just want to print the raw text and have a default
printer installed this should also work:
	:w >>prn

Vim supports a number of standard MS Windows features.  Some of these are
detailed elsewhere: see |'mouse'|, |win32-hidden-menus|.

You can drag and drop one or more files into the Vim window, where they will
be opened as normal.  See |drag-n-drop|.

							*:simalt* *:sim*
:sim[alt] {key}		simulate pressing {key} while holding Alt pressed.
			{only for Win32 versions}
			Note: ":si" means ":s" with the "i" flag.

Normally, Vim takes control of all Alt-<Key> combinations, to increase the
number of possible mappings.  This clashes with the standard use of Alt as the
key for accessing menus.
The quick way of getting standard behavior is to set the 'winaltkeys' option
to "yes".  This however prevents you from mapping Alt keys at all.
Another way is to set 'winaltkeys' to "menu".  Menu shortcut keys are then
handled by windows, other ALT keys can be mapped.  This doesn't allow a
dependency on the current state though.
To get round this, the :simalt command allows Vim (when 'winaltkeys' is not
"yes") to fake a Windows-style Alt keypress.  You can use this to map Alt key
combinations (or anything else for that matter) to produce standard Windows
actions.  Here are some examples:

	:map <M-f> :simalt f<CR>
This makes Alt-F pop down the 'File' menu (with the stock Menu.vim) by
simulating the keystrokes Alt, F.
	:map <M-Space> :simalt ~<CR>
This maps Alt-Space to pop down the system menu for the Vim window.  Note that
~ is used by simalt to represent the <Space> character.
	:map <C-n> :simalt ~n<CR>
Maps Control-N to produce the keys Alt-Space followed by N.  This minimizes the
Vim window via the system menu.

Note that the key changes depending on the language you are using.

When using the Intellimouse mouse wheel causes Vim to stop accepting input, go
	ControlPanel - Mouse - Wheel - UniversalScrolling - Exceptions

And add gvim to the list of applications.  This problem only appears to happen
with the Intellimouse driver 2.2 and when "Universal Scrolling" is turned on.

XPM support						*w32-xpm-support*

GVim can be build on MS-Windows with support for XPM files.  |+xpm_w32|
See the Make_mvc.mak file for instructions, search for XPM.

To try out if XPM support works do this:
	:exe 'sign define vimxpm icon=' . $VIMRUNTIME . '\\vim16x16.xpm'
	:exe 'sign place 1 line=1 name=vimxpm file=' . expand('%:p')

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