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After a search I've done, all the matches for the respective query remain highlighted and it's annoying. This happens even after I close the respective file (normal behavior?). How to I remove this?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

You want the command :nohlsearch, but you don't want to type that every time. Put this in your ~/.vimrc:

nnoremap <silent> <leader>n :nohlsearch<CR>

After that, you just enter your leader (which by default is \) and then n to clear the matches. You don't need to use n; if you prefer, pick something else.

You can also remap your leader to something more comfortable, if you like. I use a comma:

let mapleader = ","

(That goes before the mapping to clear searches.)

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Thanks! It helped a lot. – Alex Aug 9 '10 at 11:11
I just do :noh which is enough for vim to know what I mean. :) – sml Aug 9 '10 at 14:16
@scottl Fair enough (and good reminder that all commands have shortcuts), but I still like to map frequently used commands. – Telemachus Aug 9 '10 at 14:25

i just /qiw772723euz to "search" for something thats not in the file. hacky workaround, i know, i am interested in a real solution as well :)

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+1 for a nice hack :) – Alex Aug 9 '10 at 11:11
thats awful but a nice quick and dirty 'solution' though :) – matthias krull Aug 9 '10 at 13:59

Similar to @Telemachus answer above, a comment on this answer over at SO by @David Winslow suggested mapping a toggle of hlsearch. You would map the following:

nmap <silent> <leader>n :set hlsearch!<CR>

Hitting n would then toggle highlight search off and on every time you hit it.

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In my config, I clear highlighted search terms by just hitting enter in command mode. This is how that's configured.

set hlsearch    " highlight all matched terms
" Pressing return clears highlighted search
:nnoremap <CR> :nohlsearch<CR>/<BS>

As a side note, I like to make sure that my search matches are highlighted super clearly, no matter the color scheme, so I give them black text on a yellow background.

" When highlighting search terms, make sure text is contrasting color
:highlight Search ctermbg=yellow ctermfg=black
" Do the same for gvim
:highlight Search guibg=yellow guifg=black
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