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My to-do list is a plain text .txt file that I load in Vim. In .txt files Vim has always coloured hash marks (#) and the text following them on the same line, which I use to mark out urgent to-do items. The other day this highlighting disappeared and I can't for the life of me see how to restore it. I've turned on all the syntax and filetype commands I can find. Should I have a text.vim or txt.vim syntax file that I might've deleted without realising? It feels like there should be a simple solution, but I can't find anything approaching a simple solution from googling round - I'm certainly not going to reinstall, write a custom syntax file, use a complex script, etc., I just want the default behaviour back :-)

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What platform are you running on? Windows, Mac OS or Linux (which distribution)? – Benjamin Bannier Nov 30 '10 at 14:22
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think that your Vim is broken. Try putting a hash mark (#) at the beginning of the first line in the file. When Vim sees this, it sets the filetype to conf (for a configuration file). As far as I know, Vim does not syntax color vanilla text files.

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The straight forward way to force a filetype is a modeline, e.g. # vim: set filetype=conf :. Also, asciidoc comes with syntax highlighting for .txt files (but no, hashed lines are not colored specially). – Benjamin Bannier Nov 30 '10 at 14:46
Wow! erichui and honk, that did the trick - I set filetype to Generic config, saved and quit and all is well again in todo-land. Thank you! – Vim user Nov 30 '10 at 14:54
For me, this did not work. I had to use modelines (see my answer). However, thanks for leading me to conf which, unlinke config, does not highlight numbers and some keywords. – Scz Apr 22 at 7:45

Vim supports modelines. To force coloring the file as conf (erichui's answer), put the following line at the end or beginning of your file:

# vim: syntax=conf

This sets vim's internal variable syntax to conf.

Note: you could also set filetype (ft) instead of syntax.

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