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I usually open a few windows and keep some buffers open. Since my MO in buffer exploring is to use quick shortcuts to :bn and :bp, I want to close unneeded buffers from distracting my buffer surfing.

But the pain is, issuing :bd and :bw results in closing the window as well, in case I have multiple ones open. How do I close (delete) a buffer and leave the windows intact?

Solution inspired by @peth's answer

:command! BW :bn|:bd#

It is simple. Doesn't work well with only one buffer open (I get different behaviour depending on the way I open the files) but it isn't a big issue. :)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It can be a pain, this question is raised over and over on #vim (Freenode), too.

Some people recommend not deleting buffers and switching with :b partial<Tab> instead of :bn, which works, but isn't what you're asking.

The best way I know of to do that is to switch to another buffer and then :bd#, which you could map, of course.

See also Deleting a buffer without closing the window on the Vim wikia.

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The script looks a solution I'm willing to accept if there is not official way. :) – progo May 27 '11 at 12:56

I messed with this a bit and finally came up with:

:bp | sp | bn | bd

Here's the copy/paste version for key mapping:


Or a command for your .vimrc (call with :Bd):

command Bd bp | sp | bn | bd

I've tested it a fair bit and it works consistently in various conditions. When used on the last buffer it will leave you with a new blank buffer.

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I lose my split if I close a buffer open in both windows, such as the last buffer. +1 for being simpler than the wikia scripts to bd without closing the window. – Leif Carlsen Feb 3 '13 at 19:35

A window is a viewport into a buffer. (See :help window.) You can't have a window without an associated buffer. You can use a command such as :enew to replace the current window contents with an empty buffer, though.

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I was expecting that after a buffer delete, vim could switch to another buffer, or open a new one if necessary. – progo May 27 '11 at 7:06
@progo, that would require some scripting, i.e. plugin, or a simple mapping. – Clint Pachl Sep 1 '11 at 6:51

Here's another solution:

map <C-W>o <C-W>n<C-W><C-W><C-W>c

Typing Ctrl+W then o will quietly create a new window and close the old window. The cursor is left in the new window. There are a number of positive effects:

  1. Your original split dimensions are preserved.
  2. An empty buffer is loaded in the new split.
  3. The original buffer is still loaded, use :buffers to list it.
  4. Ctrl+o moves the cursor to its original position in the old buffer should you need to go back.
  5. Works well even if only one window loaded.
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the bufkill.vim plugin works as well. I like to use it with vim-command-w for added functionality and niceties (like it will close a split if it's the last buffer or close vim if it's the last buffer/split).

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I think the problem is that most people expect vim buffer and window to be something they aren't.

People tend to think of a vim window as a standalone process that has its own list of buffers, but sadly it isn't. A vim window is only a viewport of its buffers.
Therefore a lot of problems arise, like your problem, or the problem that different window share the same buffer list so you can't edit Buffer 1 in Window A, and let Window B ignore Buffer 1 in its buffer list.

My solution is to open two instances of vim, so that you can have the kind of vim window you want. It works best on tiling WMs.

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